Newport Independent Schools is implementing a series of continuous improvement strategies this school year and laying the foundation to launch a magnet school in the future. This magnet school, which is a public school that offers advanced and specialized courses, perpetuates Newports Schools' mission to utilize innovative approaches to teach children and engage the community.
"Newport Schools have a reputation for innovation, such as the award-winning home visits our teachers, administrators and staff make to every student at the beginning of each school year," said Newport Independent Schools Superintendent Kelly Middleton. "The continuous improvement strategies, along with the potential of launching a magnet school in the near future, are further examples of how Newport Schools are doing all we can to provide the best education possible for your current and future students."
The improvement strategies, which were launched at the beginning of the school year, include:
- District liaisons that include the district's chief academic officer and two curriculum specialists assigned to each school will provide regular guidance and feedback to the administration.
- Regular school and district walkthroughs in all school buildings are designed to provide feedback to teachers while also collecting data on instructional trends. An estimated 150 walkthroughs have already taken place this school year.
- Enhanced curriculum with essential standards identified at all grade levels and improved instructional assessment protocols.
- Effective high quality professional development for teachers and staff, including contracts with professional consultants to work in the schools for multiple days to observe teachers, model lessons and provide quality feedback for improvement.
- District classroom structure non-negotiables have been collaboratively developed and implemented for all K-12 classrooms.
- Developing teacher leaders to provide input to assist with curriculum decisions.
Newport Board of Education member Julie Smith-Morrow said that as a board member, it is her job to continuously follow-up on the results that will be produced by the new strategies.
"The continuous improvement strategies and related activities are appropriate as well as innovative," Smith-Morrow said. "We need to keep our focus on students and strategies that are not as successful and adapt with unique approaches."
The district is also in the early stages of developing a magnet school that for now is being called The Newport Virtual Program. It would be located at the district main office but would offer many classes online with students utilizing the iPads and computer laptops that are already provided to every student in the Newport school district.
Oversight of the magnet school will be provided by a director as well as tutors.
"Magnet schools really are the wave of the future," Middleton said. "We know there are a group of kids in our community we are not reaching, and a magnet school will help us engage those students and families."
While planning for the program is ongoing, Middleton said the Newport Virtual Program is being designed to take advantage of the latest technology, allowing students to graduate in just three years and tailoring classes to the students’ gifts and interests.
"If a student wants to take Mandarin Chinese, we will work on developing a class that teaches it," Middleton said.
Middleton said the improvement strategy and development of the magnet schools are recognition education must continually evolve to provide the best opportunities for students.
"We are laser-focused on identifying our strengths and addressing our weaknesses," Middleton said. "We are constantly gathering data, visiting classrooms, providing feedback, making changes and identifying new ways to teach our kids. It's a passionate commitment to improving and moving forward, and it is happening in every building, in every classroom and with every student."