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October 2nd Friday Notes

Click here to read this months Friday Notes

SES Letter and Providers

Click here to view the 2015 Fall SES Letter and list of providers

Westminster School Board Community Education Support Committee

The purpose of the Community Education Support Committee (CESC) is to provide expertise and resources to support and inform the decision-making of the Westminster School Board (WSB). The focus of the committee will be to engage in discussion and research on a broad spectrum of educational issues of critical importance to the Westminster community in the effort to make our school a stronger and safer learning and social environment for our children. The committee will assemble information, research and resources related to important educational issues and then make informed recommendations about programs or policies to the WSB for their consideration.

The committee is also designed to facilitate community volunteer activities that support the schools – its students, teachers, administration and Parent-Teacher Organizations.

The committee will serve as an open forum for parents, teachers and community members to explore and discuss innovative, effective and affordable educational approaches, address areas of concern and pose possible solutions.

Suggested topics for discussion or areas of research for the committee, include, and are not limited to:

  • How parents and the community can support teachers in their work.
  • Ways of adding language and additional science and nature-based programs into the curriculum without adding great costs to the school budget.
  • How other small schools in the region have been able to move successfully forward after being designated as “failing.”
  • Opportunities to employ multi-age teaching and learning to reduce costs, enhance teacher morale, and increase student academic achievement, emotional well-being and social skills.
  • How to initiate a program that would allow community members to share their knowledge, skills and talents with Westminster students.

Contact school board member Elise Manning if you are interested in serving on this committee.

June 4 Community Forum Notes

The Education Landscape

June 4, 2015 Meeting Notes

I.              Introduction:

Ian: Introduced context and purpose of meeting. Harry: Presented strategy for proceeding.

  • Harry: Common Core is not a curriculum it is a set of standards that represent what a student should know to be successful.
  • English/Language Arts for example is no longer providence of English teacher alone. The focus of Common Core is on performance standards of the student not specific techniques of teaching of X amount of time teaching a subject.
  • Students learn and achieve in different ways.
  • Missy Wilkins: Discussed proficiency based graduation requirements and personal learning plans.
  • Steve Tullar: Distributed documents.

II.            Common Core:

Member of Public Comments and Questions:

  • How do we balance goals and standards?
  • Students cannot graduate with D’s @ BFUHS
  • Some kids don’t have academic goals as part of their “culture”
  • How does legislation/governance play into CC/PLP’s?
  • Tenor is essential to education as is upbringing.
  • How do we get to the root of our goals as a community?
  • Common core is not a curriculum issue. What we need to do is invest in schools and promote economic justice.
  • Core competencies rest on development. As a young person one needs hard-wired skills in order to achieve competency.
  • Are there examples of schools that have failed with PLP’s.
  • Are we trying too hard? Testing too much?
  • Are we failing to see how previous standards and strategies have succeeded and failed because we have tried so many things?
  • The needs of students exceed the capacity of teachers and students.
  • The number of children with Learning Disabilities and Individual Education Plans is steadily increasing.
  • Schools are being asked to handle external realities and aspects of (students’) lives that they have not in the past.
  • Personal/Social competency is a crucial aspect of a child’s education.
  • The board collectively responded to comments.
  • No one school can serve all kids. Looking at multiple models is important. Flexible pathways and individualized learning is important but needs to be demonstrated.

III.         Generating Ideas

  • Do we want our teachers and social workers using paperwork to make determinations?
  • A social worker responded by expressing the opinion that ILP’s are a useful tool.
  • ILP’s deliver flexibility as to how to educate children.
  • Teachers should have the freedom and flexibility to do what they feel is best in serving students.
  • A “plug” for outdoor education was given.

IV.          H.361

Harry: Discussed inequalities present in the scope of the educational system and showed that H.361 is an attempt to rectify said inequality. Mr. Frank discussed strategies of the bill and elements of approach.

Members of the public:

  • What is the thinking, that local school boards are the source of a problem
  • Curriculum coordination?

FINAL Friday Notes for 2014. 2015

Please click here to view our last edition of Friday Notes for this school year.

