2017-06-18 / Viewpoints

Chalk Talk

By Edward S. Graham, PhD
Superintendent Montrose Schools

As is the case each spring, we bid farewell and best wishes to our graduates who are ready to start a new chapter of life while we welcome a new class of pre-school and kindergarten children just beginning their school journey. Whether students are leaving, just starting, or at any of the stages in between, we are grateful for the opportunity to have a front-row seat to their educational journey and bear testament to their exceeding potential. Thanks for letting the Montrose Community Schools be a partner in their educational experience.

In previous articles, I have shared information regarding the Adaptive Playground Equipment initiative that was launched by the Carter Elementary School family two years ago. This effort was aimed at enhancing the elementary playground to make sure that all students, regardless of their physical abilities and limitations, would be able to enjoy outdoor play along with their classmates. Thanks to a true community effort, phase one of the project was completed last summer with the installation of several pieces of playground equipment that students have enjoyed all year. Throughout the current school year, fundraising efforts continued for the second phase of the project, which was targeted at the installation of a wheelchair accessible swing. Thanks to the generosity of the Carter P.T.O., fundraising efforts by the school staff and students, donations from numerous community members, as well as grants from several organizations, funding for the swing has been secured and installation is scheduled for mid-July. The culmination of this two-year effort serves as a point of pride and reflection of the caring and generous spirit that defines our community.

Finally, while the district has been working on very specific improvement strategies for several years, the 2016-2017 school year marked the official launch of our intentional effort and focus on High Reliability School (HRS) certification.

Created by Marzano Research to help transform schools into organizations that take proactive steps to ensure student success, HRS certification uses a research-based five-level hierarchy, along with leading and lagging indicators that help educators learn to assess, monitor, and confirm the effectiveness of their schools. These five levels of certification are progressive in nature and begin with a “Safe and Collaborative Culture,” which serves as the foundation for all of the levels that follow.

Earlier this spring, the district hosted an on-site review with a consultant from the Marzano Research Lab who reviewed school data, examined processes and procedures, and analyzed a variety of organizational practices. From that visit, I am proud to report that Carter Elementary School was awarded Level 1 – HRS Certification and at the time of this writing, stands as the 102nd school in the nation, the third school in the entire state, and the first elementary school in Michigan to receive this designation. Obviously, we are tremendously proud of the entire Carter Elementary School staff and community and applaud their sustained and focused work towards achieving this noteworthy goal. Likewise, both Kuehn-Haven Middle School and Hill-McCloy High School received high marks for their work and are waiting to receive final word regarding their Level 1 certification status as well. The entire district will continue its important work in alignment with this process with the goal of becoming the first HRS Level 1 certified district in Michigan while pressing on to achieve certification at Level 2 and beyond in the coming years.

As we bring another successful school year to a close, we are grateful to all of our staff, students, parents, and community members who help make Montrose a great place to live, learn, and work – we couldn’t do it without you. Have a fun-filled, enjoyable, and safe summer!

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