Mount Airy City School’s Board of Education members sought put the district’s strategic plan into action at the annual renewal session. The session was held June 13 and 14 in the Mount Airy High School Media Center.
“It’s been a great year when you think about the challenges we face in terms of (state) funding,” said Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little. “One thing the strategic planning steering committee advocated was to hold ourselves accountable. We’re only focused on high-leverage, high-yield strategies. Overall the goals of our plan do not change but the strategies do. Since we launched the plan in February 2013, the reality and content begins to change. We are not in the same place we were a year and a half ago.”
Little said the plan, from its onset, was intended to be a living document and responsive to the district’s needs.
During the session, the board members got to use technology to Skype with future Chinese teacher Yang Li, whose American name is Vicky Li. The program is part of a partnership with the University of North Carolina Center for International Understanding (CIU) which will provide a new Mandarin Chinese language class for students.
The board appeared amused as Li explained she lives in a “small” city in China with a population of 300,00. She told them she comes from Mangshi in Yunnan Province. Li also asked a number of questions about bears. Board members were able later able to explain the Granite Bears were simply a school mascot.
The North Carolina-China program was launched in 2010 with a goal of increasing students’ understanding of China and its ability to communicate and collaborate with Chinese peers. Additional program support comes from Hanban, which is a public institution affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.
“She exuded excitement and enthusiasm about coming to our school district,” Little said. “I feel she will be a tremendous asset to Mount Airy.” The board also Skyped with the North Carolina School Board Association for a legislative update from the General Assembly.
Other topics and accomplishments board members shared during the renewal session included the support for student literacy provided by Freedom School, community involvement in events like Tharrington Primary’s Spring Fling and community night, the return of more arts programs in city schools, Mount Airy Middle School’s national schools to watch designation, and the work done by teachers in their Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).
Another feature of the renewal session was interactive software for the board’s agenda with information and presentations electronically embedded in the agenda using Google documents and other presentations being used in district classrooms. Little explained the effort was intended to immerse board members in instructional practices from the classroom.
The board was also given updates on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs, vertical articulation, (where teachers not only understand the expectations of their grade level but the grades around them so they can also prepare students to advance), and using the Google Learning Project software.
“I think our size is our strength,” Little said. “We are big enough to have resources and innovation but small enough to collaborate and make changes when necessary.”
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.