The document will act as a roadmap to help guide the school district for the next five years
More than 100 members of the Bethel community spent months crafting a strategic plan to help guide the district into the future, and the fruits of their labor are now available to the public.
Using the slogan, “Moving forward as one,” members of the Strategic Planning Team met for seven full days from October through December to map out the district’s next five years.
The large and diverse team included students, teachers, and district administrators, along with an array of local business and civic leaders.
“One of the things we really paid attention to was engaging the community and making sure we were hearing the voice of the community,” said Jennifer Bethman, Bethel’s Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Instruction. “So this time we had 100 people, and more than 50 percent of the group on our core team was made up of community and parents.”
In addition to the core team of planners, the district paid careful attention to what current students wanted from their educational experience. More than 13,000 Bethel students completed a survey about the future of the district, and another 200 students took part in a live group discussion.
While much of the work was focused on academics, Bethman said the team took a holistic approach to planning for student success that included addressing equity, mental health and poverty.
“What I saw was that our community is committed to their kids. They are really passionate about making sure these kids are prepared for life after high school, and they want to take care of the whole child,” she said.
Deb Carlman, Bethel’s Director of Equity and Achievement, attended every planning meeting and is proud of how much energy participants put into matters of equity.
“Equality it giving every student a pair of shoes, and equity is giving them shoes that are their size,” Carlman said. “This whole process showed us that we’re all on the same page in terms of what we need to do as a district, and that is to provide access and opportunity to all students.”
By inviting so many different stakeholders into the drafting process, district leaders were able to address an array of different issues. Each team member brought in their own experience and expertise, and together they designed a plan that ensures no member of the community is overlooked.
“We’re not the educators that work in this every day. We see things at a much higher level. Each level has a different perspective and bringing all the components together is really the only way to do it,” said Bethel School Board member Stanley Chapin.
The strategic plan is structured around three main components: Student learning, instructional effectiveness, and empowering infrastructure. Within those larger components are a host of smaller, more focused goals that, together, can be viewed as a roadmap for the district to follow over the next five years.
A portion of the plan deals with professional practices, focusing on teaching, leadership and organizational practices. The planning team designed four pillars (see above chart) to act as building blocks for all professional practices.
Pillar A focuses on teaching and learning, which planners agreed was the most important element of public education. Pillar B looks at ways to ensure students have a safe and caring learning environment. Pillar C deals with how Bethel will continue to attract and retain a skilled, dedicated and diverse group of teachers. And Pillar D focuses on how the district can use data to ensure effective and efficient operations.
According to the men, women and children who worked on the document, the Strategic Plan was created to be “our community’s collective promise to equip every student with the competence and confidence that will propel him/her into success beyond high school.”
Those good intentions will go to waste if the plan isn’t implemented properly. To that end, the planning team put together a four-step roadmap (left) to facilitate disciplined implementation, continuous improvement and accountability.
No one member of the Bethel community can do it alone. Each stakeholder within the district — including students — must do his or her part to implement the priorities outlined in the Strategic Plan