Critical Conversation Forums
During the 2013-2014 school year, the Mountain Lakes Public School District engaged in a new model for long range education planning. The district sponsored nineteen Critical Conversation Forums to address the most important issues facing the school system including, addressing the Common Core and curricular improvements, navigating the college admissions process, fostering resiliency skills among all students and managing increasing educational mandates. The community, students, faculty and administration engaged in meaningful conversations on these topics each presentation was archived in real time on the district website. (http://www.mlschools.org/Page/2969)
In addition all the stakeholders participated in a survey about the quality of instruction and future direction of the district. The results of all the conversations and the survey were used to formulate four goals and targeted projects associated with each goal. Throughout the summer, the Superintendent hosted “open write” sessions where individuals could discuss the development of the plan and offer suggestions for its implementation.
Balance Tradition and Innovation
Review of mission statements, program philosophies, academic, student conduct and co curricular regulations.
Create an online teacher resource manual featuring potential lessons that employ resources such as Kahn Academy, Naviance, STEM, and TED talks
Investigate blended learning opportunities for our students
Work to promote embracing technological advances while demonstrating personal integrity, ethics and appropriate boundaries
Promote “Grit” among our students
Identify opportunities to practice resiliency by encouraging and protecting students when they fail and celebrating when students attempt to work outside of their comfort zone.
Provide learning opportunities for students to explore new challenges, test their intellectual limits and conduct failure analyses
Create more opportunities for formative assessments and reflection following cumulative assessments
Foster a positive, safe learning environment for all students
Institute new initiatives to promote greater job satisfaction among the faculty and greater quality applicant pools for selected vacancies
Develop additional strategies and programs to assist students who struggle with social and emotional issues such as school anxiety, negative self image and self injurious behavior
Rededicate our efforts in the area of differentiated instruction as a means to effectively reach all students while implementing technology in a meaningful way
Manage Unfunded Mandates
Complete Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) Review (Includes a comprehensive audit of Personnel, Facilities, Governance and Curriculum and Instruction practices)
Administer Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) Assessments
Teachers and administrators will tailor learning activities to address aspects of each of the targeted projects outlined above. During the school year the superintendent will be responsible for monitoring progress for each topic area. At the conclusion of the school year, the 2015-2016 school year’s targeted projects will be developed through a series of “open writes”.
Superintendent Anne Mucci said of the plan, “It has exceeded our expectations we were able to enjoin over 400 people in the process of writing this plan and establishing our district goals. I am very excited to have goals that focus on the mental health of our students and the morale of our faculty. In addition, this process enabled us to educate the public regarding the increasing mandates that are becoming such a tremendous burden for successful suburban districts such as Mountain Lakes.”