I hope this email finds you well. Berea Community Schools is a special place. I truly believe that we are all in this together for students. We are all interdependent like puzzle pieces whether teachers, learners, family members, administrators, or community. I value and need your opinion on an important matter. Next year, is a wonderful opportunity to reset. I want us to get off to a fantastic start and keep the momentum going in a positive direction. I am sending out a questionnaire on Summit. It is extremely short and to the point. Scroll down to the end to copy and paste into the browser. I want to know for myself whether parents, students and teachers feel Summit is the best option for students in the fall or if they have an alternative in mind as we look to reset next year. I asked that the principals send out a survey and consult with their various councils to provide feedback to me before school was out. I wanted the information before July when the decision lies with the Superintendent.
For the record, I am by no means married to the Summit platform. There are pros and cons with it just like with any curriculum tool. I believe that if done with fidelity as intended it is a great tool. It was not supposed to be the end all, be all. It is supposed to be an instructional resource designed to empower students with agency and accountability for their learning, provide support through mentoring and opportunities to accelerate. Students would have opportunities ideally for project-based learning and passion projects. They would be familiar with what it is like to work on-line to prepare them for the future. The problem was we were all learning online right along with them due to the pandemic. Some are more advanced than others in this skill set. In person learning experiences and on-line learning experiences should be different. We should see that. Students should experience more connection in person. Summit is a tool, a resource.
Students ideally would have and should have had opportunities for individual and small group instruction as well as time to meet to discuss goals, motivations, and challenges. We launched on-line and that didn't exactly lend itself to the proper set-up. That was no one's fault. Everyone was trying to do the best that they could. But as we begin to look to the future, I am open to alternatives. My goal is to do what is in the best interest of students, teachers, and the community. I want to support our teachers, administrators, and parents but most importantly our students. Students must be engaged and active participants in their learning.
Students are the critical players here. Whatever we do in the fall and beyond must always be with the student in mind. It isn't about convenience or about one way being better than another. Everyone has different learning styles. I want our students to learn, grow and achieve, to be well-rounded, challenged, encouraged, nurtured, and supported. They should have time to be mentored, to work on projects, think outside the box, explore options and be ready for college, career, technical school, life in general. Curriculum is very important. Curriculum, instruction, and assessment matter. Nothing can be cookie cutter. I want our students to be the best they can be. They deserve nothing short of the best we have to offer them in achieving their goals. Curriculum in my opinion should provide opportunities for students to interact formally and informally, acknowledge growth and hard work, create avenues for out of class use of skills and promote engagement between students and teachers.
Basic needs must be looked at as well as curriculum and instruction. People hear the word Summit and some love it, some hate it. There is more to this than sitting in front of a computer. Relationships matter too, it’s about knowing the individual student and doing what is best. I am convinced that rigor, relevance, and relationships go hand in hand. Students must be able to see the relevance, but you must connect with them first, the rigor comes from the instructional practices. Relevance and relationships make the rigor possible. Good teaching is important. Our students need high expectations, to be challenged to think critically, to ask questions, and have opportunities for collaboration. They need hope, choice and voice, opportunities for innovation and creativity. Parents send us their most prized possessions, our students.
Teachers set the bar in their individual classrooms. They are the content experts who should be free to select appropriate instructional strategies for differentiating instruction and facilitating achievement goals. There are lots of resources with Summit. There are lots of resources with other things as well. The question is if we didn't use Summit what other alternatives you would suggest as we are nearing the start of the school year. The goal is not to cause confusion or be disruptive but to provide support. Which is why I am sending the survey. I am going to look at the data. It's objective and concrete. Data should drive decisions regarding curriculum, instruction, assessment. When the middle school survey went out very few responded, only 42 parents. I haven't received the results from high school. It is my understanding that there may have been some glitches with the survey links.
The intent of this email is only for background information regarding why I was sending out a survey of my own after they have already been sent out previously by the middle and the high school. I feel like everyone has a stake in this decision. If we decide to keep Summit, it will be because it is in the best interest of our students. If we, don't it isn't a slam on anyone. It doesn't mean we failed. It meant we did what we thought was best at that time. We succeeded in getting resources to students, continuing the learning process, and doing the types of things we were told to do by the state during an unimaginable time in our lives. I just want to be as open and as transparent as possible. This is about unity, shared decision making, getting off to a fresh start full of promise in the 2022-23 school year and most importantly student success.
Pirates always aim high and dare to be great. Please complete the attached survey by the end of the day on Tuesday, June 21st. There is a place for comments on the survey. You can use this survey to provide me with meaningful feedback regarding Summit. Your voice matters to me. Thank you in advance for your time. You all are simply the best! Have a wonderful summer! We are looking forward to a great year!
Dr. Diane Hatchett, Superintendent
Berea Community Schools
"Aim High and Dare to be Great!"
Survey link for students
Parent Survey link:
Survey link for teachers and staff: