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By Amy Rex
As many of you are aware, this is an exciting time of innovation at Harwood Union. It is our goal to ensure that every student masters the foundational knowledge and skills to be prepared for success and that every student is academically challenged.
In partnership with Harwood Union High School, members of the Harwood Union community have been sharing ideas to improve communication and foster community engagement. It is the goal of this group to help the administration find ways to effectively communicate school initiatives and to invite a two-way discourse with the wider community.
A Methodical Approach to Redesign
In this first communication we want to provide an update to the conversations around restructuring classes for the 9th and 10th grades. Instead of a swift, whole systems redesign, Harwood Union is embarking on a path of innovation to advance educational opportunities for every student.
The strengthening of the ninth grade continues with a team approach and technology supporting every student. Harwood will continue to offer honors classes to students in all grades. Teachers and administrators have already begun to lay the foundation for standards-based learning and will be using new concepts to positively influence their curriculum and lesson plans as early as next year.
Presently, plans are being made to implement differentiated teaching and learning within all classrooms. This will help each student be fully engaged, challenged and to reach his or her highest level of academic achievement. In addition, Personalized Learning Plans (PLP) will link students to their passions and academic goals.
A Call for Community Engagement
As interested parents, board members, students, administrators and teachers in the HUHS community, we feel passionately about our school. Our students are offered amazing opportunities at Harwood, in academics, athletics and the arts, as well as a variety of learning pathways.
We realize there is a need to improve communication between all members of the community in terms of content, timeliness and feedback channels. We want to engage in public discourse around the changes taking place to improve Harwood Union, while fostering a partnership characterized by mutual support and open communication. We need community members to demand excellence for every student and support initiatives to attain it.
In addition to the existing communication methods, we are considering new ones. One channel will be a blog. Over time, this will be a great way to share timely information directly from the school and administration, as well as provide an online avenue for engagement.
Our purpose is to provide information on emerging developments at Harwood. Topics may include:
Goals and process for improving the HUHS learning experience.
Proficiency and standards-based teaching and learning.
The Common Core Standards.
Adoption of the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC), replacing the NECAPs.
The Personal Learning Plan (PLP) pilot next year.
Adoption of the seven-block schedule.
Evolving plans and programs related to the 21st-century classroom.
The community dispatch group is made up of Harwood co-principal Amy Rex and a variety of individuals from the towns in the Washington West Supervisory Union, although attendance at the meetings varies (from 8 to 10). The initial group included Waterbury residents Pete Kulis, Maureen MacCracken, Marlene Marene, Ellen Dorsey, Dawn Lee Minter James Jennings; Garrett MacCurtain, Duxbury; Waitsfield residents Cheryl Kingsbury, Holliday Rayfield, Jennifer Boland; and Warren residents Mike Fennelly and Nancy Baron.