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In order for Sparrow Middle School to fulfill both our vision and mission, it is imperative that a system for open communication be at the forefront of our efforts, thus enabling all of our stakeholders to work together to effect better student outcomes. This communication process is critical to both inform and engage our school community so they may develop a cultural competency that will involve every member of our diverse social and economic population. Communications will be produced in a multitude of formats: written, orally, electronically and here, in-person, at Sparrow. This will help to solidify our bonds with our community members. Building this social capital will help establish a truly cohesive structure that will empower all our members to work in partnership to achieve educational equity.

Middleville City is a unique and special place, rich in history, diversity, cultural pride and brimming with wonderful resources for all its children and their families. We will initiate connected learning experiences where our in-school activities will be coordinated with our many diverse community resources that will add to and complement our students’ varied interests and abilities, exponentially increasing our scholars’ opportunities. Strategic organization with our community partners, especially our greater arts and faith based members, combined with creative financing approaches, will encourage engagement amongst all our stakeholders.

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Every member of our partnership is an equal participant and resource, with clearly defined roles, that will enable the smooth transformation of Sparrow into an organization with institutional integrity and high expectations for rigorous achievement. Our shared vision will keep our focus on the day-to-day relationship building that will foster the reconciliation of our diverse cultures into one homogeneous entity, with the sole purpose of preparing our scholars to be productive citizens of a truly 21st century global society. It is our “belief that academic achievement is intertwined with physical, social and emotional well-being; the development of personal competencies in many area of life; and the engagement of a strong family and community” (Meyer, Strambler, 2016). It is toward this end that we will employ behavioral regulation through Social and Emotional Learning (SEL/Ruler) skills that have been shown to be correlated to better student outcomes concerning, grades, attendance and incidents of suspensions. “Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is the process through which children and adults develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, reach goals, show empathy for others, build positive relationships, and make responsible decisions” (Meyer, Strambler, 2016). We will continue to recognize our monthly poet laureates to which we will add a monthly academic achievement award as well as a student of the month who embodies our Social and Emotional Learning ideals.

Although Sparrow is facing increased pressure to achieve more successful levels in our high-stakes testing, we must not allow these tendencies to interfere with our mission to collaborate with parents, public and private agencies, local businesses, community based organizations, and our 21-plus strong, faith-based groups that will allow our educational process to thrive. An initial commitment for Sparrow to establish itself as a Magnet School second order change quotes here for the Visual and Performing Arts will bring our students a new found self confidence and an ability to problem solve without judgement. This will create a sense of accountability that will nurture the whole child, increasing creativity along with critical thinking. We will embrace what we do well and continue to strive to improve our weaknesses. Since our arts program has shown so much efficacy in our academic test scores, it is incumbent upon us to see that these programs are continued at the high school level once our students leave us. Our non Title I elementary school has definitively proven {d} how successful an arts program can be by achieving “exemplary academic rating in the state accountability system ” and with “best practices” acclaim (Peck, Clarida, 2016). These programs need to be rolled out district wide with the guidance and input from our most successful alumni through guest lectures and field trips. “Several other Sparrow alumni have gone on in their adult lives to garner national and international attention for their music and artwork, though none are connected to the school in any way” (Peck, Clarida, 2016). This invaluable resource must not be squandered any more. We will reach out to all alumni so they can rejoin our efforts to give our students the education they need and deserve.

“Sparrow Spring” will remain an important tradition and celebration of our creative capacity. It has become an annual fixture of each academic year but to balance this festival with our deep commitment to academic excellence we will be moving the timing of the event away from our state-mandated testing cycle. Students, staff and the community at large will benefit from being able to laser focus our efforts to excel at each challenge. Since the fair has become “the very best thing about living in this community” (Peck, Clarida, 2016), we will continue to reach out to our most successful alumni inviting them to participate and bring this extraordinary gathering to the next level.

We can see from the evidence of academic data that our students from our non Title I elementary school with its arts based curriculum, benefits all students and has a positive effect on everything from attendance to academic mastery (Peck, Calrida, 2016). An Arts focus can be used as a tool to tackle our most persistent and pervasive problems. It should not be considered an elective program, but an integral part of the solution to our school’s underperformance on high-stakes testing. These programs have shown that they can directly affect and improve our indicators of academic success.

Our school and our community partnership will embark on a five year strategic plan with both long term and measurable annual milestones. This will enable our school community to continuously improve as evaluations are performed and we learn from our successes as well as our mistakes. This collaboration will be an key component of our whole-school transformation, connecting all our actions for curricula reform and instructional improvement to our long-term goals for student success. When we combine our resources with those of our alumni, parents, faith-based agencies, civic and culturally diverse community organizations, and the community at large, we greatly enhanced all means available to reach and inspire our subgroups experiencing the most difficulties and who we are currently under serving. Hispanic ; SPED According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Developing strong partnerships among school, families, businesses, and community and religious groups is the best way to make our education system thrive” (ERIC, 2003). These relationships will transform into long lasting partnerships for enhancing our students’ measurable achievements. The stronger our school becomes, the stronger our community will be. Neither partner can accomplish this alone, but together all resources can be brought to the table to unite us in excellence.

Our long-term plan sets our broader goals for; student achievement, improved attendance, embracing technology, and upgrading our physical facilities, while embracing our ever growing Hispanic and special education population. To date, our commitment to these two groups has been woefully inadequate and it shows in their test results. Only 26% of Hispanic students are passing both math and reading tests. It is at an even lower rate of 12% for our Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students (Peck, Clarida, 2016). If diversity and inclusion mean anything to our school community then it must begin with our teaching staff. Currently we have no teachers with a Hispanic/Latino background, yet our Hispanic population of students had increased by 140% the past 5 years. (Peck, Clarida, 2016). It is time to reach out beyond the walls of our school and aggressively recruit some highly qualified Hispanic/Latino teachers who can promote a more equitable presentation of learning opportunities for all our students, despite their backgrounds. “The collective efficacy of the teachers in a school is a better predictor of student success than socio-economic status of the students” (Jossey-Bass, p.99).

In addition we will initiate a one year action plan that will be instrumental in establishing a scheduled list of short-term goals and implementation of needed reforms. These objectives will be vetted and overseen by individual committees made up of interested and active community members. These one year plans must be implemented fully each year, with our sub-committees monitoring on a monthly basis, their progress and thus adjusting our plans as necessary to ensure their success. These partnerships will be customized for Sparrow’s needs to accomplish all our goals, benefiting all stakeholders, while augmenting our shared sense of community that make us such a unique and special place.

Student academic and social-emotional development will be our main priority, as our scholars are our most precious natural resource. Together with our community partners we will be tasked with providing them a safe, inclusive, engaging, and rigorous setting for them to learn and grow. Although our rate of suspensions has declined from 341 to 56 the past few years, the rate of violent acts has increased from 5 to 26 (Peck, Clarida 2016). We must provide appropriate links for our students to access all the resources our community has to offer, so they may find their personal talents, realize their strengths and reach their full potential as productive citizens. Helping students and their families solve their non academic problems, which inhibit their ability to learn, would result in improved academic performance and reduce the number of serious incidents at our school. We would benefit greatly to be known as “the go to place to get the help you need,” from educational programs to referral services, training for child care providers, mental health counseling, employment assistance, substance abuse issues, and general family difficulties. Our newly appointed Family Community Connection Coordinator will be instrumental in helping our families feel at home by providing links to the community as well as providing opportunities for our partners to participate in workshops, conferences curriculum nights, while advocating for Sparrow families to ensure their needs are met. We will strive, as a staff, to work together with parents, teachers and community leaders to solve problems for students and their families to ensure that Sparrow will become and remain a rich educational environment, where every student can grow and thrive.

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