Athena Transition Plan (by: Jason Gianotti)

Introduction: Over the past few weeks I have had the incredible opportunity to meet with and get to know many of you. Through various conversations, your responses to the initial staff survey and email correspondence, I have been thrilled to catch a glimpse of the passion for students, dedication to excellence and desire to grow that characterizes the staff here at Athena. I am humbled and honored to join with you all and continue the work of providing our students with the best possible education.

It is my desire to learn as much as possible about Athena, before the school year begins.  Over the past few weeks I have heard incredible stories, bright spots and traditions that represent the best of what Athena consistently offers the students and community. It is clear that there is much more to learn and I am excited to spend the next few months continuing to grow in my understanding of our school.

In preparation for assuming my new role, I have sought out a wide range of perspectives and input on what makes Athena a great learning environment, the challenges we face, and the incredible legacy shared by our staff and students. I have met with the Athena Improvement Team, student leaders, administrators, support staff, numerous teachers, advisors, and union reps. I have also met several times with Mr. Snyder to more fully understand how things work here at Athena. Throughout this process I have been throughly impressed by the collective passion for student learning, personal and professional growth, school safety, and consistency .  Additionally there seems to be a universal and unwavering desire to ensure that Athena continues to be a school characterized by excellence.

While there is still a lot of learning left for me to do, I recognize that our school can not stand still and wait for me to catch up to speed. In an effort to help gain a comprehensive perspective of Athena and ensure our school continues to operate efficiently and effectively, I would like to offer the following draft transition plan for your review and comment.  Please consider this transition plan as an invitation to contact me and provide suggestions for improvement by Friday, July 22nd. I will send out a revised draft in early August.

Summer Learning: Feedback Sessions: In an effort to gain a more comprehensive understanding of our school I will be conducting feedback sessions with staff and faculty.  These sessions will take place during the summer and will consist of a common set of questions (see below) that will be asked of all groups. You will be notified via the ConnectEd message system and your district email account of when the these meetings will take place. Attendance at these sessions is obviously completely voluntary.

(Focus Group Sign Up Chart: Click Here)

If you can not attend any of these sessions, you are more than welcome to share your feedback to the questions at anytime prior to the beginning of school. We will use the themes that emerge during these meetings to focus us in making collective sense of where we are and where we need to be going together in the future. I would like to meet with representatives from each of the following areas:

  • Instructional Leaders
  • Administrators
  • Student Leaders
  • Support, Cafeteria & Custodial Staff
  • GTA Union Representatives
  • Faculty Representatives
  • Curriculum Coordinators
  • Community Representatives

In an effort to keep these meetings focused and productive attendance for each meeting will be limited to between 5 and 10 people. Sign ups for each session will be posted on Google Docs (an email with the link will follow). Your input will be extremely valuable in helping us shape our understanding of where Athena has been, is and where we want to be headed.

Fall Learning: Department and Classroom Visits: This fall I am excited to meet with and introduce myself to the faculty and students through classroom visitations and various meetings.  Each week for the first few months I will ask each Instructional Leader to provide me with a tour of the classrooms and offices that are used by teachers and students in their content area. I will also look forward to attending formal and/or informal department meetings to introduce myself and hear your thoughts and ideas about the direction we are headed.

To become more well acquainted with our students I will be attending various student club meetings, activities and events. Additionally, I plan on shadowing four different students during a typical day.  I will ask these students about our strengths as well as what areas they feel need attention to help provide a first hand perspective of what a typical day is like for our students.

Upon the completion of all of these interviews, meetings and interactions, you will be provided with a detailed “State of the School” report and presentation.  This will contain a summary of our collective thoughts, celebrations, brights spots and areas of focus at an all staff meeting in November.

Questions for Entry Plan Interview Sessions: The following questions will serve as the outline for the various stakeholder meetings and interviews that I will be conducting.  I do not expect you to answer them ahead of time, however you may find them helpful as you think about what you would like to share with me if you choose to participate in any of the feedback sessions this summer.

  1. Please give me a brief background of yourself including any information you feel would be useful. Ideas for information to share under this topic include:
    • When did you come here? Why?
    • What have your responsibilities been?
    • What is it like to work here?
    • Would you come back if you had to leave? Why or why not?
  2. What are your overall impressions of Athena’s strengths and weaknesses?
  3. What is the key issue for your work in particular here at Athena?
  4. What is the key issue our school faces in the near future? What should I know about this issue? How do you feel it should be resolved.
  5. What has the nature of your contact with the principal been in the past? How should it remain the same? How would you like to see it changed?
  6. What is your view of how decisions are made in your area? In the school? How should decision making remain the same? How would you like to see it changed?
  7. Of what are you most proud in your area and in the school as a whole? What is your own proudest accomplishment while working here.

Conclusion: Thank you in advance for your patience and graciousness as I work hard to learn as much as possible in the next few months.  If you have any questions, thoughts or input, please do not hesitate to call, email or stop by the school. To those of you who have given your time already and helped make my transition a little more smooth, thank you.   It is with great excitement and anticipation that I assume the role of principal for Athena High School.  I am eager to get to know each of you and join in the ongoing efforts here to provide our students with the best education we can provide. If there is anyway in which I can serve or help you please do not hesitate to ask. Hopefully you will find my draft entry plan a stepping stone toward the establishment of trusting relationships that will serve as a foundation for continuing to make Athena the best school it can be for each of our students.

Sincerely, Jason Gianotti

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