Okay truth be told, I really really didn’t feel like going to last night’s Fairfield Ludlowe High School PTA meeting that had been on my calendar since the date was emailed out to all of us. I was tired, and it was freezing out, and dark, and we just finished dinner after a long day, and the meeting would be long… In fact, I succeeded in talking myself out of going and finally resolved to skip it- literally the minute before I threw my coat on and pushed my butt out the door!
Star parent, right? Unfortunately, the reality was that I did not stand alone in these sentiments. When I got there, only about 10 others were present, including the PTA President, Jim Accomando, Past President, Christine Vitale, Headmaster, Greg Hatzis, VP of Programs, Laura Lawlor, two teachers and a few others!
The meeting was in the comfortable lecture room at the back of the Library, and Greg Hatzis was going to give an overview of the school’s 2016 Improvement Plan. He had a PowerPoint presentation and handouts prepared for everyone.
As I listened, I was more and more impressed by the comprehensiveness of the plan and ambitious goals as well as the energy and passion expressed by the presenter. There were so many focus areas to cover, but the determined Headmaster nailed the key points and even gave us a short Parent Beliefs survey to complete, all inside the span of one hour!
I thought the meeting and information were so valuable that the least I could do was share what I could about it. So I’ve included the three handouts (via the linked text in bold below) and listed what I thought were the main takeaways. Here are five points that I thought were key from the meeting,
- FLHS Improvement Plan 2015-2016 is completely aligned with the District Plan. It focuses on four core strategy areas and includes a feedback loop of action, evaluation, and continuous improvement.
- Instructional Program
- Teams/School Improvement Plans
- Leadership Capacity
- There are four important Academic Expectations including,
- Critical Thinking
- Creative Thinking
- The Marzano FLHS Teacher Evaluation Model is used. A valuable element of the model is that it focuses on a progression of teaching new knowledge, in-depth use and understanding of this knowledge and then advancing kids to use the knowledge and skills to generate original thinking such as developing one’s own hypothesis.
- The new Block Schedule with longer class times is working out great! Although it required teachers to start lesson planning from scratch, it has been instrumental to enabling more in-depth teaching and student understanding of the subjects.
- Teachers conduct Curriculum Focus Groups about twice per month. No longer do teachers work in isolation. Now they also learn from and inspire one another- just like doctors and surgeons have been doing for a long time. Teacher feedback is that they find it exceptionally valuable.
All of this funnels down from the overarching mission of the Fairfield Public Schools:
The mission of the Fairfield Public Schools, in partnership with families and the community, is to ensure that every student acquires the knowledge and skills to be a lifelong learner, responsible citizen, and successful participant in an ever-changing global society through a comprehensive educational program.
In the end, I was so glad I made it to this meeting. I gained valuable insights about my child’s education as well as the overall the quality of Fairfield’s education system and got to meet some very nice people. Having been so impressed, I’ve since hoped that more parents will come to future PTA meetings.
In the meantime, I’ve been convinced that our kids are in excellent hands! Go Falcons!
Feel free to comment below.