Dear OSSU Staff, Parents and Community.
Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year. I hope you spent the summer relaxing, finding time for yourself as well as enjoying family time.
I am truly honored to serve as your superintendent of schools. We welcome you to our wonderful school district where we are focused on ensuring excellence for every student.
We are proud to serve the community of Orleans Southwest SU by continuing to educate children to the standards of excellence that will empower them to be successful in higher education; in the workplace; and in life. The very focal point of our mission is our students.
As we begin another school year, we look forward to you being part of our Orleans Southwest SU family and hope you become involved in our schools and community. To those new to our school community, we are looking forward to your contributions to our students and teams. I would like to take this opportunity to share our goals for 2016-2017.
- Our first priority is the students and fostering a school culture where all students are safe, welcomed, valued and challenged. Our students must feel safe within their environment in order to learn and to be successful. Because student safety is a shared responsibility within schools, staff, families and communities must become educated on how to address unsafe speech and behaviors in school, such as inappropriate language and racial and sexual comments. We must work together to make civility and respect a norm across the entire organization, students and adults alike. Each school will focus on how to engage our communities in this important work. Together we can change the culture and environment for our children so they may feel safe.
- Recent events this past school year brought to light the need for a comprehensive, coordinated OSSU-wide Public Safety and School-level plans within the SU. In the past, schools developed their own plans without much coordination with the SU or other schools. Given OSSU's configuration, such coordination is a big project. This work takes time and resources across six towns in four counties. With support from local agencies and our communities we will get it done this year. A roadmap is underway to accomplish this goal. Initial discussions with state school emergency planning management experts took place in June and an introductory meeting with representatives from law enforcement, fire, rescue, emergency management, and mental health met at an introductory meeting on July 26th. School teams attended a state-sponsored training in early August. We are seeking a community member to join the OSSU Public Safety Team.
- Proficiencies as the Foundation of Proficiency-based Learning: This past school year, instructional staff worked diligently to identify the proficiency-based graduation requirements for each grade level and content area. Version 1 of the proficiencies is nearly ready for dissemination. There is still much to do with regard to developing scoring rubrics and assessments. One change that will soon be noted at the middle and high school levels is in the report cards. Parents will now be able to see how well their students are doing in meeting the proficiencies, habits of mind and content area. Each school will be explaining these changes to parents and students. As we prepare for the Class of 2020 to graduate under these proficiencies, both the Hazen Union and Craftsbury School Boards are preparing to adopt new graduation policies.
- Now that the identification of proficiencies nearing completion, we will be creating a Community Focus Group made up of students, guardians, teachers, school board members, GMTCC, and community members to provide feedback regarding clarity, relevance and usefulness of proficiency-related documents and tools. This feedback will be shared with the OSSU Leadership team for final approval of the proficiencies.
- Flexible Pathways. Beginning with the class of 2020 our schools are now required to create, in partnership with students and their families, individualized paths to graduation which will allow each student to develop the necessary content knowledge and skill sets by exploring individual interests. Graduation requirements will become rooted in demonstrations of student proficiency, as opposed to time spent in classrooms. Individualized paths to proficiency will be built through personal learning plans and include community-based learning, internships, college courses, online coursework, independent studies, Early College, and career and technical education.
So much to do, but most importantly--we are ready for our children to return to begin another exciting year. By working together, we can ensure that every child feels a true sense of belonging and can learn by empowering them with the knowledge, skills and disposition, so they are college and career ready and become successful, responsible, and contributing members of society- locally and globally.
Joanne LeBlanc, M.Ed.
Superintendent of Schools, Orleans Southwest SU