More than 140 people representing a broad cross section of the Auburn community gathered at Auburn Middle School on November 18 to provide input into the Auburn Public Schools’ strategic direction.

The assembly dubbed ‘World Cafe’ was organized by the superintendent’s office, and was the second such initiative.  The first took place in 2013, and, according to superintendent Dr. Maryellen Brunelle, most of the goals that arose from that meeting have been realized.

Participating in the World Café were school administrators, teachers, community leaders, elected Town officials, Town committee and board members, community activists, members of the local media, local business leaders, parents and students. Participants were randomly assigned to groups of about five or six people. The ‘World Café’ moniker refers to the process where the small groups travel “around the world” to various stations. Each station had a table leader and a specific topic for the group to discuss.


 


After each group had a chance to discuss each topic, the feedback was aggregated, and the recurring themes were identified and recorded. The result is a multi-faceted plan to help guide the Auburn Public Schools’ strategic direction over the next few years.

According to Dr. Brunelle, the initial World Café in 2013 generated a significant focus on technology and how to best integrate technological changes in the classroom. This time around, technology again proved a central theme. However, more of the emphasis was on striking a balance between technological use in the classroom and imparting real-world life skills in our students.

Among the areas of focus were financial literacy, in terms of both understanding and financial responsibility. Physical and emotional wellness were also common concerns among the participants. Once participant commented, “With the increased use of technology in our schools comes a range of other concerns – educational and social – that we need to be aware of.”

Over the coming months, a smaller leadership team will compile the information gathered at World Café into an updated strategic plan.