Vision 2015 Conference Summary – Morning Breakout Sessions
There were seven breakout sessions, held during morning and afternoon sessions. Several sessions were held twice during the day. Here’s a selection of four of the morning sessions:
Family and Community Connections explored how we can strengthen relationships between our schools, families, and communities statewide, learning from successful strategies across Delaware. The session facilitator was Doug Brown, Principal at W.T. Chipman Middle School in the Lake Forest School District. Under Superintendent Dan Curry’s leadership, Principal Brown has initiated innovative practices to encourage relationships with families and the community, including creating a school app and a directive for teachers to contact families 100 times a year, excluding for disciplinary reasons. Panelists were Raye Jones Avery, Executive Director of Christina Cultural Arts Center and the Founding Board President of Kuumba Academy; Elizabeth Diaz, Director of Teacher Leadership Development for Teach For America – Delaware and former teacher at Pulaski Elementary; and Elizabeth “Tizzy” Lockman, the former President of the Highlands Elementary PTA. Attendees held small group conversations, working to address a key question and challenge surrounding family and community engagement, and then reported their conversation and possible solutions to the full group.
Raising the Bar focused on Common Core State Standards, delving into the potential of these higher standards to further ensure that every student is college and career ready, including the ways in which parents, teachers, and the community can support successful implementation. The facilitator was Courtney Fox, a teacher at Mount Pleasant Elementary School and Teacher Fellow at Hope Street Group. Fox was joined by Dr. Susan Bunting, Superintendent of the Indian River School District; Shelley Rouser, Director, K-12 Initiatives & Educator Engagement for the Delaware Department of Education; Donna Johnson, Executive Director of the Delaware State Board of Education, and Terri Hodges, Board of Directors at the Delaware PTA. This session had over 100 attendees, who asked questions about implementation and the connection of Common Core to assessments.
Connecting with Early Learning focused on improving the linkages between early learning and the K-12 system, explaining ways in which these two fields are collaborating to improve student outcomes and educator development. The session facilitator was Jennifer Ranji, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families. She was joined by session participants Nicole Anderson, a teacher at Milton Elementary School; Harriet Dichter, the Executive Director of the Delaware Office of Early Learning; and Kristie Kauerz, Research Assistant Professor of P-3 Policy and Leadership at the University of Washington. The conversation focused on children’s brain development during these years; disparities of children across the state, including persistent achievement gaps, despite achievement increase across the state; and the state’s comprehensive birth through third grade continuum.
Cultivating Innovation at the District Level focused on personalized learning, discussing the efforts in Delaware school districts to promote innovative teaching, as well as best practices nationally. The presenter was Jill Hobson, Director of Instructional Technology at Forsyth County Schools in Georgia. The respondents to her presentation were Shawn Joseph, Superintendent for the Seaford School District and Sandy Smith, Director of Assessment & Accountability for the Indian River School District. These speakers discussed topics such as the benefits of breaking away from the traditional delivery model of “one size fits all” for students, strategic professional development for educators, and how collective problem-solving and collaborative critical thinking are improving schools and the quality of education being delivered.
Related Topics: Vision 2015 conference summaries 2013