Waterbury Public School’s Theory of Action
The primary goal for our educational leaders is to develop and sustain the essential skills and effective strategies necessary to assist all Waterbury students in achieving at high levels. Waterbury has identified Central Office Transformation as the innovation that will elevate the district from its current state, to a district marked by excellence in teaching and high achievement by all groups of learners.
At the heart of the work of Central Office Transformation is serving students’ learning. Leaders acting to steward the work of central office transformation consistently convey that the work is successful only to the extent that it matters for improving learning for children and young people. All principals, in partnership with their district instructional leadership directors, receive leadership coaching from accomplished instructional leaders to increase their individual skill in guiding and supporting effective teaching for all students.
In the first year of the reform effort, we redesigned our central support to emphasize a school-based model using a school reform team structure with job-embedded support; we also began working cross-functionally as an organization. Everyone must now own the work, not only at the leadership level and principal’s level, but at every level of the organization. We must all learn new ways to work differently, and sustain the reforms over time.
This foundational rationale—that improvement in teaching and learning across the entire system was incumbent on the central office playing a critical support role—was in contrast to the way business had been historically conducted in Waterbury, and required major changes in how people in the central office thought about their work. This foundational rationale, however, is consistent with the theory of action that redefined the central office as a service organization that exists to support reform in the schools.
We believe central office transformation moves beyond the existing culture in the school system about whether schools or the central office should be driving reform and shows that improving teaching and learning district-wide is a systems problem—a challenge that requires the participation of both central office and schools in leadership roles to realize reform outcomes.
Creating entire systems of excellent schools requires the exercise of leadership throughout district systems. Our close examination of central office practice clearly suggests that work at both levels is absolutely essential to the creation of a system of schools that can serve our students.
Dr. Kathleen M. Ouellette, Superintendent of Schools
For more information on the school district’s Blueprint for Change 2012-2017 action plan, please click here.
Dr. Kathleen M. Ouellette is the Waterbury Superintendent of Schools. She took that post in November 2011, after serving as Superintendent of Schools in Manchester, CT for seven years. A member of many CT professional educators associations, Dr. Ouellette’s expertise is well-known. Since 2011 she has demonstrated her vision and passion for improving teaching and learning in Waterbury. In developing a new Strategic Plan for the district known as the Waterbury Public Schools Blueprint for Change – “Moving Forward for Student Success”, Dr. Ouellette has provided a Reform Plan that once fully implemented will assure Waterbury children and youth receive a quality education that prepares them to be successful in graduating from high school, and in meeting the challenges ahead in the colleges or careers of their choice. Dr. Ouellette looks to the families of Waterbury students, and the community at large, to be partners in reforming Waterbury education for the better. She is a champion of the Waterbury Bridge to Success Partnership.