Education is filled with acronyms such as NCLB, CCSS, PLC, ELL, and RTI, to name a few.  How many of the above can you name?  Check yourself with the answers at the end of this column. 

I hesitate to throw one more acronym into the mix; however, leadership often conducts a SWOT analysis.  A SWOT analysis stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.  I offer my beginning of the year SWOT analysis in this column.

Mineral Point Schools’ strengths are its staff.  Notice I didn’t just write teachers.  Staff, that includes teachers, are the real strength of the district.  Clerical teams, instructional assistants, food service, transportation, and the custodial staff take great pride in supporting the needs of students, teachers, buildings, and principals.  Teachers push forward every day implementing  best practices.  The other strength of Mineral Point is its ability to be forward thinking.  A strategic plan guides annual goals and related budgets.  A long-term facilities plan is in the works and a robust infrastructure in technology finds a stable environment for teaching and learning.

Mineral Point Schools’ weaknesses are found in the lack of supports and/or resources to ensure that every child–regardless of cost, residency, language, color, or disability–has what is needed to reach his/her potential.  Often missing supports and resources are outside of the district’s control.  Other times the missing supports and resources are within our control but various factors force the District to do the very best it can given the circumstances.

Mineral Point Schools’ opportunities are found in focusing on the right work.  In the past, the District has been guided by state mandated curriculums, alignment to state tests, curriculum mapping, and a required system to intervene before a student struggles.  Now, the District is guided by the professionals that make up the teachers and staff at Mineral Point Schools to determine what it is students need to know and how they will know if they learned it.  Teacher teams will determine a plan for students who have not learned material while engaging students that have learned the material. 

Mineral Point’s largest threat is further defunding of public education.  Defunding of education comes in the form of diverting state aids to other interests, declining enrollment, and local control of tax levies.  A further defunding of education would further harm the District’s ability to provide staffing and resources required to meet the needs of students.  With 30% of the student population qualifying for free or reduced lunch, it simply costs more to educate and remediate students from poverty. 

Periodically conducting a SWOT analysis assists with ensuring the District moves forward in a positive manner.  I celebrate the District’s strengths, recognize the weaknesses and build action plans around them.  I embrace the opportunities ahead and manage the threats with tact and poise.  It is with great pride and desire to make a difference in the lives of students that I serve Mineral Point Schools. 

Answers to acronyms:  NCLB (No Child Left Behind), CCSS (Common Core State Standards), PLC (Professional Learning Community), ELL (English Language Learners), and RTI (Response to Intervention).