2019 Superintendent Surveys: Little Compton

Superintendent Survey

Laurie Dias-Mitchell – Little Compton School District

1. What’s the number one thing parents and students should know about this district this year?

The district is on the move, for sure, and continuously seeking new ways to help Little Compton students become creative, critical and reflective thinkers so they are better equipped to make connections between what they are learning and the world around them. This momentum has resulted in a collaborative effort to research bringing the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program to Wilbur McMahon School. Through four site visits over the past year by Little Compton School administrators, parents/guardians, school committee members, and teachers to the Provincetown Public School District, our district representatives are impressed by what they see in place at the Massachusetts public school.

Emphasizing intellectual challenge, academic rigor and each student’s personal development, the International Baccalaureate (IB)  Middle Years Program encourages students aged 11 to 16 to make practical connections between their studies and the real world, preparing them for success in further study and in life.

To implement the Middle Years Program, the next step is to submit an application and successfully complete an authorization process. During this process, IB consultants support the school in building the understanding and organizational structure needed to implement the Middle Years Program. Once authorized, Wilbur McMahon would become an IB World School — the only public school in Rhode Island to hold that distinction! 

2. What is the biggest challenge your district faces?

The beautiful town of Little Compton  — which enjoys the distinction of being one of the safest communities in Rhode Island — is quite small. The challenge of being small also promotes, at Wilbur McMahon,  a warm, welcoming, and highly-supportive school culture (an average of 14 students per class). Accordingly, we continue to invite families from neighboring towns to take advantage of our tuition program — $6,000 a year (roughly comparable to what area parochial schools charge).  The fee is a bargain, given the fact that our per-pupil cost is over $20,000 per year. Accepting a few out-of-district tuition students allows us to offer a high-quality educational experience to our neighbors. Everyone wins when a vibrant school community grows and becomes ever more enriching.

3. What is the vaccination rate for your district and what is your policy for opting out?  Have you seen a spike or decline in the number of parents opting out over the last two years?

The immunization rate results can be accessed using the link from the DOH at the end of this paragraph. As you can see, the kindergarten rate this past year was 100%.  The main reason for the “noncompliance” in grades 7 and 8 is because of the HPV vaccine. All of our students who have not received the vaccine have a Religious Exemption on file, or were behind in having the required number of vaccines for their grade.  If a parent/guardian did not choose to have their child immunized against HPV in 7th grade they may have changed their mind and started the series later. If a student does not have 2 doses by grade eight they show up as noncompliant. 


(Click and paste URL in your browser) Select city/town from the dropdown on the right.

4. Some school districts in the state are banning electronic devices/cell phones. What is your current policy? Do you have plans to also ban electronic devices? If so, why? 

Currently, cell phone use is not allowed by policy.  However, our students — known as Gen Z (DOB 1995 to 2013)  and Gen Alpha (DOB 2013+ — the offspring of millennials ) are digital whizzes who see technology as an essential life tool — like a fork and a spoon! We need to take a look at the policy, as a district and school, to determine what is reasonable. We certainly do not want to be guilty of sending the message to students that they must leave their techno-genius at the schoolhouse door when they enter the school building. However, we do want to find that sweet spot, that balance where students’ tech devices and skills enhance their academic and social-emotional learning. That will take some discussion among stakeholders, for sure.  

5. Tell us something nobody knows about your district.

We have a tuition program for out-of-district students!  With a reputation for being a district “on the move” with dedicated faculty and staff and highly-engaged families — along with countless enrichment programs and initiatives (see partial list below, “Academic Highlights”), Wilbur McMahon most recently was classified as a school in the top 25 percent in the state based on the 2018 Rhode Island Comprehensive Assessment System results. Residents of neighboring towns have also taken notice and have opted to send their children to Wilbur McMahon as out-of-district tuition students for $6,000 per year. WMS enjoys active collaborations with the following groups to provide opportunities for students both during and after school: Parent Student Teacher (PST) Association; CORE (Creative, Outreach, Rein-venting, Expression) Arts Programs; the local garden clubs; Up With School Arts; Island Moving Company; Little Compton Prevention Coalition (LCPC); LC Makers; and many other local organizations and community sponsors.

Academic Highlights:

  • -One-to-one (Chromebooks and iPads) for all students
  • -National Geographic Geo Bee (statewide)
  • -Scripps Spelling Bee (statewide)
  • -iReady (interim assessments in literacy and math)
  • -First-Tech Challenge (STEM competition),
  • -SeaPerch (underwater robotics competition)
  • -Open Circle, Choose Love SEL Programs
  • -CS4RI (Computer Summit for Rhode Island)
  • -Achieve 3000 (Differentiated Instruction)
  • -Integrated Pre-School Program run by the Newport County,
  • -Regional Special Education Program for students (ages 3, 4 and 5)
  • -Rhode Island Science Fair (Grade 8)
  • -Code.org training and participation
  • -International Baccalaureate Program (2020 application-to-candidacy stage),
  • -Math Counts Statewide Competition
  • -RIMEA All-State Ensemble participation
  • -Annual play or musical staged by nearly 60 students and lower and upper-school faculty
  • -Pre-AP: Spanish I
  • -Pre-AP: Algebra I

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