Submitted by Nicole Vitale, Technical Assistance Provider
James H. Naylor CCSU Leadership Academy, a Cohort 3 school in Phase 2 of SPDG implementation, is very committed to family and community engagement. Most of the students of this neighborhood school walk each day with a family member or friends. Every day, administrators and teachers greet their students and families at the door to welcome them to school. This not only provides parents with an opportunity to “check in” with staff, it also provides a positive interaction for students first thing in the morning. In addition, it allows educators to see if any students are coming to school with anything that needs to be addressed before the school day begins.
Last year, as parents and community members gathered to conduct a Welcoming Walkthrough, they noted a number of recommendations to help create a more welcoming and inviting culture and climate in their school. Some of the priority areas included fixing old signage and adding welcoming signs to the building, updating the school website so that parents could readily have access to information, and more positive teacher-parent interactions. Naylor took feedback from the walkthrough very seriously and made some changes to their school almost instantly.
Upon our first visit to the school this year, we saw new welcome signs, clear directions to the main office, and a completely new school website. The site included updated information about school programs as well as PTA updates and resources for families, students, and teachers. In addition, since the Welcoming Walkthrough and initial work with PBIS, teachers are expected to have a positive note sent home to families for at least three students per month.
Naylor is well on its way to creating a welcoming school climate and culture!
Published: January 15, 2015
Submitted by Janet Zarchen, Technical Assistance Provider
As a Cohort 2 school, Valley Regional High School in Deep River, CT is in its third year of grant implementation. Jessica Dwyer, an English teacher and a member of the SPDG school leadership team, shared the following thoughts about how participation in the grant has impacted her classroom practice.
I feel I have a better “tool box” now from which to choose student support options. The training on accommodations vs. modifications coupled with the CRT (culturally relevant/responsive teaching) training allows for many avenues to approach a student and identify and address his or her needs. The grant process has given me the opportunity to question my practice and discuss philosophy again with my colleagues in a time that we are all so caught up with the logistics of evaluation. It helps keep the student in the center of the discussion and emphasize the roles my colleagues have in which we can support one another in supporting the student.
Published: December 17, 2014
Submitted by Jeremy Bond, SERC Publications Coordinator
When describing the impact of SPDG at Jack Jackter, Principal Deborah Sandberg cites three areas:
- School climate. The welcoming walkthrough led to low-cost and no-cost ways to promote a more welcoming environment, such as signage.
- Higher-order thinking skills. Jack Jackter participates in the Higher-Order Thinking (HOT) Schools Program, which incorporates a rigorous arts curriculum, the integration of art into other disciplines, and promoting democratic processes through shared leadership. As SPDG has helped support effective classroom practice, Deborah has seen former struggling students shining through artistic expression.
- An engaged staff who feel committed to the school and invested in the students’ success.
Jack Jackter Intermediate School
SERC Consultant Anthony Brisson facilitated a review of the levels of intervention. The special education team reviewed the data over time, and too many students had been identified as requiring Tier III interventions, resulting in a kind of “hourglass” of Tiers I and III. General education teachers now have more tools at their disposal to support interventions early and reduce the numbers of students who would have been expected to receive Tier III interventions.
Under SPDG, the school has established clear, targeted SMART goals, determined how to measure progress toward those goals, and learned to revise the process as needed. The result has been more focus on Tier I and fewer kids struggling at reading. Through strategies such as co-teaching, staff have been better able to work with students as individuals.
Deborah credits Anthony with helping the staff and school leadership envision new approaches they had not thought of before.
“He listens to what we’re doing, [and then] he asks questions to make us think.”
Published: October 1, 2014