On Tuesday, April 15th, I had the opportunity to meet with over 40 parents and teachers from ESAA. The first purpose of the meeting was to share my reflections on the 2013-2014 school year and lay out the plan for the 2014-2015 school year. The second purpose of the meeting was to invite parents into a dialogue about the plan for the 2014-2015 school year via the upcoming Parent Coffees on April 21st, 25th and 29th. These parent coffees are about getting staffing and leadership plans for next year and addressing concerns about the school culture. Additionally, my purpose in meeting with parents is to get feedback on how we engage our school community through our PTO. For those who were unable to make it to the meeting, I have put together brief overview of what we discussed. If you are interested in signing up for one of the coffees, please do so at: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0F4CA8AD2DA1F94-esaa.
Over the past few months, I have opened my door to ESAA parents to share their perspectives on the school. Many have come in to share their thoughts and have enjoyed the conversations. One recurring issue through these conversations is the concern over the school culture since our move to a shared facility with Pigeon River. In many respects the lunchroom and some classroom behaviors have not been what we envision for school. In December, a few teachers came to me and expressed concerns over this. After taking some time to observe, we gathered our staff together and have been working to improve our culture. A few of the steps are as follows:
- Next school year we will be dividing our lunches into two lunch periods to help reduce the number of students in the lunchroom and the amount of time students are standing in line.
- Our office at our old facility was set up to help students be successful. Often students were allowed to come down to the office to “cool down”. Within the office there were places for students to go and materials for students to use to cool down. As we head into spring, we are setting our office up for success once again.
- Procedures and space need to be setup for disruptive students. As a staff, we have worked on this since late winter putting together common expectations for how disruptive students will be handled - defining procedures and expectations for how the office will handle disruptive students. All of this is set and being implemented this spring.
This time of year always bring with it conjecture about staffing for the following year. As we look ahead to next school year, the school leader is a topic many are interested in. As I stated at the meeting, I am committed to a full time leader at ESAA to help us smooth out many of the wrinkles experienced this year with the move. Currently we have a committee formed to review the leadership position. We are drafting a job description that will be reviewed by parents and teachers on the committee. Once that job description is finalized we will move ahead with a hiring process. It is my hope that we will have our new school leader in place before the end of the school year.
In regards to teacher staffing, a common issue that has come up is the role of specialists in our curriculum. As we look to 2014-2015, we will reestablish the role of specialists in integrating classroom content. As a school, we see the benefits of students expressing their ideas through the arts and will continue with that.
Classroom staffing is planned as follows:
- Kindergarten - 1 classroom
- 1st Grade - 2 classrooms
- 2nd grade - 2 classrooms
- 3rd grade - 2 classrooms
- 4th grade - 1 classroom
- 4th/5th grade - 1 classroom
Currently we are running a waiting list at the Kindergarten level, but do not have enough to run an additional kindergarten section.
Specific placements have not been determined yet. Once they are, they will be announced. One point of note, Kara Pasche and Nik Scharebroch are both limited term employees meaning that they were hired late in August and therefore will reapply for their positions. We are currently in the middle of the application process.
Another common thread throughout conversations I have had with parents is focused around our school community and the need to engage people in our community. As I see it, the PTO is set up to be that main point of engagement. We no longer share a PTO with another school and therefore have the ability to reimagine it. The follow up coffees are a time gather feedback. At that meeting, a vision for the PTO will be laid out and feedback (positive and negative) will be taken. I sincerely hope you participate.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I will be putting out a few additional blogs about the content from the meeting. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.