• June 2017

    Dear Methacton Community,


    As we approach the end of another school year, it is important we not only celebrate our many successes, but continue our focus on the future. Our strategic plan continues to serve as a guide to focus our student growth and academic achievement, staff development, technology, communications, fiscal, safety, human resources, activities and athletics and infrastructure efforts. One significant academic effort that is at the forefront of the district and of particular interest to our community, our students, and our families, is our efforts to strengthen STEM education.


    Contained within Focus Area 1 of the Strategic Plan, our objective is to extend and promote STEM instruction & activities in the Methacton School District. Under the administration of Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment Dr. Mary Katona, the district has approached this objective in the following way:

    1. Over the course of the 2016-2017 school year, we have collected information from across all grades and subject areas on STEM instruction and STEM core values (Collaboration, Problem Solving, and Critical Thinking). Courses offered and after-school activities were included in what is now under review to better leverage those efforts in the development of a comprehensive effort.
    2. This summer, the district, in partnership with the Methacton Education Foundation, will offer grant writing workshops in an effort to acquire alternative funding resources to bolster STEM programming and opportunities for our students.
    3. In September of this coming school term, the district will engage in a strategic planning initiative with a specific focus on STEM. We will be seeking volunteers from a wide range of interests and backgrounds to lend their support and guidance to in helping us to establish our path forward with STEM education.


    While the efforts above reflect a small example of our efforts moving forward, the Methacton School District has a strong history of STEM programming and activities. As such, we recently celebrated the following outstanding successes in this area:


    The Methacton School District continues its dedication to innovative instructional programming that prepares our students to compete not only locally, nationally, and on the global stage; but to become significant contributing members of our society. As we progress forward, together, I ask that you consider ways in which you can get involved, provide support, and guidance to help us fulfill our mission.
    Dr. David Zerbe
    Superintendent of Schools 

    March 2017

    Dear Methacton Community,
    While the recent focus of the administration has been centered on the matter of school consolidation and transitioning; work continues with the district’s strategic plan.
    The orchestration of this effort to address focus areas involved the hands-on participation of staff at every level of the district’s operation, and has resulted in completion of several matters along with progress on most goals. We have revised some timelines associated with individual strategic objectives within the plan as well.
    Several of the more recent matters of progress on the plan include the approval of a new student information system (See Focus Area 3: Safety, Operational Technology, Facilities and Infrastructure, Operational Technology Goal: Provide interoperable and standardized data systems that enhance operations, communications, and learning for all. Objective #3.) as well as infusing core STEM values into curriculum, instruction, and assessment across the district. A new student information system will allow us to leverage technology to better keep students and parents alike informed, while providing opportunities for the district to leverage information to improve operations and efficiencies. The STEM goals are geared toward embracing thought process and problem solving for career and life development.
    Progress updates are posted in the individual plan areas has been posted to the district’s website at www.methacton.org/stratplan2022. Alternatively, click the links access focus area updates directly:
    As we progress through the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the coming months, the support of the wider Methacton community and your investment in our success is deeply valued.
    Dr. David Zerbe
    Superintendent of Schools 

    January 2017

    Dear Methacton Community,

    I hope this message finds you well as we welcome the new calendar year and another edition of my Superintendent’s Community Conversation. As I do each month, I pick topics to share and to provide focus for our students, parents and residents of our community. This month marks the start of our new Methacton School Officer program. While the Methacton School District has had a successful partnership for many years with Lower Providence Township Police Department, recent changes to the school officer program are underway.


    My administration developed a framework to provide two full time school officers and additional security services for all Methacton schools. In December, the Board approved the administration's recommendation to contract with U.S. Security Care (USSC) of Blue Bell for a period to begin February 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019. Today, I am pleased to introduce Methacton’s new School Officers; Officer Shelton Sneed, who will be based out of Methacton High School and Officer Matthew Sadoon, who will be based out of Arcola Intermediate School. The officers will work closely with students, teachers, and administrators in all of our schools. The officers began shadowing with Lower Providence Officers at the end of January and have now transitioned into the role full time. Our new officers look forward to getting to know faculty, staff, students, and families over the coming weeks as they integrate themselves into the day to day activities taking place in our Methacton schools.


    This new partnership intends to build upon the success of our current program with continued educational programming in our schools that address student and staff safety, while providing added security.


    In addition to the school officer presence in our schools, the district has engaged additional security officers to secure our school campuses during events and other high traffic periods. Most importantly, while our in school officer program partner has changed, we will continue to leverage the expertise of Lower Providence Township police and our State Police to round out our comprehensive means of supporting the safety and security of our students, staff, and community.



