Dear Falmouth Families,
Welcome to the 2019-20 school year! I hope you enjoyed a fun-filled and relaxing summer with family and friends. The start of the school year is always an exciting time for students, staff, and families.
In my opening letter last year, I shared all the wonderful things I heard about our schools. I’m pleased to say that I’ve now witnessed what I heard, and it is all absolutely true. Falmouth schools are superior in culture, academics, cocurricular, and extracurricular opportunities and our district’s strength lies in our motivated students, dedicated staff, and a truly committed community.
The Falmouth Public Schools’ Framework for Student Success is an exemplary model for ensuring all students have access to a world class education; are supported in their academic learning, growth and achievement; are offered personalized learning opportunities to further develop their unique strengths, interests and talents; and are supported in safe, nurturing, and positive learning environments. During our spring revision, we added a fourth dimension, Foundations for Excellence (Executive Summary attached). The additional dimension allows us to be explicit about district systems and how they support teaching and learning. I’m excited to announce new efforts in improving our communication with families and the community on the unique student learning experiences we offer every student. This school year, our School Committee will focus on revising the district’s mission, vision, and core values to align with our Framework for Student Success. Your input this year will be an invaluable step in this process.
In addition to our already outstanding programs, we will be expanding on access, equity, and opportunities for all students. During this past school year, we spent time cultivating our relationship with the Woods Hole professional community. There have been so many wonderful connections with individual students and classrooms. We are now embarking on a plan to engage all students in unique learning experiences. This year you will hear about how students influence changes to the earth, use maps to determine human impacts, and deepen their understanding of local marine environments. Although these activities may not impact all grades, our 3-5-year plan will include activities at every grade level.
To expand our efforts on more hands-on authentic learning experiences, our elementary schools are gearing up to create makerspaces. What is a makerspace? A place where students can use their imagination and explore their curiosities. Students can be creative and innovative. Makerspaces foster a growth mindset and students learn an iterative process that leads to success. This student experience will elevate the innovative learning that can be seen throughout our elementary and secondary grade classes.
Falmouth schools are on the cutting edge of heightening the learning process with access to our interactive and socially conscience world. We are moving to a 1:1 device program in grades 5 -12. What makes it a 1:1 program? Every student will be assigned a Chromebook as a personal device over multiple years. A device in hand does not mean isolated and low-level learning. Just the opposite, we will be providing more professional development on how to utilize the device for more creative, innovative, and collaborative learning. Students reported in Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up survey, that they are more likely to take notes, conduct research, create documents to share, collaborate with peers on projects, check their grades and receive reminders, and ask teachers questions through email. In essence, students are more responsible learners when empowered with digital tools. We want students engaged in hands-on collaborative experiences, using their device as an instrument of learning. We already have more devices than students. Personally assigning a device to a student is the next step in transforming learning in our digital world. More information will follow on the rollout plan for grades 5-7 and 8-12. Look for student expectations and our new Responsible Use policy coming soon.
Get the word out! Students will have an increased opportunity to participate in high school theater this year. We have added a theater program to our already exceedingly popular fine arts department. Students will be able to sign up for classes during the school day as well as after school. As always, all students will have the opportunity to participate in not just one but two performances. We will have at least one drama and one musical each year! Come out and see our students perform. They won’t disappoint.
Having a sound mind and body remains a priority for the district. We are expanding our salad bars to our final three schools. We are adding new PE equipment, encouraging the expansion of bike and read, adding athletic teams and clubs, and encouraging short intermittent physical activity breaks for all students. Mindfulness and reflection opportunities are growing in strength and a focus on restorative practice will emerge across all our schools.
Along with these opportunities for students, I will be sharing more exciting news throughout the school year.
True to the Falmouth spirit, we will continue to work tirelessly to make our schools a place where your children want to come each and every day to engage in learning that challenges them, builds confidence, and encourages them to achieve their very best. We all care deeply about the success of our children! We are lucky to have such a passionate and dedicated staff whose priorities are focused on students and building positive relationships. We are fortunate to be part of a community committed to excellence. Every student! Every day!
I look forward to a great year! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions, comments, or concerns. My email is email@example.com and my office phone number is 508-548-0151, ext. 137.
I welcome you and your children to join me as we embark on a wonderful and successful school year!
Lori Duerr, Ed.D.
Falmouth Public Schools