Uniting Rural Communities In Service of Students
With its central offices located in the “birthplace of Vermont,” Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union (WSESU) is comprised of three districts including Hartland, Weathersfield, and Mount Ascutney. As a recently
merged supervisory union, WSESU’s superintendent Dr. David Baker needed a bold vision and strategic plan to bring together these rural communities to best meet student needs.
As a first step, WSESU partnered with BFK to develop a Portrait of a Graduate, a collective vision that captures the communities’ hopes, dreams, and aspirations for students. The supervisory union worked with 60 Design Team members, each representing different communities in the supervisory union and different perspectives, including students, parents, educators, elected officials, and business leaders. This collective visioning process was essential to allow each district to honor their strong community identity while forging connections through their shared aspirations for young people.
The WSESU Portrait of a Graduate articulates the skills and mindsets students need to succeed. This vision was also a foundational phase of its strategic planning process and provides direction on the supervisory union’s big moves. WSESU continued its collaboration with BFK in strategic planning and worked with community members to understand their current state compared to the vision articulated in their Portrait of a Graduate.
“The BFK partnership could not have come at a better time. The Portrait process allowed all stakeholders to come together and define their vision for the 21st century learners. The excellent facilitation process led our three very distinct and different school districts to a shared value system and a strategic plan that will outline our work for the next several years. It is a powerful model, and BFK has a system that works for school districts.”
—David Baker, Ed.D. | Superintendent, Windsor Southeast Supervisory Union, VT
For this inquiry process, WSESU and BFK:
- Facilitated professional learning with all staff to make connections with the WSESU Portrait of a Graduate
- Conducted a document scan and review toidentify strengths, opportunities, and areas of improvement
- Administered a community survey
- Collected data on community perceptions
The data from these activities informed the priority areas of the WSESU strategic plan, which were vetted by stakeholders.
Moving forward, WSESU continues to collaborate with its communities as they draft, iterate, and revise the goals and strategies that will guide the supervisory union into the future. The strategic plan will serve as a roadmap to bring the WESUS Portrait of a Graduate to life for every student.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought the importance of this work to the forefront. In the face of historic challenges, the WSESU team demonstrated leadership, adaptability, and tremendous perseverance to sustain the momentum of this critical work with stakeholders. WSESU leveraged the crisis to examine how their school system should transform to create deeper learning environments that help WSESU students thrive in a complex, rapidly changing world.