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Competency 3:

Community Relations

Related Task 8.1 Ability to communicate orally and in writing. Specific Task 3.8.1 Make an oral presentation to a school board, group of parents, or civic group. Narrative description of specific task: A presentation for the Eaton Rapids School Board will be put together and presented at a public meeting. The purpose of the presentation is to explain, answer any questions, and get approval for the Montessori realignment plan proposed for next year. Process, Purpose, and Approach Lockwood Elementary houses a Montessori program that is made up of a pre-school, 2 K-1 classrooms, 2 1st-2nd grade classrooms, and an all kindergarten class. The all kindergarten class was opened at the beginning of the year as a result of the large number of requests for the program. The all kindergarten classroom is the one that causes the issues for next year because it creates a bubble that our current alignment cannot handle. I felt that the program lacked consistency from year to year and based on the growing popularity of the program I wanted to have a plan for future growth so to make sure this issue did not continue to arise year after year. The first step was to talk with the Montessori teachers to share my concerns and learn more about what exactly Montessori is. In those discussions, along with daily visits to the classrooms, I learned that one of the foundations is the multi-aged classroom, which the all kindergarten class violated, and that the training is by ages 3-6, 6-9, and 9-12. Based on that information I threw out the idea to the teachers of realigning the program based on those ages, creating 3 pre-school - kindergarten classes along with 3 1st-3rd grade classrooms. The teachers were hesitant at first, but after some discussion agrees that it would be nice to have consistency in the program and agreed this was the best option to accomplish that. The next step was to talk with the superintendent, Dr. Bill DeFrance, and the curriculum coordinator, Brooke Ballee, to share our plan. Both were supportive and recommended taking our plan to the Curriculum Committee. Handouts were made, linked below, and the presentation was made to the committee. They asked questions about the increases in staff - the plan requires 1 1/2 aides due to licensing requirements for the pre-school, but they did not realize at first that we were not adding any new teachers. After the presentation and a short follow-up discussion the committee felt like the plan made sense from a curriculum standpoint and accomplished our goals, but that because of the financial aspect wanted it to go to the board. The board presentation went similar to the one presented to the Curriculum Committee, but there were more questions, specifically from one member. She had concerns about the additional cost of the aides, especially with the projected deficit for the next school

year. Following the advise of Dr. DeFrance, the superintendent, I kept the conversation away from the financial piece and on the need for the realignment itself. Dr. DeFrance acknowledged to the board that there was a financial aspect that needed to be addressed later by the Financial Committee, and pointed out that I had some ideas on how we could cover the classes if for some reason the aides were not in the budget. Earlier I shared with him a conversation with the Early Childhood Special Education teacher about trying to create a full day experience for her students by pushing some of her students into the classroom for 1/2 the day with her support, thus creating the needed 10:1 ration without adding an aid. The board approved the new plan so we could start letting parents know about the realignment, but did not deal with the financial piece. Lessons Learned The biggest thing I learned is all of the people involved in actually making decisions. I thought that once the teachers agreed and the superintendent was onboard with the realignment then we were ready to implement it. I was surprised by how many different groups, containing a lot of the same people, had to not only be informed, but had to approve the proposal before changes could be made. Even then the changes are not guaranteed since by not approving the additional classroom para-pros at this time we could end up scrambling in the Fall if it is decided not to provide them, making all of this wasted effort and leaving us right back where we started.