Click here for more information on the work of the Innovate 2.0 Committee and learn about Broadalbin-Perth’s original strategic plan, “Innovate.”
The second meeting of the Innovate 2.0 Committee, which took place on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, began with the screening of a thought-provoking video, “The Future of Work: Will Our Children Be Prepared?” After the video finished, Superintendent of Schools Stephen Tomlinson welcomed committee members with a quote from cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead: “We must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet.”
Next, Tomlinson reviewed some of the main takeaways from the first meeting of the committee on Jan. 12, and reminded members where they can find complete notes from the meeting on the district’s website. Then, high school English teacher Kristina Marshall, who is assisting with the committee as part of her administrative internship, invited committee members to share any final thoughts related to the committee’s first discussion, which centered around the question “What areas do you believe Broadalbin-Perth should focus on over the next five years? Why?” Responses included class ranking, reading, expansion of Patriot Academy, improved understanding of career opportunities/education, problem-solving skills, relationship building, grit, work-based learning, respect, reducing stigmas, and making school relevant.
Portrait of a B-P Graduate/Student
Tomlinson then transitioned to introducing the evening’s focus by talking about the importance of mindset and believing that almost anything is possible. This is what he told members of the district’s leadership team four years ago when they began the work of developing a Portrait of a B-P Graduate and a Portrait of a B-P Student. Specifically, members of the district leadership team considered these questions: “What experiences will students need during their 14 years at B-P to develop the knowledge, skills, and attributes we want graduates to have? What knowledge, skills, and attributes should a B-P graduate have?”
Tomlinson simplified these questions by asking plainly, “What do you want?” However, he cautioned that the school district can’t be everything for all students, simply because of the limitations of the district’s enrollment and staffing, and the constraints of students’ time in school. He said that by offering too much choice, enrollment in individual elective classes or programs drops to the point that the district can’t justify sustaining them. So, he encouraged committee members to consider that in the discussions they would have later in the evening.
Next, Tomlinson presented data from a recent survey of students in grades 7-11 at B-P Jr./Sr. High School. The first chart showed students’ post-high school plans. Of those who responded to the survey:
- 68.1% said they intended to attend a four-year college or university;
- 13.1% said they intended to attend a two-year community college;
- 12.9% said they intended to go straight into the workforce; and
- 5.9% said they intended to join the U.S. armed services.
Tomlinson then introduced the term “college persistence” and informed committee members that approximately 79% of B-P students who enroll in a four-year college return for a second year. He pointed out that this is important because too many young people take on debt to pay for college but never finish their degrees, and many who complete their degrees never get a job in their chosen field.
The next chart Tomlinson presented was from the same survey of BPHS students and showed their aspirations by career cluster. Of those who responded to the survey:
- 20.2% said they aspire to a career in the Industrial & Manufacturing cluster;
- 20.0% said they aspire to a career in the Human Services cluster;
- 16.0% said they aspire to a career in the Environmental & Agricultural cluster;
- 15.8% said they aspire to a career in the Communication & Information cluster;
- 14.9% said they aspire to a career in the Health Sciences cluster; and
- 13.0% said they aspire to a career in the Environmental & Agricultural cluster.
This data was presented in a pie chart, which Tomlinson noted looked almost evenly split six ways, underscoring the diversity of career interests among B-P students.
Tomlinson then invited Director of Curriculum & Instruction Terry LaFountain to speak about the mandates and regulations that public school districts must follow – in other words, “the box” that Tomlinson was encouraging committee members to think outside of. LaFountain provided a general overview of what are known as the Part 100 and Part 200 regulations that dictate the subjects schools must teach, learning standards, and minimum graduation requirements, among other mandates.
While little has changed about these regulations over time, Tomlinson told committee members that, in recent years, schools have been shifting their focus from the acquisition of knowledge to the application of knowledge. Tomlinson said that this shift has come about with increasingly universal access to technology making it easier for students to access information instantaneously.
Finally, Tomlinson noted that this evening’s discussion was important as the district plans for courses and programs, which, in turn, drive financial decisions. Tomlinson gave the example of the decision to add personal finance as a graduation requirement made it necessary for the district to hire another business teacher to teach the course.
Director of Human Resources and Communications Michele Kelley then introduced the evening’s small group activity, mind mapping, which was the same group brainstorming technique used during the first Innovate 2.0 Committee meeting.
Kelley explained that each group would be focused on the same guiding questions once considered by members of the district leadership team: “What experiences will students need during their 14 years at B-P to develop the knowledge, skills, and attributes we want graduates to have? What knowledge, skills, and attributes should a B-P graduate have?” She told them they would discuss these questions in small groups and write their ideas down on the large pieces of paper covering their tables.
Groups were pre-assigned, with group numbers printed on committee members’ nametags. Each committee member visited a total of three tables during the activity, participating in discussions for 15-20 minutes at each tble. Each table had a pre-selected “anchor” who remained at the table, took notes on the discussion, and helped subsequent groups make sense of the mind maps left by prior groups.
Reporting Out and Next Steps
When the committee members returned to the auditorium after the activity, they responded to one final instant poll question: “What is one idea that you talked about or heard tonight that excites you the most?” Responses included career exploration, project-based learning, customized assessments, seeing failure as an opportunity for growth, helping students find their passions at an early age, creating a capstone project for graduation, and developing a regional student exchange program.
Tomlinson then reviewed the next steps, including asking committee members to send any additional ideas or feedback about the activity to Kelley via email, and confirmed the next committee meeting will be held Tuesday, March 14.