Oak Bluffs School head describes significant staff changes

— File photo by Janet Hefler

As I reflect on my first year in the Oak Bluffs School community, I am grateful for the tremendous efforts of our students and staff and the continued contributions of our parents and community volunteers. We experienced a very successful year and I am confident that the momentum of improvement will carry through the coming school year as well.

In looking to strengthen our programs and practices, we made some necessary changes to our format and structure this past year while honoring and enhancing the traditions and practices that make the Oak Bluffs School a special place.

The Oak Bluffs School is a high-achieving school as evidenced by state aggregate scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. Our children continue to perform at high levels academically. Oak Bluffs student athletes excel in sports as well, winning Island championships on a consistent basis. Our Blazer staff is a leader in the implementation of the Responsive Classroom Social Curriculum and it continues to provide a high-quality education for our children despite challenging economic times that regularly manifest in decreasing budgets.

The strength of this school is in our teachers. For the upcoming year, we have made some significant changes for our staffing. We hope to enhance our consistency and unity of direction by having a significant number of our teachers move down in grade levels or take on additional assignments. By doing this, the priority standards that we teach within our curriculum frameworks will be articulated, K-8. Those teachers who are changing assignments will share the standards of their previous grade levels with their new grade level team members. This year, our staff will have an enhanced ability to collaborate and articulate our priority standards and emphasize the consistent expectations of our school that are so necessary. In going through this process, I was extremely moved by the willingness of our staff to embrace changes that will profoundly impact their professional lives. Their dedication has affirmed my own strong feelings that I have for our school.

As a principal, I recognize the efforts that have been made on the part of our staff to improve instruction. In our shared leadership model, teachers have the opportunity to regularly collaborate with one another, sharing their craft knowledge and best practices in the interests of our students. The collective capacity of our staff, along with our talented, hard-working children will ensure for continued high achievement among our student body.

In a short time, I have grown very proud to be a member of a community that includes a high-quality staff, a passionate school committee, and many fine parents. We have much to be proud of in regards to the accomplishments of the children and staff of the Oak Bluffs School and our continued collaborative efforts among our staff, students, and parents in earning a reputation for helping to foster wonderful, accomplished, high-achieving students.

Richie Smith, former principal of the Tisbury School, was named principal of the Oak Bluffs School in August 2011.