Dr. Ellin Booras, principal of Sandwich High School/Sandwich STEM Academy, shared the following remarks about Karen McGrath at the 2015 Townwide Employee Recognition Ceremony at Sandwich Hollows last week.
It is a distinct pleasure and privilege to congratulate Karen McGrath as the Employee of the Year for the Sandwich
She has had a transformative impact on teaching and learning throughout the entire community of Sandwich. Her keen understanding of the art and craft of teaching accompanied by her remarkable skill set in the integration of technology have made her indispensable as we move forward as a district.
Perhaps nowhere has Karen’s remarkable dedication been more clearly observed than in the stunning success of the high school and STEM Academy roll out of one to one technology. She immersed herself in all aspects of ipad and chrome book technology, visiting other schools, and modeling our plan after systems whose experiences paved our path. She dedicated hundreds of hours over the past three summers to design protocols, craft letters to parents, student, and teachers and to provide training for all constituent groups. The results have been phenomenal.
Now, as we complete the first quarter of the 2015-2016 school year, Sandwich Public Schools continue to experience the impact of this exceptional educator as she models the skills and attributes of a true collaborator as she works with our Director of Technology Bryce Harper in ways which bring all conversations to the development and enhancement of student learning.
During the summers of 2013, 2014 and 2015, Karen and her talented technology team volunteered countless hours to designing an electronic platform for the new Educator Evaluation model. Her leadership is remarkable, as evidenced in the spirit of collaboration she engenders in others. Colleagues truly love working with Karen. They are eager to be around her ebullient style and receptive to joining with her as she pilots the Sandwich schools into the 21st century.
Karen’s most recent accomplishment is the design and implementation of the SHS/STEM Academy Digital Learning Center. Karen and her outstanding team provide tech support for teachers every block on alternate days. Teachers arrive with questions about on line digital resources, instructional technology tips, and how best to support the development of 21st century skills among our students. In addition to support provided in the Digital Learning Center, Karen and her team provide one to one coaching sessions for teachers as they transform lessons to reflect the school wide goal of increasing student engagement through a proliferate and meaningful use of technology.
In addition to designing elegant systems to support teaching and learning, Karen and her team provide exceptional high quality training for all the administrators, department heads, and curriculum coordinators. Without ever being asked to do so, Karen took it on herself to train secretaries in the high school and in the pre K-2 and 3-6 schools. She has traveled to each of the other schools during her prep period offering patient and invaluable help to all personnel.
Right on the heels of Educator Evaluation, Karen was presented with the challenge of formatting teachers’ computers with Power School, setting up trainings during the pre service days, building capacity among the department chairs, and providing ongoing support and trainings. Now in our third year using Power School, Karen has again taken the lead working with Bryce in running interventions and providing ongoing support. Again, without ever being asked to do so, she has posted instructional tutorials through screen casts for all teachers K-12.
Karen has built an exceptional technology team composed of teachers across all academic disciplines. The cohesiveness and professionalism of this team are a credit to Karen’s inspired and inclusive leadership style. Karen’s skills as a leader are evident in the eyes and smiles of her student tech team as well. Her student interns thrive under her guidance, as their daily impact on the school is widely recognized and deeply appreciated. When teachers need advice on all aspects of their teaching, they go to Karen. They know a master teacher with stellar credentials and attributes is supporting them. We know that earning the praise of a peer is indeed an honor in life. Among the profuse praise offered by her colleagues last spring, the words of her department members say it best, “Karen is an amazing role model and consummate professional. She manages an overwhelming workload with grace and her smile never fades.”
Karen is ubiquitous. She can be found attending every event at SHS, supporting students in all aspects of their academic, athletic, and artistic experiences. She has taken on the role of spreading the great news about our Sandwich students through an energized and student centered website and an enormously popular twitter feed.
Karen and her team are the founders of Ed Camp Cape Cod, another example of her leadership, her exceptional ability to take initiative, to build a team, to provide uncompromised support, and most notably to construct a learning environment which fostered collegiality and comfortable sharing of ideas.
Adding to her many accomplishments, in the fall of 2015, Karen took the lead on the SHS Professional Learning Community Model, our highly successful approach to professional development. Preceding each Late Start, Karen canvasses the faculty on topics of interest, gathers presenters, and organizes a school-wide model that could serve as a national exemplar. Teacher workshops are organized in support of school and district goals. The feedback has been unanimously positive. In addition to providing teachers with enhanced skill sets, the Professional Learning Community model has served as the central conduit towards unification of grades 7-12. It is thanks to Karen that teachers in SHS and in STEM have found shared interests, attend workshops together, and benefit from this collegial model.
Karen’s intuitive ability to design meaningful professional development coupled with her outstanding presentation skills, make her one of the most effective leaders in the district.
As if all of the above were not enough for even he most dedicated employee, Karen served as the co-chair of the Steering Committee for the school’s NEASC accreditation. Impressing all members of the Visiting team and personnel from NEASC, Karen applied a sophisticated level of technology to all aspects of the self -study and the decennial visit. It is thanks to her that the high school has demonstrated steady progress in mapping curriculum on ATLAS, and teachers are engaged in the use of school wide rubrics through an electronic platform.
In the spring of 2015, Karen was recognized by MASSCUE as a leader of distinction and was appointed to the executive board of this prestigious organization. It should come as no surprise that Karen and her team members bring back new and innovative technology instruction from their annual pilgrimage to MASSCUE.
Each and every day, she models her commitment to building capacity among all members of the school community. A professional of infinite patience and uncommon elegance, Karen provides an avenue for success for each adult and student learner. It is not only her many talents, but also her humility and generous praise of others that is recognized and cherished by the faculty, administrators and students, not only at SHS, but also throughout the entire district of Sandwich Public Schools. I can think of no other educator who has contributed more, cares more, and who has done more to shape the course of the history for our deserving students. Karen McGrath has indeed transformed our school district. She has done so with remarkable knowledge and skills, as he models a beautifully calibrated leadership style imbued by her technical skills and inspired by her compassion for others. She is truly remarkable. Watching her work with Bryce Harper our new Director of Technology is inspiring. Karen’s focus is dedicated to designing, implementing and supporting high quality instruction through technology tools. Her partnership with Bryce portends an exciting future for all members of the Sandwich Public Schools learning community. It with great pride that I congratulate Karen McGrath as Employee of the Year 2015.