SVSL curriculum director presents department goals
The Smackover-Norphlet School Board’s Monday, September 21 meeting began with a presentation from curriculum director Jennifer Lee and recognition of the district’s employee of the month.
Lee said her presentation was meant to give an overview of how the curriculum department works.
“I’ll say here - [it’s] people first, and programs second. The reason why that is so critical is you’ve known good teachers, and great teachers. A great teacher can take a bad program and make it work… But a bad teacher, no matter how good a program is, can make it unsuccessful. When we make decisions with human resources… that really truly matters,” Lee said.
She went on to discuss teacher training and the curriculum department’s main focal points.
“Whenever we invest in professional development we are investing in our people… What we do with people, how we train them and support them matters more than anything else I will say tonight,” Lee said.
Lee said that the curriculum department uses four guiding questions to determine its policies.
“The first question we want to answer on a daily basis is: what do students need to know to be college or career ready? The second is: how do we know that they’ve learned it? Our third question is: how will we respond when some students do not learn it? Number four is: how do we extend learning for students who are already proficient?” Lee said.
For the first question, Lee listed programs and factors including career and technical education, the K-12 STEM program and the Secondary Technical Center.
“[We ask] what skills do the students have? Do they have social skills, life skills, people skills or the soft skills that industry keeps talking about?” Lee said.
She went on to address the second question.
“We talk a lot about assessment, and a lot of times it deals with standardized achievement testing because that’s what the state and federal government requires us to do. But there’s all kinds of assessment; it’s a daily, ongoing assessment as a teacher. It’s speaking to a student as they walk out the door, asking ‘what did you learn today?’ Assessment matters… if we don’t know what [students] have learned, we aren’t doing our job,” Lee said.
For the third question, Lee focused on programs the district has in place to address issues students may have.
“We have RTI (Response to Intervention) Academic, which includes our dyslexia therapy program and other support for students. We also have RTI Behavior, because for some students its not that they can’t learn the material, but they have other things going on in their lives,” Lee said. She also discussed programs including those for English language learners and the alternative learning program.
Finally, she addressed extending learning for already-proficient students.
“It’s not okay to say they learned the curriculum, great; we want to extend that learning… When you see anything we’re talking about with Gifted and Talented, Concurrent Credit or certificates of general study, that’s how we’re extending that learning,” Lee said.
Following her presentation, Lee offered recognition for the SNSD employee of the month, Smackover High School counselor Amber Miller.
“There’s a reason we have kids enrolled at the Secondary Technical Center, because [Miller] enrolled every single one of them, and advised them,” Lee said.