- Washington School
An Update from the Normandy Schools Collaborative Joint Executive Governing Board
It has been a year since the pandemic took hold causing a major disruption in all of our lives, particularly our students. Our team and our community responded quickly to the issues at hand and made necessary shifts to keep our children safe and to maintain a connection through the use of technology.
As the reality of the situation set in, we also had a major choice in front us: forge ahead with the changes articulated in our recently completed community-driven strategic planning process, or, delay. Knowing that our students could not afford another year without significant gains, and seeing that the pandemic would only intensify the support our students would need, we made the challenging decision to keep going.
Witnessing the progress across so many fronts due to the heroic efforts of our team confirms that this was indeed the right decision for our district and the children we serve:
- Our students are advancing faster than ever before. Interim iReady assessment data indicates growth across all grades either in reading and/or math. This progress has occurred between our first assessment in the fall to our most recent assessment in January. Through the outcomes of the assessments, we now see more children reading at grade level with an improvement from 24% to 27%. And we see more children at grade level with math growing from 14% to 18%. We see this improvement happening across all buildings and all grades.
- Our teachers and leaders have better resources and support than ever. We have new curriculum and more training for our teachers. We have leaders at every building working with their teams to adapt to the new curriculum.
- Our focus on accountability around what matters most has enabled us to shift resources where needed as we’ve adjusted to unprecedented circumstances. Our financial position remains solid, our students have greater access to technology than ever before. We’ve invested in new safety protocols and professional development.
Change is hard in any circumstance, and this year created perhaps the most challenging of contexts. In spite of it all, our teachers, staff, and importantly students and families, have leaned into the change, persisted through uncertainty, and remained focused on our shared vision of a Normandy school district that prepares its graduates for a life of choice and opportunity in the 21st century.
While big changes take collective effort, it also requires courageous leadership. We would like to publicly acknowledge our still-new Superintendent, Marcus Robinson, for answering the call to join our efforts at such a critical time. When searching for Normandy’s next leader, we knew that the most important characteristic to look for was someone who had led in schools that serve students up against the many challenges that our students in Normandy face. Someone who had been able to guide those institutions toward realizing the potential of the children in their care. We found that in Mr. Robinson and no doubt would not have been able to maintain the pace of change and progress were it not for his resolute focus on the success of our students above all else.
Mr. Robinson has hands-on experience in leading change as well as degrees from some of the nation’s top universities, including a bachelor’s in English from DePauw University and two master’s degrees in Educational Administration from Butler University (Indiana) and Columbia University (New York). He is nearing completion of his doctorate in Educational Leadership, also from Columbia University, and his certification with the state of Missouri will be finalized prior to the beginning of our next school year.
To our students and families: Thank you for your support as we responded to the many unexpected challenges and implementing new ways of teaching and learning. Thank you for your resilience and persistence, working in our virtual learning environment, and for keeping your children engaged.
To our staff: Thank you for modeling resilience, dedication, and determination through the change and challenge. We cannot do this work without you. Your ability to adapt to new technology, physical settings and curriculum throughout this past year has enabled our students to grow in remarkable ways.
We have accomplished so much together this year and it appears we are now seeing light at the end of the pandemic tunnel. We are excited to imagine what is possible when we can again bring our community together, with additional resources, and a continued focus and determination to put children first above all else.
With gratitude and appreciation,
Normandy Joint Executive Governing Board
Sara Foster, President
Anthony Neal, Vice President
Karen Pierre, Secretary/Treasurer
Sheila G. Williams, Director
Ronald Roberts, Director