Moorestown to take ‘critical, constructive’ look at district during 2018–2019 school year

On Wednesday, Sept. 5, the district enters the third year of their strategic plan.

As the Moorestown school district enters its third year of its three-year strategic plan, Superintendent Scott McCartney is looking toward the future.

“I want to make changes that are productive and sustainable — not things that are just quick and easy and flash,” McCartney said.

McCartney said whether Moorestown ranks number 10 or 100 in the state, there’s always room to grow and build on the district’s successes. He said this year, the district is poised to take a “critical, constructive” look at the work it’s doing and see how it can do better.

In 2016, the district set forth a strategic plan centered around three goals: innovation, targeted instruction and social-emotional well-being. McCartney said back then, their discussions about innovation were about how to bring technology to students. Through the district’s one-to-one initiative, every student in sixth through 12th grade is assigned a laptop for school use.

Now, the discussion has shifted from the number of devices to how faculty and students are using them. McCartney said they’re challenging staff to look at how they can utilize technology to enhance the way students are learning. He said this could mean that rather than using a projector just to display notes, they use it to Skype someone at NASA, or instead of just using a laptop to take notes, students are asked to work collaboratively on a writing assignment.

In regard to the second goal of targeted instruction, the district has spent the last two years collecting data on how students learn. McCartney said this year, the district is bringing in a consultant to analyze that data.

McCartney said there is a common misconception that Moorestown has a unidimensionally, high-achieving student population. He said the goal is to help parents and community members understand students don’t have to be an expert at every subject. He said it’s more important their students are learning and have the tools to get better if they need help, and the data they’ve collected will help them to strategize about how they can help each student learn the most they can.

McCartney said students face a lot of pressure to be successful, which is why their third goal is focused on students’ social-emotional well-being. He said while it’s important for students to set high goals for themselves, it’s equally as important for them to have the grit, resolve and coping mechanisms to pick themselves back up if they should stumble.

McCartney said from his vantage point as both an administrator and parent, students are hyper-stressed because they’re doing so much. He said with the frenetic pace of today’s world, it’s important for students to take the time to unplug and rest.

He said this year the district is taking a look at developing lessons and strategies to ensure students have coping mechanisms in place and know how to take the time to rest and recharge.

Today, Sept. 5, marks the official first day of school for all students. While this year marks the end of the three-year process, it’s also the beginning of a paradigm shift into the next strategic planning process, McCartney said.

He said the plan is to hire a consultant by the end of September to get the next strategic plan underway. From there, the district will start to roll out a series of meetings where parents, students and community members will all be invited to get involved in the process.

McCartney said he’s eager to get students involved in the process. He said he wants to shift the focus away from what the adults have to say to hearing what students have to say.

“That student voice hasn’t been a part of the fabric in a major way,” McCartney said. “I’d love to hear more about what they think the future holds for them.”