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The biggest change for Westbrook's school district staff and students is the departure on Aug. 1 of former superintendent of schools Pat Charles, who will assume a new post of superintendent of schools for Middletown; she had served as Westbrook's superintendent for the past six years. Taking her place as interim superintendent for Westbrook Schools is Carol Parmalee-Blancato; she will serve in the slot until the Board of Education selects a permanent replacement for Charles.
Six years ago, Parmalee-Blancato also served as Westbrook's interim superintendent of schools. She as a result is familiar with district staff, programs, and the town's budgeting process. At that time, she served for about six months as interim after former superintendent John Sullivan left for another post.
Parmalee-Blancato will lead the district just as the middle school implements for the first time its new approach to creating a more positive school climate, the School-Wide Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports model. Middle school staff during the last school year learned the language and techniques of the program; this year, they will use it with students.
"To be effective, the program requires a lot of pre-teaching to explain expectations for [student] behavior," said Charles before she left for her new post.
This summer's curriculum work focused on the math, social studies, music, FACS, and health subjects in order to bring them into alignment with Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
"In math, the CCSS have led to major changes in grade level expectations. Math topics have moved in some cases one or two grade levels," Charles explained.
There are also changes in social studies.
"Some of the major changes will be in grade 5, where topics will now include an overview of early America that will be explored in greater depth in grades 7 and 8," said Charles.
But the most important CCSS-driven curriculum changes are changes that will lead to focus on teaching less breadth but more depth for those content areas chosen. There will be more stress on mastery of those specific content areas chosen for study.