Moody column: Hopes and dreams for 2015
Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 8, 2015
By Dr. Lynn Moody
Rowan-Salisbury School System
My hopes and dreams for 2015 are to bring the Rowan-Salisbury Schools into the forefront as leaders in providing exciting, challenging and innovative learning environments for our students and teachers.
The teaching and learning needs for our students are very different today than they have been in the past. If we are to prepare our students for future careers and responsible citizenry, then we must transform our classrooms. It is essential that we engage students in the learning process by teaching them to explore, research, question and work as a team in creating solutions to real-world problems.
It is critical for teachers to develop new teaching and leadership skills in order for this transformation to become a reality – and it can! Teachers must be provided with opportunities to:
- Observe – to “go and see” best practices taking place in other successful school districts
- Develop new lessons based on these experiences
- Brainstorm, collaborate, experiment and analyze these new experiences
- Share and discuss what is working and what needs improvement with their colleagues
My hopes and dreams for this year are that, by working together, we will be able to accomplish the following:
- Scheduling model teacher classroom visits with time for collegial conversations and feedback
- Sending a large number of teachers and principals to the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) International Conference, where educators can learn, exchange ideas and survey the field of educational technology
- Sending as many teachers and principals as possible to visit high-performing schools, with similar demographics, to analyze how teaching and learning is different
- Creating a Center for Innovation – Professional Development Institute – providing the opportunity for educators to learn from each other in state-of-the-art collaborative spaces
- Refining our daily guided reading practices in the classroom as we continue to implement the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s literacy framework
- Increasing opportunities for teachers and principals to reflect, study and improve effective guided reading strategies
- Increasing the number of community homework “hot spots” throughout the school district, particularly in remote areas without Internet access, and creating other innovative ideas for students to gain Internet access outside the classroom
Problem based learning
- Providing a Problem Based Learning Summer Institute for teachers across the district to create exciting lessons for each grade level and subject area
- Implementing “Schoology” as our new Learning Management System (LMS) to create one digital ecosystem. This will provide an online learning, classroom management and social networking platform.
It will improve communication and collaboration, and increase access to curriculum and supplemental content. Everything students, faculty and parents need will be available in one easy-to-use platform. It will allow us to teach, learn, communicate, share and collaborate any time and on any device.
- Adopting a digital citizenship curriculum and encouraging parents to regularly visit the Common Sense Media website.
- Expanding the digital citizenship curriculum through interactive lessons that allow students to work independently or in teams; and to even allow students the opportunity to create lessons for their peers
- Reviewing salary schedules for staff in all areas and working towards a plan for salary increases
- Improving the way our district recruits, hires and retains employees
- Implementing a long-range plan for capital building needs and current building maintenance that includes items such as roofing and safety needs
- Finalizing plans for a new elementary school in the western part of our county and renovating Knox Middle School
- Building a “state of art” district office within specified budget requirements
- Working on systems and structures for effectiveness and efficiency with Board of Education members
- Updating and revising Board of Education policies
- Working more collaboratively with county and city leaders
Most of all, my biggest hope and dream is academic improvements will be seen this year. With nine years of academic decline, I am very hopeful that this is the year that we begin to see early signs of a positive trajectory, with the understanding that true transformation takes three to five years.
There are many other specific goals and objectives, as defined in our 2014-2017 district strategic plan, located on our website. We update our strategic plan regularly and monitor our strategies quarterly.
These are exciting times. If we are going to see academic improvements and successes, then we must move from where we are in order to get to where we want to be. It will require all of us working together to move Rowan-Salisbury Schools to the next level.
Moody is superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury School System.