As I look ahead to the coming year, I realize I have too many goals and plans,—but I cannot restrain myself, there are so many important, exciting, and meaningful things to do in going forward as a school community. The following list is primarily a list of educational program and school community goals; I am still developing an important parallel list of important institutional, organizational, and financial goals.
Our two major educational advances for the year are WINGS, our 1:1 laptop/netbooks program, and our new Advisory Program.
- Wings: 1:1 Laptops is big, and a big project; by way of laptops/netbooks being in the hands of each and every student each and every day, I am sure we will become a more productive, more dynamic, and more engaging learning environment.
- As for the advisory program, in many ways this is just a very natural, incremental, comfortable next step from the homerooms and other forms of very good rapport and relationships St. Gregory has always forged with students. It is an elaborated homeroom by which we build a stronger sense of connection, community, and voice for our students. We can and will use it also as a forum for values, for character education in the most natural way, discussing what is most important in the ways we treat and respect each other, and the ways we take responsibility for ourselves, our community, our campus, and our world.
- We will continue to administer the HSSSE (High School Survey of Student Engagement), with continued attention to implications of the results.
- With our first receipt of CWRA (College Work Readiness Assessment) results in the high school, we will conduct appropriate review and consideration of implications from those results for educational program development. I am also in conversation with Dr. Jared Cotton, an excellent assessment administrator in the Virginia Beach school district, who is developing a CWRA analogue for students in grades 4 and 7; it is my hope we can employ for our middle school students this authentic assessment of our students growth in critical thinking, written communication, and problem-solving. I am determined that we be a national leader in our use of the CWRA.
- An important pilot project for us in the middle school is the implementation of MAP (Measurement of Academic Progress), an exciting and individualized on-line tool for informing and guiding the development of our students’ core academic skills.
- We will build upon the paper student portfolio being used currently in the middle school to begin exploring, experimenting with, and implementing student digital portfolios, beginning with a beta test in the sixth grade this winter, to be overseen by our sixth grade skills teacher Elie Rabinowitz.
- We will work with the Family Association, and the Board toward becoming a stronger community among us all, parents, students, and teachers. The Back to School dessert party is an example of an initiative in this direction, but I want to do a lot more in the year to come. Community events, such as movie nights, soccer mornings, school-wide picnics on the lawn when the river is running, Math nights, all can go a long way to making our families feel more a part of our community, and making us all feel a stronger connection to each other in the work of educating our students and their children. Everyone wins.
- In parallel track, I want to work too to continue to expand our outreach to and relationship with the external community of greater Tucson, in the way of hosting more community organizations and events on campus, and being actively engaged with the greater Tucson community in support of youth development and education.
- The board and I intend to conduct a process this fall and winter of strategic visioning, and will seek some inclusion from faculty representatives. This will be a process of envisioning what we want our school to look like in 10 years (Vision 2020, perhaps?). With this vision in place and published, we will then as a board and school community consider each year what critical next steps we need to be taking to advance in the direction of this vision.
- Our ISAS accreditation second midterm report is due October 1, and we will be spending some significant time in late August and early September working on this. In some areas, we have made great progress (such as technology in education!); in others we have important work to do. One is attracting and recruiting faculty and staff of color; to support our work this year we will work with Orpheus Crutchfield, who manages Strate-genius, a diversity firm: I expect Orpheus to visit campus September 17, and it will be an important goal this year to take next steps in this direction.
- I need to provide increased and ongoing support for the development of robotics at both the Middle school and Upper School levels, with a goal that over a couple of years we help these teams become competitive and successful. I am also thrilled about the Design/Build tech class in the upper school, and want to see that flourish too, and celebrate it.
- Growing the school continues to be a high priority, and we are happy to report that we are experiencing some small growth for the new year. The school will be 5-10 students larger this year at opening than it was last year at opening; the sixth and ninth graders will both be larger than last year’s sixth and ninth grades. We are gaining momentum. One area of success was the 8th to 9th grade low attrition, which at 30 percent attrition was the smallest in the last decade. Even as we grow the school, we are placing a higher priority on mission-fitting students, students who exemplify fine character and excellent academic promise, and we are actually becoming more selective, and declining admission to more candidates than in recent years. We appreciate all the assistance families can provide us by sharing your enthusiasm for St. Gregory with the folks you know, and encouraging potential families to contact our admissions office. You might also invite them to join you at an Open House or school event this fall or winter.