David Eichberg, Superintendent
PH: (269) 471-2891
Berrien Springs Public Schools is a premier school district. The district has engaged in the process of continuous improvement evident by our award-winning buildings, programs and students. Our district continues to provide many educational programming choices to families and students that are designed to meet a variety of learning styles. Our district vision, “Inspiring, students to think, learn, achieve and care in a global community,” serves as the motivation for the vision we have for the future of learning at Berrien Springs Public Schools.
Early in the 2018-19 school year, I shared a message stating the school district’s future vision to become a Competency Based Education school district. In that message I explained that Competency Based Education will become the pathway to providing personalized learning for every Berrien Springs student. In a personalized learning environment, students will have a voice and choice in their learning. Providing students with an opportunity for voice and choice in learning will result in higher levels of engagement and interest. Increased engagement and interest are key factors for improving student learning and achievement. Ultimately, our goal is to prepare students for success after school not just for advancement to the next grade level or to earn a letter grade. To accomplish this goal it will be necessary to create real-world learning experiences where students actively work to solve problems through collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and communication (the Four C’s). The world today demands that our graduates have more than content knowledge. To be successful Berrien Springs graduates must have content knowledge, the ability to apply content knowledge to real-world situations and possess a set of skills needed to successfully navigate life in a global environment.
In order to meet this need, during the 2018-19 school year, the district sought input from a variety of stakeholder groups for the development of the Portrait of a Graduate. The Portrait of a Graduate is a graphic display communicating the knowledge, skills and dispositions a Berrien Springs graduate will need to demonstrate mastery of throughout their learning experience with the district. This school year, the staff and other stakeholder groups will have opportunities to provide feedback and create definitions for the skills and dispositions that comprise the Portrait of a Graduate. The district celebrates the collaborative work of our stakeholder groups in helping to create the Portrait of a Berrien Springs Graduate.
As our district continues on the journey toward Competency Based Education and developing the ability to personalize learning for every student, our instructional staff will be engaged in conversation around the process of modernizing learning for our students. In addition, instructional staff will have opportunities to personalize their own learning. Professional development will include traditional learning models and new models that involve individual self-paced learning and small group learning. District administrators and teachers will be working with consultant Modern Teacher throughout the school year. Modern Teacher provides us with guidance and a framework for modernizing teaching and learning at Berrien Springs Public Schools. Our district will continue to be involved with the Michigan Competency Consortium, a group of approximately 15 Michigan school districts who are in varying stages of doing the work of developing a competency-based learning system.
Specific work completed in the first half of the 2019-20 school year includes the following activities:
1. Creation of a model for the district’s “Theory of Action” - the purpose and guiding motivation for engaging in the work of CBE and starting the journey toward transforming the teaching and learning system in our school district.
2. Development of the instructional model - a guide for classroom instruction and practice that shifts from a “teacher centered” environment to a “student learner centered” environment.
3. The creation of a vision deck that communicates the district’s future vision for learning through the use of a visual presentation.
4. Two messages from the superintendent communicating the purpose and need for change and the current work around moving toward implementation of a competency-based learning system that personalizes learning for each student.
5. Further development of the Portrait of a Graduate that integrates grade level definitions to each set of skills and dispositions and the creation of learning targets around each of the skills and skill sets.
Through a variety of communication media, I will provide updates on the district’s progress throughout the school year. I’m very excited about the future of teaching and learning at Berrien Springs Public Schools. The willingness of our staff to provide every student with an opportunity to be successful learners is a real source of pride. Working together we will create new and improved learning opportunities for our students that are interesting, meaningful, engaging and challenging. The future is filled with limitless possibilities. Your contributions will be critical in this transformation!
David Eichberg, Superintendent