Ahead in Island schools, leadership changes, renewed focus, clear vision

Ahead in Island schools, leadership changes, renewed focus, clear vision

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The 2010-2011 school year is about to begin, and I want to use this opportunity to update our community on all that has happened since June. Most importantly, the Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools has renewed its focus on student learning and created a clear vision statement to highlight this focus:

“The Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools will create the conditions to ensure that all students learn at high levels, develop a passion for learning and build strong interpersonal relationships in a caring environment.”

This has been a very busy summer with significant teaching and administrative changes. As a result of several retirements and departures, we have hired close to 50 new teachers and teaching assistants. In the administrative ranks, Laury Binney’s departure from Oak Bluffs led to the return of Carlin Hart as the new principal. Carlin will work quickly with the school staff to develop a strong vision for the building and open lines of communication with the broader community. At West Tisbury School, Donna Lowell-Bettencourt, the school’s interim principal, will be joined by Sean Mulvey as interim assistant principal. Sean comes from an extensive leadership experience in Colorado.

At the high school, we have three new administrators. Mark McCarthy will reprise his role from the 1980s and take over from Sandy Mincone as athletic director. Serving as acting assistant principals for this school year will be Matt Malowski and Andrew Berry. Matt previously served as an English and ESL teacher as well as the coordinator of the STAR program. Andy has been a history teacher at the school for several years and had a long career as a private school administrator.

The new year begins with several important curriculum and instruction initiatives — a mathematics project called “Size Matters,” which will focus upon improving our students MCAS scores in the area of measurement, an English/Language Arts endeavor targeting student growth in learning and a social studies portfolio project aimed at assessing student growth using portfolios. Additionally, we will continue our efforts at improved supervision of teachers using our Professional Growth System (PGS). This effort aligns closely with the state- and national-level work on a standards based approach.

As always, schools play a vital role in our community; however, they are only one component of the important partnership needed to successfully educate our young people. Parents and community members must also participate in this process, and I urge all Islanders to do their part.

Mr. Weiss is superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools.