VCS Staff Members Ready for New School Year

By: Valparaiso Community Schools Last Updated: August 29, 2011

valpo-community-schoolsWritten by Andrew Melin, Superintendent

The start of school last week went very well thanks to the efforts of our entire VCS staff as well as the cooperation and support of our VCS parents and students.

The first day of school was on a late-start schedule (30-minute delay) due to our school systems' commitment this year to provide time each Wednesday for our staff to collaborate in teams at the building level.

VCS provides its students with an outstanding education, and use of collaboration time each Wednesday will only enhance our ability to serve our students.

Collaboration time is part of a larger concept called Professional Learning Communities, which can be defined as an "on-going process in which educators work collaboratively in recurring cycles of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students they serve."

A primary goal of a PLC is to use achievement data to determine the best way for teachers to meet individual student needs.

Each Wednesday teams of teachers and administrators will meet, assess current practices and programs, clarify what students need to learn, review student achievement data, discuss effective instructional strategies, and eventually develop specific plans designed to best meet the needs of each student.

The three big ideas of a PLC are:

  1. The school's purpose is to ensure all students learn at high levels.
  2. Helping all students learn requires a collaborative and collective effort.
  3. To assess our effectiveness in helping all students learn, we must focus on evidence of student learning, use results to inform and improve our professional practice, and respond to students who need intervention or enrichment.

Collaboration and the PLC philosophy promote continuous improvement and complement our VCS Strategic Plan, which is designed to help VCS accomplish its mission and vision.

We regret any hardship the late start Wednesday schedule may have for some of our parents. However, we believe collaboration time will greatly benefit the achievement of each of our students.

A question posed by some of our parents is what happens to a late-start Wednesday schedule in the event of a two-hour delay. If weather causes a two-hour delay, collaboration will be canceled, and students will start school two hours late.

We will continuously monitor the effectiveness of our collaboration schedule and report our results by the end of the school year.