JPPSS Colleagues and Community Members:
I want to offer my congratulations to four of our high schools who were nationally
ranked on the U.S. News & World Report's 2013 Best High Schools list:
Haynes Academy, Patrick Taylor Academy, Thomas Jefferson, and Fisher
Middle/High School. This is a real honor for these four schools – thank you to
the students, teachers, and principals for your hard work!
we close out the month of April, I want to thank all of you in the JPPSS community for your support as
our students completed the all-important state assessments over the past few
weeks. I want to especially thank our teachers and school staff for their work
with our students throughout the year. Your talent and your daily commitment to
these children have not only prepared our students to do well on these exams,
but also helped them become better learners and better citizens of Jefferson
Parish, and of this great nation.
guardians, and other community supporters: you deserve a huge thanks for ensuring that your children were as best prepared as they could be to excel
in the classroom by supporting their learning outside of the classroom.
the school year isn’t over just yet, I want to take a moment to reflect on
where we are as a district and how far we have progressed on some of the goals
we set out for ourselves at the beginning of the year.
of our biggest organizational objectives for 2012-13 was to continue our work
of implementing the portfolio strategy for the district, which aims to develop
schools as centers of excellence, and to give schools enough autonomy and
support to be successful places of learning for our students. Our vision of the
successful school is built on the needs of the individual students in
classrooms – where the school supports these classrooms, and in turn, the
district supports the specific needs of each school.
year, we continued our efforts to provide
principals with more voice and input in hiring staff, how they were
spending money, and what types of support they needed for their staff. It was
through this increased principal autonomy that we were able to move forward
with initiatives like the K-8 model and the Advanced Placement initiative for
several of our schools beginning next fall.
an effort to hear more from our teachers, principals, and staff, we conducted
focus groups, receiving staff input on critical issues and ways that the
district could better support teachers and staff for academic success. The
messages we received during these groups were clear – we heard that our
teachers and principals want a multi-level
approach to professional development, specifically targeting the Common Core
State Standards and new assessments that the state has signed on to adopt through a
consortium called PARCC. Using this
feedback, we’ve developed new professional development that will be offered at
the district, network and school levels beginning this summer and throughout the
school year. Our intent is to develop school-level capacity by building
expertise in teacher leaders at each school. The teacher leaders will work
closely with network support staff to assure every teacher in their building
fully understands and is prepared to successfully implement the Common Core. A schedule
of professional development will be published in the upcoming days.
we redoubled efforts to improve
communications this past year, implementing a series of regular email
communications, such as the superintendent’s community eNewsletter and
newsletters specifically for principals and employees. A major goal of ours in
the coming months is to direct more focused communications to our teachers. I also
plan to continue the superintendent’s advisory councils for teachers,
principals, and staff. It’s clear that these forums were excellent opportunities
for me personally to hear your voices on district priorities and efforts.
the district focused much of its attention on transforming the way we recruit, hire, and retain our teachers and
other employees in the system this year. In March, the School Board
approved a new talent management strategy that includes an accelerated timeline
for interviewing and making offers to top candidates, making us more
competitive with neighboring school districts. Our priority is to immediately
hire new teachers for every known vacancy so that all teachers will know their
job placement and duties for next year, months before the new school year starts.
With this information, our teachers will have the opportunity to begin
assessing their student needs for the upcoming year over the summer.
are just a few accomplishments that the district was able to see through this
year, with the ultimate goal of improving teaching and learning at the
individual school and classroom levels. I'm confident that these efforts, and
the continued efforts of our talented educators, will result in measurable
academic progress for our students at all levels. I look forward to sharing
with you an even more comprehensive look at the district's progress for the
2012-13 in the months to come.
James Meza, Jr.