School leaders hope to win education grant from GatesFoundation
By Diana Bowley, Of the NEWS Staff - DEXTER - Dexter Regional High School officials are taking steps to redesign and reform education to ensure that all students have the same opportunities to become successful and productive citizens.To continue to develop and implement the changes, school officials hope to win a multi-year grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation has provided $10 million to Maine to support school change initiated by the Mitchell Institute's Promising Futures Program. The goal of the program is to create environments for personalized learning for all Maine students, and to prepare all students for success in college, the workplace, and their communities, Dexter Principal Bruce Bailey said Friday.
"Change is inevitable. As educators, it is important that we meet the needs of all our students," Bailey said. "This grant would afford us the opportunity to continue to reform and bring about changes that will be beneficial to all. We need to think about what will be the best for the future of our next generation not simply carrying on school as usual."
Already into the second year of reform efforts, school officials have made strides, including the development of innovative ways to evaluate student work, in distance learning, and improving school climate. These changes resulted, in part, from the school's participation in a three-year program called Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration. The school is in its second year of the demonstration program, which came with a $50,000-a-year grant. Bailey said the five-year Gates Foundation grant, if awarded, would extend the schoolwide reform. It is expected that 12 Maine schools will receive the major grants, which are designed to provide intensive support to transform the whole school. The winning schools will be selected by early June.
Since the grant also promotes the support of building community understanding of why the high school experience needs to change, the SAD 46 community has been involved. Two community suppers were held recently to solicit comment.
Bailey said community involvement in the school, school involvement in the community, personalized learning for all students, standards-based learning, improved guidance during high school and after, and educational opportunities for students outside the walls of the school are issues that must be addressed.
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