WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Mount Greylock Regional School District has identified five key goals to address in the district's first strategic plan since it fully regionalized to include its two elementary schools in November 2017.
Superintendent Kimberley Grady laid out the goals and discussed some of the steps the district can take to address them at last week's special meeting of the School Committee.
Grady said the plan is being developed by a committee of 15 to 20 people representing the three schools' principals, two members of the School Committee, staff and community members.
"It's important for us to really focus on our goals and objectives so it would better define our mission," Grady said.
The first goal is one familiar to past committee discussions of needs at Lanesborough Elementary, Williamstown Elementary and Mount Greylock: addressing social and emotional learning.
"We looked at all our data from surveys and and identified areas of concern," Grady said. "Social and emotional learning is a big area of concern for us in the schools and in the community."
In January, the strategic planning group conducted a districtwide survey of families and staff to determine what areas the district needs to address.
Grady said Mount Greylock has implemented the Botvin Life Skills curricula in all three schools, and at Williamstown has supplemented that recently with the Choose to be Nice program.
The schools also have partnerships with groups ranging from the Brien Center mental health agency to the Elizabeth Freeman Center to the Berkshire County district attorney's office to bring specialists in to talk to students, faculty and staff.
Two other goals identified by the strategic plan committee relate to the concept of social and emotional learning: increasing a sense of inclusion and diversity at the schools and working to improve the schools climate and culture.
The planning group also identified a need for the district to do a better informing families and the wider community about what is happening at the schools.
"We talked about where our shortfalls are and how to work to improve [public relations]," Grady said. "The common thread [in surveys was], ‘We didn't know these things were going on at the schools.' "
Grady said the group talked about more focused communications, including restructuring the weekly newsletters that principals in each of the schools email to families. It also considered doing more outreach to get parents involved in groups like the schools' parent teacher organizations.
One of the goals also dealt with preventing substance abuse throughout the district.
"Research out there shows that conversations about vaping and substance abuse should be brought down to the elementary schools as early as grade 3," Grady said.
After giving the committee a preliminary look at the strategic plan in progress, Grady said the full three- to five-year plan, with benchmarks, will be developed by the planning committee in hopes of bringing a full plan to the School Committee later this year.
In the meantime, the district is taking steps to address one of the concerns it heard during the strategic planning survey by creating a Technology Committee for the region, Grady said.
"Technology should never replace good instruction," said Eileen Belastock, the district's director of academic technology and a member of the newly formed committee. "Technology should be used in conjunction with education when it engages students, enhances students and extends their learning.
"That is really what has been going on in all three schools."
Belastock talked about how technology, including the district's 1-to-1 Chromebook initiative, has helped create personalized learning experiences and how teachers are implementing Google Classroom software.
She and Grady also talked about efforts in all three schools to help keep students safe online, including outreach to families to make them aware of online dangers -- particularly as children access the internet at younger and younger ages.
In other business on Wednesday, Mount Greylock Principal Mary MacDonald announced the speakers for the June 8 graduation ceremony; the faculty selected Clare Sheedy, and the senior class chose Adam Cohen. MacDonald also shared a list of the colleges and programs to which members of Mount Greylock's senior class have been accepted, a list that includes Harvard and Yale.
And the School Committee by a 5-0 vote made an amendment to the district's 2019-20 school calendar, moving the start of the kindergarten programs at LES and WES to Thursday, Sept. 5. This was in a response to a request from the teachers at WES, who asked that the committee recognize past practice at the school and start kindergarten after pupils return in grades 1 through 6 in order to give families a chance to acquaint themselves with the school before the little ones have their first day of school.
Classes for the rest of the students in Grades 1 through 12 remains Tuesday, Sept. 3, as previously decided by the committee.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue; please keep comments focused on the issues and not on personalities. Profanity, obscenity, racist language and harassment are not allowed. iBerkshires reserves the right to ban commenters or remove commenting on any article at any time. Concerns may be sent to email@example.com.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Bay State Winter Games Return to Berkshires in January
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Bay State Games are set to host the 35th annual Winter Games in the Berkshires in 2020.
The Bay State Winter Games have been held in the Berkshire region each year since 1985 except for one year because of funding. The Winter Games expects to attract hundreds of athletes and families to the Berkshire region to compete in sports like figure skating and masters ice hockey.
The 2020 Figure Skating competition will take place Jan. 3-5, 2020, at Williams College. This is the earliest the competition has ever been held in Bay State Games history. This competition will feature more than 400 skaters from Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Skaters ranging in age from 5 to older than 65 represent the U.S. Figure Skating Association or the International Skating Institute.
Highlights for this upcoming competition include the reinstatement of the Bay State Skate Show on Saturday, Jan. 4. Gold medalists from certain events will skate in this exhibition show. The figure skating competition will begin on Friday evening with the short programs. This event will also serve as a qualifier for the 2021 State Games of America to be held in Ames and Des Moines, Iowa. All medal winners will receive an invitation to compete at the 2021 State Games of America.
Mount Greylock's director of academic technology reported on results of a survey to gauge support for revising the school calendar to consolidate the February and April vacation weeks into a single week off in March. click for more
Last week, the poured rubber surfacing was scheduled to be laid at the new playground at Linear Park, off Water Street, and one of the volunteers helping lead the project said the hope is that the site will be ready for youngsters before the end of the fall.
click for more
Select Board member Andrew Hogeland on Monday gave his colleagues an update on the research of a working group of volunteers who have been looking at solutions to provide high-speed internet access in the rural town of 7,700.
click for more
Although the idea of an artificial turf field is not particularly new for the district, it has generated widespread interest in the community in the months since the School Committee authorized the initial RFP in the spring.
click for more