One month after Supt. Fred Foresteire made major changes at the Parlin K-8 School, new Principal Michelle Crowell said the school culture and teacher supports have drastically changed in just a short period of time.
“I am so pleased with what’s gone on at the Parlin School over the past month,” she said. “We have changed the school culture. The Parlin is a happy place now. Teachers are positive and parents enter the building and tell us the environment is so different. We’re working hard. We know we have a long way to go, but these changes will have a positive effect on student achievement at the Parlin.”
Due to low student achievement, Foresteire instituted sweeping changes at the school earlier this year – with a key change being Principal Crowell. Crowell is a former assistant principal at the Madeleine English School and taught at the Lafayette School before that. Hailing from Maine and the University of Maine, she came to work in Everett in 2001.
One of the key changes she has made for students is making sure the curriculum at the Parlin is consistent.
She said when it came to open response questions, she found the Parlin was teaching different strategies at different grade levels. That likely confused the children as they progressed from grade to grade and learned new strategies every few years for the same types of questions.
“I’m such a firm believer in consistency, bringing in one strategy for open response questions and making sure every single grades is using that same strategy,” she said. “In this case, all teachers are using two-column notes. Some were using that strategy and some weren’t. If everyone is using the same strategy, after a while teachers won’t need to give that instruction because kids will know it already.”
Likewise, she said that teachers are feeling supported in the school, and that’s something that possibly was missing during last year’s problems.
“Teachers are feeling supported and they are encouraged,” she said. “I think there’s a support system here now. When they feel that support, there’s a positivity because they feel supported…Teachers wanted structures and so I came and put structures in place. That has changed the culture. It’s a positive environment.”
John Cash, an eighth grade science teacher, said he has already noticed more productivity in his classes.
“Despite the enormous challenges and hurdles we all face daily, I am very optimistic about this year’s group,” said Cash. “I am seeing the highest student productivity in my eight years here. Mrs. Crowell has set a tone that has resonated – accountability – which has led to much higher student productivity in my classes.”
Crowell said she has done that by being present – vising classrooms and walking the halls.
“I’m a principal, but I’m hands on,” she said. “I’m in the classroom every day. I love to teach teachers.”
Crowell said they are already doing progress reports, and should see results of the new changes in December.
“We’ll start looking at all that data,” she said. “By December, we should really start seeing some student growth in our kids. I’m anxious to start looking at that data. If they aren’t seeing progress, we’ll go back to the drawing board and adjust our instruction based on student needs.”
New Parlin School Principal Michelle Crowell said one month into her new position, she sees the school environment changing and teachers feeling supported. She said she has been very hands on, helping to teach teachers and be in the classroom.
Students gather around Principal Michelle Crowell at the Parlin School this week. Crowell said the school has become a very positive place.