Portrait of a graduate – Why #HollistonInnovates

                In my premier blog entry posted on September 13, 2017, I asked a simple yet provocative question, “What is the purpose of a K-12 education?”    I shared the thinking of several well-known authors and concluded my entry with the promise that Holliston’s educational leaders were grappling with that exact question and that our answer would be published in my “next” blog entry.

                Well, obviously some time has passed since that entry and, while this blog has included quite a few exciting examples of the changes that our #HollistonInnovates initiative has brought to our classrooms, it’s time to return to the beginning and answer “the purpose” question.  Since July, the administrative team of the Holliston Public Schools has grappled with this question.  Our face-to-face and on-line conversations have been deep, thought-provoking and challenging.  Getting more than a dozen leaders to agree to a concept was easy – but putting that concept on paper required much more time and debate than any of us expected.  That debate served us all well, as we challenged each other’s thinking and refined our own.

Oftentimes this work is also called developing a “portrait of a graduate.” Whether it’s a purpose statement or a portrait of a graduate, these two statements below represent what your administrative team thinks we should be working toward.  I’m proud of what we’ve produced.

The purpose of PreK-12 education in Holliston is to develop critical thinkers, effective communicators and collaborative problem solvers, who are self-aware, curious, creative, compassionate, and resilient young adults - poised and prepared to pursue their passions and contribute to our increasingly complex, interconnected and ever-changing world.

Building on the strong foundation already laid, our work moving forward is to question conventional thinking;  challenge external mandates that deter us from our purpose; and focus our efforts on developing and implementing innovative curriculum, instructional practices and assessments in order to fulfill our purpose for each child we serve.

                Notably absent from this description is any reference to content – this statement focuses exclusively on skill development.  This is not meant to suggest that we don’t intend to teach content.  Of course, students still need to know “things” when they graduate.  But, in this information age, I believe it’s imperative that we ask ourselves what is the essential knowledge that students need and focus our instruction on those key understandings. 

                Moving forward, we will boldly explore and embrace innovative teaching practices that engage students in their own learning, ensure that the key content knowledge is learned while simultaneously developing the skills we consider essential to our student’s future success.  It’s an exciting time to be an educator in Holliston as we rekindle Holliston’s innovative spirit and lead our community and state away from the restrictions brought about by one-size-fits-all state mandates and into a time where #HollistonInnovates is some day, perhaps, replaced by #MassachusettsInnovates.


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