Dear Parents,

Since our founding in 1956, our core commitment at SAS has been to great learning and academic excellence. But this doesn’t just happen by chance—great learning and academic excellence are the results of great teaching. Research is clear that the biggest impact on a student's academic progress at school is the quality of their teachers, and we are fortunate at SAS to have such talented, dedicated teachers. 

We want to take a moment to share with you our plans to expand our PLC coach model next year. In that model, leaders of our teacher teams (known as professional learning communities or “PLCs”) are known as PLC coaches, and this year we have 10 teachers serving as PLC coaches. The PLC coaches continue to teach half-time to stay deeply grounded in the practice of teaching and spend the other half of the day coaching teachers on their team and leading team-based work. We are excited about the work that has been accomplished in our first semester. Many of the educators in these PLCs have highlighted the value of implementing the coaching model in their PLC. Click here for a video that highlights a “Day in the Life” of one of this year’s PLC coaches, Jessica Applewhite. 
 


“Working with my PLC coach has helped me improve my reading instruction. After looking at data together, we selected students for a strategy group. Mary modeled a small group lesson which has helped me fine-tune my instruction to be more concise and targeted.” 

(Allison Hunt, elementary school teacher)

“Having a PLC coach has provided me with the opportunity to analyze my practice and decide where specifically I would like to hone my skills. I decided to ask for support and analysis in how I am (or am not) using a strengths-based philosophy to provide intervention for students who are not progressing as quickly as we expect.  I find it valuable for someone who teaches the same subject and uses the same curriculum and with whom I have a high level of professional trust and respect to be the person giving me suggestions and asking me questions about my practice.” 

(Kathy Ritzer, middle school teacher)

“Working with my PLC Coach has improved my teaching practice. Through rich conversations, we have determined ways to enhance in-class practice for students—leading to a better understanding of physics concepts for students.”

(Dr. Nathan Belcher, high school teacher)


Based on the positive feedback we have heard from teachers, PLC coaches, and school leaders, we will expand this model next year. Our goal is to ensure that more teachers get high-quality, regular feedback on their teaching and that the teaching teams in our PLCs work very closely together to provide high-quality learning experiences and aligned expectations and assessments across classrooms. Subject to continued positive experiences, we will look to expand this model to cover the whole school over the next three years. We will share with you in January the names of the PLC coaches who will start in the role this coming August. 

In addition to the work of our PLC coaches, we are excited to welcome our incoming DEI specialists. As we shared earlier this semester, these three half-time DEI specialist positions will teach half-time and work closely with PLCs, teachers, and leaders to further our DEI work in our classrooms. This is a structure similar to what we have done this year with our half-time math specialists at each division, which has proven to be a very collaborative and productive structure. The three math specialists (Gynelle Gaskell, Melissa Trainor, and Darlene Poluan) will continue in these roles next year. We are excited to announce the following DEI specialists for next year:

  • Angela Spitzman (Elementary School)
  • Jessica Jones (Middle School)
  • Renée Green (High School)

We believe these investments in our educators will play an important part in helping us deliver on our vision of cultivating exceptional thinkers prepared for the future. 

Best,

Tom Boasberg
Superintendent 
 

*To see a more in-depth version of this article in our recently launched digital version of Journeys, click here.