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Ash West 2021: A Continuous, Strategic Learning Plan

AshWest2021.jpgA Plan for Strategic Continuous Improvement

 Dr. Gary F. Mazzola, Superintendent of Schools

Since January 2016, the Administrative Cabinet of the Ashburnham Westminster Regional School District has been working on the development of a district strategic improvement initiative.  The Administrative Cabinet is made up of central office administrators, principals, and their assistant principals.  To guide this process, the Cabinet reviewed the data gathered through the Superintendent’s Entry Plan and read the book, Strategy in Action, by Rachel Curtis and Elizabeth City. 

The central focus of this work is on the instructional core: the interaction of teachers (instructional practices) and students in the presence of content (curriculum).  Each point of this triangle is critical and the interactions between the three produce high levels of learning.  The purpose of developing a strategic and systemic continuous improvement plan is to relentlessly focus on and support the instructional core. 

The Administrative Cabinet began the process by brainstorming all of the district initiatives taking place across the district.  Those initiatives were grouped and regrouped, resulting in six categories that would eventually lead to the development of strategic objectives.  The leadership team assessed each category using a rubric to determine if a clear strategy for continuous improvement is guiding these initiatives.  The need for focus, coherence, and synergy between initiatives became evident.

The next step in the process was a review of the district’s mission and vision.  The Cabinet then crafted a draft vision and mission, revisited and revised both, and shared the drafts with faculty, staff, and school committee for their review and feedback.  Changes were made, resulting in an updated mission and new vision that was presented and accepted by the School Committee this past October, 2016.

The grouping and regrouping of initiatives, reflective of the vision and the mission, culminated in the identification of the three major strategy areas central to the district’s continuous improvement process:  Excellence and Innovation in Teaching & Learning, Information, Media, & Technology, and Readiness to Wellness.  A theory of action and a small number of strategic objectives and initiatives that frame the areas upon which the district will focus, for the next five years, were then developed for each strategy area.   

At this point in time, the Administrative Cabinet is in the process of putting teach strategy into action.  One important step in the execution of a strategy is aligning resources to the strategy.  Strategy drives the budgeting process and the allocation of resources such as time, staff, or money.  The implementation of a strategic continuous improvement plan provides a laser focus on where precious resources will be allocated.  The School Committee sets budget goals annually and this plan may require the identification of funding priorities beyond a level services budget that will move the Ashburnham Westminster Regional School District closer toward achieving the vision.

This school district is well on its way toward realizing the potential of strategic action.  In the months to come, faculty and staff will engage in activities designed to move this plan forward.  Much of the work is already underway and I continue to be impressed by the community’s commitment to education in Ashburnham-Westminster Regional.  Thank you for your support.