WILMINGTON, MA — At last week’s School Committee meeting, Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand announced that significant changes will be coming to the Wilmington Middle School over the next several years, with a focus on updating its program of studies, schedule, and — potentially — the overall organization of the school.
“The Wilmington Middle School has continued its program offerings, schedule and overall organization relatively unchanged for many years,” Brand wrote in a memo to the School Committee. “It is an important period to conduct a thorough review and analysis of the schools’ programming in light of the shifts in student enrollment, possible programmatic opportunities that could enhance the curricular experience for students and to recommend possible changes to move the school forward in line with what is in the best interest of future middle school students in Wilmington.
“This is an effort to ensure what we have in place what best represents what we want for the students passing through the Middle School and preparing them for high school,” Brand previously told the Committee at a meeting in November. “Do we have the right schedule? Do we have the right program of studies? Does it reflect what is most important for young adolescents?”
Brand is making this effort one of his three district improvement goals for the next 12 months: “The identification of recommendations provided to the School Committee which identify any desired changes in programs, schedules and/or organizational structures that will provide a rich middle school level experience for Wilmington’s students in the more immediate and longer‐term future of the school community.”
Brand outlined the steps he intends to take to achieve this particular goal: (1) Form a steering committee including representation from faculty, support staff, community members and school and district administration. (2) Review current middle level best practices and research that supports optimal programming for middle level education. (3) Gather information around schedules, course offerings, organizational structures (i.e. teaching team composition etc.) from surrounding progressive middle school districts. (4) Provide a report to the School Committee that makes recommendations around the ideal middle school experience for Wilmington.
Brand plans on sending out a call for volunteers to serve on the steering committee in early January 2021. The steering committee will begin its work in February. The steering committee will provide an update to the School Committee in early June and offer final recommendations in October.
The School Committee unanimously approved the goal.
“I agree we haven’t really looked hard at what we’ve been providing programmatically at the middle school for awhile,” said School Committee Vice Chair David Ragsdale during the goal’s first reading. “I think that’s definitely in need of review, analysis, looking around to see what other schools are doing, and [understanding] what is the current best practices in middle school education.”
School Committee members MJ Byrnes and Jay Samaha noted they hope any changes to program offerings, scheduling and organization also bring about an improvement in the school’s culture.
“The Middle School seems to stick out to a lot of people,” added Samaha. “It’s had a lot of turmoil over the past several years. Taking a look at the school as a whole and including all of the stakeholders is going to be very, very important. Looking at all of these systems in the school… making shifts and having these discussions will hopefully produce a different culture.”
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