Newly re-elected Board of Education members were sworn in during the November meeting and the administrators of the district’s schools discussed goals that support their work.
In the November election there were three seats on the Board of Education and four contenders. Long serving member Judy Hotz won re-election for a three year term as did incumbent Shannen L. Sharkey, a teacher and a former assistant principal in the Oxford schools. John Prins, a long-serving BOE member, faced what might have been a run off against fellow Democratic candidate Sarah Lockery. Lockery decided not to contest the race.
Prins and Sharkey were sworn in by town clerk Lisa Arpin for new six-year terms. Hotz was not present at the meeting; she will be sworn in at a later time.
The board also accepted the resignation of Dr. Kate Marsland due to family issues. She said in her letter that it had been “a privilege and honor to serve on the board.” Elected to a six-year term in 2013, Marsland was the board representative on the Branford Early Childhood Collaborative. She typically prefaced any criticism of an issue by a supportive comment.
In accepting her resignation board chair Michael Krause said that it is up to the Board of Education to fill the seat – it is “not political.” The board will conduct interviews in an executive session Dec. 6 and in the Dec. 13 committee meeting will discuss and make a decision, then swear in the new member. Officers will also be elected at that meeting.
It’s All About Collaboration
Assistant Superintendent Anthony Buono introduced a presentation from administrators on their interactions with each other across various grade levels. “Our objective is to make the work we’re doing with our goals come alive for the public and the board,” he said.
He said that the first goal is to inspire a collaborative environment for learning that creates the ability to address teaching goals and students’ learning outcomes. A district-wide goal was established, considering the needs at each level with input from staff. Continuous growth depends on building a collaborative, trusting environment, he said.
Each of the district’s principals gave short presentations about their efforts in sharing information and support among each other. Regular meetings are held among teachers, administrators, and coaches at different levels at all three elementary schools. Emphasis is placed on a safe, supportive environment for sharing ideas and concerns. Representing the three elementary schools were the three principals, James O’Connor of Tisko, Robin Goeler of Murphy, and Margaret Mary Gethings of Sliney.
Similarly, Raeann Reynolds, Walsh Intermediate School principal, said administrators are looking to create a positive collaborative trust environment across grade levels with ongoing professional development among teachers, administrators, and coaches.
At the high school level, principal Lee Panagoulas said that all learners need a safe trusting environment… “that’s where collaboration happens more easily.” He added that the result is that it’s safe to talk about the risk they’re taking in what goes well and what doesn’t go well. He also stressed the importance of teacher-led professional development in supporting each other.
At no time did any of the school administrators explain what they meant by a safe trusting environment across grade levels.
Girl Scouts Commended
The board recognized the work of Girl Scout Troop 60200 in their creation of a sign to bring awareness to high school students of the dangers of texting and driving. Their efforts began in January 2017, and the end result is an 18-inch by 24-inch sign that reads, “Phones down. Eyes Up” and a drawing of a cellphone with a diagonal line through it. The sign was manufactured by East Coast Sign and will be installed at the high school.