After nine months of work by a ten-member planning committee, including two rounds of community and staff feedback, the Yarmouth School Committee approved the contents of a five year Strategic Plan. The plan, entitled "Vision 2020: Planning for student success, 2015-2020" is now being edited and formatted and will be ready for publication and distribution in the fall of 2015. You may read through the plan contents during this editing period.
Leadership Profile: Dr. Andrew R. Dolloff, Superintendent of Schools
Andrew Dolloff completed his first year as Superintendent of Schools in Yarmouth on June 30, after completing five years in the same position in Maine RSU 21. Andrew is a 27-year veteran of Maine public schools, having begun his career as a chemistry teacher and basketball coach in central Maine before moving into school administration in Greater Portland in 1996. Over the past 19 years he has served as a superintendent, assistant superintendent, high school principal, assistant principal, and athletic administrator.
In 2004, Andrew was named Maine’s Outstanding High School Principal, and in 2005 he was named to the International Advisory Board for the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Principals’ Center. In recent years, Andrew has served on the Executive Committee of the Maine School Superintendents' Association, and on the Campaign Cabinet of the United Way of Greater Portland. Currently, Andrew is on the advisory board for the University of Southern Maine’s Educational Leadership program and is a member of the District Administration Leadership Institute.
Andrew completed his bachelor's degree at the University of Maine at Farmington, his Master's degree at the University of Southern Maine, and advanced studies at both the University of Southern Maine and the University of New England. In March of 2015 Dr. Dolloff completed his Ph.D. in Public Policy with a concentration in Educational Policy and Leadership at the Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, where his dissertation focused on resource allocation in Maine’s more efficient public high schools, one of which is Yarmouth High School.
Superintendent Goals 2014-2015:
As part of the annual Superintendent Evaluation process, the Yarmouth School Committee on September 25, 2014 asked me to create goal statements around several areas of responsibility pertinent to district leadership.
In his book The Daily Disciplines of Leadership, Douglas Reeves defines leaders as “the architects of improved individual and organizational performance.” The implications of this analogy are that the successful leader designs, but does not alone do the work of building; the leader is dissatisfied with the status quo – though not necessarily discontent (an accurate description of our current state); and that leadership is inclusive of individual and organizational performance. Through my work in Yarmouth, I will effectively challenge administrators, teachers, and other staff members to improve individual and organizational performance on a daily basis.
Pedro Noguera is one of my favorite researchers. Pedro is currently at NYU, but I had the good fortune to experience his teaching for a short time at Harvard’s Principals’ Center, where he said to us, “You must change the culture of the school, not the organization (of the school), as it is the most important feature of high-performing schools.” I believe this to be a critical component of the role leaders play in public schools. Without the appropriate culture, no amount of curriculum review, standards revision, or changes in the teacher evaluation process will impact student learning in a positive way.
Richard Elmore, another Harvard researcher, has found that, “The process of improvement is fundamentally about changing the culture of schooling, and cultures change through face-to-face relationships.” From my first day in the district, I have attempted to center my work around this belief. In my efforts to provide Yarmouth’s youth with the best possible education, I will work to create a culture that is safe (in every sense of the word), respectful, optimistic, rigorous, and focused on improvement. As part of this work, I will focus on communication between schools and parents, relationships between and among professional staff and our community, and consistent modeling of the ethical behavior expected of a highly visible public official.
Teaching and Learning
Several years ago, the Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation (CEPARE) conducted a study of Maine’s high schools, making use of several measures to identify schools that are “higher performing”. Yarmouth High School is one of these schools. Upon further study, CEPARE identified common characteristics of these higher performing schools, the most significant being that they focus on intellectual work in two ways:
i. Students engage in intellectual work that involves academic knowledge and skills as well as social and behavioral learning.
ii. Adults engage in intellectual work to create instructional practices, curricula, professional learning programs, and leadership roles that improve student performance and are informed by assessment and experience.
Without exception, my work will be directed toward maintaining – and improving – the academic focus of our schools, by providing updated, coordinated, cyclically-reviewed, relevant and rigorous curriculum, and ensuring that we properly supervise and evaluate teachers and administrators with clearly stated goals and expectations, providing feedback and professional development opportunities that further our mission.
Too often, school leaders neglect the operations side of the house. I have found learning about the financial, human resources, and facilities aspects of public schools has opened up a whole new realm of challenges for me. Because these topics are foreign to many educators and members of the public, it is vital that we understand, and communicate well, the intricacies of collective bargaining agreements, school funding mechanisms, and building operations. I will hold myself to the highest standards in this area, working diligently to plan and manage our finances and properties well, and to provide the School Committee and the community with the information necessary to make informed decisions about the allocation of resources.
Although I have many goals – some stated, others unstated – I typically identify three specific tasks that require more than the typical focus in a given year.
Below, please find tasks I would propose to complete during the 2014-2015 school year, with targeted completion dates and suggested evidence for evaluation. At a School Committee meeting following the targeted completion date, I will present the evidence of completion, at which time the School Committee may accept the progress toward the goal as acceptable, request further evidence, and/or request that more work be done.
Task 1: Strategic Planning
I will guide development of a five-year strategic plan for the district, to include action strategies and performance indicators to guide and assess progress toward the district goals.
Targeted Completion Date: June 1, 2015
Evidence of Completion: A strategic plan document will be available in print and in electronic format.
Task 2: Communication
I will oversee and model improved communication strategies within the schools and between the schools and the community – particularly with parents – including consistent and effective distribution of the Yarmouth brand.
Targeted Completion Date: December 1, 2014
Evidence of Completion: Various items, including refreshed web-sites, updated brand materials, samples of internal and external communication from Central Office and the schools.
Task 3: Compliance
Goal Statement: I will monitor the district’s response to recent and forthcoming changes in legislation that require local action, to ensure compliance with statute while maintaining our focus on doing what is best for our students.
Targeted Completion Date: April 1, 2015
Evidence of Completion: Draft, or final documents addressing Educator Effectiveness, Standards-Based Education, Regional School Calendars, and others as needed.