As the tenth largest school district in the state, Lawrence Township Schools has a history of excellence in education and offering innovative programs. With the start of the 2013-2014 school year, the district is poised to continue on that path. In a recent conversation, Dr. Concetta Raimondi, superintendent, Lawrence Township Schools, shared the district’s vision for the upcoming school year. Her focus continues to be excellence in education, incorporating technology in the curriculum through professional staff development and providing clear communication for parents and students.
Dr. Raimondi is continuing to look for ways to improve the way the district approaches education. She noted that today’s young people are more sophisticated at much younger ages. Often referred to as “digital natives”, their daily use of smartphones, iPads and social media are a way of life. “Young people are far more sophisticated so we must incorporate technology because traditional teaching styles may not work with their learning styles,” she acknowledged.
It is imperative the district require educators to integrate digital teaching strategies in the classroom. To that end, the district began using netbooks last year in middle schools and will continue to evaluate new models of effectiveness to keep instructional styles relevant. Raimondi said the district plans to expand technology at the high schools next, then grade schools.
Staying current about available tools and classroom applications through continuing education is more relevant than ever; school is never out for the professional. Dr. Raimondi was pleased when more than 200 teachers took part in professional development training for two weeks in June. Attendance was voluntary and Raimondi said the strong participation is evidence of the caliber of professionals working for the district.
The district uses a model of collaboration to ensure that students benefit in a culture that encourages teamwork. Professional training continues throughout the school year with the staff meeting 3-4 times a week for 45 minutes per session. During the meetings the teachers review data and instructional studies to help them provide the highest levels of instruction, and to find best practices that work for all students. Raimondi said this creates a culture that clearly puts student education first.
The “Doc” Is In
The district also is using technology to keep parents and the community involved in their schools. BoardDocs was launched in July as an innovative, web-based program that provides unprecedented public access via the MSDLT’s website to allow preview of school board agendas, and to review actions taken by the board at past meetings. The hope is keep more parents involved throughout the year.
Raising The Bar
Dr. Raimondi noted that high school students are doing exceptionally well throughout the township. “Collectively, our graduating class of 2013 received approximately $20 million in earned scholarships to elite colleges and universities across the country,” said the superintendent who also has convened a task force study to begin developing an “academies model” that would allow students to focus studies on specific academic disciplines. Special certifications and dual credit opportunities would help students by preparing them for studies at technical schools or colleges and universities. The academies model is in its early stage and will be unveiled in the next 3-4 years. Raimondi envisions community and business partnerships with Lawrence Central and Lawrence North High Schools, much like those at the McKenzie Center for Innovation and Technology.
A Steady Ship
According to Dr. Raimondi, the district has few staff changes for the upcoming school year. She credits Dr. Sharon Smith, executive director, MSDLT Human Resources, for implementing practices and systems to find highly qualified, energetic individuals. “The Humanex System helps us discern through a reliable and valid survey who is hardwired to meet the needs and establish the expectations necessary for a top education for every student,” Dr. Smith said. This system is used by many area school districts including Zionsville, Westfield Washington, and Center Grove. But, as most employers know, it’s not only important to find the right staff but to keep the right staff. Leading a school district that serves 15,000 students requires dedicated and committed instructors and staff, and that is exactly what exists in Lawrence Township.
To learn more about what is happening in Lawrence Township Schools visit www.ltschools.org. Welcome back to the students, teachers and staff!