SAYRE — Nearly 300 slides made their way down a projector screen Monday. About half of them focused on what stakeholders in the district and throughout the community saw as positives of the Sayre Area School District. The most prominent strengths were teachers, teamwork, and community, while others noted its small class size, big heart, arts, traditions, summer recreation program, continuity through all grade levels, and even nods to the secretarial staff, school resource officer, Director of Special Education Dr. Tricia Tietjen, and Business Manager Barry Claypool (which garnered a few jokes about him skewing the results).
When it came to the where the school district needed work, the most common theme was communication followed by accountability and then morale. Other areas of concern touched on facility maintenance, technology, test scores, discipline, developing workforce skills, professional development, and even bringing back Spanish.
“When I talk about communication, that’s more than just pushing the information out to others, it’s being able to listen and hear what is happening,” said Superintendent Dr. Jill Daloisio. “Although some of us might say, ‘That’s not really a problem or that’s not really a problem,’ it’s important to say, ‘It’s someone’s perception of our school district.’ So we need to grow in that area.”
She noted that communication can take a variety of forms, from responding to phone calls and emails to Facebook posts, listening to complaints, sharing information at board meetings and connecting with local media.
“Communication takes time, but it’s worth the effort for the students that we serve,” Daloisio added.
The accountability piece would address both students and staff with policies to hold people accountable for their actions and make sure everyone is treated equally, while improving morale would be a broad-based initiative to provide a more enjoyable work environment.
“I’m a believer that morale is important,” she explained. “It’s important that you are happy and that you want to be at work every day, and feel appreciated. But morale does not rest with one person in the school system. Morale comes from everybody … and everybody is accountable for that.”
Using this information, Daloisio will be bringing together committees to address each of these top three areas of improvement through the course of the school year. The groups will be made up of those within the school district and the surrounding community.
“I think some of those other pieces will get taken care of along the way just from the natural reaction of what we will be doing as an entire team,” said Daloisio.
Several school board members praised Daloisio for her initiative Monday.
“I’m excited about what this means for us going forward,” said school board member Erin Wayman, who also highlighted the school district’s strengths that were featured as part of the presentation.
As an educator herself, school board member Margaret Barry said the district is blessed to have a teaching staff and surrounding community that cares, which will help take care of concerns about testing and curriculum.
“I see communication starting to be better,” said school board President Pete Quattrini. “We’re working in the right direction and I’m proud of that — and I thank all of you for that.”