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May 28, 2023

Commentary: Changes at HES

As the public school district serving the Healdsburg community, we are committed to continuous improvement and innovation to better meet the needs of all of our students. In this spirit, we are excited to announce the combining of two effective instructional models in Healdsburg Elementary School.

One of the successful instructional methods is known as Blended Learning. Over the past few years, educational software has advanced to a level that makes online learning user-friendly for students of all ages, adapts to the learning needs of each student and provides real-time data for educators.
This blending of face-to-face learning and technology-based learning brings a new and increased level of personalization, allowing students to get the help, information and support exactly when and where they need it.
In Healdsburg, Blended Learning is done through a station rotation model where our students rotate through learning stations working in small groups, both individually and teacher-directed to provide a personalized approach that is differentiated for each student. This approach results in more student interaction and production and thus improves student engagement dramatically.
This year, we will end our English Language Development program known as Accelerated English (AE) and incorporate its best practices into our Blended Learning model. Proven AE strategies and methods that help in the development of reading, writing and speaking for our English learners will be employed in all of our classrooms.
Our English learners will also benefit from increased academic interaction with native English speakers, who will naturally serve as language role models in the classroom.
Finally, we are moving to a specialization model where all students in grades 1-5 will have two teachers; one humanities specialist and one STEM specialist. The humanities teacher will focus on language arts and social studies, and the STEM teacher will primarily focus on math and science, with technology and engineering infused in the curriculum as much as possible.
This will give teachers the opportunity to focus on a few subject areas in order to provide increased depth and expertise to enhance student learning.
It is our hope that combining these approaches: adaptive technology in a station rotation model, along with the specialization of teachers and sound methods for English language acquisition, that the Healdsburg Unified School District will not only continue to advance student achievement, but bring our diverse community together in meaningful ways.
We are committed to providing the best educational experience possible to all of our students. It is this commitment that drives us to constantly examine practices and continuously improve. We are very excited about the new instructional program at Healdsburg Elementary School and proud to be serving the families of the greater Healdsburg community.
Erin Fender is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction and Chris Vanden Huevel is the Superintendent at the Healdsburg Unified School District.


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