Students and Parents
About Our District
In December 2021, the Collingswood and Oaklyn Boards of Education embarked upon a strategic planning/visioning process as part of a continuous improvement process to ensure high quality instruction while embracing equity for every student.
The premise of moving forward is based on five questions raised by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Fredrick McDowell which follow below.
1.How close is Collingswood and Oaklyn Public Schools to achieving its vision?
2.Will we get there following our current path?
3.Are you satisfied with the outcomes we have achieved thus far? If not, what changes are needed?
4.How can we make them as quickly and efficiently as possible?
5.How do we demonstrate our commitment to put the needs of all students first?
From the perceptions and actual data, it was clear that both the external stakeholders and internal stakeholders place a high value on the quality and reputation of the educational programs and on the students, who are served through the school district.
There is a sense of community support, pride and expectations for the school district and students. In particular, the staff including administrators are experiencing fatigue and frustration as a result of the pandemic challenges.
There is a commitment to addressing and supporting equitable life skills, pathways to a range of postsecondary options beyond 2-year and 4-year colleges, and student social and emotional learning for each student. Parents recognized the challenges related to learning loss and social and emotional adjustment because of the limitations placed on the way teaching and learning had to be provided during the pandemic. There is clearly a commitment by stakeholders to reach students where they are and to provide equitable access and support for all students regardless of their background or challenges.
There were also comments from some stakeholders who believed that the needs of students transitioning from Woodlynne, as well as some students from Oaklyn and Collingswood, may need more attention with regard to acceptance and inclusion in the middle and high school.
As part of the process to analyze both perceptions and the data collected, the consultants identified overreaching Strengths (S), Challenges (C), Opportunities (O) and Threats (T) to the district and the belief that the district will continue a path from good to greater.
The SCOT Analysis revealed that the close-knit communities and the diverse student body are probably the two most overreaching strengths of the district. Other strengths identified include financial stability, parental involvement, a solid governance team, district pride and the commitment of staff and teachers.
Challenges included the movement of all children to proficiency at grade level, social media distractions, limited space and learning inequities due to aging infrastructures, staff fatigue, and the district’s ability to deliver on the reputation outside of the community.
Opportunities identified included the growth and changing demographics of the community and district, integration of experiential learning and partnerships with local businesses and higher education institutions and building on lessons learned from the pandemic.
The Collingswood Public Schools Strategic Planning Committee spent a significant amount of time discussing priorities. Working from the statement "When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority," the team focused on ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT and EFFICIENCY as its top two priorities. Those two priorities were part of each discussion that ensued.
As a result of our commitment to our priorities, we believe we developed mission and vision statements that are both simple and powerful:
Vision: “To foster the qualities necessary for students to serve as contributors to an equitable and socially just community.”
Mission: “By building on the strengths of our diverse school community, Collingswood/Oaklyn Public Schools commit to providing an inclusive and supportive environment that inspires and empowers every student.”
In addition to the more formal Vision and Mission Statements, the Strategic Planning Committee noted its core purpose and rallied around the importance of having our students develop and embrace a growth mindset.
Core Purpose: Every. Student. Grows.
By embracing a growth mindset, students learn that there is a difference between not mastering a skill and not mastering a skill yet. By embracing the "yet" philosophy, students are taught that hard work and perseverance, rather than static intelligence, are to be celebrated and admired.