Happy New Year! Welcome to an exciting time at Willard Intermediate School. During the month of January, we will continue the process of selecting our mascot, and begin gathering input from parents and students about what they would like to see in their new school home. We’ll also be making decisions about furniture, and begin meeting with construction staff members to get updates about the progress of the building. Most consequently, we will begin the process of hiring the positive, welcoming, and dedicated staff members that will compose the inaugural staff of Willard Intermediate School.
Choosing a staff for Willard is an enormous responsibility. Our teachers and counselors are the most important people in any school, and make decisions each day that push children closer to achieving their dreams and ambitions. In fact, I believe it is the ability of our staff members to work together for a common goal that drives our guiding principle of extend success. In my last post, I wrote about extending success in terms of making sure all students feel valued and recognized for the contributions they make to the school. Another facet of extending success is how we work together as a staff to extend success to students who might not otherwise achieve it without the careful intervention of our staff members.
Anyone who has worked or lived with adolescents for any length of time knows that they are complex. While the use of data has become an important part of making educational decisions, human beings do not always easily fit into the idea that A leads to B, and will be fixed if we do C. Instead, schools need to bring to bear all of the professionals that may have insight into why students are struggling and how we can help. That includes teachers, counselors, and administrators, but also school nurses, psychologists, social workers, and parents. Coupled with effective classroom instruction, these experts can craft effective interventions that bring attention, awareness, and accountability to the problems students are experiencing, and bring systematic monitoring to the situation to help drive future decisions. Ultimately, extending success is about having a process in place that encourages students, identifies areas of need, and supports student growth.
To put all of this another way, whenever I visit the construction site at Willard, I make it a point to stop by the construction trailer and see the yellow line. The words on the paper represent the thousands of jobs that need to be done in the construction of the school, and the yellow line shows the progress the crew is making towards accomplishing those tasks. Building a school doesn’t happen overnight; it is the result of thousands of small processes that take place each day, leading up to the final product. Maybe progress is not evident to the observer, but it is always happening, in a specific order, at a specific time. Over the years, the process has been evaluated and modified as contractors work together to move from freshly cleared land to a fully functioning school environment.
“My child has always struggled with math.” “Our diagnostic test shows this student is a year behind grade level in reading.” “I can’t find my homework from last night.” Each of these situations demands the intervention of school personnel, but to effectively extend success, we need to collaborate to determine how we support students in need, relentlessly and consistently apply a process, and evaluate results. When that happens, the yellow line may not always move quickly, but it always moves in the right direction.