Welcome to 2016-2017! I hope you have spent the last few weeks enjoying your family and friends, relaxing, and of course, doing your summer reading! The teachers and staff of Discovery have certainly had a good summer. We visited with our families (one as far away as France), enjoyed morning coffees in the fresh air, explored our interior decorating and organization skills in redesigning the physical space of the school, and planned our lessons and teaching methods with great anticipation and excitement. As we begin this next stage of our school’s journey, we will continue many of our past traditions and we will also be creating some new ones.
Our students’ high marks on standardized tests year after year are one determinant of our success. A most recent study published this past spring by Rutgers Education Professor Bruce Baker found that Discovery was indeed the highest performing K-8 charter school in the state. We want to continue our track record in this area and plan to do so by making sure our students are ready for the test from the beginning of the year. Common core content will be incorporated into every lesson and we will continue our rigorous vocabulary program—all in the context of providing our students with opportunities to develop their confidence, curiosity, and courage.
Our teachers and staff members are our greatest resource and some of the hardest working, ingenious, and caring people I know. I have made their work environment and quality of life an administrative priority. Going forward, every adult in the school will plan, teach, and administrate with the continual support of at least one partner. Staff members and teachers will be both autonomous and accountable. And I am always on the lookout for good quality programs and retreats that will help us all grow personally and professionally.
This year, we will work to establish a learning environment that is outstanding in its multi- dimensionality. Our students are infinitely diverse and deserve a variety of ways to enter into a lesson and assess their understanding. Our Discovery teaching practice requires that we learn from our students and incorporate their questions and ideas into our lessons.
As always, we view our parents and families as necessary partners in our work and will continue our open door policy. I would love to have you come, have a cup of tea or coffee, tell me about your child, and ask hard questions. Appointments can be made through Ms. Grier. I invite you to also consider supporting our Parent-Teacher Association and submitting the new and improved volunteer opportunities form. In addition, I plan to host small parent focus groups throughout the year and hope that you will participate.
As I shared with many of you last spring, I want to reinvigorate our efforts to support our alumni to and through young adulthood. I have submitted guidelines to our board last month, suggested guidelines for a scholarship opportunity that may be available for our students attending private high schools. I am planning the formation of an alumni advisory and support group, and am seeking to have more alumni presence in the school on an ongoing basis.
Discovery Charter School is a dynamic place of progress and movement, and I ask that you join me as I work with our amazing staff and teachers to take the school forward. Join me this year, in this most important of all endeavors, to make a deep and genuine difference in the lives of your students, and, through them, on the future of our society.
Together, we can create a new story of what learning can be.
Dr. Irene Hall