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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This Doctor Makes House Calls

Green Island is the smallest town in the state of New York - only seven tenths of a square mile. There's no excuse for the school to not be in touch with the community. Green Island Union Free School District is a small school system with a big concern. We were identified by the New York State Department of Education as a School In Need of Improvement (SINI) a couple of years ago due to scores on state mandated tests that were not considered adequate. We had too many learners scoring at either a level 1 or level 2 on the exams. Scores of 3 and 4 are required to display proficiency.

So, I surprised one of our struggling high school learners in mid-July by knocking on the door of his residence and engaging him in a dialogue on learning, commitment, sacrifice, and focus. I wanted to personally demonstrate my commitment to his improvement and also encourage him to accept the challenge of generating increased effort toward his success. He needed to understand how important he is to our school. I'll be monitoring his progress, and that of other under-performing learners, on a regular basis during the school year to extend additional support. We will not escape the grasp of the embarrassing label of a SINI school unless our staff can connect with struggling learners and engage them with relevant and rigorous learning opportunities. Only then will we advance to the mastery level on the annual state assessments.

In addition, I've started making phone calls to parents to introduce myself, ask if they had any questions or comments about the school, invite them to become partners in education, and offer my office phone in the event they want to contact me in the future.

Our school has to continue to reach out to the community. To that end, we have recently combined a quarterly newsletter, an updated website, and a mass, instant emailing system called School News Notifier to keep our community informed. Before I accepted the responsibility of serving Green Island as superintendent of schools I came to town and walked every street within the district to meet people and gain a better perspective of the community. This blog is yet another attempt to communicate. And so is an unexpected knock on the door. Who knows, the next knock you hear might be the superintendent.

Dr. Michael Mugits

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