    Dr. David Zerbe
    Superintendent of Schools


    Holidays 2016

    Dear Methacton Community,
    Our district’s mission is to challenge all students to achieve their greatest potential. An important part of accomplishing this mission is to create programs that engage our students in their community, encouraging them to grow into active, responsible citizens of this Commonwealth.
    This time of year presents us with an opportunity to do just that by engaging in community service efforts that include fundraising, food and clothing drives, outreach, and more. Underway throughout the district, many of these activities are driven by the passion of our students. Over the years, many tens of thousands of dollars have been raised for charities and causes near and far – and our students, faculty, and staff have contributed thousands of volunteer hours.
    This effort from our commitment as an educational institution to encourage everyone to do what they can to make our community, our Commonwealth, and our world a better place. Below are some examples of such efforts this year.
    Methacton High School’s students and faculty make community service and outreach a central part of what they do. Food, clothing, and funds are collected from area churches, schools, and charitable organizations to support struggling Methacton families. Our students give generously of their time volunteering with Special Olympics and the Variety Club, while participating in seasonal outreach including caroling at Einstein Medical Center. Our Kids Against Crisis Club has formed a relationship with Gotwals Elementary School in Norristown that has our students visiting the school to teach a lesson to the students on giving and the holiday spirit. This year, the administrators and faculty are organizing the school’s first ever Martin Luther King Day of Service. On a day when schools and offices are closed, students will work alongside faculty and parent volunteers supporting local organizations through projects at Meadowood Senior Living, St. James Outreach, Greenfield Retirement Home, the Mitzvah Circle Foundation, and others.
    Arcola Intermediate School students participate in many fundraising efforts during the year, including a paper drive for Norristown Ministries, and a recent walk-a-thon to raise funds to promote access to clean water. Arcola hosts its own “Toys for Tots” Club as a seasonal effort in support of the United States Marine Corps Toys for Tots program.  Skyview Upper Elementary School has woven community service directly into the school’s culture, fostered by the school’s Character Counts program. Each year, Skyview hosts a “Community Service Day,” where representatives from different charitable organizations make presentations on their work to the students. The event culminates with a school-wide greeting card activity during which the students create cards with well wishes for patients at Einstein Hospital.
    Methacton’s elementary school students, staff, and families engage in efforts throughout the year, including collecting Pennies for Patients with Leukemia and Lymphoma, as well as participating in holiday toy and food drives. Arrowhead Elementary School has a special “First Responder’s Lunch” program for police and other first responders whereby students show their gratitude for the important role these men and women play in keeping them safe. Audubon Elementary School Student Council is visiting the Shannondell Retirement Community for an intergenerational community event this month. The students will spend time with the senior residents to share the spirit of the holiday, singing and giving holiday cards, as well as making a crafts. Eagleville Elementary School will again participate in the Patty Simmons Food Drive. This effort, renamed for Norristown Lieutenant Patty Simmons, represents the efforts of local law enforcement for the past 21 years. More than a dozen local law enforcement agencies and area businesses team up to collect over nine tons of food-amazing! Woodland Elementary School, among many other projects began an effort to collect personal care products for a local women’s shelter. Woodland families collected soap, shampoo, toothpaste and more to help struggling women and their children and provide some comfort during a difficult time. The Worcester Elementary School tradition includes the Student Council’s annual shopping trip to Target seeking items on wish lists provided by Worcester families in need.
    This holiday season is a reminder that Methacton’s students, staff, and parents, with their long standing tradition of giving, make a significant impact in the lives of so many in our community. I want to thank everyone for their commitment and passion for giving.
    I lastly would like to extend an invitation to everyone to help us celebrate the season by attending any of our winter concerts - a complete schedule of which appears on our website. I hope to see you there, and I wish you and your family the very best this holiday season.
    Thank you for your support of our schools!
    Dr. David Zerbe
    Superintendent of Schools

    October 2016

    I hope this message finds you well and I hope that your children are off to an excellent start of school! In this month’s Superintendent’s Community Conversation, I would like to provide our stakeholders with an update on the progress with the strategic plan adopted in April 2016 (Strategic Plan for years 2016-2022). As you might imagine, the beginning of any school year is an inherently busy time, and yet we have remained on track with most of the strategic objectives set forth for this first year.
    I have provided updates within each individual focus area:
    At this stage of our progress, it is again time to re-engage our stakeholders and draw upon their passion, experience, and knowledge to continue growing Methacton. Therefore, as part of Focus Area 4 Financial Management, I invite members of the community to consider participating in Strategic Objective 2 whereby a committee of stakeholders is to be formed to assist the district with the utilization of alternative funding resources.
    If interested in assisting the district with this endeavor or to find out more information regarding the committee, please contact Donna Koons at dkoons@methacton.org.
    On a note about the strategic plan, please find time to visit the updated district website. This is just one visible example of progress on the plan.
    In addition to all the work on the strategic plan, another substantial matter that we continue to address is the consideration of enrollment projections, building capacity data, and potential consolidation of schools. As part of my superintendent’s report at our work session in September, the Board of School Directors were provided an update on enrollment showing preliminary projections indicating stagnant or declining enrollment likely to continue over the next ten years. The Board approved moving to phase 2 of this project and asked our consultants, Milone and MacBroom, to address facilities capacity, redistricting options, and recommendations for the Board to consider all within the approved timeline established in May 2016 to reach a decision in January 2017. Recently, the Board held town hall meetings to discuss process considerations and to provide the final enrollment and capacity planning document prepared and presented by Milone and MacBroom. I plan to update the Board and public on our timeline and other future considerations associated with this matter in the coming weeks.
    Lastly, it gives me great pleasure to share that we are coming to closure on the Methacton High School Fields Project. While there are several outstanding matters that remain to be resolved, including remediation to the varsity softball field, it is important to know that these improvements have made a positive impact on our children, our student athletes, and our community. Students from Arcola to the high school have utilize these facilities already and have experienced the opportunities previously only available at other districts. In recognition of the efforts of many within the Methacton community, there will be a donor wall dedication on November 4, 2016 at halftime of the varsity football game.  All are welcome to join us!
    Thank you for your continued support of our schools.
    Dr. David Zerbe, Superintendent of Schools
    Back to School - September 15, 2016


