The latest edition of Hanover’s Superintendents Leadership Council, co-hosted with the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MASA) and Washington Association of School Administrators (WASA), was held on Thursday, May 20th and structured in a Q&A format that focused primarily on Using ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) Funds to Support Students and Staff.
May Speakers Include:
• Dr. Shane Farnsworth – Interim Superintendent, Alpine School District (UT)
• Dr. Leadriane Roby – Superintendent, Grand Rapids Public Schools (MI)
• Mrs. Michelle Whitney – Superintendent, Pasco School District #1 (WA)
• Mr. Joel Aune – Executive Director, Washington Association of School Administrators (WA)
• Dr. Sarena Shivers – Deputy Executive Director, Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators (MI)
• Dr. Leila Nuland – Managing Director of K12 Research, Hanover Research (VA)
Having sought input from stakeholders, panelists anticipate using ESSER funds to meet a variety of operational, academic (e.g., summer school and other extended learning opportunities), and social-emotional needs
- According to Interim Superintendent Farnsworth, Alpine relies on surveys and focus groups to understand what students, parents, and staff members need.
- In Grand Rapids, Superintendent Roby is working with her team to ensure they use ESSER funds to implement research-based, best practice approaches that improve outcomes in an equitable way.
- Regarding anticipated uses of ESSER funds, Interim Superintendent Farnsworth and Superintendent Whitney (Pasco) both mentioned efforts to increase planning and preparation time for teachers.
- Interim Superintendent Farnsworth also intends to increase his teachers’ professional learning time.
- All panelists plan to allocate ESSER funds to academic and social-emotional recovery.
- Extending the school day and/or school year—by expanding before-/after-school programs and/or expanding summer school is featured in all three panelists’ plans. With respect to summer school, panelists expect to provide in-person and online offerings, as well as balance reengagement/enrichment and remediation.
- Alpine, for example, will focus on reading for elementary school students and credit recovery and acceleration for secondary school students. According to Interim Superintendent Farnsworth, students at all levels can choose from a range of online courses and lessons..
To help staff overcome the challenges they have experienced supporting students socially and emotionally, panelists advise district leaders to: 1) work with staff to create safe spaces for open dialogue, 2) offer ongoing professional learning opportunities in related areas, and 3) consider the need for additional specialized staff members
- Interim Superintendent Farnsworth shared how Alpine assists staff in engaging students in meaningful discussions of current events, including those involving difficult issues like race.
Superintendent Whitney also emphasized the need the elevate student voices, describing Pasco’s use of affinity groups to gather feedback from students on areas in which the district can improve (e.g., strengthening relationships, addressing implicit bias).
- Superintendent Whitney noted that many staff will require training to build their knowledge and skills in these areas—a recommendation echoed by Superintendent Roby based on Grand Rapids’ experience.
- Interim Superintendent Farnsworth and Superintendent Whitney also suggest placing specialized staff (e.g., counselors, psychologists, social workers, etc.) in each school, where possible, to help provide students with (or refer them to) additional services.
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