At the last Marlboro School Board meeting, Superintendent Michael Rydell spoke about educational areas that administrators and teachers, who are serving on the Continuous Improvement Committee, are seeking to improve and what the impact might be upon the district’s federal funding.
Rydell first took a moment to mention a recent meeting he attended of the Student Voice Committee at the High School.
“It was absolutely incredible the amount I learned from our students and we’ll do that each month and really get things to where our students are pleased with some of the results,” he said.
Rydell said the Elementary School team is working on a literacy program, “and what we’re doing in each of our classrooms to support that initiative.” A pilot program is underway that highlights two literacy series. In addition, Rydell said they are looking at research-based programs that are being used in other districts.
“We’re coming up with metrics that we’re going to use to measure those [programs] to ultimately make a decision, because literacy is something that is obviously a very fundamental skill set and requirement but it’s also something that is going to translate to success beyond the elementary school level,” he said. “I’m very excited about the way that action plan is developing.”
Rydell said they are also looking at other related literacy successes, such as ‘One School, One Book’ initiative.
“It is exactly as it sounds, having one book that every student in that building and their families will receive and will be reading and have activities associated with that,” he said.
The plan also calls for reviewing classroom and library resources to see if they can be better organized and could purchases be made of materials, “that will engage the students in literacy and reading activities.”
Additionally, the plan provides professional learning opportunities for teachers and administrators and time for data analysis.
Rydell cited a key mantra that is emphasized by Elementary Principal Jena Thomas and Asst Principal Sarah Amodeo; “School is a place of love and learning.”
Rydell said the Middle School focus, “is to have our students become the best that they can be in all aspects and sometimes that really has to start with character education and being mindful of what are positive behavior attributes.” He said they are also seeing how they can, “infuse and incorporate more literacy and research-based activities,” into their programs.” He said this may entail [instructional] interventions and enrichment activities working in sync with the one school, one book idea.
Rydell said something that resonated with the high school students and echoed with the student voice committee, “was the opportunities that our students have during the school day to help prepare them for what comes after high school. It’s something we’re all cognizant of and focused on, and I know that’s a priority of the Board of Education because these all correspond with board goals,” he said, looking at the high school’s college course offerings, electives, instruction for the Trades and the essential skills that the district wants every student to achieve.
“A lot of time was spent discussing what should be part of that curriculum and what are very fundamental skills that one should have by the time they leave our school,” he said. “It would ensure that all of our students have what we feel are essential skills.”
Rydell touched upon ‘authentic learning experiences,’ saying that although this is beyond what is found in school textbooks, it encompass real life activities and real life applications. He would like to see the district expand upon this because, “this is an area that I am very passionate about and I am super excited that our new Assistant Principal at the high school, Kristen Becker, is actually certified in work-based learning; so the stars are aligning and opportunities abound.”
Rydell believes the district should partner with local community organizations and industry, “to allow our students to learn about the different trades and areas of business.” He pointed out that it is just as important to find out, “what you don’t want to do [in life] as it is to find out what to do want to do and what you’re passionate about.”
Rydell said this year the district is using federal funds to launch the ‘Passport for Good’ program. This initiative, “allows students to securely chronicle and export a verified nonacademic transcript, focusing on their strengths and contributions, to use for college applications, scholarships and career pursuits.”