Leadership Academy Summer Meetings

summerplanningXSmallSummary: The New Bedford High School Leadership Academy is an autonomous small learning community set within a comprehensive, urban high school.  Begun as an extension of the school’s larger restructuring efforts, the academy seeks to develop flexibility and autonomy in the areas of curriculum, budget, scheduling, staffing and other district policies as required by the DESE’s Readiness Schools initiative.  The academy demonstrates a thematic approach focused on leadership skills and values to improve learning for the school’s most ‘at risk’ students.  The design work completed this summer will be compiled into a written proposal submitted to the DESE by September 15th for approval.  Preparation for September 2010 implementation will begin in the 2009-2010 school year as capacity-building, stakeholder engagement, curriculum writing, scheduling, and more, takes place.

Meeting Minutes: July 1st, July 7th, July 8th, July 14th, July 15th, July 28th, July 29th, August 4th, August 5th

Meeting Agendas: July 1st, July 7th, July 8th, July 14th, July 15th, July 28th, July 29th, August 4th, August 5th


  • Diagnosing the problem (Self-Study data, leadership deficit, lack of adaptability, etc.)
  • Vision (…to provide a holistic and innovative approach to learning, providing our community with scholars prepared to lead in the 21st century.)
  • Researching the autonomies and performance contract
  • Strategic Plan (governance, instructional leadership, SPED/ELL equity, discipline, stakeholder engagement, professional development, facilities and resource use, partnerships, schedule, budget, staffing, and curriculum)
  • Governance (governing council, communication protocols, specific roles and responsibilities, guidelines for effective meetings, instructional leadership, stakeholder engagement and ownership)
  • Instructional Leadership (NISL, common planning time, professional learning communities, lesson study, student empowerment, ethics, transparency, adaptability, distributive leadership, learning walks, etc.)
  • Facilities Use and Resources (technology focus, distinct school identity, multiple use classrooms, open and transparent guidelines/rules, bell-less schedule, remodeling, leasing laptops, etc.)
  • Partnerships (see Donna’s notes on forum, Bridgewater State College, CUSP, Massachusetts Maritime Academy, community organizations, businesses, full student internships, teacher internships, etc.)
  • Curriculum (constructivist learning process, power standards, teacher-as-facilitator, portfolio assessments, peer review, “inch wide, mile deep” approach, teacher-directed to student-directed learning continuum, leadership strands as ’majors’, rigorous learning, direct application of content, performance based assessments, etc.)
  • Staffing (creating the job descriptions first, values-based philosophy, open and transparent process, community, family and business engagement in the school, partnership with the union, etc.)
  • Thematic Focus (demonstrating and empowering leadership skills and values, ethical decision-making, pervasive atmosphere, leadership strands, advisor/mentor program, vertical peer leadership, curricular integration, leadership standards, acceleration options, etc.)
  • Discipline (proactive and preventative shift, therapeutic integration, no judgment focus, clear and transparent code of behavior, de-escalation, ‘hate the act, not the child’, meaningful acknowledgment, parental involvement, security-therapist-hall monitor, no exclusion policy, shared use of building – policy follows the child, data collection and analysis protocols on behavior, Choice Theory, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, etc., preparation)
  • Professional Development (values behind PD: student-impact, job-embedded, on-site decision making, shared vision, sustainable, data-driven, support systems, centered on effective instruction, faculty choice, mentoring, student development, grand rounds model: shared research, focus on learning, professional learning communities, common planning time, funding mechanisms: WIB, grants, stimulus funds, race to the top funds, Title I, business funds, focus on leadership development PD: 3-4 day retreat, prevention of vision drift, evaluation of PD: reflection, blogs, support groups, interdisciplinary supports, individual growth)
  • Stakeholder Engagement (proactive network-building, regular community meeting times, ownership vs. buy-in, Delphi Method, cultural competencies, language barrier, multicultural connections, Harwood Institute Principles for Civic Engagement, transparency and information sharing, feedback loops for mid-course adjustments)
  • Scheduling (flex time, leadership strands electives, research time, advisor meeting time, co-curricular connections, bell-less schedule, curriculum drives the schedule, portfolios (power standards) vs. credits)

Readiness Advantage School Requirements:

The initial plan should indicate:

  1. which school or schools the district intends to establish as or convert to a Readiness School;
  2. whether the school will be a Readiness Advantage or Readiness Alliance School;
  3. which external partners, if applicable, will be involved in the creation or conversion of the school;
  4. specific issues or challenges at the school that will be addressed or improved by providing more autonomy and flexibility;
  5. a preliminary assessment of how the school will incorporate the five areas of flexibility and autonomy into its design; and
  6. a preliminary description of the process that will be used to ensure that appropriate stakeholders are involved in the subsequent design of the school.

Funding priority will be given to districts that are able to demonstrate a commitment to the development of an initial plan for September 2009 submission.  After initial plans are developed, grantees should use these plans to support comprehensive design and early implementation activities over the course of the 2009-2010 school year.

The initial plan to be submitted by September 15, 2009 should include the following:

  1. the district’s vision and specific goals for establishing a Readiness Alliance or Readiness Advantage School or Schools.  Include the district’s rationale for considering conversion in each identified school or establishment of a new school, including specific issues, challenges, or needs that can be addressed or improved by establishing a Readiness School;
  2. a description of how the Readiness Schools initiative fits into the district’s larger plan for improving school performance and student achievement in the district;
  3. a statement signifying the district’s intent to convert one or more schools into a Readiness School(s), or create a new school or schools, and facilitate the implementation of the five identified areas of autonomy;
  4. a description of the school’s readiness and capacity to convert into a Readiness School, or in the case of a new school, the district’s readiness and capacity to establish a new Readiness School.  Include information about the school’s leadership and conditions that make it suited to use effectively additional autonomy.  Include any evidence or information available on staff, teacher, parent, and/or community interest in the Readiness Schools initiative;
  5. if applicable, a description of the proposed partnership that will serve as the foundation of the Readiness Alliance School.  If the partnership builds upon an existing relationship, include information about the nature of the relationship and the types of services and/or activities provided by the partner institution/organization;
  6. to the extent practicable, a description of the specific ways the proposed Readiness School will seek flexibility and autonomy with respect to curriculum, budget, staffing, school schedule and calendar, and school district policies.  Include information about any special academic themes the Readiness School will feature; additional programs, services, and training opportunities for students, teachers, and families; specific staffing policies the school will seek; flexibility regarding specific district programs or policies that the school will seek; and the budgetary flexibility needed to support these changes;
  7. a description of the goals and objectives of the school that the autonomies will help the school accomplish.  Include a description of potential barriers that the current school structure presents to meeting the goals.  Highlight specific areas of the school’s current improvement plan that would be addressed by increased autonomy with respect to curriculum, budget, staffing, school schedule and calendar, and school district policies; and
  8. to the extent practicable, a description of the process that will be used to promote subsequent design and implementation activities related to the establishment of the Readiness School. Include information on the people and groups that will be involved; primary areas of focus in the comprehensive design and implementation process; and a timeline of major activities expected during the 2009-2010 school year.

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