This section of the superintendent's website will include information regarding important matters impacting our students, our district, and our community. Please visit this page often, and bookmark www.methacton.org/communityconversations to stay informed.
If you have feedback for my consideration on any of these matters, please send it to email@example.com.December 2017 Community Conversation
In this issue of my “Superintendent’s Community Conversation,” I will be sharing an update on the district’s strategic plan.
As a result of an effort that involved over 100 participants including students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community and business leaders, the Methacton School district developed a plan to guide our work through the year 2020 in five focus areas.
I recently presented many of the changes, and revisions to strategic objectives at a public meeting of the Board of School Directors in November. Several of the highlights include major efforts in the area of career education; STEM; staff development, and the use of data to drive planning and instruction.
The Board approved the appointment of Ms. Judi Schmitz as Methacton’s K-12 Career Counselor in May 2017. Working with the office of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, and the office of Pupil Services, Ms. Schmitz is engaged in planning services and activities aligned to the Pennsylvania Career Education and Work Standards. Our goal is to ensure every student and his/her family has access to the necessary academic, personal/social, and career development information that will allow informed post-secondary decisions. There are several actions in the works to this end, including collaboration on the district’s Pennsylvania Chapter 339 Plan, which includes the establishment of a an advisory committee. We expect to extend the work of this committee beyond the 339 Plan in order to assist our district with the development of comprehensive K-12 Career programming.
Use of Data in Planning and Instruction
Our Supervisor of Professional Learning and Continuous Improvement, Ms. Tara Ricci, will work with an advisory committee to establish a system of continuous improvement inclusive of staffing, systems, and protocols whereby the use of data can be easily leveraged by administrators and staff. As a main focus, Ms. Ricci is working to develop and supervise our efforts to put into cultural practice a set of processes that improve our efficient use of data across the district in making instructional and programmatic change.
The work of the Methacton Education Foundation, combined with internal efforts to document our current program and future direction, is at the forefront of our work with STEM. We had planned for a STEM strategic planning session earlier in the fall, but needed to pull back so that we can better prepare for the engagement of the community in that process. Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, Dr. Mary Katona, will lead that process along with other administrators and staff. I am eager to move the district forward with STEM and look to the day when we have the support of our local STEM industry, higher education institutions, our teachers, our parents, and our community organized in a cohesive and targeted fashion in support of our students and their success in the future workplace.
While there are a number of other additional strategic objectives, it is important to know that all of these efforts contribute to a stronger Methacton - one that is an exemplary, student-focused, and community-centered environment that prepares learners to meet the demands of our evolving world.
Dr. David Zerbe
Superintendent of Schools
Dear Methacton Community,
This is the first issue in the 2017-18 school year for my monthly “Superintendent’s Community Conversation” communication. This edition will feature just a few of the ways that our teachers are transforming the learning experience for our students. Rooted in our Strategic Plan, these activities may be observed in classrooms throughout the district. I’m proud to share how the efforts of our teaching staff are helping our students demonstrate critical 21st century skills.
This communication is not about the tools, the resources, or the things that we buy. It is about the passion, ingenuity, courage, and relentless pursuit of excellence of our classroom teachers, our librarians, music teachers, science teachers, special education, world language, math and English teachers, and countless others. Leaders in their profession, our teachers are finding new and exciting ways to reach our students and make learning fun and engaging. Whether through the use of technology tools like a Chromebooks or Ozobots, or some other resource, our teachers are pushing the envelope and enriching the lives of all children.
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning is a key focus of our planning now and in the future. Our science department is committed to proving high quality STEM research support for teachers across the curriculum. Longtime members of the Montgomery County Science Teachers Association (MCSTA), Methacton science teachers have supported their students in conducting high quality research in and out of the classroom through science fairs and other activities. Methacton High School students are averaging $275,000 per year in awards and scholarships associated with participation in these high-level science research competitions. These projects provide unique hands on experiences as well as opportunities for personal achievement and recognition.
There are numerous examples throughout the district on any given day that demonstrate what this looks like in practice. Below is a sneak peek into our classrooms.
Arcola Intermediate School and Methacton High School
The implementation of Chromebooks and Google Classroom at the high school and Arcola has made a huge impact on the way we deliver instruction. Teachers leverage Google Classroom to assign class and group project work, share materials, and communicate important concepts. Google Classroom is a great place for individual student reflection and practice, and is a method for submitting projects and assignments. While Google Classroom is free for school use, our teachers have leveraged much of this system to provide our students with the experience with what they will someday find at most post-secondary institutions and in the world of work.
In the video below, librarian Janice Conger continues the conversation with her students after a recent library lesson during National Banned Books Week at Skyview. Students read and research on their Chromebooks while Ms. Conger leads them in a lesson on the SmartBoard. Later, the students save their work directly to Google classroom.
Elementary teachers are focusing on integrating numerous coding resources and apps into their instruction along with Google Classroom and other unique experiences and activities. In the video below, Eagleville teacher Mark Keffer’s third grade students are using Google Classroom while working on a writing prompt as part of the new Wonders English Language Arts program.
While the availability of Smart Boards in our classrooms goes back around ten years, the frequency of use has increased in recent years as our teachers integrate more visuals, text, and hands on activities in classroom lessons.
As a department, our Librarians have been leaders in providing transformative learning experiences for our students. We continue to leverage the philosophy that knowledge is power and frequent reading is at the heart of knowledge attainment. However, our librarians also recognize that the use of manipulatives and experimentation helps place theory and what students read into practice. Like all of our teachers, our librarians are challenging our students to be critical thinkers and problem solvers.
With the support of our administration and Board of School Directors; our dynamic, creative teachers are key to the district’s ability to accomplish its mission to be an “exemplary student-focused and community-centered environment.” For this, I am thankful. Of this, we are proud - Methacton Proud!
Dr. David Zerbe
Superintendent of Schools