“Having these in-depth conversations about how we can better help students has been so enriching and worthwhile,” O’Donnell wrote on the blog. “Already we have dozens of ideas.”
Early next month, the group will present its findings to a review board and decide what problem to tackle. The review board consists of school staff as well as representatives from businesses providing financing for the project.
Pursell said Thursday that in addition to interviews and classes at Quinnipiac, the group had just returned from an education conference in New York City. She said attendees were interested in Wallingford’s plan, and one professor had asked if a doctoral student could write a dissertation about the project.
“It’s scary being the first group, but I’m excited,” she said.
While the project will focus on only one area, Pursell said that their research has identified other areas that can be improved without as much work. She said the group wanted to interview as many people as possible before deciding on the focus of the project.
School Superintendent Salvatore Menzo said the group has updated him each week and he is pleased with their progress.
“They’re very creative individuals,” he said.
Menzo said he had shared the project idea with state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, who was receptive. He hopes the project will be a model for other school districts.
“When you dig deep into something like this, you can get some different perspectives,” she said.
Mansfield was also pleased the project was being funded privately. And with so much focus on running the day-to-day operations of the district, she sees the value in giving staff time off to research innovative solutions.
“It’s a unique opportunity,” she said. “This is a national precedent being set.”