The wonderful part about school life is that it is always changing. At Pike, we are always looking for ways to improve our fine program. I thought I would use this report to update you on what is different at Pike School in 2011.
PLT Work – You have heard me discuss how Professional Learning Teams are changing life at Pike as our focus is moving from what we teach and how we teach it to more of an emphasis on what are the essential outcomes for our students and how we know if our students are mastering those key concepts. I believe that this initiative has led to more collaboration among our teaching teams and has allowed division heads to have more meaningful conversations with our faculty about their teaching and forms of assessment. I have seen in my own teaching how this change of perspective permits me to better serve my students.
Communication – The new website will go live on December 16th and we are confident that its capabilities will be appreciated by all members of our community. Each of us can customize our own portal so that it will give us access to all that is important to us. The flexibility of design means that we can keep the look of the site fresh which will make it more appealing. As our world moves toward more social networking, we know that our website will make Pike a more connected community. There will be an app that allows members of our community the ability to get the information it wants on our mobile devices.
Open House- We used lawn signs this year for the first time to advertise the Open House and while we cannot say it was a direct cause, the fact is that we had approximately 100 families attend which is many more than we have had in the past two years. We had more interest in Upper School than we can remember in a number of years. The Marketing Committee is looking at our overall advertising strategy and creating a list of specific objectives (i.e. attract more pre-k families) and will then define strategies to reach those goals.
Diversity- We have hired Diversity Directions and its director, Christine Savini, to do an assessment of our diversity work. She looked at all of our materials, spent time doing observations on campus, and met with many members of our community. We expect her written report about our strengths and opportunities for growth right after Thanksgiving. I did meet with Christine right after her last visit, and she did say we have a great deal of which to be proud, and she encouraged us to be a bit bolder in celebrating our accomplishments. One outgrowth of the work of our Diversity Committee was a new look at our Merrimack Valley Program. One of the consultants from Diversity Directions, Betty Brown, met with our MVP parents. She heard overwhelming appreciation for the program from our parents. The area of greatest anxiety was the secondary school process which many saw as overwhelming. As a result of those conversations, we decided to offer SSAT preparation classes to any Pike students in the eighth or ninth grades that receive 75% or more aid. Two families have taken us up on that opportunity.
Accreditation – We will be writing our self-study document for the accreditation process during the 2012-13 school year. This process is very inclusive and will require a great deal of work. I do think that much of the work we have done and are doing (i.e. community survey, strategic plan, diversity assessment, etc.) will have us in a position of strength as we begin the process that will culminate in the 2013-14 school year with the arrival of an AISNE Visiting Team and their resulting report.
Strategic Planning- The process to create a new long range plan for Pike has begun with the hiring of a consultant (Ian Symmonds & Associates), the creation of a Strategic Planning Steering Committee that has met twice to date, the collection of a great deal of data, and the creation of a timeline for the process whose aim is to have a finished plan by the end of the school year. Many members of the community will be asked to join this effort in January and February.
I have been asked if my job ever gets stale after 18 years. I believe this list is evidence that Pike is a vibrant place that is always evolving in interesting and exciting ways, and I am fortunate to be part of such a community. I look forward to our meeting to discuss this report and any other questions you might have.