From Sentinel & Enterprise
By Mina Corpuz
LEOMINSTER -- Look ahead five years and picture how the city's public schools are doing, school officials asked Saturday.
Teachers, students, parents, administrators, and city and state officials gathered at a community session at Leominster High School to brainstorm how to get there. The session was the first of three to generate ideas for a strategic plan for 2023.
"Many times strategic plans get written and they got put on a shelf," said Superintendent Paula Deacon. "I'm looking for a meaningful plan for Leominster Public Schools. ... If we do our work correctly, we can move the needle for students."
About 30 attendees worked in groups to consider the district's present strengths and challenges and what steps would need to be taken to achieve the vision for the district in 2023.
One group pictured a district that focuses more on the trades and invests in technology like 3D printers. Another envisioned adequate staffing and smaller class sizes.
To get there, people should be willing to accept change, one group wrote.
Rep. Natalie Higgins, a Leominster Democrat, was part of a group with two Leominster High students and a parent. She served as scribe for the group, which said a step to get from 2019 to 2023 would be "moving Leominster forward regardless of where we rank. Never give up."
Once the groups finished brainstorming, they were asked to pick their top goal for the district and what needed to be done to get there.
In 2023, the district would have engaged learning and a connection to the community, a group said.
That starts with talking more about social, emotional learning in 2019 and being proactive about what children need. To get there, the district would improve its outreach in the community."We're going to reach out to the community. ... We're not waiting for them to come to us," said Brian Prehna, assistant principal of Northwest Elementary School.
Another group said in five years the district would have an early childhood center, which would help solve problems by starting at the beginning.
"If we don't have solid foundation, we can't expect anything better at the top," said Jennifer Bassett, a Leominster High English teacher who presented her group's goal and plans.
At the end of the planning session, chart papers where the groups wrote their ideas were on display.
Groups reviewed the other groups' work and noted whether they shared ideas with them or found parts of their vision for Leominster Public Schools notable. Blue and yellow stickers that dotted the chart paper showed overlap and supported ideas.