Combining Forces

Combining Forces

Laurie Sullivan conducting a Teachers21 Sheltered English Immersion (SEI) Administrator course to 18 area administrators at Teachers21 in Newton, MA.

Bold change in Dedham with a Teachers21 Blueprint

When Michael Welch became superintendent of the Dedham, Massachusetts, school system four years ago, he couldn’t identify what was hampering district success in educating students, particularly in English-Language Arts (ELA): was it the curriculum, training, teacher belief systems or other factors?

That’s when he called in Teachers21 to do a system-wide ELA audit. “We knew they could develop a plan molded specifically to our school district.”

The Teachers21 team spent three and a half months assessing the ELA landscape from pre-school to high school. The result was a 45-page report on ELA, and much more, that became the blueprint for a district-wide restructuring.

Superintendent Welch and his team converted $2 million worth of salaries and positions, eliminated 25 full-time positions, created 19 new ones, instituted free, full-day Kindergarten, went to an instructional coaching model for teachers, instituted new curriculum models, and made significant investments in professional development training—all cost neutral.

“We are seeing tremendous gains in student learning already,” Welch says. “We want a culture where there is a real thirst to understand how kids learn and how to improve teaching. Teachers21 launched us on that path.”

Michael Welch

Superintendent, Michael Welch addresses his entire leadership team and educators new to the district at the Dedham Public School new teacher orientation.

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