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Update from the Directors of Teaching and Learning 

Update from the Directors of Teaching and Learning 
Christina Coffman

 

 

It’s hard to believe the first semester is nearing its end! This has been a busy and productive few months as we have embraced our theme of “Back to the Future.” We would like to update you, as the Directors of Teaching and Learning, on what we’ve been working on to date. 

As we began the school year, we worked to finalize our self-study and prepare for our SAIS Re-Accreditation that took place November 6th through 8th. Our self-study was generated from our newly Board-approved Strategic Plan and focuses on four of the Plan’s pillars with committees for each: 

  1. Student Experience
    • Service and Leadership
    • Student Offerings
  2. Teaching and Learning  
    • Programs and Practices
    • Curriculum 
  3. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
    • Curriculum, Programs, and Practices
    • Research and Development; 
  4.  Enrollment and Retention. 

These committees consist of teachers across grade levels and areas of expertise, as well as administrators. Each committee is led by a committee chair, who reports to and works with the Directors of Teaching and Learning, the Dean of Students, and the Head of School. We began work this fall and will continue over the next five years in order to carry out our strategic goals.

In addition to the strategic work, we are re-engaging our curriculum review process that was put on hold during Covid. Our first focus is that of Language Arts. We are in the process of curating various curricula to be assessed and reviewed by our Teaching and Learning Committees and additional faculty. We are also gathering information and feedback from leading schools in the region on their recent curriculum process and adoption. Our second focus has been to review our middle school mathematics offerings for current and rising middle school students with a focus on differentiating based on the needs of our students. We, along with Chris Nickell (Middle School Math Teacher), Ashleigh Wolfe (Middle School Math Teacher), Elisabeth Rohlfs-Hill (Middle School Chair and Middle School Language Arts Teacher), and Shara Kernan (Learning Resource Specialist), have spent a great deal of time meeting, reviewing student data, evaluating current offerings, determining areas of growth, and exploring possible options in order to provide students with a rich, rigorous, and in-depth math experience at all levels. Thus, we have developed our Middle School Math Pathways, which we look forward to sharing with parents in more detail after winter break. 

Another area of focus for us has been supporting our teachers day to day. We have aided in the transition of the following teachers: Sarah Engel as she fills in for Mrs. Nelson while on maternity leave and Vanna Dowd as she takes the lead in the 4/5 math and 5th grade homeroom. We have hired and onboarded Diane Arnold as a kindergarten associate teacher and Valerie McMillian as the 4/5 associate teacher. We continue to support all teachers on campus through classroom observations, bi-weekly grade level meetings, and one-on-one check-ins. We also completed administering the ERB testing to students in grades 3 through 8.

Furthermore, we have continued to support our teachers through our regular and ongoing professional development. We continued our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging learning with Dr. Shelton, a former K-12 teacher who is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Research at the University of Alabama. We will continue professional development on January 3rd with two experts on differentiated instruction;  a speaker from the O’Neal library providing resources to teachers for their classrooms and project work; and with teachers meeting together across grade levels for vertical alignment and planning. In addition, we have two experts from the Duke School scheduled to work with our teachers on project work during the February 17th professional development day.

Finally, during the spring semester, we are offering office hours for parents to call or drop by on Fridays between 2:00 and 3:00. If you prefer to meet virtually or at another time, please feel free to reach out. We truly appreciate everyone’s support and look forward to another productive and successful semester.