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August 2014: Ready for a Great School Year

Dear Students, Parents, Staff Members, and Residents,

Our staff members have been working hard this summer to prepare for the arrival of our students on August 26. When the bell rings Tuesday to open the 2014-15 academic year, the buses will be ready to roll, the buildings will be spotless, and faculty members will be ready to get right to the business of teaching and learning.

In just the past few months, we have:

  • hired many new highly qualified teachers and administrators to fill vacancies created by retirements and resignations
  • reorganized our central office staff to align with our priorities and provide better service to students and parents
  • reorganized classroom spaces at the Middle School so that teacher teams can be located together, enhancing collaboration and school climate

I am pleased to report that 371 out of 372 third-graders from 2013-14 – 99.7% – fulfilled the requirements of Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee and have been promoted to grade 4. These students have reached an important milestone that will lead to future academic success. This is a great testament to our children, their teachers and their parents. Never give up!

Over the summer, the Board of Education adopted our Five-Year Strategic Plan – the roadmap that will guide our work through 2019. Developed with the help of a broadly representative 44-member committee, the Strategic Plan focuses on six areas: The Shaker Experience, Continuous Improvement, Policy, Human Resources and Facilities, Communication, and Finance. It rests on the foundation of our Core Values:

  • Each student is valued.
  • Every student must succeed.
  • Diversity makes us stronger.
  • Breadth of experience is vital.
  • Fiscal responsibility is essential.
  • We are all accountable.

You may read the full Strategic Plan online.

As the Strategic Plan reflects, the teacher is the most important factor in achievement that is within the control of the school. Every child deserves an expert teacher. The Strategic Plan supports the recruitment and retention of top-notch teachers, keeping them at the top of their educational knowledge and ability through ongoing professional learning and evaluation. I firmly believe that evaluation should be used to foster professional growth, not to “blame and shame.”

For this reason, teachers have been deeply involved in designing Shaker’s evaluation system, within the parameters established by the State. Just as students cannot be judged on the basis of a single test score, a teacher’s effectiveness cannot be judged by a single measure. We must take into account teachers’ relationships with students, educational philosophy, creativity, and professionalism, in addition to numerical measures of academic progress.

I encourage all Shaker parents to be involved in their children’s education. Encourage your child to give 100% every day. Attend your school’s Open House/Curriculum Night, where you will have the opportunity to meet the teachers, become familiar with the curriculum, and learn about expectations. Building these relationships early in the year will pay off for students.

This year, we are inaugurating a series of presentations for the community on various educational topics. The first is tentatively scheduled for October. Look for information to be posted soon on our website. I hope to see many of you there.

I thank you for your support of our students and our schools. It's going to be a great year!

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