Arlette Johnson

Franklin Elementary School
Stratford, Connecticut

Best Practices

1) Increasing Academic Engagement: School efforts in the area of academic excellence and engagement is at the core of our operations at Franklin Elementary. The mission of the Stratford Public Schools is to support the growth of the whole student through challenging and inspiring education within a safe and inclusive environment. With our district’s mission and operations priorities in mind, Principal Conrad and I collaborated to design a School Improvement Plan that all staff had a leadership role in improving the academic performance of each student.

Our academic plan includes a great emphasis on a culture of collaboration, weekly coaching support and using performance data for planning forward to support coherence in teaching and learning across all grade levels. Our goal for improvement is to create a complex systematic approach to deliver a data-informed, appropriately differentiated, and highly personalized educational experience for every Franklin child. The blueprint for growth highlights regular opportunities for staff to discuss high quality instructional strategies, differentiate lessons and learn about research based resources that can be implemented to make the learning process more rigorous, relevant and engaging.

During our first administrative year, Principal Conrad and I noticed an opportunity gap in targeting the purpose of the lesson objective to foster more clarity for learners. Focusing on best practices, we shared an emphasis on setting the stage for learning and clearly communicating and scaffolding the purpose of the lesson and learning content. This year, our focus is to create more student-centered opportunities and enhance students’ voice. Ongoing conversations and research -based strategies are being discussed during PLCs, staff meetings, goal setting meetings, planning meetings, and pre and post observations.

Our leadership team has noticed an increase in students’ performance in Mathematics and ELA and while change takes time, we are making good strides in our support systems and operations. To continue to increase accountability and support our academic goals while offering more differentiated academic opportunities for our students who are performing below grade level expectations, we were able to hire literacy and numeracy tutors who work closely with our coaches to scaffold the learning of our tiered students during our small group block. To make the MTSS operation cohesive, binders were created along with dedicated forms for monitoring ongoing students’ progress. All of the lessons are planned based on individual students’ needs, a SMART goal is set, and the team meets every 6 weeks to review student’s progress. Additionally, our SPED team meets weekly to discuss students’ individualized education plans, testing , new referrals and brainstorm individualized strategies to support our scholars.

Finally, advocating for students’ academic success and maximizing our resources through talent management is vital. Currently, through Title 1 and ESSER funds our school is offering an extra 25 hours of weekly enrichment support to our diverse student population.

2) Lifelong Learner: Being a lifelong learner and understanding that learning never ends is crucial for school leaders. The aim to improve competencies and acquire knowledge through experiences, observations, mistakes, education, collaboration, and self·reflection has limitless implications for personal and societal growth. Life is always evolving and change is inevitable. In order to be an agent of change, one must continuously challenge himself/herself, be willing to be disturbed and always strive to improve. When learning is a mindset, resilience becomes your best friend and drives a powerful mind coalition that helps overcome challenges and intellectual transformation. I feel incredibly blessed by the opportunities that life has presented me and I also feel eager to continue on my learning journey and create a positive impact that could help my community.

All opportunities and demands that I embraced thus far, helped me learn to be a more compassionate, equitable and educated citizen. My story starts in Brazil. I was raised by terrific and caring educators who challenged and reminded me of my greatness often. At the age of 18, I decided to come to America by myself to learn English and study. While it was challenging to be financially independent, learn English and the content as a student all at once, I felt eager to keep going and embraced my new American identity.

Reality is that I felt inspired by the American diversity and the many opportunities that I encountered. I had an incredible grit to learn and succeed as an immigrant. I would not let one opportunity pass my way without trying it, even if I failed. My growth mindset was always present, even amid challenges, prejudice and rejections. Today, I see how being a lifelong learner prepared me for this complex, rewarding and ever changing leadership role.

After receiving my degree in Elementary education, I was hired as a first grade Bilingual teacher. This opportunity challenged me to acquire a third language and complete a Master in Bilingual Education. My desire to challenge and constantly create moments that wowed my students became my why. At that time, I loved having preservice teachers in my classroom and talking about best practices. When I was awarded “Teacher of the Year” for the Bridgeport Public Schools, I was immersed in the work and thirsty to better understand best practices in education and the school operations. Once I received my administrative degree and started on my new role, I once again realized how much I had to learn and decided to complete the superintendency certification to better understand the system from an organizational perspective.

I was born to serve my community. The work is complex, multifaceted, and incredibly fascinating. Working alongside educators and young minds is truly a privilege. I could not have selected a better profession. My plan is to continue to challenge myself and apply my learning to help make effective changes that will help improve the quality of education that we offer our scholars.