Back in July, when beginning my role as the interim Superintendent of the School District of Milton, I made it a goal to spend time hearing from a wide range of people, both within the district and across our communities. One of the most frequent conversation topics has been what folks value most about our schools.

During these discussions, I’ve heard repeatedly that the School District of Milton has an outstanding history of strong student achievement. This can’t be put off as a case of people feeling a false sense of local pride in their schools, as years of student achievement data back up this belief that our schools have been providing students with a high-quality education for many years. From my conversations with other area superintendents, I’ve also learned that our school district has a stellar reputation across the state.

This history of success builds on itself, as many Milton High School graduates stay or return to our community. In fact, a large number of our teachers are Milton alumni, bringing back the skills and knowledge that they developed during their school years, and using them to positively impact our current students.

One of the main reasons for this success over the years can be found in our mission statement: The School District of Milton, in partnership with the community, prepares our students for achievement and lifetime readiness by providing opportunities for all.

The importance of these partnerships with the community cannot be stressed enough.

Schools cannot be as successful as ours have been, without community support and involvement. This past year, the voters in our community made an invaluable investment when they approved the referendum projects. This investment in our students, staff, and schools will provide us with high-quality education space, to best meet the needs of all learners.

Also important is the continued involvement of community members, whether it comes from parent groups, individual volunteers, or service organizations. We truly couldn’t continue to be an effective school system without the work of all of our community members.

Social and emotional learning

In addition to continuing our academic success, we are also focusing our efforts to meet our students’ social and emotional learning needs. Our Director of Student Services, Susan Probst, has the following information to share.

Understanding personal strengths, being aware of situations that make one uncomfortable, being able to ask for help when frustrated, taking another’s perspective when analyzing a decision: these are all skills that are covered in the social emotional learning competencies.

Although teaching and reinforcing social skills is not new to teaching in Milton, aligning this work from 4k through adult learning is a focus in the coming year. We recognize that when students have strong social and emotional skills, they have an increased opportunity of benefiting from academic instruction as well as strengthening life-long resiliency skills.

All of our staff participated in an awareness activity in August, focusing on positive interactions. Each school building has committed to supporting our staff in awareness and implementation activities that align with their goals. This work aligns with creating a trauma sensitive, safe environment for all. Second Step curriculum was added to 5th grade, which will give students six years of coordinated programming. The 4K-3 counselors will begin co-teaching with general education staff members in order to increase personal attention to students. Mentor programs, responsive classroom, PBIS and the academic career plan all support student growth in social and emotional learning.

As your interim superintendent, I’m excited to have joined a team that understands our vital role in providing all students with high quality academic and social emotional learning. Our talented and dedicated staff, teachers, administrators, and school board members work together every day, to ensure success for all students. We are looking forward to an outstanding 2019-20 school year.

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