Welcome back!

TW_2014_BellRinging_best15Welcome back! I hope you all had a wonderful first day of school. I certainly did. I was fortunate enough to visit four schools today – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cass Street, Lincoln Center of the Arts, and the school that served as our kickoff site today, Thurston Woods Campus.

I was inspired by what I saw in our schools. Students were enthusiastic and excited to be back in the classroom. Teachers were energized and motivated and instruction was clearly taking place. Parents were welcomed into our buildings and assuming their roles as our partners in the education of their children. It was a tremendous start to what I am confident will be a tremendous year!

Our focus this year is on three critical areas designed to improve opportunities for our students: accelerating student achievement, building positive relationships between youth and adults and cultivating leadership at all levels.

We’re headed in the right direction, but we must increase our efforts to accelerate student achievement.

  • We are providing extra instructional support, professional development and operational assistance for all of our schools that received the lowest grade on the most recent state report card.
  • We developed Commitment Schools as a way to speed up the transformation of 14 schools into high-performing schools. We’re implementing rigorous academic and behavioral interventions while also providing increased resources to achieve greater college and career readiness.
  • Every school has a school support teacher to help improve instruction. We’ve also added 50 new art, music and physical education teaching positions and we will continue to implement rigorous literacy, science and math plans at all grade levels.

Our efforts to build positive relationships are working. Attendance rates are improving and suspension rates are decreasing. We’re taking additional steps this year to grow those efforts even further.

  • Every MPS school will have a parent coordinator to strengthen relationships between families and schools.
  • The district has a new Customer Service Bureau to improve our interactions with parents and the community.
  • MPS is supporting President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to improve outcomes for young men of color.

Cultivating leadership is critical to our continued growth and success for students as well as staff. We’re taking some critical steps in this area.

  •  Our new educator effectiveness system helps identify and grow excellent teaching practices.
  • One-hundred percent of MPS principals have been Teachscape certified, allowing us to nurture a comprehensive and collaborative relationship with our classroom educators.
  •  The district is committed to developing a leadership pipeline that opens opportunities for advancement for staff.

This year ahead is one of great opportunities for all of us. I always like to think of the beginning of the school year as a fresh start where anything we imagine — and are willing to work hard to achieve — is possible. I wish you a year of achieving the possible and of finding ways to make the impossible achievable.

Thank you for your commitment to the children of this community. I look forward to working with you to make this a great year for our students, MPS and our community!

Sincerely,

Darienne Driver, Ed.D.
Acting Superintendent of Schools