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September 2017

The Avon Grove School District’s Strategic Plan guides its work toward fulfilling its mission: to foster a learning environment for all students to be exceptionally
well-prepared to succeed and lead full, meaningful lives.

This newsletter provides an update on the progress Avon Grove is making toward many of the strategic initiatives that are part of that plan.

- M. Christopher Marchese, Ed. D.
Superintendent of Schools
Facilities Input Group (FIG)

Buildings in the Avon Grove School District continue to age, and this school year three of the four schools in the district are over capacity. With this in mind, the district has been examining its facilities through its Facilities Input Group (FIG), an advisory committee formed in May 2016, and tasked with analyzing the district’s facilities to ensure they meet the educational goals of all students. 

The FIG will make a detailed, non-binding recommendation to the School Board this September. 

Task force members have been:

  • Analyzing a facility study completed in 2014
  • Reviewing enrollment projections
  • Reviewing the district’s preventative maintenance plans
  • Examining financial issues the district is facing 
  • Conducting extensive research into each school’s educational model and enrollment capacity
  • Touring other recently renovated and new schools in surrounding districts
  • Discussing the many complicated issues surrounding Avon Grove’s facilities and educational goals

The FIG includes representatives from each township in the district, parents from every school, district administrators and former and current members of the Board of School Directors. For more information visit www.avongrove.org. You can send comments to AGFIG@avongrove.org.
Full-Day Kindergarten

Penn London Elementary School welcomed the district’s first class of full-day kindergarten (FDK) students this year. The Avon Grove School Board approved the program last year and since then the district’s kindergarten team has been working hard to develop a dynamic, hands-on curriculum that engages children in an age-appropriate way. 

Research shows that full-day kindergarten programs provide a strong foundation in academic, social and emotional skills in ways that a half-day (two and a half hour) kindergarten program can’t. Avon Grove joins the approximately 75% of school districts nationwide that offer full-day kindergarten programs. 
1:1 (One to One) Tech Initiative

Avon Grove is on its way to providing each student in grades 6 through 12 with Chromebooks, in an initiative known in the education world as “1:1” (one to one, meaning one computer or tablet for each student.) Last school year was year one of this initiative, as the district aligns itself again with the top performing districts in the nation. 

Last year's students in grades 7 and 8 at Fred S. Engle Middle School received the first of the Chromebooks. This year's students in grade 6 at Avon Grove Intermediate School and grade 9 at Avon Grove High School will receive them, and year three of the program (2018-19 school year) will complete the implementation by providing Chromebooks to grades 10-12 at AGHS.

Students and parents have been very pleased with the program, and we will continue to expand training to our staff to maximize the potential this program offers.
 
Here are the top five reasons why a 1:1 technology initiative improves learning and teaching:

  1. Equalizes student access to technology
  2. Increases engagement for students and teachers
  3. Customizes and differentiates teaching and learning
  4. Increases executive functioning skills for students
  5. Better prepares students for college and career
 
The program comes with a $50 annual fee and there are options available to families with financial need.
Speaker Series for Parents

The Avon Grove School District begins its inaugural year of the parent speaker series, as it reaches out to help families with the many issues that impact our students. The school district will host eight different parent sessions this year, including topics such as juvenile health, nutrition and wellness; child sexual abuse awareness; and the opioid crisis. The first of eight sessions is planned for October 16 and more information will be posted on the district website and sent to parents. The district will partner with the YMCA on this series. Watch for emails as the schedule develops!
Avon Grove to Create Education Foundation
Building cohesion by connecting community with classrooms
 
In efforts to maximize resources and help students achieve success, Avon Grove School District is establishing an education foundation. Through this not-for-profit foundation, community members and organizations, both within and outside of the school district, will have an opportunity to provide resources to help students reach new levels of success.

The Foundation will build bridges between the community and classrooms, and extend and diversify student learning capacities. Each year the Foundation will award scholarships and grants to teachers, support staff and students who want to maximize their learning through specific programs. The Foundation will be formed during the 2017-18 school year and will expect to begin operations in July 2018.
Task Force to Examine Gifted Program

Avon Grove School District will form a task force to review the district’s Gifted Program and make recommendations to the School Board for changes or improvements. Director of Pupil Services Jeremy Curtis will lead a day-long stakeholders' meeting on October 18 to determine four to six guiding questions that will help lead the audit of the program.

School districts typically review programs and curriculum every few years, and the district is excited about this opportunity.

Some of the program issues the task force may examine include how students are evaluated for the program, gifted programming for all students and why some student groups may be under-represented in the program. 

The Task Force will make its recommendations to the Board by March 2018.
Professional Learning for Staff

As our district works to increase learning opportunities for all students, we know that teachers and support staff are essential to this mission. The quality and value of their professional learning is a key priority. Our guiding question is, “How does Avon Grove create the best in-class professional learning program for employees, from the time they’re hired to retirement?”

The goal is to develop systems related to the following:

  1. Entry-criteria and recruitment of new hires to AGSD
  2. Job-embedded learning and support for all adult learners that align to district goals and promote growth and development
  3. Ongoing evaluation of the professional learning program's effectiveness as related to observable adult practice and student learning outcomes

Work has started and teams have mobilized to tackle each of these areas.

We are excited to provide new learning opportunities for our staff!
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