By Jason KUROSU
In 1991, Glendale became one of the first public school systems in the nation to adopt strategic planning. Parents, educators, students and others work in a collaborative effort to create a plan that details how they would like to see schools provide for students in the future.
At a recent GUSD school board meeting, a portion of the close to 50 members who penned recommendations for the 2015 Strategic Plan was in attendance to give presentations on their recommendations. Following the format of past Strategic Plans, the recommendations for the new plan included a vision statement (“Our students are creative, critical thinkers who act responsibly, communicate effectively, and apply knowledge in a diverse, ever-changing world.”), a mission statement (“The Glendale Unified School District provides a high quality education that addresses the unique potential of each student in a safe, engaging environment”) and a list of what they saw to be the core values that reflected the District’s priorities (“collaboration, creativity, accountability, integrity, community, excellence, respect”).
Assistant Superintendent Kathy Thorossian took on much of the presenting, introducing the other members of the group, many of them teachers and students and many of them parents of students in the district. After presentations to the board of the vision and mission statements, there was an interesting video presentation to address another key part of the recommendations: the Strategic Directions. These are four “foundational supports that the district should ensure in order for students to achieve success.” These include skills for success, learning beyond the core, the learning environment and community, communication, collaboration.
The video featured several of the students from Glendale, Hoover and Daily High Schools who worked on the drafting of the recommendations reading what each Strategic Direction should mean for students and schools. “Skills for Success” included several skills that they thought students should acquire through their years in the district, such as being “able to access, evaluate and synthesize information effectively” and “developing a personal system of ethical and responsible behavior” among others. “Learning Beyond the Core” highlighted aspects of learning that should extend beyond the usual curriculum and provide students with skills that prepare them for the real world, such as “students will be exposed to all disciplines to ensure they make informed decisions about their college and/or career choices.” “The Learning Environment” addressed the need for students to learn in proper learning environments, both in terms of having “safe, well-maintained facilities” and “enjoying a learning environment that embraces diversity” and “encourages a healthy lifestyle.” Lastly, “Community, Communication and Collaboration” impressed that students should be able to learn to work with others, including other students, teachers, parents and others to make their learning a collaborative work.
The next step is for an implementation and monitoring plan to be developed. The school board appeared pleased with the presentations and those who worked on the recommendations were happy with what the members were able to create as a whole.
School board member Christine Walters, who was also part of the Strategic Planning Committee, said that, “This is one of the best groups that I’ve been a part of. In the past, other groups spent too much time wordsmithing until we all wanted to kill each other,” which garnered laughter from the audience.
“With this group, we didn’t need to worry about everyone getting their little bit into the writing of the plan or getting angry about being left out. It was really about the essence of the plan and about the big picture.”