Progress Update 4-25-17

 
During the April 25, 2017 meeting of the Board of School Directors, Superintendent Dr. David Zerbe and members of his administrative team presented the Board with a detailed review of progress made in the strategic objectives scheduled to be completed during the first year of the Strategic Plan, as well as providing a look ahead at goal work in the coming year. 
 
Progress Update 3-21-17
 
The Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment and the Director of Pupil Services finalized the “Whole Child” Definition and Evaluation Rubric.
 
Whole Child Definition
 
The WC approach utilizes five tenets that make the student the focal point:

  • Healthy: Each student enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle
  • Safe: Each student learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults
  • Engaged: Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community
  • Supported: Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults
  • Challenged: Each student is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further studies and for employment and participation in a global environment
This information was recently distributed to the principals in each building.  The principals will be forming building committees so they can use this information to evaluate the effectiveness of the supports and services currently in place.  Once the building level rubrics are completed, district administration will be reviewing all of the data. The timeline for building committees to analyze the effectiveness of the supports and services will be extended for a period of about one month.
 
The recently completed Needs Assessment Survey for the 2017-18 school year was revised to more clearly identify professional development needs for staff at each level and role in the district.  Plans are ongoing to redesign professional development for teachers new to Methacton to better address items including software used daily and district policies; and focus in-service time on practices tied to Strategic Plan goals.  The Act 48 Committee reviewed the results and began discussing next steps.
 
The Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Dr. Mary Katona; and the Supervisor of Professional Learning and Continuous Improvement, Tara Ricci have developed a PowerPoint to use with staff at each level to explain the STEM vision for the district and the goals for examining how current courses, instruction, and assessment reflect the elements within that vision:

  • experiential-based learning/practical applications
  • progression of complexity
  • infusing core STEM values into curriculum, instruction, & assessment:
    • problem-solving
    • critical thinking
    • communication
    • collaboration
    • creativity/innovation
High school teachers and staff engaged in brainstorming ideas during the February in service, and the remaining faculty will continue this effort throughout the month of March. While the district is largely on target in strategic objectives related to planning in the area of STEM, areas of this goal anticipated to be completed by the end of the 2016-2017 school may be extended into the 2017-2018 school year.

Progress Update 12-20-16

  • Each school building has developed a complete master inventory list of the supports and services offered in their schools.  This information was forwarded to the Director of Curriculum and Instruction and the Director of Pupil Services for review.  The Whole Child Definition and rubric are being finalized so this information can be distributed to principals in each building when.  Building committees are schedule to be formed in January 2017 to use this information to evaluate the effectiveness of the supports and services currently in place.
  • Leveraging the diverse makeup and experience of the district’s Act 48 Committee, Tara Ricci, who serves as the district’s Coordinator of Staff Development and Continuous Improvement; updated the survey used to gather feedback by the district as a follow-up to professional development activities.  The December 1, 2016 meeting of the Act 48 Committee reviewed feedback from all Professional Development sessions held this year and discussed changes for the new survey. The revised survey will be used for gaining staff feedback following the mid-January in-service.  The committee will review this survey data in early March and begin work on a Professional Development calendar for 2017-18.
  • In addition to the work by the Act 48 Committee, Ms. Ricci met with each building principal, department chairs, and program coordinators to gather feedback regarding Professional Development needs. This input will be used in conjunction with the assessment survey data for the basis of the Professional Development plan for the coming school year.
  • The focus of STEM so far this year has been mainly on laying the groundwork for collecting information on STEM-based learning opportunities already implemented in the district. Dr. Katona has met with science and math coordinators, as well as with an administrator from each level (K-4, 5-8, & 9-12) to review the goals related to collecting the necessary information. The groups plan to review the summary from the Asset STEM two-day workshop held in spring 2015 so everyone has an understanding of the district’s vision around STEM-based learning. The committee will gather feedback related to how STEM-based learning is currently occurring at each level in Methacton. The committee is seeking to identify STEM elements/connections as appropriate in the following:

    • Courses
    • Activities (after-school clubs, special class days, field trips, etc.)
    • Professional Development
    • Specific school-related STEM programming

 

Several staff have attended STEM-focused workshops, including sessions at Reading Area Community College and Montgomery County Intermediate Unit to gather information for the district as it relates to STEM needs moving forward.

 
Information from the activities above will be collected beginning in January 2017 in order to provide a summary along with recommendations for expanding STEM programming by the end of June 2017.
 

Progress Update 11-3-16
 
The centerpiece of this goal is the district’s work on the “Whole Child Concept.” The Whole Child Concept is an approach to teaching that addresses not only the academic component of education, but other contributing factors to a child’s development. As such, principals are reviewing student supports relative to this concept and a rubric for evaluating those resources. This information will then in turn provide a basis for establishing the district’s fundamental approach to teaching and define aspects critical to improving the overall educational experience and development of all students. Much of this work will be completed after the winter holidays.
 
The Methacton teaching staff is our most important resource. While we are fortunate to have such talented, dedicated, and engaged staff, there will always be a need to grow and develop as professionals to remain relevant to changes in our culture, economy, and society. To remain relevant, we need to make significant and focused professional development opportunities available for our staff. As such, a new professional development needs assessment is being created with the help of the district’s Act 48 committee. The survey will be distributed in January and the Act 48 committee will leverage this information to structure future offerings designed to meet this strategic goal.
 
In addition to work on the Whole Child, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is at the forefront of this focus area. It is evident that Methacton teachers, across all buildings and grades, have been integrating intriguing and relevant STEM concepts, projects, and other efforts into the curriculum. As such, our intent under this strategic planning goal is to bring these efforts together and to establish an organized direction for STEM education in Methacton. Work has begun to identify current STEM experiences at each level. There are discussions at all levels regarding this initiative while the high school level considers its technology education offerings and how to best structure programming and curriculum to this end. Part of this effort includes investigating proven programs, including Project Lead the Way.
 
While not called out in the strategic plan, the Education Foundation for the Methacton Community (EFMC), a non-profit 501-c3 foundation that works to support and enrich programming and opportunities for Methacton students, has additionally been targeting STEM initiatives. One such initiative is the creation of a summer STEM immersion program for teachers, developed with cooperation and support from the EFMC.
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