Derry Schools, District Work on Strategic Plan Goals

The Derry Cooperative School District is proceeding with its Strategic Plan and with specific action items for each segment of the school population.
Superintendent Laura Nelson presented the latest iteration of the plan in a quarterly report at the Oct. 22 School Board meeting.

The Strategic Plan goals and sub-goals are as follows:
1. To have all students, Kindergarten-Grade 12, learning at a high level by: Providing a rigorous curriculum aligned with Common Core for all students; Having a high-quality teacher in every classroom; Integrating technology throughout the curriculum; and Working closely with Pinkerton Academy, NEXT Charter School and all high school facilities that educate Derry students.
2. To provide a safe, positive school environment that promotes learning and well-being by: Ensuring all district-owned facilities are well maintained and safe for students, staff and visitors; Developing and maintaining a long-range plan to ensure that facilities are appropriate to support instruction and meet the needs of the student population; Working to ensure that building infrastructure supports the implementation of technology into the curriculum; Fostering awareness of sustainability and environmental stewardship through the implementation of policies, programs and capital investments; and Encouraging positive relationships and interactions throughout the school community by fostering a positive and collaborative school/work environment.
3. Increase community involvement by: Ensuring timely communication between schools/parents/staff and students; Seeking and supporting opportunities to engage the wider Derry community, including clubs, organizations, businesses and citizens to the betterment of student achievement and learning and to promote active citizenship; and Continuing to encourage and support parent involvement in schools.
In the 17-page document, each school has listed what it has done so far to fulfill the goals. “It is a ‘rolling document,’” Nelson said.
For example, under Goal #1, West Running Brook Middle School is holding bi-weekly and monthly “content meetings,” Gilbert H. Hood Middle School has teachers posting and communicating “I can” messages to students; Derry Village Elementary School is providing planning time for teachers to align lessons to the Common Core standards; East Derry Memorial Elementary School will hold monthly “vertical meetings” to discuss progress of Common Core; Barka Elementary School will hold collaborative planning sessions; Grinnell Elementary School teachers will hold a weekly common planning time; and South Range Elementary School will implement the Reader’s Workshop program.
On a district level, the District Leadership Team meets biweekly, with one meeting focused on building and district needs and the second focused on curriculum and instruction; Student Services is reviewing remedial reading programs for students with disabilities; and Supplemental Services is focusing on instructional strategies for ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students.
Technology will be implemented and enhanced in the classroom in the following ways: West Running Brook, science teachers were awarded a grant to “flip” classroom; Derry Village, use of Web sites to promote learning; Barka, Timble Books (on-line books) used in primary grades; Grinnell, Title I and Special Education staff using iPads during small group instruction; South Range, “stepped up” use of Google Drive.
To provide a “safe, positive school environment,” Derry Village has a custodian conduct daily checks of specific areas; East Derry has established a safety/ wellness committee; Barka has conducted four fire drills and two lockdown drills; and Grinnell has submitted an updated project list to Business Administrator Jane Simard.
And they are “increasing community involvement” in some of the following ways: West Running Brook, weekly electronic newsletter; Derry Village, staff required to respond to messages within 24 hours; East Derry, Twitter account to communicate with parents; Barka, Unified Arts video on Web site; Grinnell, open houses and Parent Info nights; and South Range, newsletter available on paper, e-mail, Tweeted and on Web site.
School Board Chairman Brenda Willis thanked Nelson and the committee for the work so far. “It has been a long time coming,” Willis said. “What I like about it is, everyone is working together. It’s not the School Board saying, ‘Come on, get on the bus.’”
Nelson said participants didn’t view the document as a chore. “We did not,” she said, “have to chase anyone to get information.”

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