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By Dan Rudy 

Planning session for local schools to be held


Wrangell Public Schools will be looking for direction from the public in the next step of what school superintendent Patrick Mayer hopes may develop into a strategic plan for the next academic year and beyond.

A reception and charette – or focused period of planning activity – will be held at the Stikine Inn on Feb. 17 beginning at 7 p.m.

The session hopes to address four questions to each of four areas: academic achievement, safety and facilities, career technical education, and technology. Questions have been put together by strategic planning committees, made up of various members of the faculty and Wrangell community.

In putting together the committees, Mayer explained members were grouped together by relevant experience. “We try to capitalize on people’s strengths for the purpose of this.”

For example, Johnson-O’Malley program coordinator Virginia Oliver and school board member Aleisha Mollen would sit in with the academic achievement group because of their educational development backgrounds, while Drew Larrabee would facilitate for the career technical education group because of his position as the high school’s vocational instructor.

The charette will begin with an opportunity for participants to socialize over light refreshments, followed by their division into groups to streamline discussion.

“We’re hoping for a big turnout at the reception,” said Mayer.

He hopes to keep the session simple, following some group norms: “Begin on time, end on time,” turn off electronics, and together answer the 16 questions drawn up by the planning committees.

Questions range from assessing WPS’ current progress in areas such as educational approaches, safety and local resources, to gauging what parents would like to see in the future. In the area of technology, the planning session will also intend to determine what role parents would prefer that new technologies take on in the classroom, as well as how to improve opportunities for students professional development.

“The idea is to get everyone to spend the twenty minutes at each location,” said Mayer. Each workgroup will sport a record-keeper, facilitator and timekeeper to take down input, keep the conversations on track and within an allotted time. “People are free to move between groups at 20 to 25 minute intervals.”

Mayer said this has been a helpful process to him in the past. “You tend to get better feedback with the rotation of people,” he explained. Subdivided into smaller groups and addressing singular areas, the resulting discussions can stay more narrowly focused.

Mayer hopes that what results will be a one-page document with which to direct the next three to five years of school programming. Once drawn up, Mayer added the details could be tweaked and adjusted going forward.

“This will prove to be an effective tool,” he said. “I would like for us to make this a five-year plan.”

This academic year is the first with Mayer as superintendent, having taken over from Rich Rhodes in July. He previously served as the high school principal for the Delta/Greely school district near Fairbanks.


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