District awaits feedback to guide its planning
WESTPORT — School administrators are eagerly awaiting feedback from the community regarding the planning of the district.
Through the month of April, all stakeholders will have the chance to have their voices heard in the form of a survey.
The questionnaire, developed by the school board’s strategic planning committee, seeks input on what the district is doing well and what it needs to improve upon. In addition to the survey, focus group meetings with town leaders, students, parents, administrators and teachers will be held.
“We are trying to get stakeholder feedback about what people’s perception is of our schools,” said Julie Droller, the director of elementary education. “What is successful, what isn’t and what we should be focusing on for the next 3 to 5 years.”
After the survey results are collected and the focus groups are held, administrators will evaluate the feedback.
“We will synthesize the information and look for themes across the surveys to capture the broad topics that emerge, and will do the same for the focus groups,” Director of Secondary Education Jennifer Allen said.
The district has a tradition of making strides to improve an already high-performing school system. In 2010 it launched Westport 2025, an initiative that seeks to equip Westport students with the skills needed to thrive in the 21st century. It focuses on four main pillars: global citizenship, oral and written communication skills, creativity along with critical thinking and problem-solving.
“Teachers have used this to add this global citizen piece in their classes—how are we developing children who think outside of the box and are able to communicate with others around the world,” Droller said.
In 2014 the district started developing a set of guiding principles that students and teachers aim to be socially and emotionally aware, kind with sincerity, principled in thought and action and always learning.
Just last month, teams of teachers from Saugatuck Elementary School, Bedford Middle School, and Coleytown Middle School traveled to Yale University to take part in a seminar at the school’s center for emotional intelligence.
“It was a two-day institute focused on identifying emotions that adults and students experience during the school day and naming those emotions and identifying strategies to help regulate emotions so that students are in a position to learn and thrive,” Allen said. Teams from remaining district schools will take part in the training this summer.
All members of the Westport community are encouraged to participate.