Poultney High School

Website: Poultney High School

Poultney High School (PHS) has a clear vision for their school.  PHS has decided to become a School-wide Title 1 school.  What this means is that we are embracing a school reform model that is designed to generate high levels of academic achievement in all content areas, for ALL high school students, especially those students who are at risk of failure, at risk of dropping out, and/or are not meeting proficiency levels on state and local assessments. Poultney High School’s poverty rate for 2006 was 40% of their student population, for 2007 the poverty rate was at 43% and for 2008, 2009 and 2010 it was at an all time high of 44%, which indicates that PHS is over the poverty threshold of 40%, a Title 1 requirement.  In spite of our poverty level and diverse population, PHS has the potential to be the very best high school in the state of Vermont, in a very holistic way that embraces social, emotional, physical, and academic achievement.  We want our communities to see PHS as a safe haven and an organization committed to continuous improvement and accountability.  What we lack in finances and resources, we make up for in vision, energy, pride and hard, smart work.  Through thoughtful planning and a collaborative spirit, we intend to build on the successes we have nurtured over time and to improve in the areas that we see as challenges and have identified in this action plan.  We envision this plan as only one part of a very integral and comprehensive school reform movement that promises sustained, substantive improvement for all.

We embrace the 10 Principles of the Coalition of Essential Schools:

  1. Using your mind to learn
  2. Master specific, essential skills
  3. Goals apply to ALL students
  4. Personalize teaching and learning
  5. Students as Learner: Teacher as Coach
  6. Diploma is awarded when essential skills are mastered
  7. School climate: trust, decency and high expectations
  8. Principal and teachers are generalists
  9. Teacher/Student Ratio, 80 or less
  10. Non-discriminating and inclusive practices and policies

We firmly believe in the twelve guiding principles of the High Schools on the Move reform movement:

  1. Engaged Learners
  2. Challenging Standards
  3. Multiple Pathways
  4. Personalized Learning
  5. Flexible Structures
  6. Real Life Experiences
  7. Instructional Leadership
  8. Alignment of Curricula, Instruction and Assessment to the Vermont Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities
  9. Shared Purpose
  10. Pre K-16 Continuity
  11. Family Participation
  12. Community Participation

Our Action Plan illustrates our commitment to these national and state reform efforts through our goal setting, strategies, data collection and outcomes.  This reform task that we are embracing is monumental!  Our first goal is primarily centered on traditional models of teaching and testing, (the curriculum), where the second goal is constructivist in nature and requires a more student-led approach.  Balancing the two will require much consideration and attention.

We believe our strengths to be the intimate and personal relationships we have built within the school community and community at large, over time. We see ourselves as highly visible and committed to our school and to the communities we serve.  We believe in hard work, thoughtful reflection, and an analysis of our skillful work as the key to our success as mindful practitioners. We believe that our commitment and reputation will build the bridge for newcomers to cross, both families and educators.  Our goal is to attract highly qualified and visionary teacher leaders.  Our goal is to increase parental and guardianship involvement at every level. We intend to entice them to PHS by offering comprehensive, eclectic, and embedded professional development, (teachers), and family oriented entertainment, (families).  We are renowned in the state of Vermont for our sports, music, arts and drama programs.  We have a strong and active PTO.  We offer family events that embrace people of all ages, from our Friday night marches and pep assemblies to our craft fairs in our school gym. The Master Agreement is attractive because it offers up to six graduate credits per year, along with workshop and conference support.  The faculty and staff at PHS are part of a professional learning community that embraces Critical Friends Groups, control over the faculty agendas, department agendas and committee agendas, action research, professional readings and literature, and celebrations. We have a beautiful Wellness Center which families and teachers are welcome to take advantage of.  PHS has written grants to offer Intergenerational classes, technology classes, Open Gym Nights and adult education classes. Class advisorships and coaches are held by faculty, community members, and parents. Teachers are provided with common planning time and a block schedule that they essentially created and continue to tweak.  These practices are important to teacher leaders and families and certainly attract highly qualified folks to come to PHS and to be a participant in the learning community. We enjoy great publicity through weekly press releases by the Principal, (which are published in two weekly papers and on Peg TV). PHS will continue in its quest to attract and keep only the finest educators, all in the name of students! Parents will be encouraged and recruited to lead school activities and committees as we do believe in the partnership as being excellent for the educational community and beyond.

PHS works closely with the elementary school and the community to coordinate services for preschool children in the transition to early childhood programs and then on to the elementary school.  The PTSD has been very supportive of the new Leap Frog Nursery School program. Family Infant Toddler Programs are connected with local services. We advertise for the purpose of looking for preschoolers to attend readiness screenings, (child find).  We have an active community group that is looking at starting a universal preschool program so that all youngsters can receive early support services.  The PHS Principal and the Director of Student Support Services have both attended these meetings. The Even Start Program is funded by our supervisory union.  We have many qualified educators and service providers in and around our community that are indeed experts in their field, and this attributes to a successful transition for preschoolers.

PHS sees the need to think SMARTLY in these days of economic strife.  We will continue to coordinate our resources and monies in a way to maximize services and programs through unified goal setting.  Using state, federal and local monies in a comprehensive way that directly impacts students in a positive way and helps them to achieve high levels of proficiency, is a mission of PHS. Through grant writing, (EPSDT, Hills and Hollows, Medicaid, and other grant resources), and consolidation of funding, PHS will strive to get the most bang for their buck in an effort to show accountability.

We see our challenges as meeting the needs of each and every student in the modality that serves him/her best.  We want to close the gaps for special education and poverty level students.  We want to ensure that each student feels safe, accepted and challenged during his/her career at PHS, which will in turn help him/her to reach his/her fullest potential in life and in the world at large.  We want our school system to offer a clear Pre-K-12 learning continuum that supports each and every learner and creates a culture of inquiry and passion.  We want our students to have a voice, to feel respected and supported and to take their education seriously and as a lifelong endeavor.  We want students to dream about what is possible in their future and to help hone their skills enabling them to reach for the stars.  We want happy, physically fit, motivated, respectful, passionate, caring, and goal oriented individuals.

We have new state of the art science labs which will level the playing field for our students entering top notch colleges.  We are very lucky to have such an investment, which was at no extra cost to the taxpayers!

We have a comprehensive needs assessment in place that allows for a constant review of student work and achievement.  This CNA involves every member of the school community in one or more capacities. Using our CFG meetings to look at student work, along with regular assessment discussions at faculty and department meetings, we are empowering teachers and others to use this data for the purpose of improving instruction. These accountability measures will help us to be flexible, but guided, in our pursuit to focus on and refine student achievement, curriculum and instruction, scientifically based teaching and learning strategies, family involvement and professional development.