CPS Plans for Success

CPS Plans for Success
Posted on 05/09/2017
CPSThe idea of “planning” may sound like a chore. But as CPS Chief Planning Officer Lori Likis points out, “That’s because we too often think of planning as a compliance activity that results in a document—not as a process that brings the community together to discuss where we are today, where we want to go for students, and how we will get there.”

The CPS district planning process is just such a process, and key to its success is the District Planning Team, an inclusive and representative group. The planning team consists of 31 students, family members, staff members, community partners, school leaders, district leaders, and School Committee members, who are giving their time to design the CPS district plan. Why would such a diverse group of people come together for such a purpose?

According to Planning Team member and Cambridgeport Literacy Coach Angie UyHam, it’s a matter of personal commitment. She explains, “the planning team is comprised of a variety stakeholders who care deeply about the Cambridge Public Schools. When given the time and space to work together, our challenges in Cambridge can be carefully identified and addressed.”

CPSSchool Committee Vice Chair and Planning Team Member Fred Fantini also emphasizes the power of dialogue within diverse groups. He explains, “the Planning Process has allowed a free exchange of ideas from diverse stakeholders about their views on how the Cambridge Pubic Schools can be a better place for learning for all our children.”

The Process

Fantini describes the process as an outcome of our new Superintendent’s commitment to information-gathering through his Entry Plan. With so many stakeholders engaged in discussion about CPS, Fantini says, “this process will put our school system on solid footing as we succeed in overcoming the many challenges urban school systems face.”

The CPS District Planning Process is overseen by Chief Planning Officer Lori Likis, who in addition to her role in CPS is a leading expert in district planning at the State Level. As designer and facilitator of the state’s “Planning for Success” model, Likis has worked with Massachusetts school districts across the state, supporting teams as they build a shared vision—and the plan to accomplish it.

CPSUnder the leadership of Superintendent Salim, the Planning Team has convened twice and helped facilitate extensive sessions across the city with community members envisioning a new future for CPS and its graduates. Community members were asked to envision what it means to be a successful graduate of CPS five years from now, and what the district itself would need to be like in order to achieve that vision for students.

Participation in the visioning process has been extensive. Between January and April 2017, all CPS School Councils were invited to participate, along with CRLS Student Government, STARS, the Cambridge Education Association, Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, CPS out-of-school time partners, and some members of the Human Services Department and Health Department. Two open community forums were held at the high school. Finally, to ensure that all voices were heard, the Planning Team worked with the Community Engagement Team of DHSP to conduct phone surveys envisioning the future with immigrant families and American-born black families.

Results of Visioning Sessions
According to Fletcher Maynard Academy Parent Lisa Downing, the Visioning Sessions have been extremely productive. She states, “I have been so encouraged, hearing the thoughts of staff members. It’s clear that our teaching staff is committed to our students—and their vision for our district closely matches what I think students and families also hope for.” She continues, “I hope that teacher voices will be heard through this process and that we will find ways to support and realize their vision.”

CPSStressing the value of setting concrete, measurable goals through this process, UyHam strikes a similar note of hope. The work of the Planning Team has led to an ability to see “current challenges reframed as opportunities.” This reframing process has led the team to define a shared commitment to greater success in the future. UyHam reflects, “Relationships are built on a thoughtful process – which gives us all a sense of hope and determination to collaboratively engage in meaningful change.”

Special Educator Megan Laskarzewski described the results of these sessions as “enlightening.” What struck her most was the strong consensus around the idea of students as “whole people.” She explains, “Our community at large—including the students themselves—envisions graduates as engaged in their community, well-informed on issues of social justice, able to recognize multiple viewpoints, and possessing the personal skills necessary to be successful at whatever path they choose to follow in life.”

Summarizing the process to date, Lewis Bryant of Buckingham Browne and Nichols School chose the descriptors “intense, fun, invigorating, promising and visionary.” An expert in Multiculturalism and a CPS parent himself, Bryant says he’s been impressed by the areas of agreement that have emerged through the process so far. He adds, “it’s been humbling to be part of a process that will be so important for the future of our students, the school system, and the City of Cambridge.”

Learn more about the Planning Process >>

CPS District Planning Team 
District Planning Facilitator
Lori Likis, CPS Chief Planning Officer

Cambridge School Committee
Manikka Bowman
Fred Fantini, Vice Chair
Patty Nolan

District Leadership
Mary Grassi, Title 1 Coordinator
Maryann MacDonald, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education
James Maloney, Chief Operating Officer
Carolyn Turk, Deputy Superintendent 

Janet Goldman, CRLS Teacher
Megan Laskarzewski, Putnam Avenue Upper School Special Educator
Dan Monahan, Cambridge Education Association President
Fabiane Noronha, King Open Kindergarten Teacher
Angie UyHam, Cambridgeport Literacy Coach 

Trina Abbott, CRLS
Lisa Downing, Fletcher Maynard
Norah Hass, King Open
Nancy Khalil, Tobin 
Sachiko Rodes, Tobin
Michael West, CRLS 

Lewis Bryant, Head of Multicultural Services at Buckingham Brown & Nichols School & CPS Parent - Amigos and CRLS 
Michelle Godfrey, Director of the DHSP Cambridge Center for Families & DHSP Community Engagement Team and American Born Black Outreach Team
Karen Greenleaf, Head of Content: Google for Education & CPS Parent - Graham & Parks School
Geeta Pradhan, Cambridge Community Foundation President
Bridget Rodriguez, Harvard Graduate School of Education - Associate Director of Education Redesign Lab & CPS Parent, Vassal Lane Upper School
Ellen Semonoff, Assistant City Manager, DHSP
Elissa Spelman, Executive Director of Breakthrough

School Leaders
Katie Charner-Laird, Cambridgeport School Principal
Manuel Fernandez, Head of Cambridge Street Upper School
Jeff Gaglione, CRLS Dean of Curriculum

Students & Alumni
Grace Austin, CRLS
Elon Fyfield, CPS Alum & Head of Qualls Academy at Fletcher Maynard Academy
Andrique Fleurimond, CRLS 

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