    Dear Methacton Community,

    I would like to welcome back our students, their families, and our community to what I anticipate to be an extraordinary school year. While the first few weeks of the new school year were filled with many successes and a few challenges, I want to share the first community conversation in a series of monthly communications as a means to convey the areas of focus for the 2016-2017 school year.


    The district strategic plan, adopted last May, has been acted upon in various forms. There are measures taking place to highlight the mission, vision, and core values as a means to visually remind our constituents of our focus and path for success.  In addition, much of this early work has included engaging committees to begin work towards the defined goals. As the start of the school year gets underway, we plan to engage students, teachers, parents, and community members to assist us by asking them to lend their expertise so that we may lead together. Specifically, one of the most visible and soon to be released outcomes of our strategic planning efforts is an update to the Methacton School District website. The website will receive a fresh new look by becoming visually more appealing with a responsive design that adapts to the user’s device such as an iPad, smartphone, PC, etc.


    In terms of curriculum and instruction, several major efforts planned for 2016-2017 include the implementation of a new math resource in grades kindergarten through four, a Digital Learning and Instruction Initiative, and efforts to further develop opportunities in STEM.


    Teachers in kindergarten through grade four began using the newly adopted math resource, Math in Focus.  This text is designed to provide students with a deeper understanding through a focus on the application of mathematics in life and the world of work, which is a critical part of problem solving. We will continue conversations with parents about what the children are learning throughout the year.


    An exciting roll out of the district’s Digital Learning and Instruction Initiative began in August and is well underway during the first several weeks of school including curricular efforts, teacher professional development, and the distribution of Chromebooks for all 10th and 11th grade students. The use of this new instructional tool leverages Google Classroom, and is part of our continued effort to provide learning experiences that prepare our students for future work or studies. Chromebooks will be rolled out to additional grades over the next three years so that by 2018-2019, Methacton students in grades 7-12 are equipped with a Chromebook.


    Efforts are underway to further develop our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) programming districtwide. While this effort is built into our strategic plan, we have our sights on a more pervasive level of programming that leverages collaboration among teachers, students, parents, and private industry to provide unique and enriching educational experiences. We plan to engage the support of the Education Foundation for the Methacton Community through EITC funding and other private contributions. There is much more on this to be told and I plan to elaborate in a future community conversation.


    Through the curricula work of our teachers and administrators and the tremendous efforts of our students and their families; 168 Methacton High School (MHS) students were recently recognized for AP testing achievement. Of those, eight students are considered National AP Scholars, having achieved an average score of 4.72 on all AP exams taken. In addition, 15 MHS students were recognized as semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Competition. These students were selected in part as a result of their performance on the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. These are tremendous accomplishments for these students, and they will certainly be among many recognized regularly for outstanding academic and extra-curricular achievements this year.


    In other important matters, we are on target to provide the Board of School Directors with a new enrollment report that will serve to inform their decisions on the potential consolidation of schools. Any updates on this matter will be shared on the district’s website. Closely related to this matter is a soon to be a Board adopted Facilities Assessment Study that establishes our foundation of understanding for planning and addressing matters associated with our campuses and buildings district wide.


    Lastly, our biggest challenge at the start of school involved busing. There is no secret that we have had our share of challenges stemming as far back as last year. Those issues were further perpetuated at the start of this year due to failures with completing routing properly. This led to a condensed timeframe to complete routing and as such resulted in major confusion for the bus drivers, students, and families. While I continue to apologize to our families for this experience, nothing less than implementing corrective measures and backups will prevent issues like these from recurring. At this moment, we have engaged additional experienced safety and routing personnel to review and address stop, consistency, and routing matters.


    I look forward to sharing additional updates with our community throughout the school year so that our constituents may be informed. Thank you, and once again – it is a pleasure to welcome back to school our students and parents!


    Dr. David Zerbe
    Superintendent of Schools