... bits and bytes from Superintendent Laurie Dias-Mitchell
Welcome to the 2018/19 school year, and thank you for inviting me to be a part of the educational community of Little Compton, a town that is singularly beautiful, warm, and welcoming. It is an honor to be a part of educating and nurturing Little Compton's most precious resource — our children, as they grow and develop into their best and highest selves. It is through supporting one another that growth happens, and that is why I am reaching out to you — devoted parents/guardians, remarkable faculty and staff, and the actively-curious student body of Wilbur and McMahon School to collaborate and continue the work of offering a world-class education. Please note: my door is always open, my contact information is below, and stay tuned for the dates/times/locations of the monthly gatherings that I will be hosting: "Coffee and Conversation with the Superintendent." I will have tea, too, if you are so inclined!
As your new school superintendent, I am committed to building on and advancing the academic rigor, curriculum relevance, and healthy relationships that Wilbur McMahon is known for. This work requires the participation of the entire school community as we live our shared commitment to educational excellence. What does educational excellence look like? Well, it is a three-ingredient mix consisting of school Safety, student Engagement, and student Achievement. As Little Compton is a town surrounded by the sea, let’s call our mission to further advance Wilbur McMahon School our shared SEA of objectives:
Safety: Wilbur McMahon is a safe place for all who learn and work here. Staff members are highly trained to respond to issues and concerns, and the Student Support Services Team (Counselor-Social Worker, Nurse-Educator, Psychologist, Student Assistance Counselor) provides programming and resources for students and their families. However, we are living in a complex era, when acts of violence occur all too often. The Little Compton School Committee/Subcommittee on Safety (a group comprised of school administrators, staff, parents, town officials and safety personnel) has been busy this summer looking at School Violence Solutions' highly-detailed “brick and mortar” assessment of WMS which has led to the adoption of policies (Virginia Model,) practices (i.e. updated dismissal procedures) and safety upgrades (i.e. restricted access to side and back lots) across the school campus and beyond. Stay tuned for more updates and thank you to all who joined us at the second public forum last night, held in the Little Compton Community Center.
Engagement: There are so many exciting learning adventures at WMS (8th-graders’ force and motion unit-related roller coaster projects, 5th-grade Ecological Oasis stewardship, DEM staff educating our Pre-Kindergartners around local plants and animals, the Biomes Marine Biology Center staff visiting our primary grades, loads of literacy-related projects, trips in the field to Plimoth Plantation, Washington D.C., and Fort Adams). I wholeheartedly support these ongoing initiatives and am introducing more. For example, CORE and FUSE RI are coming to WMS, and we are also looking at new clubs/activities and, notably, the "middle years" version of an International Baccalaureate (IB) pathway. The IB framework is designed to be integrated across the curriculum to develop active learners who are internationally minded, able to empathize with others, and who possess the intellect and skills to pursue lives of purpose and meaning. ...all good stuff!
Achievement: WMS’ student achievement data is solid, notwithstanding the transition to CCSS and numerous shifts in state assessments — from NECAP toPARCC to RICAS and NGSS. Wilbur McMahon is poised for great leaps forward, and students and teachers are being supported by WMS’ instructional leader, Sonya Whipp — who has devoted countless hours ensuring that there is a K-8 written, guaranteed and viable curriculum that engages all students in meaningful, personalized learning through the use of high-quality content and inspired instruction. Generating and maintaining a comprehensive collection of curriculum resources is the “back-end of the business” of managing schools, the part that few people see but all members of a school community benefit from. In addition, several WMS teachers and paraprofessionals have been busy over the summer being learners, themselves — with some traveling to Arizona for a Code.org training, while others engaged in workshops and coursework. In this switched-on, interconnected 21st Century world, ongoing staff development is key as we work to grow the innovators of tomorrow. The entire WMS community is on the move!
I speak for the entire Little Compton School District's faculty and staff when I say that it is an honor and a privilege to be your partner in your child's education. Never hesitate to contact me with your questions and concerns. Enjoy these waning days of summer vacation, and here's to a healthy, productive, and magical school year for all!
Laurie Dias-Mitchell, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” ~William Butler Yeats