Thanks to a Google Alert on "SMART Goals in education" we discovered the positive and inspiring newspaper account of Hudson School District’s journey towards greater student achievement. A congratulatory call to Sandi Kovatch, Director of Learning, was in order. As it turned out, I was the bearer of good news about the coverage in the Hudson paper. I quickly emailed Sandi a copy and our connection with Hudson School District began . . . again.
In August of 2006, Carol Pulsfus, a QLD Trainer, spent 3 days training Hudson's teacher leaders and principals in the S.M.A.R.T. Goals Process. I was fortunate to be able to attend these sessions as my first glimpse into QLD training. I still remember the enthusiasm of the participants as they analyzed their student data and determined their greatest area of need (GAN). While it appeared initially that the GAN was going to be math, the District determined reading should be the focus. This allowed them to “stay the course” with balanced literacy, where they were making progress and around which they had provided intensive literacy training for staff.
I often wonder what becomes of our training after we leave a district. How does the process continue? How is the level of commitment and implementation maintained after the initial training? What is done to train and involve the rest of the staff? Does the S.M.A.R.T. Goal’s process become institutionalized at all levels? What are the struggles and what support is needed? Most importantly in this context, what made it work for the Hudson School District?
Clearly, it was time for a road trip to Hudson, which is situated on the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix River. After making arrangements with Sandi, Mark Zimmerman (my QLD colleague) and I drove to Hudson, where we spent half the day interviewing three central office administrators, two principals, and a teacher. They were so generous with their time; we really appreciated their willingness to share, honest answers and obvious dedication to their work.
We were excited to hear that the S.M.A.R.T. Goals that were introduced four years ago are a key part of the learning system. We discovered a number of key elements in the learning system during our conversations:
Thank you Superintendent, Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten, Director of Learning Services, Sandra Kovatch, Associate Director of Learning Services Peg Shoemaker, Principals Susie Prather and Dave Grambow and Teacher Amanda! You have shown us that strong, shared leadership is necessary for success.
Look for more about the work that Hudson School District is doing in subsequent posts.