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A Message of the Superintendent

September 2016
 
Dear Friend of the Shaker Schools,

It is hard to believe that we are already in our third week of the 2016-17 school year! I hope you had an enjoyable Labor Day Weekend and are ready for our best year ever!

The start of school has been one of the smoothest in memory. Our administrators and staff worked hard to provide a welcoming learning environment for every student who walked through their doors. Our administrative support staff has been busy answering questions and welcoming families. Our custodians ensured that our buildings were spotless, and our grounds crew made sure our campus was beautiful. Our bus drivers and security personnel were tireless in their efforts to ensure our students were safe.

In Shaker, we aspire to have excellence, equity and exploration for all young people. We provide a rigorous advanced curriculum and send some of our young people to the top schools in the world as well as prepare some of our young people to become National Merit Finalists. When we expose our young people to the arts, they go off to sing on Broadway. When we engage our students in the writing process and creativity, they win Pulitzer Prizes.

This past summer we began to analyze our baseline data for our district metrics. While we observed some significant accomplishments, we also identified some challenges in regards to equity and high achievement for all students. We must address these challenges head-on and be relentless about making progress to ensure that all Shaker students achieve success.

Just imagine if every child got the same amount of rigor as our top students, if we literally met every student where he or she is and provided the supports they needed to attain their individualized goals. We would become the only district in the country without a significant achievement gap - a goal that is not far-fetched for a community like Shaker Heights!

Already, we are working hard to turn that goal into a reality. Our new full-day preschool program, Shaker's First Class, helps ensure that our youngest students will begin their educational journey without an achievement gap. Our International Baccalaureate philosophy embraced by our faculty and staff provides a holistic approach to education that enables our students to take ownership of their learning. Our Cultivating Skillful Instruction (CSI) program helps our principals and teachers identify best pedagogical practices for all students to learn. Our new curricular efforts will ensure we provide Shaker's standards of excellence for all content areas and grade levels for all students - regardless of whether it's an advanced or general class. Our school psychologists have collaborated to establish a plan to ensure Shaker has the most conducive environment for meeting our students' emotional, social and behavioral needs. Finally, our partnership with the Shaker Heights Police Department will help us continue to provide a safe learning environment for our students and staff every day.

We are Shaker Heights, a community that is known by the schools it keeps. My charge to each of you for the 2016-17 school year is hold myself and our entire district accountable for the success of each and every one of our 5,300 students.

Working together, we can become a district without barriers in which all students are engaged in a school community that lives up to its aspirations of excellence, equity and exploration.
Sincerely,
Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr., Ed.D.
Twitter: @DrHutchings
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