Community Voices Survey

Last week the Westminster School Board of Directors hosted a forum – Community Voices: Our Children, Our Schools to gather ideas from community members regarding our schools.  These ideas will help in developing a strategic plan for the Westminster Schools that will serve us as we move into the future.  There is a second forum on Thursday, June 4 from 6:30 to 7:30 at the Center School.

We realize not everyone is able to attend, and would invite you to take the survey using the following link: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8SLHZNT

Thank you for your time and ideas.

Notes from May 26, 2015 Community Voices Forum

Westminster Community Voices – Our Children, Our Schools
May 26, 2015

David Ramos – How did your school experience influence…
1. Negative reinforcement and it influence.
a. Relationships, positive and caring
b. Non-relevant as a parent today
c. Importance of students as “teachers”
d. Teachers who care and communicate, intentional
e. Program that works with community
f. Lack of challenge, left on my own, every student should have an IEP (something similar)
g. Learned most in life from elementary school. Most important part of schooling
h. Learned the ability to learn. “Tenor & atmosphere” warm, open, liberal, broad-minded.
2. David Major – other countries and how they educate
a. DM: Gave examples of U.S. dropping to 49th in grad. Finland’s practices, S. Korea technology, home schooling, etc.
b. Opportunities in employment: Energy management at op expand programming?
c. Creative time is lacking in schools
d. What has changed? Concern that teachers are leaving. External realities i.e. Data/Assessment. Difference between testing and assessment. No public voice on these issues.
e. Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs: Potential not being nurtured?
f. Parental investment in children’s education: “crucial”
g. Denmark: is child centered, teachers specialize and move from class to class. Many supports. People value education work programs – kids working in the community.
h. Outdoor education harbors creativity
i. Community involvement very important: curriculum and testing “necessary evil”
j. Multi age interaction not segregation
k. Sense of home, place, community-outdoor education let’s not be intimidated by external factors
l. Eastern Europe system based on “teaching to a test” failure to evolve critical thinking skills. No parental involvement
m. Precipitating factors/social inequality should be part of the discussion
3. Elise Manning: What programs do people like?
EM: Made the comment that the arts are important to her. Gave examples of engineering programs teaching the importance of match in the real world.
a. Bike program is incredible – writing every day is an example of a high standard that everyone can meet.
b. Unclear parameters i.e. testing mandates
c. Harry Frank: Responded, next week’s session will address this question
d. Chris Kibbe: pointed to material addressing that question
e. Do people know what the school offers? A lot of great programs being asked for are already offered.
f. West west school offers safe/friendly environment. Sense of safety is necessary for learning. Teaches may feel assaulted by external factors which can negatively affect climate.
g. Appreciation for community and respect for others most important aspect of early education
h. Access to teachers/administrators have been very important
i. Morning meetings? Parents “hanging out”
j. Kids who speak English as a 2nd language start from behind. English programs and tutoring has been very useful for these kids.
k. Rick Gordon shared list of school programs with the public. Asked looking at __’s in the world
4. Where do we want to be in the next 10 years?
a. Focus on occupational training less important than critical thinking
b. Career development plan. Connecting learning to real world. Post secondary education=preparation
c. Focus on critical thinking skills important to train kids to distinguish between good and bad information.
d. Compassion, non-isolation, caring competent children become caring compassionate adults
e. Too many demands on children and teachers creates a difficult environment fo teaching critical thinking and 20th century skills
f. Importance of technology possibly overstated. Technology is not necessarily used properly as a teaching tool. “Becoming better humans is more important”
g. To see that our schools still exist. Learning taking place in a small environment. Consolidation? Mergers?
h. Time away from technology in order to promote interpersonal skills
i. Inclusion of foreign language classes.
j. Performance gap=diction problems.
5. Additional comments: Participation of public, utilization of technology. Chris Kibbe

Our Community Voices: Talking about Our Children and Our Schools

The Westminster Town School District Board of Directors will host a community conversation to bring us together and identify what we value and want for our children. The first of two forums will be on Tuesday May 26th from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Westminster Center School. There will be snacks and child care available.

If you are not able to attend the meeting in person, please join us using the Front Porch Forum which you may access through the following link: http://frontporchforum.com