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Three-year strategic plan focuses on creating ‘a community of learners’

Plan in the works for over a year

As part of creating a three-year strategic plan at Cedar Springs Public Schools, every teacher got a boarding pass to FLIGHT Plan 1.0.

The FLIGHT Plan — or Focused Learners Imagining Greater Heights Together — was designed to bring the entire community together.

Scott Smith

“We don’t just mean students,” said Superintendent Scott Smith, in his second year at the district. “We’re all learners. As a staff, we’re learners; as parents, we’re learners. For us, it’s about really being inclusive and supportive as a community of learners. I think that’s the big initiative.”

The district reached out to parents over the summer asking how they can help their children thrive this year.

“We got wonderful responses from parents that we were able to summarize and share on the first day of school,” Smith said. “And our kindergarten teachers got a boarding pass that included those suggestions from parents.

“It was so neat to read those responses from those parents; ‘My child wants to be loved, challenged, grow socially in a safe and secure place.’”

The Vision

“Enriching the world by cultivating learners who thrive within their communities.” That’s the official vision of the plan. And Smith said they want to live that vision.

“We want to create that environment where each learner is supported in a way where they can thrive so they can then enrich their communities,” he explained. “Whether it’s a group of kindergartners at the lunch table or whether it’s a group of seniors studying for an AP bio exam, we want to create those communities of learners.”

It all began last October, when the district partnered with a data collection firm and then started talking with a group of high school students, asking what they think stands out about Cedar Springs, positively and negatively.

‘If we get this right, wow, how cool is that? It helps our community of learners thrive.’

— Superintendent Scott Smith

The student focus groups led to parents, and then staff.

“We just kept listening and asking some basic questions,” said Smith, who leaned on Ron Koehler, Kent ISD assistant superintendent, for surveying groups.

The surveys took place from January through May, then all members came together on June 25 “and really went to work …,” Smith said. “We wrote the plan on that day, looking at our values, vision and mission.”

Three Areas of Cedar Springs FLIGHT plan:

Academic and Student Services
• Increase student achievement
• Provide a guaranteed and viable curriculum
• Create a comprehensive assessment/data utilization plan
• Align professional learning
• Capitalize on the synergy of meaningful relationships
• Differentiate academic experiences for students
• Integrate a continuum of supports for social/emotional/behavioral needs
• Enhance life-focused opportunities

Engagement
• Increase student achievement
• Foster effective two-way systems of communication
• Honor the ideas and perspectives of others
• Capitalize on the synergy of meaningful relationships
• Strengthen CSPS and community through partnerships
• Celebrate/model/support positive behaviors

Operations
• Increase student achievement
• Enhance safety and security (facilities and protocols)
• Develop a comprehensive facility plan
• Enhance the effectiveness of communication systems
• Provide sustainable ‘access to’ and ‘use of’ value-added technology

They presented the FLIGHT Plan to the Board of Education on July 15, and it was approved at the August meeting.

Pam Kozicki, administrative assistant to Superintendent Scott Smith, models the FLIGHT Crew T-shirt

Living Document

Smith said the district will use a tool called the One-Page Strategic Plan, to make it part of their daily work, district-wide.

“(It) moves it from a binder on a shelf to something we can use each and every day in our work,” he explained. “It creates a living document. You post it on the wall to make it part of your work — your daily wallpaper.

Every category of district workers and teachers — subdivided by grade — will work together on their own one-page plans, he said.

“It’s something I did as a middle school principal in Hamilton, and we just had great success. We kept it at the forefront of our thinking. It’s a common-sense breakdown to help each core member of the team be connected to this huge vision. This makes it personal, allows each member of the team to have a stake in the outcome.

“It’s really a great momentum builder for current and future achievement as an organization. If we get this right, wow, how cool is that? It helps our community of learners thrive.”

Smith thinks it’s important to provide opportunities to contribute to district discussions.

He spoke of a community member who was involved in bond discussions, bringing many key ideas to the table, “a perspective that will help strengthen the work that we’re doing in terms of creating a bond campaign.

“By reaching out to them, we know they have value and they’ve got a voice, and people are going to listen to them — different people than who would listen to me, and that’s so cool. Everyone has a voice. We need to respect that, and honor that and listen.”

Creating communities of learners is the focus of the new 3-year strategic plan at Cedar Springs Public Schools
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Cris Greer
Cris Greer
For more than three decades, Cris Greer has been a wordsmith, working in the fields of journalism, advertising and marketing. Much of the past decade, he helped grow the MLive Statewide High School Sports desk as a supervisor, editor and reporter, which included eight newspapers in Michigan and mlive.com. Cris also was a freelancer for The Grand Rapids Press, The Advance and On the Town magazine for many years. A good portion of his early career was spent building and managing the copywriting team in the advertising department at Meijer, Inc., where he oversaw copywriting for print ads, mailers, brochures, signage, several dozen in-house magazines per year and much more.

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