Published in the September 9, 2015 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay presented the school system’s strategic plan to the School Committee on Tuesday, Sept. 1.
The strategic plan is the result of a full year’s worth of work undertaken by Tremblay. She developed an entry plan last year, where she collected data over the course of last fall to gain further insight about the school system and outline ways to move the district forward.
The superintendent discussed school-related issues with different interest groups in town including school officials, local officials, parents/guardians and faculty members. Tremblay also conducted online surveys, reviewed documents and visited classrooms in all five schools. She presented the results to the school board and PTOs last winter.
“I was trying to find out what we are lacking in and what are we doing well in,” said Tremblay.
After evaluating the collected data, Tremblay began developing goals to implement in order to move the school system forward.
Tremblay said the school department’s strategic plan is going to serve as a “road map” for where the school system is headed. She said it’s important to have a “clear vision” for the school system because it will enable the district to achieve its goals and accomplish its strategic objectives.
“It’s important to have a shared vision so we know where we are going,” said Tremblay.
Tremblay said action items have been identified in order to accomplish the objectives she has established. She said the district’s strategic plan is designed to create a “powerful engine for systematic improvement.”
The strategic plan includes five different components. The components are meeting the needs of all students; building leadership capacity; educator growth; curriculum and instruction, and assessment and accountability.
Tremblay said meeting the needs of all students is a critical component of the strategic plan. She said it’s important to allocate necessary resources, including hiring and retaining high quality teachers, to support students academically and socially.
The superintendent said providing a safe and comfortable learning environment will improve student learning. She also said its important for teachers to build relationships with students because it will help students both socially and emotionally.
“When we talk about meeting the needs of all students, you really can’t teach a student unless you know who they are,” said Tremblay.
According to the first year of the plan, a mid cycle special education program review will be conducted. School officials will also explore and implement a broader set of non-traditional learning opportunities for Lynnfield High School students. A committee will be established at the high school, which will be tasked with reviewing its schedule.
Additionally, the plan calls for establishing “consistent policies and procedures across all levels to ensure the safety and well being of faculty and students.” School officials will continue collaborating with the police department to establish procedures and safety protocols with school resource officer Patrick Curran.
School officials will also be looking to increase the number of community service opportunities at the high school. Middle school officials will “formalize the LMS One Club to promote and model empathy and kindness among all students.”
A needs assessment survey for the parents of LHS students will be created. The survey will ask parents to evaluate student transitions entering and exiting LHS, the course selection process, career readiness and the college application process.
Tremblay said building leadership capacity will help teachers develop “a shared vision of excellence for effective teaching practices.”
“When teachers become experts and leaders in their discipline, students’ experiences in our classrooms will reap the benefits,” said Tremblay.
According to the first year of the strategic plan, a subcommittee comprised of members of the administrative leadership team and School Committee will be established and will be tasked with reviewing the district’s mission statement to ensure its aligned with the school system’s strategic plan. School administrators will also be developing “smart goals” that are aligned to Tremblay’s goals and the strategic plan.
Additionally, the strategic plan calls for school officials to share and compare teacher walk throughs and evaluations to ensure there are “high expectations and consistency of feedback.” Tremblay also proposed creating a “reflective and visionary focus” for the Lynnfield Middle School Faculty Advisory Council.
The third component of the strategic plan is educator growth.
Tremblay said if teachers improve their teaching practices, student engagement and resiliency would increase. She also said developing “consistent classroom experiences” in grades K-12 will improve student learning.
Additionally, Tremblay said establishing clear expectations will enable teachers to improve their teaching practices.
According to the plan, teachers will continue to define and measure individual and team smart goals. Tremblay said it’s important to provide opportunities at the middle school for sharing the best teaching practices during grade level, department and faculty meetings. The school system’s mentoring program will continue being evaluated.
Curriculum and instruction
Tremblay said having a strong school curriculum and instructional practices will increase student engagement, motivation and participation. She said its important to “set the bar high” for teaching and learning.
The superintendent also said establishing a “common language” for teachers will improve student outcomes and achievement. She stressed its important to better align the school system’s K-12 curriculum in order to establish “clear benchmarks across grade levels.”
According to the strategic plan, “demonstration lessons” from the school systems’ vocabulary pilot will be shared at different grade levels. Action plans and timelines with department heads and curriculum directors will be created to “align the social studies, math and science curricula across grade levels.”
The strategic plan also calls for increasing student engagement at each grade level by integrating technology effectively. Tremblay also wants Special Services Director Kara Mauro and the middle school to collaborate more frequently to improve student performance on the MCAS exam.
Assessment and accountability
The strategic plan emphasizes assessment and accountability as well because Tremblay said it would lead to “continuous student achievement and growth.”
Tremblay stressed “data-driven” decisions need to be made in order to meet the needs of all students. She said data analysis and collaboration will enable school officials and teachers to work together to “proactively meet the learning needs of the whole child.”
While Tremblay said she believes school officials do a good job reviewing data, she said “there is always room to grow.”
According to the plan, Tremblay said school officials will “create consistent expectations with teachers by providing opportunities for collaboration to observe lessons and analyze student work.” An internal special education program review will also be undertaken to monitor and assess student needs.
Additionally, the new Middle School Curriculum Center will be used to collaborate, create and discuss curriculum, assessments and accountability. School officials will also be reviewing and revising “residency procedures to ensure consistent enforcement.”
School Committee member Dorothy Presser expressed her support for the plan. She said Tremblay outlined a clear vision for which direction she wants the school system to move in because its action oriented.
School Committee member Jamie Hayman commended Tremblay and school officials for developing the strategic plan. He called the first year of the plan “aggressive.”
“The amount of detail in this is awesome,” said Hayman. “I think we have the right objectives and the right mission.”
Hayman also inquired what Tremblay envisions how the plan will evolve in years two, three, four and five.
As the first year of the plan unfolds, Tremblay said school officials will be able to identify what areas are progressing or not progressing. She said that will help the school department develop the plan further the next couple of years.
School Committee Vice Chairman Tim Doyle said he believes it’s important for Tremblay and school officials to “test drive” the strategic plan. He said there are some issues that will not be addressed the first year of the plan and will get pushed back to the plan’s second year.
“I think (Tremblay) needs to put this in action and see where it goes,” said Doyle.
Doyle encouraged Tremblay to meet with the administrative team to evaluate the plan halfway through the school year.
School Committee Chairwoman Susie Cleary and committeeman Salvatore Cammarata both thanked Tremblay for putting a comprehensive strategic plan together.
The School Committee is scheduled to vote on the strategic plan at its next meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 15.
After the school board signs off on the plan, Tremblay said it will be posted on the school system’s website. She will also be discussing it with parents at PTO meetings. Additionally, school officials will begin implementing the first year of the plan once its approved.