Together we can

Meet School District of Lancaster Superintendent Dr. Damaris Rau

With more than 35 years of experience in public education, Dr. Damaris Rau is a seasoned veteran when it comes to setting the standard for student achievement. Known for her passion in urban education and commitment to equity for all students, Dr. Rau has a proven track record of reducing the achievement gap, increasing graduation rates, expanding early childhood programs, implementing programs to reduce bullying behaviors, and successfully turning around low performing schools.

Having FUN

Fierce Urgency Now

During her tenure in Lancaster, she has overseen a boom in students taking dual enrollment classes for which they receive high school and college credit, provided additional social and emotional support to enhance the overall well-being of students, cut the number of out-of-school suspensions by more than 30 percent and created a new Principal Residency Program to build the bench of the leadership team. She has been a statewide advocate for education funding reform that ensures the neediest schools receive a fair portion of state resources. Her ongoing focus areas in SDoL include Equity, Inclusion & Excellence, improving our curricula in ELA and Math, and developing school leaders to support effective teaching practices.

Dr. Rau began her career as a classroom teacher in Bronx, N.Y., where she later served as Central Office Coordinator and Assistant Principal. She then moved to Greenwich, Conn., where she served as an Instructional Leader and Principal. After a short time in suburban education, Dr. Rau returned to her urban roots in New Haven, Conn., where she was the Executive Director of Schools PreK-12 before being named Superintendent of the School District of Lancaster in July 2015.

Having been a foster child, Dr. Rau understands the positive impact education has on student success. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from St. John’s University, Master’s Degree in Elementary/Early Childhood Education from Hunter College, an Administrative Certificate from the College of New Rochelle, Doctorate in Organizational Leadership from Teachers College, Columbia University, and her Superintendent’s Certification from the University of Connecticut.

Superintendents' Performance Objectives: 2019-2020 School Year

Approved August 15, 2019

Focus Area: Teaching & Learning

Rationale: To become a high performing district requires all leaders to support teaching and learning. The instructional rounds process is an adaptation and extension of the medical rounds model, which is used routinely in medical schools and teaching hospitals to develop the diagnostic and treatment practice of physicians. In our setting, instructional rounds will be conducted by cabinet members, coordinators, and school administrators who will visit classrooms, observe and discuss those observations, and track trends that we notice occurring across classrooms and across buildings. The goals associated with instructional rounds are to get closer to instruction, create common language, ways of seeing, and a shared practice for instructional improvement. As the year progresses, we will include instructional coaches and other teachers in these rounds for us to all learn together. Engaging in instructional rounds will help with the assessment of the effectiveness of instruction and the impact of professional learning on classroom instruction.

  1. Design system for instructional rounds (by October 2019)
  2. Pilot instructional rounds at four district schools (by November 2019)
  3. Implement instructional rounds at all schools to monitor core action use in classrooms (by May 2020)
  4. Create and articulate an academic vision that incorporates existing programs. Identify programs and practices and support teachers through effective professional learning to enhance student outcomes (by June 2020)
  5. Collaborate with teachers and others to evaluate curricula (by March 2020)

Focus Area: Student-Centered Climate & Culture

Rationale: District data reveal a need for a systems approach to building a more student-centered culture and climate. As members of the larger society, we all have implicit biases that become part of our work and the system in which we work. Increasing awareness about implicit bias and inclusion and creating opportunities to reflect on how experiences and beliefs influence practices will be at the core of the equity training.

The five-year training plan will build the capacity of our staff by using teachers and leaders as trainers for their peers. A more cohesive approach to the student-centered climate and culture learning opportunities  will continue through the 2019-20 school year, with training in Restorative Practices, Positive Behavior Interventions and Support, and a Multi-tiered System of Support.

  1. Implement Phase 1 (Tone & Trust) and Phase 2 (Personal Culture and Personal Journey) of the deep equity training plan (by May 2020)
  2. Collaborate with the Board of Directors to draft a district equity policy (by May 2020)
  3. Cultivate student voice and representation in district initiatives, specifically Portrait of a Graduate, Board representation, and equity training (ongoing)

Focus Area: Community Engagement

Rationale: The school community is composed of all groups that have interest or concern in the success of the district. This includes students, parents, teachers, leaders, the Board of Directors, community leaders, local governing bodies, and area businesses.

  1. Plan collaboratively and participate in a retreat with the LEA Executive Team to establish norms and expectations to improve two-way communication and teaming (by October 2019)
  2. Establish quarterly meetings with the LEA president to share and discuss progress on district initiatives
  3. Establish a feedback system with the Superintendent for two-way communication that creates opportunities for dialoging and partnering with staff, teachers, and leaders (by October 2020)
  4. Complete the design and roll-out of the new website (by October 2020) and enhance digital communications (ongoing)
  5. Begin a renewed “visioning process” with the new Board of Directors (workshop dates TBD)
  6. Continue to advocate for SDoL and its priorities among community leaders (ongoing, throughout the year)

Focus Area: Operational Effectiveness

Rationale: Invest in the operations of the district to streamline practices and create efficiencies to enhance functions in support of schools.

  1. Create and present a comprehensive district talent plan, inclusive of promotion pathways and based on a proactive approach to improving equity throughout district staff (by March 2020)
  2. Develop plan for the expansion of CTE programs (by March 2020)
  3. Complete Boundary Study to improve system efficiencies and establish equity to inform the budget process and implement in 2021-22 (by March 2020)
  4. Implement Year 2 of the district technology plan to include PD for elementary and 9th grade teachers. Deploy iPads for grade 9 students and deploy iPads in the elementary schools (by January 2020)
  5. Provide a five-year plan to upgrade facilities to support 21Century Learning (by January 2020)