Chesy schools map future

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, January 17, 2009

CHESAPEAKE — A few months ago a newly formed Chesapeake Core Planning Team began work on developing a strategic plan for the district enumerating definite core values the district wants in place.

The district was guided by education consultant Dr. Steven Barone, of Transformation Systems, Inc., based in Syracuse, N.Y. and the team was comprised of teachers, students and community members.

Recently a draft of that plan was compiled. Now the educators at the district are coming up with ways to implement the plan and how to measure the progress the district makes as it transforms itself into a district more aligned with the teaching methods of a global society.

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“When I went to school, we learned content,” Dr. Scott Howard, Chesapeake superintendent, said. “Today that’s not enough. We have to teach how to apply content. Technology has leveled the playing field.”

For students to compete, they must become creative, innovative thinkers and problem-solvers, Howard contends. Coming up with ways to teach that in the classroom is the major motivation for the district’s strategic plan project.

“Business and education leaders are telling us these are skills kids should have,” Howard said.

For the past week approximately 60 teachers took time from their schedules and volunteered to participate in the next phase of the project by serving on teams developing action plans and devising tools to measure the progress the district is making towards its goal.

Meeting at Ohio University Proctorville, the educators shared ideas and tactics.

When those tools are in place, the strategic plan will be presented to the school board in late summer for consideration.

“We are trying to figure out what we need to do over the next five years to provide a high quality education,” Howard said.

On the action team is Jamie Shields teaches kindergarten at Chesapeake Elementary and is a mother of two. She finds the strategic planning encouraging as both an educator and a parent.

“It is really teaching the students what individual teachers have wanted to do for years, to make them well-rounded, responsible citizens who make a difference in the world,” Shields said. “Everything I want for my two children is what the plan is putting in place.”

Also on the team is fourth-grade teacher Amy McCallister who said she appreciates the collaborative sense that has existed in the project.

“It is not a matter of someone telling me how we will change,” she said. “I am involved in the whole process.”