In early August, principals, superintendents, curriculum directors, and other central office leadership attended the Vermont Principals Association Retreat in Killington. There were many inspiring keynote speakers, but one that made a particular impact on Franklin West’s leadership was Principal Kafele. “As a middle and high school principal, Principal Kafele led the transformation of four New Jersey urban schools, including “The Mighty” Newark Tech—which went from a low-performing school in need of improvement to national recognition, and which was recognized three times by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s best high schools” (VPA online, Twitter @PrincipalKafele)
Principal Kafele was clear: all is not strong enough, but each is to generate successful outcomes for our students. Transforming the word ‘all’ into ‘each’ leads to a powerful change of student learning, engagement, and success. Instead of statements of intention that ‘all students will grow in their learning, the shift to ‘each student will grow in their learning creates a more powerful image, and likely leads to a more guaranteed outcome of success as we picture each and every student and their learning trajectory.
Aligning this intention with that of the Vermont Agency of Education and the intention of Franklin West schools, we enter into our second year of a focus on learning growth for each student. Students across the country, state, and Franklin West have had varied experiences with learning success and growth since 2020. It is more important than ever that we identify “where students are at and for who they are” (Kafele). When we know where they are at and when we know who they are, then we can reach each student and from there apply the most appropriate high bar for them in order to foster, encourage, and demand their growth.
Students spend an enormous amount of hours in school from PK-12, and when they can experience success in school, their confidence, happiness, and self-esteem grow. Their worlds can be transformed. We are committed to the growth and success of each of our students and we will do so by meeting our students where they are at, and for who they are.