Assistant Superintendent News

Welcome Back Message to Teachers

Dear Johnston Teachers and Staff,

This year marks my 28th year in our district. Many of you already know me in some capacity. I may have been your teacher, or your colleague. I may have been your building leader or even your child's teacher or principal. Regardless of my role, my professional practice has always been consistent-- I believe in communication, transparency, collaboration, and mutual respect. The overarching goal remains a constant-- to develop a district-wide culture of continuous improvement.

In order to do this successfully, it's important for us to gain a better perspective of one another's roles, what is taught, when and how it is taught, and how do we know our students get it. Curriculum mapping will help us to gain this perspective. Two and a half years ago, our district adopted a curriculum mapping software called Rubicon Atlas. Atlas will allow educators to not only see what is being taught inside one another's classrooms, but it will also let us see if we missed anything important along the way. Together we will make the necessary changes in curriculum and instruction needed to enable our students to be more successful in college and in careers that they choose.

So, as you greet your students at your classroom door on the 29th, try to understand their perspectives. Be an explorer. Uncover the facts that your students already know. Figure out what their misconceptions or preconceptions are (and figure out what yours are as well), work to correct them, reteach or teach again differently, find out how they learn best and have them find out the same. And once they learn new information, check to ensure that they don't revert back to their previous misconceptions.

Consider ways that you can create opportunities in your settings for your students to collaborate with one another. Everyone learns differently--even adults! We need to use strategies to hold our students accountable for their own learning; to give them opportunities to form a deep conceptual understanding of the content in order for them to make connections and transfer their knowledge to other contexts. We have to show them the big picture--so when they advance, they bring with them the skills to meet their new challenges.

Changes in the world economy have dramatically influenced the type of worker sought by today's employers. The United States is not meeting the pace and needs of those changes. As educators, we all need to be mindful of the urgency to rise to these challenges.

I encourage you to truly get to know your students. Ensure that they have clear gateways so each and everyone of them is able to achieve success and self-confidence. You all play a vital role in that outcome--and on a bigger level the success of our great nation.

I am very proud of the work that we do here and the giant steps that we have already taken together to ensure the success of our students. We should all take pride in these accomplishments.

My last message to you is this--Teach with your heart as well as your head and hand and you will never go wrong. When you show your love for what you do, your students will feel your passion and work harder for you. When we respect and value each other's contributions, we promote not only our students but we also promote our profession.

So, welcome back. I look forward to our year together. There are more great things ahead for our district and I am very excited to be a part of that work.


Julie-anne Zarrella

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