Dr. Kishimoto’s Autumn Letter to our Community
Dr. Kishimoto's Autumn Letter to our Community
October 22, 2013
To My Hartford Public Schools Family,
Thank you for your continued dedication to ensuring outstanding educational preparation for our community of learners, and for engaging with your colleagues in professional learning communities.
This is my ninth year in the Hartford Public Schools, my third as Superintendent of Schools, and each year at this time I celebrate the deep commitments of our staff to student success as evidenced by significant improvements in our schools and school system and focus on ensuring that all students, from PK through 12th grade, remain challenged in school, while also having fun learning. As part of our annual modification of our strategic operating plan, we have five targeted school improvement priorities for the 2013-14 school year based on a review of our 2012-13 achievement data. Attached, you will find a visual that I presented at our annual Board of Education retreat detailing these priorities:
1. Address the ELL performance gap
2. Address the performance gap in the five neediest elementary schools
3. Address the school quality and student performance gap between magnet high schools and neighborhood high schools
4. Increase opportunities to meet Sheff integration goals through school pairings and shared enrichment opportunities
5. Address high school and college readiness goal through improved mathematics instructional practices and students’ math performance outcomes
As you are aware, we have been implementing new communications tools, including a new branding platform, district website and a staff intranet site. Although this was a major undertaking, we know how important it is to represent our focus on quality in all of our communication tools and strategies. We received positive feedback on our district website and our branding platform from our internal and external constituents and now as we roll out our intranet site, I encourage you to provide us with additional reviews so that this too can be a valuable networking and communications tool for all of us. This week, I will also be delivering our multi-year communications plan. An organization of this size and complexity needs to ensure that it always has an up-to-date communications plan. The Board of Education will be reviewing the plan and funding priorities within the next few weeks. In addition to the Communications Plan, HPS also now has a five-year Family Engagement Plan thanks to the dedicated work of a team of HPS parent leaders.
There are many other great things happening in our district. Unfortunately, in a letter to you I am reduced to mere highlights! First, let me speak to a few events throughout this school year that reflect our focus on high quality instruction and school design. Recently, we held our 2nd annual regional STEM conference at the Connecticut Science Center to a sold-out crowd of 300 educators in partnership with the University of Hartford, East Hartford Public Schools and West Hartford Public Schools. The event reaffirmed Hartford Public Schools’ commitment to expose students to a field of study and careers that are exploding in the marketplace around science, technology, engineering and manufacturing and mathematics. Secondly, Hartford Public Schools will be hosting the national Magnet Schools of America Conference this spring, which will bring more than 2,000 educators to our city. I am proud to have brought this national presence to Hartford, where great things are happening in our school system. Thirdly, I want to congratulate the Bulkeley High School team in preparing for the fast approaching NEASC Accreditation decennial visit. High school accreditation is a self-reflective feedback process that we value in the Hartford Public Schools as we continue to examine areas to improve.
As we continue to focus on increasing high quality seats for students, the Board is currently discussing the replication of two successful Hartford Public Schools models: AF Hartford charter school and Capital Preparatory Magnet School. Both schools have excellent academic records and a significant waitlist of students seeking entrance into these schools.
As for student accolades, I will also have to limit myself to three examples among the many that have occurred in just the first nine weeks of school. First, the students of Hartford Public High School’s Engineering & Green Technology Academy gained national attention when they built and installed a wind turbine in Nepal to bring much needed water and electricity to a school for the first time. Wow! Then five students from HPHS Nursing Academy and the HPHS Law & Government Academy selected to attend the World Summit of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in Poland this month. Thirdly, 12 students from the Dwight-Bellizzi Asian Studies Academy will be traveling to China in the spring of 2014 to engage in an applied studies project, funded through the Travelers. This is just a very small sampling of the great things happening in the Hartford Public Schools.
This month we celebrate two important events. October is College and Career Readiness month. I thank all of our schools and teachers for engaging students and parents from PK through grade 12 around explorations of college opportunities and our Hartford Promise. The Hartford Promise, as you probably know, is a comprehensive college access and completion program that I launched in 2012-13 with the support of our corporate, philanthropic and higher education partners. Beginning with the high school graduating class of 2016, all Hartford-resident students who graduate with a B average and a good attendance record will receive up to $5,000 a year for college, along with in-college supports. I am so proud to model for our students that when we “Go Big” with our ideas and aspirations we can accomplish great things. This month we also celebrate Hispanic Heritage month, and classrooms across the district are engaged in age-appropriate units of study that expose our students to the contributions of Hispanics to this country and to all fields of study. We often hear reference to the need to be culturally competent, and at its core, to be culturally competent is to be respectful to and to honor the contributions of all people in our community. We are a culturally diverse community of 87 language groups with many beliefs and many family constitutions and we come together as one united congregation called the Hartford Public Schools. There is so much about us to celebrate and it begins each morning with a smile and a warm greeting, Welcome to Hartford Public Schools!
Together, we will continue to focus on educational excellence, quality, and true equity. The true measure of this district will be in ensuring that individual interests never compromise its guarantee of quality and integrity. We are an empowered Hartford Public Schools. I ask you to continue to help our students set high expectations for their future, understand the importance of follow-through, respect themselves and others, and take full advantage of the opportunities around them to explore career options that align with their interests and talents.
Hartford Public Schools is a beautiful, talented, and unstoppable community – Where the Future is Present!
Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto