July 26, 2022 By Carol Britton Meyer
During her first "official" School Committee meeting as the new Hingham Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Margaret Adams presented an "entry plan" geared toward developing an outline of "a comprehensive list of activities" to support her transition into this new role.
"This opportunity for an in-depth review of the district will provide information crucial to supporting the district in the future," Adams stated in the report she presented during Monday's in-person meeting.
Goals that are part of the entry plan -- which covers the time period from July 2022 to January 2023 -- include:
- Governance: Build a strong relationship between the superintendent and the School Committee.
- Community: Gain a deeper understanding of the Hingham Public Schools and the perspectives of various stakeholders. Provide opportunities for multiple stakeholders to learn more about the new superintendent as a leader and develop relationships based on "open, candid, honest communication."
- Communications: Develop structures that support consistent communication with stakeholders.
- Teaching and Learning: Assess all students' academic achievement and social-emotional well-being to identify strengths and opportunities for growth. Develop an action plan to support the continued high performance of students, schools, and staff.
- Culture: Promote a positive, collaborative, student-centered school climate that supports a positive learning environment for all students, staff, and families.
The entry plan reflects Adams' core values and beliefs about education, including the "collective responsibility as educators to ensure the success of every single student in our care"; strong, caring relationships that will sustain the HPS community of "learners, families, educators, and leaders"; and providing an education centered on the development of the whole child while "nurturing their skills to be innovative, creative, resilient, inclusive and civically-minded global citizens."
A video of the entry can be viewed here: https://www.smore.com/84mcq
This collaborative and collective effort "will ensure the success of all of our students, [whose] sense of belonging is strengthened when we honor and celebrate their diverse backgrounds," according to Adams.
The new superintendent broke the plan into three phases: engage and understand, synthesize and strategize, and align and implement.
The first phase took place from February through June 2022, when Adams engaged in interviews with stakeholders and other activities that allowed additional interaction with the community.
These conversations were based on the following guiding principles: the strengths and needs of the school district from the stakeholders' perspective; what their "fears and hopes" are for the new superintendent; and what they feel is needed in order for Adams to be effective in her role as superintendent of schools.
During this time period, Adams also reviewed school improvement plans; the fiscal 2022 and 2023 budgets; and the HPS professional development plan, equity audit, past strategic plan, curriculum program reviews, capital improvement reports and plans, and emergency management plans.
Adams was also involved in interviewing and hiring key staff; participating in strategic plan meetings; attending local events; and visiting each school with the school principal.
Also outlined in the plan are her initial reflections -- including that HPS has committed and dedicated staff and leaders; that the Hingham community supports the town's schools and desires for them to be successful; and that each of the six HPS and the community "are committed to creating equitable and inclusive learning environments" -- and opportunities for growth.
During the summer and into the fall, Adams will work with the HPS leadership Team to begin formulating specific plans for each school. The final analysis will provide the basis for submitting an entry plan report to the School Committee.
The report, including conclusions and recommendations resulting from the interpretation of information gathered during the entry plan process, will be shared with the School Committee next January.
This report will then inform the development of the budget for the district as well as an outline of multi-year plans for professional development, communication, equity, facilities, and technology, according to Adams. "These multi-year plans will help center the Hingham Public Schools over the coming years on its core mission, vision, and values of providing inclusive, innovative learning environments where all our students thrive."
In a letter to the school community that was included in the entry plan presentation, Adams said she is "deeply grateful for the warmth and welcome of everyone I have met. I am excited to have officially begun this journey with all of you, to continue to learn more about the Hingham community, and to serve the children and families in our care."
School Committee Chair Michelle Ayer called the entry plan presentation "an exciting first step on her journey as our new Superintendent that really highlights Dr. Adams' commitment and engagement to our community long before her official start date of July 1.
"We are grateful to Dr. Adams for the work she has already put it on behalf of students -- and we want to thank all the HPS staff and students, as well as the broader Hingham community, for welcoming and supporting Dr. Adams as she takes on this vital role within our schools," Ayer told the Hingham Anchor following the meeting.
The document will be posted on the HPS website this week.
In other business at the meeting:
- An announcement was made that HPS was successful in its application for two professional development grants -- totaling $34,680 -- offered by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
- The Civics Teaching and Learning Grant supports the implementation of civics education as outlined in the Massachusetts History and Social Sciences Curriculum Framework. The purpose of these funds is to support districts in aligning with new civics standards, including curricular materials and professional development for teachers.
- A recruiting timeline was presented to assist in the search for a new METCO director to replace Carols Perez, who resigned effective July 15. Following the identification of finalists and a series of interviews -- including with METCO families and Adams -- the search team is expected to make a recommendation to the superintendent by Aug. 12 and a new METCO director appointed by Adams by Aug. 15