Published June 2, 2021
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — With the current academic year drawing to a close, school officials are gearing up for next year.
Teaching and Learning Director Kevin Cyr gave an overview of the district’s strategic plan during the School Committee’s May 25 meeting. He explained that the strategic plan’s five different components are building leadership capacity, social-emotional wellness, educator growth, curriculum, instruction and assessment, and accountability.
Building leadership capacity
Cyr said one of the building leadership capacity focus areas for next year involves having the School Department expand its community outreach initiatives by partnering with A Healthy Lynnfield.
The teaching and learning director said the district and substance abuse coalition will be focusing on equity initiatives. He recalled that the district has hired The Equity Process in order to conduct an audit for the school system.
“This work is going to start in July and is going to run over the next three or four months,” said Cyr. “I would expect a report by October. It’s going to be a thorough process that is going to include interviews with students, teachers and community members. There will be some surveying involved.”
Cyr said The Equity Process will be reviewing a variety of policies and procedures.
“I would expect a very thorough analysis of everything we do in this district,” said Cyr. “The audit process is going to drive our professional development and the next steps for this district. That is why we need to continue to rely on our partnership with A Healthy Lynnfield to make sure we are putting quality programs in place. There is a lot of work to be done and we are just getting started. The goal is we want the most safe, most inclusive and most supportive environment for everyone. We are going to learn a lot over the next few months.”
In response to a question from School Committee Chairman Rich Sjoberg, Superintendent Kristen Vogel said The Equity Process will be reviewing all of the district’s public documents.
“That includes handbooks, policies, program of studies and public data that is available on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website,” said Vogel. “They are going to take all of that as well as talk to people, and they are going to make some recommendations. The audit will give us feedback, and we will decide what we do with that feedback.”
Educational Technology Director Stephanie Hoban said another focus area for next year involves empowering educators by having them work with the Technology Advisory Committee.
“One of the big things we are going to be doing next year is we have joined the Student Data Privacy Consortium,” said Hoban. “It’s a nationwide consortium of school districts that force companies to enact data privacy contracts with them. We are confident that student data will be protected.”
Hoban also said the district will be implementing Clever EdTech’s Analytics program.
“This allows us to track all of the student and teacher usage of the tools that we purchase and they use,” said Hoban. “This will allow us to pinpoint our professional development.”
Social and emotional wellness
Cyr said the social and emotional wellness objective of the strategic plan involves bringing back “structure, routine and relationship-building in order to revitalize the curiosity and joy in learning.”
“We want to bring back the collaboration as we knew it,” said Cyr. “It’s about bringing visitors, guest speakers and enrichment into our schools again. Those are all things we haven’t been able to do. We want to offer all of those hands-on collaborative learning opportunities.”
School Committee member Kate DePrizio called the initiative “powerful” and “meaningful.”
“It is actionable,” said DePrizio.
Lynnfield Middle School Principal Stephen Ralston said a new Safety and Security Team will be created in order to ensure “safety protocols and measures are in place consistently throughout the school community.”
“With everything we went through this year, we did not undertake larger scale emergency evacuations off site,” said Ralston. “There are some new faces in public safety in town, and we are going to be working closely with Interim Police Chief Nick Secatore and Fire Chief Glenn Davis in order to plan some larger scale drills for next year. We are also going to account for escape routes, especially in light of the construction projects at the two elementary schools.”
Ralston said school officials will be revamping medical emergency response plans as well.
Cyr noted that one of the educator growth focus areas for next year involves building “cultural competency evidenced by an equitable and inclusive community for all learners.”
“Our educators are going to continue taking advantage of course work,” said Cyr.
Cyr also said educators’ will be reflecting on and adjusting their professional practice based on student and educator feedback.
“We put a premium on student feedback,” said Cyr. “That is a big part of our educator evaluation process.”
Curriculum, instruction and assessment
Cyr said one of the curriculum, instruction and assessment focus areas for next year involves having educator teams administering online diagnostic assessment tools. He said the initiative seeks to compile data about student achievement in order to learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on learning.
“This tool will allow us to benchmark and progress monitor at the different levels in order to give us a complete picture about how our students are performing,” said Cyr. “This will be tied to data-driven reports. Our general education and special education teachers are working closely together on this initiative.”
Cyr said school officials and educators are concerned about how some students are performing in math classes.
“This will allow us to identify where those needs are so we can put the supports in place when we need to,” said Cyr. “We want to make sure those students are making progress in our general education curriculum.”
Hoban also said the district will continue implementing technology initiatives in all four schools.
As part of the accountability component of the strategic plan, Cyr said school officials will be developing resources and protocols to “ensure effective implementation and application of technology integration tools district-wide.”
“The Administrative Leadership Team will revise our public documents and websites to reflect the high level of commitment to education in Lynnfield,” said Cyr.
Cyr said the goal involves promoting the school system’s initiatives.
“The more clear we can be with our public face, the better off we will be,” said Cyr. “It will lead to optimal teaching and learning.”