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Community Launches Herculean Effort

Norwich teacher Thomas St. George, a member of Stanton Elementary’s turnaround committee, listens to Superintendent of Schools Abby Dolliver and Board of Education Chair Yvette Jacaruso present the school’s turnaround plan to the State Board of Education.

Educators at Stanton School in Norwich are “poised to take off” on school improvement, according to State Board of Education Chair Allan Taylor. He made the comment as the State Board today approved a school turnaround plan submitted by Norwich’s John B. Stanton Elementary School.

Stanton is among the first four schools in the state to become part of the Commissioner’s Network—an initiative included in Connecticut’s new school reform law, Public Act 12-116. The initiative comes with upwards of $1 million in state funding and other state resources.

Norwich Superintendent of Schools Abby Dolliver presented Stanton’s plan to the State Board. She described her system as “packed to the gills” with large class sizes, significant student poverty, and the challenge of students speaking 35 languages including many dialects. “We just need the resources,” she said, “and we are getting them here.”

State Board of Education member Charles Jaskiewicz said he sees the turnaround plan as very positive. “We have some very dedicated teachers, and we have the data to show it. We are grateful that the commissioner has chosen Norwich because of its unique circumstances.”

Teachers William Linski and Thomas St. George played key roles on the turnaround committee along with parents and administrators. “It was a great process including a wonderful group of people. I’m proud to have had an early role in this initiative that has the potential to become a model for other schools in the district. The new state dollars that will be provided will enable us to offer critical opportunities for our students.”

The development of the turnaround plan is described by Dolliver as a “herculean effort” for a small urban district. “We are partners with CEA. Our CEA field representative has been at the table for almost every meeting.”

State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said, “it’s been a terrific effort.”  Read the complete plan here.

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