He acknowledges that improving morale is a goal that is hard to measure. But he doesn’t shy away from using numbers to judge his effectiveness. He believes AP and MCAS test scores and the number of kids involved in after school activities will increase as the positive feeling in the school grows.
“I got this plaque that we’re in the top 50 [Mass. high schools],” he said. “That’s nice, but this school can be more than that. And when [we] want to be, then we will be.”
He talks about listening, but has ideas of his own, such as creating academies within the school for students interested in specific fields. In Andover, students interested in environmental science might visit scientists at Andover companies once a week to apply what they learn in class to the real world.
“If people want to get behind that, let’s go,” he said.
Lord expects Andover to take criticism as part of the reaccreditation process this year. He believes Andover High will be told it needs to move toward standards-based reporting and toward creating teacher advisories.
This will mean creating a new report card, one that still gives students As, Bs and Cs, but also provides additional information, showing people how well students are doing at reaching specific, identified skills. Lord said this may be one of the reasons he was hired, because he has this type of augmented report card at his former high school in Rhode Island.
“An A in three different classes can mean two, three different things. This (new approach) kind of gets everyone aligned,” he said.
If created, the advisories would connect each student with a teacher-advisor who will stick with them throughout their high school years. They could create an Individualized Learning Plan for each student “to make their dreams come true,” he said. But first Lord must get buy-in, and find time within the school day for students to meet with teacher advisors.