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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Forging A Future

The District Leadership Team met for a full day session today. This group represents community interests in promoting the continuous improvement of our school district. The committee is comprised of several teachers, a building administrator, a liaison from our regional Board of Cooperative Educational Services(BOCES), two high school learners, the superintendent, and two parents.

The agenda included reports from the following committees: Professional Development; Safe Schools; Instructional Design;  Policy Initiatives and Review; Communication; and, Technology. In addition, one of the high school learners is participating in an internship with the Albany County Legislature and he offered some insight in that governing body's debate prior to recently passing a tougher anti-cyberbullying law. The BOCES representative expressed  congratulations on the progress made by the district that consequently relieved the school system of the downtrodden label, School In Need of Improvement, and urged us to sustain the increase in performance as the state adapts to new standards of achievement levels that take full effect this year.

The discussions surrounding the presentation of information and the examination of the reports was very productive. The collective contributions from committee members generated a synergy of ideas that will allow us to push forward in pursuit of stated goals. New thoughts evolved from the different perspectives volunteered by individuals in the group as one person extended or modified the suggestion or opinion of another member. We found ourselves talking about a variety of topics, hopping from point to point as an issue invariably was linked to yet another concept. However, common elements eventually emerged from the exchanges.

If there was one focal point in the wide-ranging dialogue, the central category could be identified as being associated with our expectations - of ourselves as staff members and parents regarding the possibilities and capacity of our learners. The discussion explored the function and value of: study halls as they presently exist, grading and retention policies, timely and responsive communication between home and school involving assessment levels, credit recovery, graduation rates, and other related issues. If I could attempt to convey our future orientation resulting from this meeting it would be captured by one of my favorite quotes. I believe it was attributed to the great artist Michelangelo and it's about changing your perspective and attitude. He advised people to move from saying, "I'll believe it when I see it" to the reverse, "I'll see it when I believe it." That's what we as a learning community - all members - must do if we expect to increase our expectations and meet our potential.

It was exciting to hear people raise questions and hopes. This is an activity that is a favorite of mine. I enjoy experiencing the growth of ideas and the power of people joining together with the intent of making a positive and constructive difference in their school community. I am especially appreciative of the high school learners and parents who have generously volunteered to serve on the DLT. Their vantage point is essential to maintain our focus and remind us of our purpose.

I'm looking forward to working with the DLT as we invent our future together.

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