Our publication Monday of an anonymous teacher’s letter and the perspectives on it offered by school officials and other teachers continues to spur conversation about the direction in which the Wilton school district is heading, and how teachers feel about working in Wilton schools.  

Wilton teacher Nisia Todd emailed us yesterday to let us know about a response she drafted and sent to superintendent Kevin Smith, assistant superintendent Chuck Smith and the Board of Education. She has given permission for the letter to be shared with GMW readers and the wider community, noting that she wants to offer a different viewpoint from the sentiments expressed in the anonymous letter. 

I recently read an anonymous letter that necessitated an immediate reply. After reading this letter, I felt the need to voice my opinion on some of the subjects addressed.

I’m writing this based on my experience as a current reading specialist at Cider Mill, a resident of Wilton, a parent whose children attend the Wilton Public Schools, and a product of the Wilton Public Schools.

One of the main reasons my husband and I settled in Wilton was because of the outstanding schools. The residents of Wilton understand that investing in the schools is an investment in the future. Wilton has so many more resources than other Connecticut districts. These resources include instructional coaches, curriculum coordinators and literacy specialists.

Cider Mill is fortunate to have three outstanding instructional coaches and two instructional coordinators who are passionate about their careers and teaching and learning. In my role, I work most closely with our two Humanities coaches (literacy and social studies). These two ladies exemplify excellence in instruction and collaboration. Whether you are in need of a text which illustrates the theme of friendship, or need help locating a literacy assessment in the Google drive (because they have created folders for every literacy unit which include anchor
charts, pre/post assessments, strategy group charts, checklists, etc.), they are always willing and able to locate what you need.

On any given day, you can find them writing/revising curriculum with teachers, teaching a demo lesson in a class, observing a lesson, meeting with teachers regarding a lesson, creating resources for upcoming reading or writing units, working on a presentation for upcoming staff development, sending numerous email connected to current units of study, correlating IXL language art strands to common core standards, finding internet resources for teaching figurative language, and the list goes on and on. You need two additional copies of a book for a book club?
They will scour every corner of the building to locate them for you. There have been countless instances when I’ve had an idea for a new strategy or anchor chart, only to find an email the next day with an attachment for the newly created document. Every day, they enhance the education of the students, and support teachers. I am absolutely a better teacher because of the support I receive from the coaches and curriculum coordinators.

I moved to Wilton for these extra supports provided to teachers and students. In my opinion, that’s what sets our schools apart. I did not move here for complimentary before/ after school activities or free sport programs. I will gladly “pay to play.”

One of my daughters has a brand new teacher this year. She is a dedicated, enthusiastic and passionate professional. I also know how stressful the first year of teaching can be. I was there once. Not for one second did I worry that the task at hand would be overwhelming for her. Throughout the year, she has received support from the instructional coaches. Whenever the instructional coach has spent time in her classroom, I would hear about it from my daughter. I felt confident knowing that her teacher was being supported in the delivery of our rigorous curriculum. Just another example of how the coaches support our students and staff.

I also would like to address the alleged “demoralizing effect” of these initiatives. I absolutely do not feel demoralized. On the contrary, I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to work in such a supportive building. I continue to hone my craft because of the growth mindset being practiced at Cider Mill.

As for the MAP assessment, it is an objective way to measure student growth. It is one data point, among others, which we use to identify students who may be in need of intervention. It’s one piece of a student’s profile. One piece of a complicated puzzle. At Cider Mill, we look at other data when determining if a child is in need of intervention: SBAC, F&P, curriculum based assessments, and teacher feedback. As a parent, I’m thankful for this data. I know that at least three times a year, a group of educators and administrators will sit around a table and sift through test scores. For what? So that my children, your children, can benefit from extra supports which help to accelerate their learning. How fortunate we are!

Every day, I walk through the doors of Cider Mill. The school I attended, my brother attended and now my children attend. Every day, I’m thankful to work in a school which offers extensive supports for staff and students.

Signed Proudly,

Nisia Todd