In order for Sparrow Middle School to fulfill both our vision and mission, it is imperative that a system for open communication be at the forefront of our efforts, thus enabling all of our stakeholders to work together to effect better student outcomes. This communication process is critical to both inform and engage our school community so they may develop a cultural competency that will involve every member of our diverse social and economic population. Communications will be produced in a multitude of formats: written, orally, electronically and here, in-person, at Sparrow. This will help to solidify our bonds with our community members. Building this social capital will help establish a truly cohesive structure that will empower all our members to work in partnership to achieve educational equity.
Middleville City is a unique and special place, rich in history, diversity, cultural pride and loaded with wonderful resources for all its children and their families. We will initiate connected learning experiences where our in-school activities will be coordinated with our many diverse community resources that will add to and complement our students’ varied interests and abilities, exponentially increasing our scholars’ opportunities. Strategic organization with our community partners, especially our greater arts and faith based members, combined with creative financing approaches will encourage engagement amongst all our stakeholders.
Every member of our partnership is an equal participant and resource, with clearly defined roles, that will enable the smooth transformation of Sparrow into an organization with institutional integrity and high expectations for rigorous achievement. Our shared vision will keep our focus on the day-to-day relationship building that will foster the reconciliation of our diverse cultures into one homogeneous entity, with the sole purpose of preparing our scholars to be productive citizens of a truly 21st century global society. It is our “belief that academic achievement is intertwined with physical, social and emotional well-being; the development of personal competencies in many area of life; and the engagement of a strong family and community” (Meyer, Strambler, 2016). It is toward this end that we will employ behavioral regulation through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL/Ruler) skills that have been shown to be correlated to better student outcomes concerning, grades, attendance and incidents of suspensions. “Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, reach goals, show empathy for others, build positive relationships, and make responsible decisions (Meyer, Strambler, 2016).
Although Sparrow is facing increased pressure to achieve successful levels in our high-stakes testing, we must not allow these tendencies to influence our mission to collaborate with parents, public and private agencies, local businesses, community based organizations, and our 21-plus strong, faith-based groups that will allow our educational process to thrive. An initial commitment for Sparrow to establish itself as a Magnet School for the Arts will bring our students a new found self confidence and ability to problem solve without judgement. This will create a sense of accountability that will nurture the whole child, increasing creativity along with critical thinking. We will embrace what we do well and continue to strive to improve our weaknesses.
We can see from the evidence of academic data that our students from our non Title I elementary school that has an arts based curriculum, benefits all students and has a positive effect on everything from attendance to academic mastery (Peck, Calrida, 2016). An Arts focus can be used as a tool to tackle our most persistent and pervasive problems. It should not be considered an elective program, but an integral part of the solution to our school’s underperformance on high-stakes testing.
Our school and our community partnership will embark on a five year strategic plan with both long term and measurable annual milestones. This will enable our school community to continuously improve as evaluations are performed and we learn from our successes as well as our failures. This collaboration will be an key component of our whole-school transformation, connecting all our actions for curricula reform and instructional improvement to our long-term goals for student success.
Our long-term plan sets our broader goals for; student achievement, improved attendance, embracing technology, and upgrading our physical facilities, while embracing our ever growing Hispanic and special education population. In addition we will initiate a one year action plan that will be instrumental in establishing a scheduled list of short-term goals and implementation of needed reforms. These objectives will be vetted and overseen by individual committees made up of interested and active community members. These one year plans must be implemented fully each year, with our sub-committees monitoring on a monthly basis, their progress and thus adjusting our plans as necessary to ensure their success. These partnerships will be customized for Sparrow’s needs to accomplish all our goals, benefiting all stakeholders, while augmenting our common sense of community that make us such a unique and special place.
Student academic and social-emotional development will be our main priority, as our scholars are our most precious natural resource. Together with our community partners we will be tasked with providing them a safe, inclusive, engaging, and rigorous setting for them to learn and grow. We must also link them with all the resources our community has to offer so they may find their personal talents, realize their strengths and reach their full potential as productive citizens.