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Bloomfield Hills

March 6, 2013

Glass highlights district’s achievements, goals in address

By Robin Ruehlen
C & G Staff Writer

BLOOMFIELD HILLS — After a series of State of the District addresses held in February, Bloomfield Hills Schools Superintendent Rob Glass said he believes the district continues to be “right at the top” when it comes to test scores, teacher evaluations, community partnerships and facilities.

At the Feb. 28 address at East Hills Middle School, Glass noted that the district has updated its strategic plan and realigned the three main goals with the district’s core values and mission statement, as well as built action plans for each goal area: igniting passion and fueling the dreams for every student, nurturing constructive partnerships that strengthen the entire community, and maximizing the community’s investment with the tradition of financial stewardship and optimal use of all district facilities and properties.  

“We want more depth and less breadth — it’s the less-is-more concept,” he said.

“Our teachers are becoming more like facilitators — they give students parameters and then turn them loose. It’s more project-based learning, inquiry-based units of study, because students learn by doing.”

East Hills Middle School Principal Jason Rubel said teachers are also subject to more rigorous evaluations and work closely with administrators throughout the year in both pre-arranged and drop-in basis.

“We’re diving into some good dialogue with our teachers,” he said.

Glass added that “good teachers are not born — they are made” by professional growth, and the colleagues and administrators facilitating that growth.

“Teaching is highly monitored and reflective. It has really come a long way,” he said.

In the past year, the district has launched the first phase of a technology audit, and continued with an iPad pilot plan for administrators and teachers who requested the devices through grant applications.

Glass said one teacher was so excited by what he had accomplished with his iPad that he came directly to Glass to show him.

“He had used the camera feature on the iPad to take snapshots of student work throughout the year, and now has a file on every student with their actual work and presentations,” he said.

“When you’re at parent-teacher conferences, you can see the growth with your own eyes as the year progresses.”

Glass also touched on the progress of the new Bloomfield Hills High School, noting that the transition team meets for two hours each week to plan all aspects of the consolidation and transition, and has held multiple meetings for parents of all incoming students in grades eight-12.

In the area of public relations, Glass said the district has continued with its Community Partnership Committee, which maintains dialogue between community members and the district’s executive leadership team in a variety of areas, including curriculum, finances and legislation.

“We’ve introduced a new website to improve transparency, outreach and information for the community and for school shoppers, and we’ve enhanced the use of social media to increase two-way conversations with the community,” he said.

“We’ve also established a customer service task force to improve our service levels throughout the district.”

In academics, the district’s Michigan Merit Exam, Michigan Educational Assessment Program and ACT test scores continue to be at or near the top scores in national and state rankings, although Glass said they are only one picture of a student’s achievement.

“I’m not a big standardized test guy. I think they’re really crude tools to show you what a student can do,” he said.

Among the challenges facing BHS, Glass listed the continued focus on the MEAP and other assessments as the sole determiner of student achievement, along with the issue of closing the achievement gaps in some areas of those tests. Uncertainty about legislative action that could change how schools are funded continues to be a concern for districts statewide, he said.

In the future, the district looks forward to a smooth transition to the new Bloomfield Hills High School, streamlining its operations, strengthening community linkages and becoming a “lighthouse district” — “The place anyone can come and see the best practices in every area at work — and we can be proud of our standing as a world-class district.”

“We want to be responsive, open, innovative and the best,” Glass said.

“We’re never going to rest on our laurels. That’s our commitment as a staff, and that’s my commitment to you.”

One of a handful of community members who attended the Feb. 28 address, Jennifer Reed, said she was pleased with the presentation.

“It was really good,” she said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Robin Ruehlen at rruehlen@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1105.