Norwich heads back to school in good standing

NORWICH – While Norwich students are enjoying their last few days of summer vacation, the district’s teachers and administrators are already hard at work putting the finishing touches on their plans for the new school year. And while there is a lot to celebrate, there is also plenty of work ahead for the district as it strives to continue to move forward in a positive direction.

“This is the first time in the last eight years that we’ve started the school year with all of our buildings in good standing,” Superintendent Gerard O’Sullivan said, referencing a letter he received from the State Education Department last week regarding the district’s test scores.

There is no doubt that the district is still celebrating some major accomplishments from last year, such as the Middle School making it off the School In Need of Improvement list, academic achievement on the rise district wide and contracts in place for both the district’s support staff and teachers unions. But they don’t plan to rest on their laurels.

“This is a nice opportunity to go back and review the programs we have in place,” O’Sullivan said, explaining that the district and board of education has already identified four areas on which they will focus in the coming year. Those areas are guidance, secondary level curriculum, technology and culture and climate across the district.

According to the superintendent, two years ago the district invested in a thorough evaluation of the guidance department.

“We spent a lot of time, energy and money on this,” he said. Items which were identified as critical in the study were addressed immediately, he explained. Now the district will look at “the next step,” and work toward further strengthening and improving the program by implementing some of the other suggestions.

For the last two years, the district has committed a great deal of resources to redeveloping the curriculum and improving instruction at the elementary levels, particularly in math and English language arts. Now they will turn their attention to strengthening the secondary curriculum.

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