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Emergency Communications Update

December 8, 2019

Click here to download the PDF.

So many "Good Catches" in November!

December 2, 2019

With the season of gratefulness upon us, we set out to try to capture some of the wonderful acts of service done by our staff. Throughout the month of November, we recognized and celebrated staff members who were “caught” performing strong acts of customer service throughout our district. 

We asked staff to take a moment to “catch” a co-worker doing a good deed or act of kindness that is a reflection of Saline Area Schools and share it will us so we could recognize them.

We were overwhelmed with the response. In only 18 school days we received 95 responses. I am proud of the staff for their focus on providing great service to our students and each other. I am also grateful for the staff’s willingness (and eagerness!) to share these acts.

Click here to read all 95!

Strategic Framework – First Meeting

November 19, 2019

We kicked off the process of reviewing, revising, and updating the current Strategic Framework. In sharing the history of how the framework came to be – that stretches back to December, 2008 – and the iterations of it along the way, I was reminded of a quote that I have taken to using at the start of each school year. It is one that I always want to ring true for me personally and for our community.

Saline Area Schools has a strong tradition and a bright future…. And we all can look with pride and confidence in both directions. 

Here is a look at the current Strategic Framework. It will be interesting to see what it looks like in 6 months.

Strategic Framework – Let’s Talk

November 17, 2019

Over the last several weeks, in several related blog posts, I have posed questions. How do we measure success? Are technology and innovation the same? Why can’t positive change happen overnight?  These questions are targeted and focused on one primary goal: to ensure that Saline Area Schools continues on a positive trajectory of continuous growth.

A few weeks ago, we sent out a request for volunteers. The ask was specific to the work necessary for the revision and revitalization of the Saline Area Schools’ Strategic Framework. I also asked for volunteers to help continue to develop our Strategic Framework. In the words of our Board President, Paul Hynek, “The review, revising, and implementation of the strategic framework is essential to the future success of Saline Area Schools.” We can’t, and honestly should not – do it alone.  I thank all of you that have volunteered to serve on the Strategic Framework Review Committee. The first meeting is on November 18th.

To extend our efforts, we would like to open up the conversation to everyone. Even if your children graduated many years ago, it is vital to hear from as many Saline residents as possible.

As a reminder, the Strategic Framework revolves around four goals areas:

  • Student Achievement
  • Family Engagement
  • School Environment 
  • Fiscal Responsibility 

More information around these goals can be found here on the Saline Area Schools website. 

Do these focus areas adequately define the Saline Area Schools? What is missing? Where should the focus lie as we look toward the next decade? Do you have any general feedback on the framework that you would like to share?

Please visit our Let’s Talk! Page dedicated to this discussion. Together, we can continue in the Pursuit of Excellence that defines the Saline Area Schools.

How do we measure success?

November 8, 2019

I recently had the opportunity to talk with a community member who is a student in a Ph.D. program at a prestigious University. The candidates were conducting a case study related to defining, delivering, and measuring value within an organization. It was a fascinating conversation. The community member asked how value is defined, measured, and delivered within a school district. Specifically, we talked about the concept as it relates to the Saline Compass. When one looks at Saline Area Schools, the tangibles are there:  rankings, graduation rates, composite SAT, and ACT scores. Saline students perform exceptionally well based on these traditional measures. Collectively, as a community, these rankings remain among the highest in the state.

But do test scores and graduation rates tell the real story?

When one starts to think about defining value within the framework of the learner profile (Compass) attributes that we want our students to possess as they exit the Saline Schools, it is quickly evident that “value” is more complicated than any single score. Over the last several years, we have taken a new approach. Engaging Saline alumni is now an essential component used to determine the impact of our work.  To truly understand the long-term influence of the educational system, it is vitally important to consider the impact those experiences played when the graduates were attending school in Saline.

The value delivered by Saline Area Schools to the students rests in the eight learner attributes of the Learner Profile/SAS Compass: ethical and responsible citizen, creative innovator, complex thinker and problem solver, positive communicator, financially and digitally literate, globally-connected, motivated & self-directed, and collaborative leader. Those attributes define value-added education.

Currently, we are working on two initiatives related to gathering feedback from Saline alumni. The first is a systemic approach to collecting and analyzing specific input from a cross-section of alumni. This first focus group is graduates from the years 2011-2014. Former students in that demographic should have adequate life experiences so that they can reflect on the impact of their education in Saline. 

The second approach is to take the feedback that we have received over the last several years and use that input to improve our existing system. We need more alumni feedback to help us in this effort. We are currently looking for a 2014 alumnus to sit on a panel of other recent graduates from around Washtenaw County to provide us with insight as we look to partner with other local districts to expand internship opportunities for seniors.

If you are or know of a 2014 Saline graduate that might be interested in participating on this panel on December 9th from 12-2 pm – please click this link.

Does anyone really know what time it is?

November 3, 2019

The Chicago Transit Authority’s hit from their first album asks:

Does anybody really know what time it is? (I don’t)

Does anybody really care? (care about time)

If so I can’t imagine why (no, no)

We’ve all got time enough to cry.

Over the last few years, I have been wondering about clocks, digital vs. conventional, and the usefulness of such instruments in schools. For a variety of reasons, traditional, analog clocks are a challenge to keep synchronized, especially in buildings that have been renovated several times over the years. Also, each building has multiple versions of the classroom clock. The maintenance staff spends a lot of time (no pun intended), adjusting and working on these antiquated timepieces, often to no avail. Clocks with Arabic numerals first appeared in the mid-18th century. As with many tools used in classrooms, the efficacy of such devices may no longer be relevant in the 21st-century. Yet, it is still frustrating for students and staff when the clocks are inaccurate. 

As I have visited schools, I note the type of clocks used and how many devices are in various areas – meaning are they in classrooms or just common areas. I have seen just about everything – no clocks at all, conventional clocks in all spaces, digital in all, and a blend of the two. In large areas used for standardized testing, students must face a wall with a working clock. We have resorted to bringing in inexpensive, battery-operated analog clocks due to the reliability of those devices.

The trend I have noticed recently is fewer clocks in classrooms, hallways, and common areas. The clocks are almost exclusively digital. One new technological feature is the option to display messages on the digital clocks as well. Thus, in an emergency, essential safety messages can be transmitted at a glance throughout a building.

In 2018, across classrooms in the United Kingdom, analog clocks were replaced with digital. The main reason for the switch is that students were unable to read the analog clock faces. In primary classrooms in the UK, students are not taught to read a clock to “tell time.”

Is it time for Saline Schools to consider a similar move?

Happy Halloween from Liberty School

October 31, 2019
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