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Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) has been in a time of transition. Teachers, staff, principals and administrators have seen changes and have weathered these changes gracefully, and have kept their eyes on what really matters: our students.

We know it is not enough to just love our students. Yes, we must support the whole child, addressing their social, emotional and behavioral needs. That is work JCCS has always done well, and it is work that continues.

We must also move on the urgency of our charge and responsibility as educators to demand from all students a high level of critical thinking and analysis, creativity and innovation.

It is not enough to say that we believe all students can and will learn. We know that student learning and achievement improves when the quality of teaching and leadership does. That is why we are working to improve instruction through focused professional development for staff.

We have started the re-imagination of JCCS by personalizing schools, classrooms and support for students and educators. JCCS educators are focusing on building relationships and keeping expectations high, not only for students, but also for themselves and each other. Our staff is collaborating and being more pro-active in our teaching methods than ever before. This includes having a curriculum that is rigorous and that remains relevant to our students.

We are building on our past successes and using the new Common Core state standards to build student independence as readers, writers and thinkers. JCCS staff in and out of the classroom is actively working to regularly implement even more effective strategies that build upon best practices that engage students in meaningful and authentic applications of their learning.

Another key area of focus for JCCS is the thoughtful implementation and monitoring of resources to meet the teaching and learning needs of students. We must use our limited financial and staffing resources effectively, in ways that best serve and support our students’ learning.

As an organization, we are defining clearly identified outcomes for student learning and stand ready and willing to modify and adjust our plans if they are not working. We will do better and different by our JCCS kids to ensure that they walk out our doors ready for college, ready for a career and ready to be an upstanding citizen.

Failing to do this for our JCCS students is not an option.

Stacy Spector is executive director of the Juvenile Court and Community Schools system. Spector’s commentary has been edited for clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here. Want to respond? Submit a commentary.

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