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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Successful Year to Come: Opening Day

Not unlike the enthusiasm and cheer at Opening Day at Fenway Park, Opening Day at Wayland Public Schools was met with humility, cheer, celebration, humor, and wisdom.

The large staff of educators from pre-school to high school and leadership met at the school's beautiful new high school commons for a light breakfast followed by an Opening Day meeting in the auditorium. The festivities started with a warm welcome from Barbara Fletcher, the school committee chair followed by an invitation to write grants from Wayland Public School Foundation representative, Becky Haase.  After that our talented strings teacher, Whitney Tandon, led a musical production with 5th through twelfth graders and the addition of a group of educators.  The festive, clever musical arrangement created a sense of spirit and happiness in the room.

Following the musical presentation, Dr. Stein, Wayland's superintendent, relayed a number of inspiring messages as well as important information about this year's goals. He encouraged us to slow down to identify and correct error in our efforts to learn both as educators and students. Using the metaphor of a swimmer's tempo trainer, Dr. Stein noted the advantage of identifying the sweet spots and weak spots in our efforts, and using the weak spots in particular as places for personal and professional growth and development.  Using a quote from a summer read, he also demonstrated the importance of recognizing that one name or attribute never defines anyone as we all have both visible and invisible sides to our character and efforts. In that regard, we need to look beyond what is easily visible or named when teaching children by taking the time to understand the whole child.

Dr. Stein explained that our goals this year will be the same HEART goals of last year.  By analyzing and highlighting both our sweet spots and weak spots with regard to these goals, Stein identified specific targets related to each goal:
  • Health and Wellness: Identifying a K-12 healthy relationships curriculum, and continuing to build our efforts with students in this regard.
  • Building the Educator Evaluation system with a collaborative emphasis on teaching and learning. 
  • Focusing on the Achievement Gap with a new metric and efforts to guide our work.
  • Developing RTI efforts by identifying and working towards goals specific to each school.
  • Aiming our Technology efforts towards personalizing and differentiating to teach each child well. 
The stage is set for a very good year in Wayland, and now is the time to get started with the details that will make that happen.