CHAGRIN FALLS — Community members named leadership and teamwork as priority skills they believe students should learn in classrooms. That was one takeaway from a recent survey in the first phase of a partnership project between the Chagrin Falls Exempted Village School District and the Impact Group that has been dubbed Destination 2023.

This project focuses on the board’s strategic plans for the future and includes determining “the core competencies (essential skills) that will best serve Chagrin Falls students now and in the future,” among other goals, Chris DiMauro, vice president of strategy with the Impact Group, said during the Aug. 14 meeting. The school board and Impact Group will be planning their academic and institutional goals with the help of community members of all ages as well as staff and students over the course of the coming months.

Phase one of Destination 2023 involved surveys sent to 200 staff personnel and 600 community members, which uncovered and collected their thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of Chagrin Falls schools.

Mr. DiMauro congratulated the board on the positive responses they had received from the community about the “excellent academic experience” the schools provide, with about 94 percent of those surveyed reporting that they thought the district is definitely heading in the right direction.

The results of the surveys that Mr. DiMauro presented to the board included responses on the skills that community members, which were primarily parents of students in the district, would like to see made a priority at Chagrin Falls schools.

Among those skills were leadership and teamwork. As for the implementation of training students in those skills, many of the community members surveyed mentioned project-based learning as one of many preferred forms of training.

Although the majority of the results from staff surveys were very positive, several teachers expressed concerns about standards and testing getting in the way of being able to teach creatively.

Board Member Sharon Broz was quick to emphasize the importance of addressing this concern in the future while understanding the variety of what comes to teachers’ minds when thinking about standards and testing. Addressing this area of concern about learning assessment strategies from both community and staff members will parallel with the board’s review of homework and testing in the future, Superintendent Bob Hunt pointed out.

Going forward, phase two of this strategic project will involve discussing the results of the surveys in further detail, validating the goals for the school district and collaborating with the Impact Group’s design team to develop those goals.

The Impact Group also will be responsible for conducting a variety of focus groups to collect thoughts and concerns from not only current students, staff and parents, but also local business leaders, senior citizens and young parents of families that would join the district in the future.

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