A recent series of articles in the New York Times asks big questions about the purpose of schooling in America. As we begin a new school year, it's important to remember what this community believes a Needham Public School education is all about.
To prepare our students for their future, we developed a strategic framework for equity and excellence in education. It is a long-term plan that drives us toward this shared vision we call Portrait of A Needham Graduate. The Portrait helps us bring into focus how dramatically rapid advancements are changing the workplace and society. At the same time, the Portrait helps us to acknowledge that even though their future is uncertain, our students will be prepared. We envision them as Creative Thinkers and Problem Solvers, Communicators and Collaborators, Socially and Culturally Responsive Contributors, Responsible and Resilient Individuals, and Empowered Learners. We believe our students’ collective and individual success depends on developing these competencies in preparation for the future world that awaits them.
The process of building and implementing the Portrait of A Needham Graduate is a community effort. Back in 2019, we engaged in the work with 53 stakeholders representing students, educators, parents, business and civic leaders, and those from higher education. Together, we researched and collected data on future trends in education and changes/challenges in society that our children must face. We benefitted then as we do today from the many voices, the wisdom and values expressed by diverse members of our community.
Once the Portrait of a Needham Graduate was developed, we didn’t stop there. The foundational work of defining our vision was combined with input from 430 faculty and staff representing all our schools. We brought life to the Portrait by establishing four district priorities each with key strategies for realizing our vision as outlined in the FY20-FY25 Portrait Strategic Framework. It covers everything from curriculum, instruction, assessment, school structures, and staffing. As a long-term plan, it represents a district shift to be more future-focused, student-focused, and with students in the role of drivers of their own learning.
Where are we now? At the end of each school year, the district publishes a Performance Report which captures the annual highlights of our progress. We build on previous accomplishments through defined actions for the upcoming year. With unfaltering dedication to educating all students, we are celebrating the district’s commitment to the implementation of Year 4 of the Portrait Plan. Please check out the FY23 Actions with attention to the priorities and strategic objectives around which the community can continue to coalesce and contribute. Here’s how:
- Most importantly, whether you are a student, educator, parent, business or civic leader, please join us in communicating and celebrating the vision we have for all our students and their future.
- Incorporate the Portrait of A Needham Graduate into meetings you routinely attend in the community; engage people in conversations about what the Portrait means to them.
- Continue to advocate for the resources that are needed to implement the Portrait strategic framework.
- Help us recognize students for exemplifying the competencies depicted in our Portrait graphic.
If you can imagine a community where everyone is discussing equity in education and where every student receives the learning opportunities and supports they need, that is how we will bring the Portrait of a Needham Graduate to life!
Thanks to Director of Strategic Planning and Community Engagement, Diane Simmons, for writing this post!