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Listening and Learning Tour

Prepared by: Lori S. Duerr, Ed.D

Introduction

It is with much enthusiasm and excitement that I begin this new role as Superintendent of Falmouth Public Schools. I have spent my entire life serving in public education, working to create safe, positive and nurturing learning environments while raising the achievement levels of all students.

Leadership transitions are vitally important, particularly in an environment where the community is supportive and invested in the well-being and success of the students and staff. It is for this reason that I am taking time to listen and learn about the unique needs of this community and the seven schools that form Falmouth Public Schools.

By gathering information in a systematic way and holding meetings to present and discuss my findings, I intend to take the lead in having us define a common future and a common course of action to provide each student of the community with an exceptional education.

The Listening and Learning Tour will include visits to all schools, meetings with principals, school staff, students, parents, and meet-and-greets with the community so that I can hear about Falmouth’s successes and challenges. At the completion of the Listening and Learning Tour, I plan to share what I have heard. The meeting will be open to the public and the report will be made available online for all staff and community members.

I look forward to working with all members of the community. I am eager to listen and learn about an issue that is important to us all: the education of Falmouth youth.

Warm Regards,

Lori S. Duerr
Superintendent
Falmouth Public Schools

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning”
- Benjamin Franklin

Goals

Goal One:     Establish public trust and support through open and honest communication.

Goal Two:    Create the Falmouth student achievement plan that builds upon the current successes of each school.

Goal Three:   Determine the social-emotional and health needs of Falmouth students and expand on the current strategies to meet the needs of all students.

Goal Four:    Establish a clear strategy to address school safety, security, and culture in every Falmouth school.

Strategies

Goal One: Establish public trust and support through open and honest communication.

Strategies:

  1. Meet with School Committee members to establish goals.
  2. Meet with present and former School Committee members to learn about the academic and cultural history of FPS.
  3. Meet with former superintendents to learn about the academic and cultural history of FPS.
  4. Meet with selected representatives of the business community, non-profit agencies, police and fire departments, and elected officials to establish relationships and discuss partnerships.
  5. Host informal meet and greets with the community.
  6. Meet with parents at the schools to learn about successes and challenges.
  7. Meet with students to hear about how they feel about school.
  8. Meet with the president of the teacher association to establish common ground and hear about concerns of the association members.

Goal Two: Create the Falmouth student achievement plan that builds upon the current successes of each school.

Strategies:

  1. Conduct open meetings at each school and invite both classified and certificated employees to share their successes and challenges.
  2. Visit classrooms to observe teaching and learning.
  3. Meet individually with every principal.
  4. Visit every school to conduct a data session which includes review of current achievement status, trend data, achievement gap data, and the school’s success plan to improve learning outcomes for all students.
  5. Review each school’s scope and sequence of instructional materials and assessments.
  6. Review special education data, IEP’s, staffing models, and instructional practices.
  7. Review English as a second language data, staffing models, and instructional practices.
  8. Review inventory of technology-based instructional equipment at each school and its usage.
  9. Review intervention programs in reading and math at every school.
  10. Analyze each department’s and school’s budget and spending plan and look for alignment between spending patterns and improvement strategy.
  11. Work with principals to set performance targets and instructional strategies to meet targets.

Goal Three: Determine the social-emotional and health needs of Falmouth students and expand on the current strategies to meet the needs of all students.

Strategies:

  1. Conduct open meetings at each school and invite both classified and certificated employees to share their observations.
  2. Review provided services with district office staff and principals.
  3. Meet individually with principals and support service providers.
  4. Visit every school to conduct a data session which includes review of survey data, 504 plans, IEPs, referrals, student achievement data, and provider data to correlate supports with improved learning outcomes for students.
  5. Schedule a parent forum to listen to the concerns of parents relating to social-emotional learning and supports provided by schools.

 

Goal Four: Establish a clear strategy to address school safety, security, and culture in every Falmouth school. 

Strategies:

  1. Gather baseline data, by school, for attendance, tardiness, suspension, expulsion, and truancy.
  2. Review school and district policies and school plans related to attendance, tardiness, suspension, expulsion, and truancy.
  3. Observe school practices and procedures related to attendance, tardiness, suspension, expulsion, and truancy.
  4. Review school and district policies and school plans related to school safety and security.
  5. Observe each school’s procedures regarding school security.
  6. Examine each school building for physical security.
  7. Schedule a parent forum to listen to the concerns of parents relating to school safety.
  8. Meet with teachers and principals about critical student and staff safety concerns.
  9. Meet with students to hear their safety concerns.
  10. Meet with local law enforcement agencies to hear their concerns.
  11. Identify challenges or obstacles to solving safety concerns.
  12. In collaboration with district and school staff, parents, students and community develop strategies to improve student attendance, discipline, and safety to school, in school, and on the way home from school.

Overall Guiding Questions 

  1. What are the strengths that have afforded the Falmouth Public School District success to date?
  2. What are the traditions of FPS that should never be changed, no matter what?
  3. What are the key areas challenging our school district?
  4. Is there enough communication from the school district letting stakeholders know what is happening in our schools and district?
  5. What do you feel needs the Superintendent’s immediate attention?
  6. What else do I need to know as the incoming Superintendent?

Process and Timeline

Stage One: Data Collection

April – October, 2018

Data will be gathered during the initial phase of the entry plan. Data will be focused on the four goals outlined above. Data will be collected through

  • Individual and group conversations
  • Document reviews
  • School and classroom visits
  • Meetings with school and town stakeholders

Stage Two: Analysis and Sharing

October – December, 2018

After the data collection stage, I will begin the analysis and reporting stage of the entry plan. I am hopeful that through the large amount of data collected that trends and patterns will emerge that will point to the most important issues the district is facing at this time. These important issues will then shape and drive next steps for continuous improvement in the Falmouth Public Schools.

These initial findings will first be presented to the Falmouth Public Schools School Committee, and then with the larger Falmouth community. Presentations will be made to groups such as faculty meetings, PTO meetings, Town meetings, and the Board of Selectmen. These presentations will include what is working well and should be maintained and areas for growth and innovation.

Stage Three: Planning and Strategy Development

January – March, 2019

Once we have the data and the results reported, the district will move into the planning stage. An important outcome of the listening and learning tour is using the information to drive greater school and district success. The planning stage will be a collaborative process with all stakeholder representation. The outcome is a shared focus with clearly identified priorities and strategies for greater success and innovation.

Stage Four: Implementation

April 2019 – June 2020

The revised strategic plan will drive all decisions being made across the district.