Similar to how our students start out, Roxbury’s Portrait of a Graduate is still in its infancy and we have to learn to crawl before we can walk.
A handful of parents, staff, administrators, and community members turned out on October 10th at Lincoln/Roosevelt School for the first of three “Portrait of a Graduate” nights to generate ideas on what we want our Portrait of Graduate to look like.
Superintendent Loretta Radulic explained that the Portrait of a Graduate will be our touchstone and a jumping off point for our next strategic plan. She and Assistant Superintendent Dr. Chuck Seipp had attended a conference where a Portrait of a Graduate was discussed. “We noticed that the Portrait of a Graduate sets up a vision of what we want our children to graduate being able to do, what skills they should have. It defines what makes that comprehensive graduate, what makes a comprehensive Gael.”
To that end, the district will be holding community meetings inclusive of community members, parents, students as well as meetings with the staff and administrators to try and gather as much input as possible. “By the time we get to the third session, we will have our vision of what a graduate of Roxbury looks like,” shared Radulic.
Radulic added, “Creating a profile of a graduate that is aligned to a district’s vision allows that vision to come alive for district stakeholders.”
Dr. Seipp went on to share some of the district’s initiatives and programs that exemplify many of the positive changes and implementations the district has taken part in in recent years noting, “To make the education experience a little more comprehensive for students, districts generally spend a lot of time making the high school program more robust. Part of the reason for that is it seems to be the easiest place as students have the autonomy to do lots of different things so we spent some attention on doing that at the high school with the upcoming Structural Fabrication and Design program.”
He noted this began two years ago with Roxbury Reimagined. The district was looking to reframe space at the high school that used to be to old auto shop.
“We surveyed community members, students, and parents and some major ideas came back and one of them was to provide students opportunities for vocational trade education which most normal high schools don’t offer anymore. Vo-tech programming has changed so much that students don’t have that opportunity readily available to them that they once did and also to expand some of the robotics programs that have really flourished at the high school.”
“We are proud to report we are actually in progress with that, the fact that construction is already underway for the robotics lab that is Phase 1 of the renovation but at the same time we started to leverage relationships with other schools. We are the in the process of establishing a relationship with the vo-tech schools for athletic training and physical therapy to start next year. This would be a separate satellite program where we would take vo-tech students here at Roxbury High School. In fact, we started that this year with an elective for the first class which we agreed on with vo-tech as a course here to work out the kinks so the program could really hit the ground running and we’re excited because we actually have an open house for that program on October 30th, so we’ll start next year with our first cohort.”
Dr. Seipp also touched on the work Emilie Bacchetta, the Director of Guidance had worked on with the high school’s Pathway development. The district has created a handful of Pathways to help plot student’s future-ready experiences. Much of this has been done without adding additional staff or electives to the curriculum. “We have tried to put those courses in a nice neat pile for students to say if you’re interested in a communications profession go through these classes, and it’ll put you in a better position.”
The focus isn’t just at the high school. The supervisory team has worked on trying to expand programming at all of the schools, including social and emotional learning at the elementary level with the help of the school counselors and the support of the Board of Education. The district is expanding Maker Spaces to give students autonomous learning experiences at the middle school and high school and is working to incorporate it at the elementary schools with the Media Specialists.
Research protocols in grades 5-12 as well as the alignment of the K-12 curriculum are other areas the district is focusing on to create a similar and comprehensive experience as students age up. This allows the students to learn a foundation and as they age up, teachers can hit the ground running.
“We have been working on making our schools at all levels a place where students can really explore for their future as opposed to a very traditional model that worked for all of us. Our kids our growing up in a world that is very different than the one we grew up in so if we don’t adjust and we don’t fix the way we deliver instruction students aren’t going to be prepared for their future.”
As Roxbury looks to the future, its new Director of Instructional Innovation and Planning, Michael Mitchell touched on how skills for the workplace have changed and how students need to be prepared for life after school. To that end, he talked about digital badging and creating partnerships to promote real-world problem-solving.
He asked the participants “What do we want our learners to know? What do we want them to be able to do? What skills and character traits are essential for students for career and citizenship in the 21st century?”
And more importantly, “Are we preparing our students to be life ready or college ready? And who is the better scientist…the student with the bio-med degree or the electrician?”
These questions led to small group discussions to determine in the end individual characteristics that describe the desired competencies, skills, and abilities of our graduates. Some of those skills included being culturally aware, mindful, critical thinkers who have problem-solving and soft skills among many others.
The next Portrait of a Graduate session is Tuesday, December 4th. The community is asked to check out the Meeting notes on the district website at www.roxbury.org. The direct presentation link is https://tinyurl.com/y7axf8mt. The last few slides include a few videos and articles to prepare for the December session.
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