By Holly Crocco
The Haldane School Board heard an update on the development of the district’s Strategic Coherence Plan from Superintendent Dr. Philip Benante during its Nov. 19 meeting.
Benante explained that with a shift in administration over the past few years, as well as the introduction of new families moving into the area, the district hopes to create a core identity and coherent vision.
Benante explained that coherence planning is different than traditional strategic planning in that the process is focused on improvement strategies that have the largest influence on student learning and preparation for life and work success in a digital age.
“We want our students to be graduating high school with a greater sense of who they are, a greater sense of what their values are as individuals, and potentially what they want to become,” he said.
The Strategic Coherence Plan Team hosted a “thought exchange” in September in which 180 community members participated. Together, they identified the top skills and attributes of Haldane graduates: critical thinking/problem solving, personal wellness, empathy/emotional intelligence, communication skills, the mindset of continuous learning, and resilience.
The team is now looking at the systems within the district to see where improvements can be made to better help students achieve those outcomes. Benante said administrators are considering how to better promote or teach these skills, measure the effectiveness of that teaching, strengthen the support structure for such a learning environment, and determine what outside factors affect student growth.
The team will be meeting again in December to continue working on a draft plan, and in January another thought exchange will be held.
“Everything is still in draft form, and I have to really underscore that,” said Benante. “I wouldn’t be surprised if in providing an update in January there’s been some shifts to the information I’m providing this evening.”
In February, the team expects to present a formal plan to the Board of Education for consideration. “I think we’re on target for that,” said Benante.
School Board Trustee Peggy Clements said she appreciates the goals identified by the team thus far, but mused why academic improvement isn’t a part of the plan.
“I’m always so interested that academic rigor is never a part of it; that hard academic outcomes aren’t a part of it,” she said.
School Board President Jen Daly said academics did come up in discussions, but it was decided that academic success is an obvious and constant goal.
“Reading, writing, graduation requirements – these are givens,” she said. “What do we want for enhancements – to develop processes to get to those, or beyond those?”
School Board Trustee Margaret Parr highlighted a portion of the superintendent’s presentation, in which he explained the concept that “it’s not just what you know, but how you apply that knowledge.”
“You can ask Alexa anything,” she said, referring to the “smart” device. “These kids are learning something completely different than what we had to learn. So what they do with it is those six (goals), and that’s what’s going to prepare them for the future.”
For information on the Strategic Coherence Plan, visit www.haldaneschoo.org.