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Welcome to the Uxbridge Public School District...


A MESSAGE FROM THE SUPERINTENDENT
 

Dear Parents, Educators, Students, and Residents:

The end of October has meanings of significance for us New Englanders. Halloween always kicks off the holiday spirit as we head into November and December and, when the stars align correctly, order is restored as the Boston Red Sox are the last men standing as World Series Champions!

Our Spartans brought us tremendous pride as well this season and I congratulate all of our players and coaches throughout the district. The Spartans represented our community well with their commitment and dedication for their teams and the name on their jerseys.

Athletics has always provided Uxbridge with a sense of pride that brings generations together for community spirit. We are working hard as a district to leverage this spirit and pride into all areas of our children’s educational experience.

On Saturday, October 19, several parents, educators, and students came together to form a Strategy Focus Group to address the challenges that we face as a school district and to examine the opportunities in front of us for long-term success. Teaching and learning standards have changed in Massachusetts to place more of an emphasis on collaboration skills as well as critical thinking and problem-solving skills for college and career readiness - and we want our students to be prepared to exceed these expectations.

The focus group reviewed the overarching issues that were presented to me over the course of last year (Teaching and Learning Challenges, Fiscal Issues, and Public Relations/Partnerships) and we targeted specific underlying issues in these areas that require attention. There was strong consensus among the group that success and sustainability of the school district is directly linked to the quality of instruction and rigor in the classroom, the connections we make with parents and the community about the skills that students are learning, and how well we prioritize resources to provide a well-balanced educational experience for all students to be prepared for the world that awaits them.

It starts with rigor and critical thinking skills. Are we teaching students how to learn? Do we encourage students to take risks to think analytically and logically? What efforts are we making to reduce what students are asked to remember and increase what students are asked to create? These are tough questions about our teaching practices that are receiving significant attention in all Massachusetts public schools and especially here in Uxbridge.

Research shows that highly effective schools and districts have one element in common, and that is designated collaboration time within the school day. When teachers are able to come together to analyze and discuss student work and to plan for new student learning opportunities, children have a greater chance for academic success because educators are constantly talking about their learning needs. Studies also show that schools which have teachers working primarily in isolation from one another tend to work in underperforming schools. We value collaboration in Uxbridge and we need to structure our schools around this value.

With “value” in mind, it was interesting to watch nearly 30 people with different perspectives and experiences come together to share their individual and collective thoughts about the current issues of the district as well as the potential opportunities and threats that we see on the horizon for the Uxbridge Public Schools. By the afternoon, the group recognized that at some point along the way regarding any future planning for any initiative or project in Uxbridge - it is going to come down to money and how well we prioritize and allocate the resources that we do have to run our schools and community services. “We cannot do it all and we cannot be everything to everyone,” said one focus group member. This is why we will need to make some difficult decisions moving forward to preserve educational programs that your community values most.

As the state has pressed the reset button on teaching and learning standards and expectations, there is a clear emphasis on “college and career readiness” that begins at the elementary level and continues through high school. The alignment of our course offerings at all levels should follow pathways that lead to specific opportunities after Grade 12. In other words, the body of coursework and the skills our students develop over time in our school system should be designed to lead to future educational and specific job opportunities after graduation.

Uxbridge will also press the reset button for the 2014-2015 school year. Starting with the high school, work is underway to construct a model that follows the state’s guidelines for college preparatory high schools. Primary elective opportunities will build off the requisite courses in Grades 9 -12 and this may lead to some McCloskey Middle School adjustments that will help build and strengthen our pathways through the secondary levels.

There is much work to be done, but I think that we have a clearer vision and a stronger sense of how the community wants its local public schools to function. We have the time to rebuild our school models and communicate effectively over the course of the year regarding any potential changes.

At the November 5, 2013 School Committee Meeting, discussions will include the Committee’s budget goals for the 2014-2015 school year, the draft plans for the UHS Program of Studies, the FY15 budget planning update, the 2013 MCAS presentation, and new clinical services that we are providing at UHS this year that were made possible through a collaborative grant with the Northbridge Public Schools. It is my hope that you will be able to join us for the meeting or tune into Channel 13 at 7:00 p.m. Please stay informed and do not hesitate to call the schools or my office if we can provide you with any further information or assistance of any kind.

Sincerely,

Kevin Carney
Superintendent of Schools


 


 

Uxbridge Public Schools Central Office
21 South Main Street
Uxbridge, MA  01569

Phone: 508.278.8648  /  Fax:  508.278.8612
 

 
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