Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School focuses on curriculum

Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School director Bob Moore. — File photo by Janet Hefler

The Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School is excited about the opening of their sixteenth year this week as a Kindergarten through Grade 12 public school option for families on the Island. The Charter School’s enrollment is at its capacity of 180 students, as set by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), for the third year in a row. We are pleased that all of our lead classroom teachers are returning for the 2011-2012 school year.

The 2011-2012 school year initiatives will focus on curriculum and long-range planning as we enter the fourth five-year charter granted by the DESE. Curriculum work will include updates and revisions of the scope and sequence in the areas of English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. It is the goal of the Charter School to access and utilize the information on the updated version of the DESE Data Warehouse site to inform our instruction.

In addition to the scope and sequence curricular work, we will be implementing an experiential thematic unit approach to teaching and learning for our grade 11-12 students and teachers. The Charter School’s objective is to implement an engaging, intellectual, and hands-on learning experience for the Grade 11-12 students both in and out of the classroom

Long-range planning will include the teacher evaluation process and discussion and update of the school’s strategic plan looking at the next five years. The DESE has adopted a new set of regulations on evaluation of educators that the school will review during their discussion of the teacher evaluation process at the Charter School. The collaborative process the school will undertake will include teachers and administration to ensure the professional evaluation process reflects the values of the Charter School.

As part of the Charter School’s implementation of the school’s Bullying Policy, the staff and students will address the “Role of the Bystander” in bullying situations. The teachers will participate in a workshop this fall specifically aimed at the “Role of the Bystander” in bullying situations so they can work with their students on strategies that can be used, if needed. It is the school’s intent to inform and train all members of our community of the school’s policy and procedures in dealing with bullying. We feel that the role of the bystander is essential to the success of ensuring a safe learning environment for all our students and staff.

The staff will discuss throughout the year their professional practice of implementing the elements of progressive education that guide their work each day: Attending to the Whole Child, Community, Collaboration, Intrinsic Motivation, Active Learning, and Taking Kids Seriously. Schooling is more than standardized test scores. Interdependence is just as important as independence. Working with students is crucial to the success of each learner. Our professional practice has us continuing to ask, “How does our work impact the students’ long-term interest and desire to learn?” Purposeful activities are important in and out of the classroom. Listening to and engaging students in meaningful discussions are the foundation of a respectful school environment. These elements of progressive education will be analyzed during the school year in small and large group discussions to assist us in fully carrying out the school’s mission.

The Charter School reaches out to the Island community each year asking for assistance with our High School Mentorship Program. We are seeking professionals in our community who would like the opportunity to share their passion and expertise with a high school student or students for a couple of hours each week. Many members of our community have been very gracious with their time in serving as mentors during our first 15 years.

The Charter School will continue to find direction through its pillars: Freedom, Democracy, Cooperation, Responsibility, Respect, and Trust, in our daily work with students and families. The school community will strive to ensure that each student has the opportunity to be successful in reaching their dreams and goals.

Robert Moore is director of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School.