Warrior Notes: S-M-A-R-T goals
By REX WATSON
Superintendent of Schools, Peabody-Burns USD 398
From the beginning of the current fiscal year which began on July 1, 2007, the USD 398 Board of Education has focused a considerable amount of its energy on the development of S-M-A-R-T goals. The acronym S-M-A-R-T stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Although the process of goal development and refinement is a never-ending endeavor, the board has identified four general areas that they would like to target for improvement in the upcoming months and years.
As the board works to refine its goals, specific strategies will be explored and implemented with the administration making monthly reports on progress. As I have mentioned, the process of goal development and refinement is ongoing but I would like to report the four main areas that the board has targeted.
Improving Student Achievement: Regardless of our students' current performance levels, improving achievement is, and will remain, a valid consideration in the development of board goals. As a district, we have already taken steps to review student performance and create strategies for improving instruction but we still have work to do in aligning our curriculum and developing specific strategies that will reduce the disparity in achievement across our various demographic groups. In addition, we are exploring various ways that anywhere-anytime learning can take place. Advances in technology have allowed us to offer courses over the Internet, ITV and we are even exploring the possibility of developing hybrid courses that combine interactive instruction with student-centered activities. Development of individualized learning plans also will allow us to more effectively meet the needs of students on an individual basis regardless of socioeconomic or demographic factors.
Recruiting, Developing, and Retaining Quality Teachers: Let's face it, there is no single factor that plays a larger role in student achievement than a good classroom teacher. Recruiting, hiring, and retaining inspired and dedicated teachers is an obvious priority for every school district. At Peabody-Burns USD 398, we feel that we have a lot to offer in terms of a small, family-friendly school as well as a true commitment to our students. A part of our task in recruiting and retaining quality staff members will require us promote ourselves. In addition, we will need to continue to maintain excellent working conditions for our staff.
Improving Communication and Relationships Within the District to Develop Community Partnerships: Schools exist primarily to serve the needs of students but schools also must be viewed in the context of the community as a whole. Plans are in the works to survey patrons and community members to find out if we can be more responsive to the needs of the communities and do a better job of communicating with parents and patrons. The success and vitality of almost every small town depends upon the success and vitality of its schools. The flip-side is generally true as well in that endeavors that are beneficial to communities are also likely to be beneficial to schools. It is imperative that we work to meet the needs of our communities and develop partnerships and relationships that ensure our future vitality.
Providing Effective, Diverse Curricula That Develops Character and Citizenship in All Students: Character and citizenship development includes all of the skills necessary to get along in the world and be valuable to an employer. Many of these skills are not specifically covered under our conventional curriculum. Following are just some examples of the skills that the USD 398 Board of Education would like to students develop through learning opportunities provided at school: punctuality, pride in workmanship, craftsmanship, citizenship, accountability, civility, manners, and responsibility. The Boys Town Model, including the integration of social skill training, is a good start to ensuring that our students are prepared for life in the real world but there are other opportunities that we need to explore as well.