The Old Rochester school districts have a new Strategic Plan, with three main goal areas to strive towards over the next five years.
The joint school committees of Old Rochester Regional and the three towns accepted the 2023 Strategic Plan on September 27, which addressed three areas: 21stCentury learning, social-emotional learning, and global citizenship.
“We know that this document hopefully captures the direction the district needs to move, … and if we do that we feel like we will be preparing our students for the future,” said Superintendent Doug White.
For 21stCentury learning, initiatives address career and technology skills, integrating them into the general curriculum, while providing more project-based learning experiences, at least twice a year.
“If we provide all students with life and career skills and innovation skills … and create district environment leadership skills [and] social-emotional approaches, then we will … strengthen social and emotional competencies and prepare them to be engaged citizens.”
The social-emotional learning goal focuses on relationships, behavior management, partnership, and safety and security.
White brought up “restorative justice,” a more contemporary social-emotional-based approach to behavior, saying the “old way” of dishing out detentions is no longer the approach for ORR.
“We’re looking for our students to have an understanding and a voice when their behaviors may be out of line,” said White, while adding that there is yet a sense of cohesiveness in this approach across all Tri-Town districts. “What happens in Mattapoisett may be different than what’s happening in Rochester, and is there a way for us to become consistent in that approach as they move to junior high school and high school, and that the expectations are very similar [throughout each grade] and are we helping kids manage this area of their life.”
There is also much talk about safety and security, said White, as well as the responsive classroom approach to social-emotional learning, which the high school wants to adopt while adapting it appropriately for older students.
“We recommend that there is a consistent approach … through the district, and why would we go in a different direction?” asked ORR High School Principal Mike Devoll.
For the global citizenship goal, educators will look to raise cultural and diversity awareness, foster civic knowledge locally, statewide, and nationally, and encourage an understanding of others’ perspectives.
The individual school improvement plans will detail more about how each school will implement the goals consistently, White said, “And make some headway in all of this coming to fruition.”
The committee lauded the plan as presented, which White said had hours of hard work behind it.
“All three [goals] are very much intertwined … and support each other,” said Devoll. “It’s an exciting plan.”
In other matters, the committee adopted a one-dollar an hour raise for substitute teachers and substitute cafeteria workers, hoping to attract more people willing to take the positions as they arise.
“Right now, we’re not getting people,” said White. With $11 an hour instead of $10, he said, “Hopefully we will be able to recognize individuals who would be able to fill those spots.”
The next meeting of the Joint School Committees is scheduled for December 13 at 6:30 pm in the junior high media room.
The Joint School Committees
By Jean Perry