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Review Assistant Supt. for Elementary Ed. Message

Welcome Back Message from Assistant Superintendent for
Elementary Education & Curriculum 

Dr. Justus
Welcome to the 2019-2020 School Year, Ram Families!!
 
We are thrilled to have your children, our students, back within our schools and engaged in the learning and growth process. The bustle and excitement of the opening bring with it an energy driving us towards implementation of our strategic goals. With the celebratory welcoming of our students to the school buildings, we are reminded of our mission to focus on learning for every student, every day….and find ourselves re-establishing a commitment to our vision and living our P.R.I.D.E. values. It is only together, as students, staff, and families, that we can pursue the type of excellence we aspire to embody at Pine-Richland School District. Thank you for embracing this collaborative challenge and bringing forward a mindset of continuous improvement, allowing us to co-create valuable educational opportunities for our students; we look forward to partnering and learning with you over the course of your child(ren)’s educational journey!
First Day of School
Over the last year, your voice was an important piece of the strategic planning cycle for 2019-2023. Through the offering of gallery walks with key district personnel and town hall sessions to listen to stakeholder input, we have collaboratively written, reflected upon, revised, and published the new strategic plan, including the 5 categories, as well as the long- and short-term goals cascading across the four-year cycle.
 
Equally as important as setting this direction and aligning the initiatives with our mission, vision, and values and building upon the work of the last strategic plan, were the disciplined efforts to determine measures of success for each of these initiatives and a systematic approach for monitoring continuous progress towards our goals. The input of our community was extremely valuable in determining these indicators as well, with the ultimate benefits being realized within our classrooms for our students.
Strategic Plan Categories
Among the strategic work outlined for the 2019-2020 school year, the most impactful components are outlined within the Teaching and Learning category. We have leveraged our In-Depth Program Review process as a mini-engine driving continuous improvement across our programmatic offerings. To date 6 departments have completed the study phase of the process, generating recommendations for implementation from the conclusion of their study into the years that follow: 
 
  • Health/Physical Education
  • Science
  • Mathematics
  • Business/Computer Science
  • Social Studies
  • Gifted and/or Highly Achieving
 
Presently, we are beginning the study phase of the work for 3 additional departments: English Language Arts (ELA), Library, & Music. Please stay tuned for opportunities to become engaged and have your voice included within the work. Town Hall sessions will be held for this purpose and focus groups will be conducted with our students, whose voices are integral to the establishment of responsive and relevant learning opportunities. 
 
Additionally, we have continued to embed new resources into our programs as the result of the In-Depth Program Review processes. Last year, we integrated My Math in grades K-5 to strengthen mathematics instruction through the provision of consistent, engaging, and rigorous resources to promote student learning. A component of this program is the computer adaptive, differentiated learning tool called Red Bird. Students each have a login to this tool and can access it from home to go beyond the learning in the classroom should they be independently so inclined or encouraged by adults at school or home. This year, our students in grades 1-5 will experience a new basic math tool as well. While My Math and Red Bird work to solidify the conceptual understanding of students within mathematics, operational fluency and automaticity are necessary foundational blocks for the discipline of mathematics. Splash Math will be utilized in grades 1-3, with Moby Max serving as the basic facts tool in grades 4 and 5. Both programs are web-based and are responsive to the students’ individual levels of mastery, promoting growth and development for each child. 
 
Amplify Science
 
 
 
Our science resources were also upgraded this year, as our previous provider of science kits disbanded their services, opting to promote a professional development business model instead. We engaged in a review of both the PA Academic and Next Generation Science Standards in order to compare available resources against a rubric for curricular enhancement. Our K-5 teachers were united in their recommendation for Amplify Science. Students will experience a blend of hands-on experiments, teacher-led online simulations, and embedded reading and writing opportunities to engage like a scientist and demonstrate their mastery of key concepts. 
 
Utilization of these online resources will also be enhanced through the availability of additional technology at the primary level. These tools were added to the K-3 buildings at the recommendation of a committee of teachers, who studied developmentally appropriate options, conducted site visits of districts implementing this technology, and piloting their success in our environment. Our Building Level Technology Coaches (BLTCs) will be intentionally supporting the integration of these new resources, both curricular and technological, through professional development sessions this year. 
 
We are very thankful to you, the community, for supporting these initiatives and providing your voice throughout the planning phases when we are designing a collaborative vision and direction for each, as well as your support throughout the implementation phases. We look forward to seeing the results of these enhancements and want to ensure that they yield meaningful benefits for our students.
 
Wishing you the best in the 2019-2020 school year and looking forward to seeing you and hearing from you over the months ahead!
 
With Gratitude and Respect,
Dr. Kristen M. Justus (Silbaugh)
Assistant Superintendent for Elementary Education & Curriculum