Michelle Crowell, the newly appointed Parlin principal, is a familiar face and a respected, proven administrator in the Everett public schools. She began working in the system as a teacher at the Lafayette School in 2001 and has served as assistant principal of the Madeline English School since 2014.
Mrs. Crowell holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Maine, a Master’s degree from Cambridge College, and a certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies from American International College in Springfield. She is also a licensed Therapeutic Crisis Intervention trainer through the nationally recognized program at Cornell University in New York.
Mrs. Crowell’s work with teachers has been a key factor in education gains recorded by special education students at the English School in recent years, Mr. Foresteire pointed out.
For example, reading and math scores of Grade 7 special education students improved by 160 percent and 44 percent, respectively, while reading and math scores of Grade 4 special education students rose by 21 percent and 13 percent during her tenure at the English School. In addition, the Five District Partnership Benchmark Assessments showed improvements in all grades for all students, with Grade 7 students advancing the most: nearly 20 percent on average.
During the 2015-16 school year, Mrs. Crowell was among a select group of administrators who designed and implemented a plan to revamp the school system’s four major components of educational success: Teaching and Learning, Professional Development and Collaboration, Educator Evaluation Protocols, and Family and Community Engagement. As evidenced by test results, that plan was effective in year one and continues to yield positive results.
On Monday night, Mrs. Crowell spoke to the School Committee about the new direction she is taking the Parlin School. Here are some highlights:
- Every teacher has created in his or her classroom a “Focus Wall” listing clear performance objectives.
- Teams for each grade level will meet during the school week of September 24-28 to develop action plans that address specific areas of deficient scores in English Language Arts and Math and track resulting rates of progress regularly.
- All teachers are receiving training in how to weave formative assessments into classroom instruction by using carefully crafted diagnostic questions. Those questions must align with learning targets and help to assess criteria for success and surface gaps or errors in student thinking. Teachers will use these assessments to make timely adjustments in teaching and learning tactics to maximize student understanding.
- Guidance has been given to all teachers on: (a) providing feedback to students, (b) investigating student misconceptions or errors, (c) planning steps to re-teach, re-engage, re-group and move on, and (d) extending activities for students who are meeting or exceeding standards.
- Teachers in Grades K-5 are utilizing the REACH for Reading and Everyday Math programs.
- Teachers in Grades 6-8 are utilizing Pearson Reading and Big Ideas Math faithfully and consistently.
- Teachers in every grade are working with math and reading coaches to develop rigorous, developmentally appropriate lessons that facilitate student advancement to next grade levels.
- When responding to open-response questions, all teachers will be following a “Keys to Literacy” instructional strategy, which entails a system of two-column note taking. It has been shown this system enhances comprehension as students process, organize and re-state information in their own words.
- All supplemental materials used by teachers must now be approved by English Language Arts and Math coaches and/or directors.
- All mentor texts used for literacy instruction must now be approved the English language arts director or reading coach to ensure grade-level appropriateness and rigor.
“There are many elements to this plan, but every aspect of it has this in common: we are paying very close attention to the progress of every student on a weekly basis, and making adjustments whenever necessary,” said Mrs. Crowell. “It is focused intensely on each child as a unique individual, with unique talents and unique challenges.”
“This is a very much a cutting-edge approach to learning,” said EPS Curriculum and Development Director Janice Gauthier. “We are confident it will produce the results we need. But, if it doesn’t, we will not hesitate to revamp it. We will not hesitate to try other good ideas and methods.”
Superintendent Foresteire agreed. “Our goal is to optimize the ability and potential of every student in the Everett public schools, and we will do every good thing in the pursuit of that goal,” he said. “As educators, we are never going to stand still or take it easy.”