Our Signature: Achievement and Caring
William S. McKersie, Ph.D., Superintendent
Welcome back! We opened school on August 26 under picturesque skies, exceeded only by the smiling faces of our students, educators and families. Visiting every school and many classrooms on Opening Day, I was energized at each step by our eager and intelligent students and our caring and expert staff.
I have come to know Greenwich as a school district that embodies academic excellence, intellectual rigor, and compassion. Over the coming year, I want us to build on these qualities by accelerating achievement for each student and creating a caring and compassionate school system.
Accelerating Achievement requires us to foster growth in learning at rates that expand cognitive engagement, knowledge, and skills for all our students, while simultaneously closing gaps in achievement for our struggling learners. Some refer to this as the dual move to “raise the bar and close the gap.”
Essential to accelerating achievement will be a personalized learning environment, rooted in a standards-based curriculum and cognitively challenging instruction, and bolstered by digital resources and constant feedback (data and information) on student progress for teachers, administrators and families. Several points must be underscored:
- Standards for us are “the floor, not the ceiling;” they establish a basic level of achievement, not the ultimate success point for Greenwich students.
- The curriculum will be Greenwich’s own—drawing on the best knowledge and materials we can obtain and create.
- Teachers need support to develop and institute lesson plans that engage and challenge the full range of student ability and interest.
- Digital learning will be a pivotal instructional tool, brought into daily work in a balanced way with other teaching methods and resources to enable students and teachers to work collectively and individually on stimulating problems and projects.
- Assessments matter – we must have a comprehensive set of diagnostic, formative and summative indicators that provide a complete view of student results.
Creating a Caring and Compassionate School System
My commitment to Greenwich being known as a caring and compassionate system is grounded in the long-standing focus in the district on “Safe School Climate.” Caring and compassion, activated through a safe school climate, is essential for optimal learning to occur. We will work to prevent or confront any type of inappropriate peer interaction.
Caring and compassion—safe school climates—will emanate from all of us working together. Students, teachers, administrators, family and community members must commit to keeping an eye out for and confronting behavior that puts any student at risk. Together, we can foster a school and community environment that prepares our students for a successful and healthy future. I must highlight the following:
- There have been policies and procedures in place with regard to expected student conduct, including bullying, for many years. Last year, the Board of Education updated its bullying policy, which was approved on April 24, 2014.
- All schools have had formal behavioral norms in place, with programs to orient students to expected behavior in and out of school.
- All our staff members are trained in state laws and policy expectations, and are required to investigate any reported acts of bullying. This year, for instance, all staff members are receiving refresher training on Connecticut Safe School Climate legislation. Safe School Climate leaders—one for every school—are receiving additional training on imbedding the behavioral norms into school culture.
- We have a good method of sharing information and knowledge about students at the articulation points between elementary, middle and high school. We want to get even better in terms of behavioral issues by ensuring that our student records accurately capture incidents of mean-spirited behavior. We may then cross-reference that information to identify students who have either misbehaved, or been the recipients of bad behavior.
- Last year, the high school implemented a hotline and email address for students to report issues and concerns. We are upgrading the high school system this year and are exploring ways to expand this resource to the middle grades level.
I am proud to begin my third year as Superintendent of the Greenwich Public Schools. I will do all that I can to have our signature be achievement and caring. Best wishes for a wonderful school year.
September 2, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Our Signature: Achievement and Caring
June 1, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Distinguished Ideas
2014 Distinguished Teachers Essays
April 3, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Accelerating Achivement for All: Greenwich and the Achievement Gap
March 4, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Smarter Balanced - Field Test: Facts & Interpretation
February 5, 2014, Superintendent's Message: A Word on the Common Core
January 3, 2014, Superintendent's Message: Popular Knowledge of Complex Questions
December 3, 2013, Superintendent's Message: Distinguished Reflections
November 27, 2013, Superintendent's Thanksgiving Day Message
November 12, 2013, The Roots of Excellence
September 26, 2013, Letter to Greenwich Public School Families on our Call to Action and Strategic Focus
September 11, 2013 Letter to Greenwich Public School Families on Safe School Climate
September 3, 2013 Letter to Greenwich Public School Families on Safe School Climate
April 25, 2012, Superintendent of Schools Appointment Announcement
Resume for William S. McKersie (April 2012)