Photo by Diane S.W. Lee
The Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District’s new 10-year strategic plan kicked off in May 2011 to transform the district’s culture and operations from communications and teaching styles to hiring decisions and technology.
By 2021, the goal is for GCISD to have successfully prepared for the future of learning by having implemented the plan’s seven key strategies touching on personnel, curriculum, learning, communication, finance, technology and facilities.
Formally known as Leading Excellence – Action Driven, but known simply as Lead 2021, the new plan replaces the district’s five-year Long Range Plan, which expired last May.
In October 2010, a task force of 30 people including students, parents, staff, teachers, administrators and board members spent 20 hours over two days reviewing GCISD’s beliefs, vision, mission and long-range goals. After months spent developing the objectives and strategies that became the foundation for the 10-year plan, Lead 2021 was approved by the board of trustees in February 2011.
One strategy involves transforming the district’s traditional classrooms into digital classrooms by replacing furniture with non traditional desks and integrating technology, such as tablets, into teaching methods. Students are excited about using technology, GCISD spokeswoman Megan Overman said.
“What they said was, ‘I talk about my work more ... and I go home and I tell my parents and they ask me, ‘What did I learn today? I can tell them’ instead of, ‘I don’t know,’” she said. “They are excited about their learning and it is sticking with them.”
One of the major goals of Lead 2021 is for students to develop a personalized learning plan aimed at the post-graduate plan of their choosing, whether that means college or career readiness. That plan will be developed early on in students’ careers and updated on an annual basis with the help of faculty and staff so that students not only feel more involved in their education, but, ideally, get more out of it. The district piloted this portion of the plan during last school year, and full implementation is set to begin in August.
Another of the plan’s strategies transforms the style of teaching districtwide. Officials call it a shift from a “teaching” to a “learning” platform. In short, teachers are no longer standing in front of the classroom and delivering lectures to students.
For example, GCISD’s chief learning officer Rick Westfall spent a day observing a group of Silver Lake Elementary School kindergarteners who were asked to answer, “How would you develop a habitat for animals in a zoo if the zoo can no longer contain them?”
Instead of answering with building a cage, students are urged to think differently and understand where the animals live, what they eat and how they sleep, Westfall said. The day ended with a trip to the Fort Worth Zoo.
The district’s hiring process is undergoing changes, too. Candidates for teaching and leadership positions must be able to understand and communicate Lead 2021, Westfall said. However, Lead 2021 is not just a to-do list for the next decade.
“In 2021, we can easily say we can be done, but we are not expecting to be done with a checklist … these things are just a part of how we do business now,” he said.
- No less than once annually, all students will collaboratively develop, revise, and accomplish a rigorous personalized learning plan leading to college and career readiness and culminating with all graduates possessing a post‐graduate plan aligned with their individual goals.
- Every student (PK‐12) will responsibly and effectively use and apply the latest relevant technology and, upon graduation, all students will be able to use technology masterfully in all dimensions of their academic work.
- All members of the GCISD family will promote good citizenship and demonstrate mutual respect.
- All students will be positive participants in their local communities and our global society.
October 2010: 30 members met for 20 hours as part of the Lead 2021 planning team.
February 2011: GCISD Board of Trustees approved implementation of Lead 2021 plan.
Fall 2011: The Human Resources Department began implementing new technology hardware to interview out-of-town candidates over Skype, and implemented a new talent management software called TalentEd Recruit & Hire.
December 2011: All campus staff were trained on identifying the definition of bullying and processes for reporting bullying. The training was added as a required course for new hires.
May 2011 to 2021: Execute the Lead 2021 plan