'Surprise, delight:' Dr. Clouet talks goals for the new school year

Critical thinking, empathy, innovation and adaptability are a few of the concepts Shelton students will be focusing on in the classroom when the new year gets underway on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

The concepts are part of a larger “Vision of a Shelton Graduate,” created through the Shelton Public Schools' Strategic Plan.

“Part of the Strategic Plan is to create the notion of a pathway,” Shelton Superintendent Dr. Christopher Clouet said. “Students will know there are certain things expected of them as they progress through each grade. For example, every fourth grade student will participate in the Invention Convention. In the past, some schools did, some didn’t.”

Dr. Clouet discussed the goals of the year with teachers on Tuesday, Aug. 28, at the district’s Convocation.

Building a pathway for student learning and growth, despite lean budget times, was the overarching message Dr. Clouet delivered.

“I know we have challenges with finances — I know we have challenges with resources,” Dr. Clouet said.

Despite what he said were some “trying times” he emphasized a focus on “surprise and delight” in learning.

“Surprise and delight — that’s our theme for this school year and we need to bring that to our students,” he said.

New computers

A highlight of the school year is new desktop computers for all staff. The money for the computers was approved by the Board of Alderman and will replace ten year-old machines.

Dan DeVito, Director of Technology, told teachers on Tuesday that his department will have the new computers set up by the first day of school.

“You won’t have to wait 45 minutes to log in in the morning,” DeVito said, drawing applause from teachers.

Board of Education Chairman Mark Holden noted at a recent meeting that the computer’s will have a large impact on classroom learning.

“These computers — which the Board of Alderman were kind enough to buy — will add two weeks of productivity,” Holden said. “It’s a terrific improvement for the classroom.”

Loose ends

One of the challenges alluded to by Dr. Clouet and other school leaders on Tuesday, include a yet-to-be finalized transportation contract between Durham and the City of Shelton (Read more here).

“One of the problematic aspects as we prepare to start this school year is our budget has not been finalized,” Dr. Clouet told The Herald early this week.

Shelton’s Board of Education scheduled a special meeting Wednesday, Aug. 29 to discuss updates on the transportation budget and potential impact on pay to participate fees. The meeting will be held after The Herald goes to print for its Thursday edition, so check SheltonHerald.com for updates.

With some budget questions unanswered, school officials approached Tuesday’s Convocation with a positive outlook and a hopeful tone.

Board Chair Mark Holden’s remarks to teachers mentioned a scientific study that suggests time appears to go by faster as we age because we aren’t absorbing or learning as much new information. He noted it explains why summers appeared to last so long as a child and now fly by.

“I hope you and your students will have a productive year that seems long but is enjoyable every step of the way,” Holden told teachers. “Our board thinks the world of all of you.”