Schools should be a welcoming place that meets the needs of all students. Learning should spark joy, encourage creativity, and critical thinking skills in all of our students. Students should feel safe at schools and should be able to develop the social emotional skills as well as the academic skills needed to be successful in the larger world. As an educator myself I know that teachers and administrators need to have a positive work environment. They also need to feel safe, secure in their roles, and be given the autonomy to use their expertise to teach our children.
Newton schools will face many challenges in the next few years, in part as a result of the impact on the schools of the COVID 19 pandemic. My key priorities include:
Excellence in Education for all Students- Our schools must provide an excellent education for all of our students and prepare them for their next steps. There must be a focus on challenging and nurturing our high performing students as well as supporting our struggling students, and these goals should never be seen as mutually exclusive.
Our students should be given equal access to safe and supportive schools no matter where they are in the district. All schools should have qualified staff, high quality resources and technology.
We must use data to determine where learning and opportunity gaps exist and find research-based strategies to close these gaps.
We must continue to support our special education students, many of whom have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. We need to ensure that there is clear communication between these families and the schools and that all needs are met.
Successful Return to School- Many, if not all students, experienced challenges in learning and social emotional health last year. These issues will need to be addressed effectively next year.
Assess students at the beginning of the year to determine where gaps exist.
Develop plan based on these assessments and focus resources--staff and funds--to meet gaps, with the highest priority placed on where the gaps are most significant.
Work with research based practices to remediate these gaps and other issues.
Communication and Transparency- Confidence and trust must be improved. Better communication, transparency and collaboration with stakeholders by the school leaders is the only way to restore trust in the relationship between the NPS and the community.
District leadership needs to be clear in a timely manner about what major decisions are being made and what the process is for making these decisions. Data and research based practices should be used when possible for making these decisions.
All stakeholders should have a chance to give input into decisions through surveys as well as by participating in public meetings.
Focus on upgrading buildings and infrastructure- The quality of the buildings where students spend their days are important and not just a luxury! Students and teachers have a right to clean, safe, and functional buildings.
Ensure that building needs for ventilation and HVAC needs are met.
Technology became an integral part of the schools this year. We should continue to make sure that all students have equal access to working technology, wifi, and are supported in using it effectively.
Some of our oldest school buildings must be renovated or rebuilt.