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By Amy Rex and Lisa Atwood
The recent dialogue and engagement surrounding the Harwood Union Middle and High School Redesign of the 9th Grade Community has brought much attention to our school. This investment in the design process within our community at large will positively contribute to our future successes. As we move forward together, it is essential that we keep this dialogue going. The Harwood Union faculty and staff, administration and school board are committed to regular, ongoing, transparent communication as we continue to build our redesign plan.
It is the goal of Harwood Union Middle and High School to provide all students with a world-class education that is challenging, growth oriented and fulfills the aspirations of each individual. To this end, three areas of focus are being examined with the intent to fine-tune and/or redesign HU programs to achieve our goal: 1.) mission, vision and core values; 2.) shared leadership; and 3.) curriculum, instruction and assessment.
In March of 2013, we outlined the structural changes necessary to support the creation of a cohesive schoolwide system that maximizes opportunities for all students. These included:
1. Student Support Services
2. Student Discipline – Student Management Structure
3. The 9th Grade Community
4. Teacher Advisory – TA
The 2013-15 HU Action Plan is aligned with these systems changes and can be viewed on the Harwood website (www.harwood.org) under the Administrative tab. Progress made toward the goals of the action plan will be posted in April. Beginning in the summer and throughout the fall of 2013, we embarked on a process to articulate a vision for Harwood Union. The purpose of the vision is to capitalize on our strengths while providing greater continuity, a clarity of focus, an understanding of our beliefs and values and a renewed sense of accountability in order to better prepare our students to be the very kind of citizens, scholars and professionals our society needs. The first event to solicit community input in the development of our core beliefs and values was not well attended; however, we hope to expand participation as we review results from the first session and embark on adopting a final draft later this spring.
At this point in time, our attention is on shared leadership and the 9th Grade Community. The ninth grade is the gateway to high school and thus to the educational shifts that are taking place throughout the state and at Harwood. These shifts include:
• a flexible learning environment that reflects high standards of achievement
• personal learning plans
• proficiency-based graduation
Throughout the remainder of the spring, the HU learning organization will be engaged in a high level of action research, decision-making and planning centered on the 9th Grade Community Redesign. The first community event will take place on Thursday, January 30, at 6:30 p.m. in the Harwood library. It will consist of a panel presentation outlining the educational goals of Harwood, information on Act 77 – personal learning plans; proficiencies and grading; and the H-1 process and decision-making. Throughout the month of February, an understanding of community needs and concerns will be gathered. The detailed 9th Grade Community Redesign process map can be viewed on the HU website under the Administration tab.
If you have questions, contact us: Lisa Atwood (882-1126) or Amy Rex (882-1142).
Rex and Atwood are co-principals of Harwood Union High School.