Middle and high schools share three-year site focus plan updates

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Photo by Crystal Apilado/Winters Express

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Winters Middle School (WMS) and Winters High School  (WHS) principals gave updates on their Site’s three-year single focus plan to the Board of Trustees at the Winters Joint Unified School District’s June 3 meeting.

Winters Middle School

WMS Principal Phoebe Girimonte told the board that last year her school selected Professional Learning Communities (PLC) as their site single focus. PLC is a process in which educators work collaboratively to achieve better outcomes for their students and is focused on learning, collaboration and results.

During the 2019-20 school year, Girimonte said they made significant changes to their master schedule, specifically by creating opportunities for reading and math intervention through each grade level. They collaborated schoolwide to pilot the iReady diagnostic tool and by midyear were able to introduce the iReady instructional tool, which she said served very well during the school closure.

Girimonte said they were able to identify essential standards (i.e. what they want students to learn) but said progress was delayed when schools closed in March 2020.

This year, goals include collecting baseline PLC data to look at teacher professional growth and the PLC Continuum, a method for educators to measure progress. Girimonte said they continue working on development of PLC Teams to collaborate with grade level and content area teams to establish essential standards.

The 2020-21 milestones included leadership teams creating a vision statement to function as a promise to students “working as a community we will ensure that all students learn and thrive in a safe, supportive and welcoming school environment,” Girimonte said.

Math and English teachers met as PLCs to review iReady data and make appropriate intervention placements by removing poor performing students from elective classes or gym and strategically placing them in workshops with tailored specific instruction.

Staff used PLC self-assessment tools to reflect their progress. Girimonte said team norms was one area of strength where teachers sustain norms by which they collaborate. Also, essential standards, common assessments and goal setting are areas where Girimonte said they continue to grow.

For the 2021-22 school year, WMS will continue to finalize norms for collaboration teams at the beginning of the school year to set foundations for success and will continue to identify essential standards to break down into “I can” learning targets with both teachers and students understanding the learning goal.

Teachers will be using data point analysis protocols to see what students have achieved and what they need to do to close instruction gaps or alter the approach and break down data to address unintentional bias.

Lastly, Girimonte told Trustees they worked on a graduate profile to be finalized in August and September next year.

Winters High School

“Connectedness” was presented by WHS Principal John Barsotti as the high school’s single site 2020-21 focus plan. During the year’s various learning modes, WHS wanted to maximize synchronous learning time, whether virtually or in person. Synchronous learning is any type of learning that takes place in real time, where a group of people are engaging in learning simultaneously.

Barsotti said WHS adopted the Danielson Framework and reviewed school data several times and adjusted their timelines for the different learning modes. The Danielson Framework was developed in 1996 and serves as a guide for coaching and mentoring in schools across the country and identifies aspects of a teacher’s responsibilities to help improve student learning.

One of the year’s highlights Barsotti shared was that of Assistant Principal Dawn Delorefice and her teacher’s group winning a CAPP high school transition grant. The grant is to help students prepare to transition into high school and ensure they have the resources they need.

Implementation of the grant is to be made in several stages. An amount of $70,000 dollars has been set aside for this year and next year to establish a plan. Barsotti said they have learned that when students struggle in ninth and tenth grades, it becomes very hard for them to recover. The goal is to help students get off to a good start so they to feel like part of their school community.

“Beyond the first year it’s a renewable grant of $50,000 a year for at least two years after,” Barsotti said.

The focus is on ninth graders, but there will be benefits for other grades and staff as well, he noted.

WHS will be expanding Link Crew, a program built on the belief that students can help other students succeed with activities and training for both students and teachers to welcome freshmen into high school and help them feel comfortable throughout their first year.

Barsotti said they would continue to look at data, not only for their single focus of Connectivity, but also for the CAPP grant.

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