As we recently announced, the school board has appointed Dawn Gruss as Colchester Middle School’s interim principal for the 2011–2012 school year.
A number of people in the community participated in the open forum on July 19 and heard Dawn speak to her professional experience and qualifications, so here we will introduce her more conversationally ahead of the start of the school year. Grab a cup of coffee and meet Dawn!
Asked why she pursued the position, Dawn said that she has always had an acute interest in education at the middle school level because it is such an amazing time for students of that age. She said that she considers it an honor and an energizing challenge to serve as principal. She is excited to get to know the students, parents, faculty, and staff and to develop meaningful and authentic relationships with them. She feels strongly that all of the work educators do hinges upon these meaningful relationships.
Dawn plans to align her administrative goals with the themes outlined by the superintendent in his recommendations for Colchester Middle School as was reported here on June 28—namely, leadership, climate, instruction, time, and strategy. She believes that forward movement in these areas will ultimately allow us to begin to close achievement gaps and take the necessary steps toward meeting adequate yearly progress, or AYP.
Dawn’s expectations are high. Knowing that we have a capable student body, faculty, and staff, she will look for deep levels of student engagement and a sense of belonging at CMS. In addition, she wants CMS’s learning opportunities to extend beyond competency in the core subjects to include themes of financial, entrepreneurial, civic, health, and environmental literacy and also of global awareness, and she feels strongly that the rise of the Common Core State Standards Initiative will be a powerful force in realizing this vision.
Asked how the community can best support her in her role at CMS, Dawn says that she is most receptive to the support of others when it is offered in a way that focuses upon the positive—whether it is a conversation about how something could be done more effectively in the future or just in letting the staff at CMS know when things are going well.
Asked about her plans to foster community collaboration and involvement and the ways in which she plans to assimilate into the CSD community, Dawn said that she wants to maintain an open-door policy with the community and that she will actively work to create an environment in which people are free to offer their input—particularly about ways in which we can maximize our resources. She feels that cultivating a collaborative learning environment with community involvement—both face-to-face and online—is critical in ensuring student mastery of twenty-first-century skills.
Lastly, Dawn wishes the community to know that she is passionate about making a tangible difference in the lives of children, understanding that we owe our students nothing less than a high-quality education. Taking inspiration from Gandhi’s quote, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” she is committed to focusing upon the positive as she assumes the helm at CMS.
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