Wilmington High Principal Linda Peters Proposes Student Handbook Changes, Discusses Planning For Upcoming Accreditation Visit

WILMINGTON, MA — Wilmington High School Principal Linda Peters was recently in front of the Wilmington School Committee to provide updates on the revised High School Student/Parent Handbook for the 2021-2022 school year, as well as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ upcoming visit as part of the high school’s accreditation process.

High School Student Handbook Changes

Principal Peters noted that no major adjustments were made to the 2021-2022 Student/Parent Handbook, nor were any new policies added. Two sections, however, were updated.

The handbook’s student discipline section was streamlined by providing a chart designed as a reference guide for most disciplinary infractions, with definitions and practical examples. Possible responses to any violation to the student code were also listed.

“Revising this section was meant to present a less punitive approach to student discipline,” explained Peters.

School Committee member Melissa Plowman asked if there was practice for referring students with behavioral infractions to guidance or school-based counselors to get a better understanding of their behavior and to provide them with whatever skills they’re lacking that is leading to these infractions.

“I imagine those practices are probably already happening, but could they actually be reflected in the handbook?,” asked Plowman. 

“I think that’s a good idea to put into the handbook,” responded Peters, who explained the high school administration is also working on developing a guide so students and families get a sense of how to be successful at high school — both in academics and behavior.

“We do have success plans where we refer students with a behavioral infraction to guidance first and elsewhere if needed, but there’s probably no formal procedure in place, so that’s a good idea,” continued Peters.

Peters noted that the MCAS Competency Determination section was also updated to bring it in line with the Massachusetts Educator Commissioner’s recent guidance.

Peters added that, next year, the administration will look at fixing the discrepancies between punishments for smoking vs. vaping.

The School Committee will vote on the handbook at its July 28th meeting.

Preparation For NEASC Decennial Visit

Principal Peters also discussed the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ upcoming Decennial Visit scheduled for November 14, 2021 to November 17, 2021.

“The WHS administration along with several teachers and students are in the process of preparing for this visit,” said Peters.

They are required to complete the following steps in the lead up to the visit:

  • Submit a School Summary Report which must provide details on our alignment to the Foundational Elements as well as report on our progress made in all identified Priority Areas in our School Growth Plan (School Improvement Plan).
  • Submit the school’s Program of Studies
  • Coordinate classroom visits
  • Plan small group meetings with teachers, students, parents, the superintendent, and school committee

“The School Summary Report must describe all actions taken to address our Priority Areas of Growth, the impact of each action, and the improvement opportunities which these actions have revealed,” explained Peters.

Priority areas of growth for Wilmington High School include:

  • Vision of the Graduate
  • Curriculum Mapping
  • Civic Engagement
  • Educator Collaboration
  • Counseling Services

Over the past year, Wilmington has made progress in all five areas, but particularly the first two — vision of the graduate and curriculum mapping — including to Peters.

Vision of the Graduate focuses on five mindsets:

  • Learners at WHS are inclusive and respectful collaborators who are engaged in academic and extracurricular endeavors that promote social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Communicators at WHS promote respectful and appropriate discourse that is founded in well informed ideas that are both inclusive and purposeful in manner and intention.
  • Contributors at WHS assume responsibility for engaging actively for the good of the community and for participating locally and globally in a positive and impactful way.
  • Collaborators at WHS assume responsibility to work productively as part of a team to promote learning and achieve common goals while valuing multiple perspectives.
  • Leaders at WHS engage in respectful, inclusive and collaborative learning experiences, promote healthy responsible decision making and recognize, respect, and support the effort and ideas of others.

Peters and her team of administrators and teachers are currently working on the following tasks:

  • Developing a guide to help students choose appropriate evidence/artifacts indicating their progress toward meeting the outcomes. This guide will include what teachers and students have already determined as examples of evidence.
  • Developing a series of workshops for both students and teachers in order to educate them on the school’s vision.
  • Use the vision to guide curriculum, instruction, and assessment
  • Decide on a culminating assessment

Peters will provide an update to the School Committee again prior to the NEASC visit in November.

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