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Monday, August 23, 2010

How's Your Summer?

Every once in a while over the course of the summer, during a casual discussion with someone on the subject of vacations, I'll be asked what it's like having the summer off. I wouldn't know what it's like having the summer off. I've been a school leader for thirty four years and have never had a summer off. The person usually seems surprised to find out that the office staff at school works throughout the summer. Their shock generally leads to a follow-up question - "What does everybody do, since there's no kids in school in the summer?" Well, there's a lot to do - even without kids in the school.

1. Soon after the last child leaves the school in late June, instructional supplies and materials must be ordered, processed, inventoried, and distributed to classrooms in preparation for that first day of school.
2. Families that relocate often do so during the summer, which means that children are enrolled in their new school and discharged from their former school, academic records are transferred or requested, data is imported into decisions on the placement of children in programs and classes.
3. Class schedules are developed for kids,
4. The Master Schedule for the school is constructed with decisions on what classes are offered, what time of day they are provided, who teaches the classes, when the lunch periods are assigned, etc.
5. Most personnel decisions are made during the summer, since retirements often begin at the conclusion of the school year, and enrollments that impact staffing patterns also take shape over the summer - which means the search and selection process leading to interviewing and hiring new staff members occurs in July and August.
6. Staff development activities designed to promote learning opportunities for staff members involving new skills and experiences are easier to schedule during the summer months (which also debunks the myth that teachers have the summer off - hardly a day has gone by since my arrival on July 1st without meeting with a teacher or teachers who have come by the school to work on curriculum development, participate in committee work like reviewing the Student Code of Conduct, prepare their classrooms for the upcoming year, or collaborate with colleagues on improvement efforts).
7. Test score data from recently administered state mandated assessments are examined in an effort to craft our instructional goals for the upcoming school year - on an individual, class, grade, and school-wide level.
8. Policies are reviewed, regularly scheduled Board of Education meetings are convened, the budget is monitored, the physical plant is evaluated for possible repairs, strategies are devised to increase performance levels,... and so much more goes on within the school building despite the absence of children.

In fact, as the new superintendent of Green Island, I've been so busy getting my feet on the ground - meeting with people, learning about the school and community, assessing needs, and preparing a plan to leverage increased levels of success - I haven't had the time to take a single vacation day this summer!

Dr. Michael Mugits

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