The Mount Airy Board of Education accepted the final draft of its schools community-based strategic plan on Tuesday night at Mount Airy Middle School. Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little praised the commitment of community and business leaders in writing the document.
“This group has set a high bar of achievement with this plan and it’s going to take a lot of work but if we want to be a national leader in education you have to set the bar high,” said Little. He said another strong point of the effort is the strategic plan’s goals will parallel individual school improvement plans, adding momentum to the project. Little also said he is proud of how the board has been involved in every step of developing the plan.
“Tonight we are here to celebrate six months of work,” added Little to a large group in the school’s media center. “They (the strategic planning committee) have built a bridge to our preferred future.” Little recognized Mount Airy City Commissioners Shirley Brinkley and Jon Cawley and County Commissioner Larry Phillips for their attendance.
According to Little, the planning process sought from the beginning to involve community representatives, district administrators, school-based personnel and the board. Taking into account the continuing trend towards less being available for education from state and federal sources, the plan sets three areas to focus on primarily.
Students from schools in the district accompanied by their principals read the district mission statement, as well as the mission statements of Tharrington Primary, Jones Intermediate, Mount Airy Middle and Mount Airy High School. Steering committee members then followed with a reading of the district core values. Following an overview of the plan, a reception was held.
“Programs do not solve problems. People solve problems,” continued Little during his overview of the plan. “We can’t just talk the talk with our values we must walk the walk. Kids in the future will be solving problems we don’t know about yet and will work in jobs that don’t exist now. We need to nurture students to develop innovation and perseverance.” He ended by quoting Nelson Mandela’s saying that education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.
The first focus area in the strategic plan is high academic achievement and growth for all students. The second area is support for high quality employees and the third is creating a healthy and inclusive culture and climate in schools.
The mission statement of the plan states that the district will deliver a superior curriculum which established a foundation of knowledge where students to chose their future and are successful. It says the mission of the schools will provide a safe, supportive and stimulating learning environment to develop confidence and persistence necessary for students to meet educational, work and life challenges.
According to the final draft documents, each priority focus area has an overall or long-range goal and specific or one-year goals. For example, a specific, one-year goal state that by June of 2014, the percentage of students demonstrating a year’s growth for a year’s instruction will increase by seven percent over baseline scores for the 2012-2013 year.
This focus area also included strategy plans. The first priority focus area includes establishing a district wide assessment management system to provide immediate assessment results by child, classroom, grade level and school and providing professional development to deepen the knowledge of teachers.
According to the draft of the plan the district will also explore the feasibility of a modified school calendar to address summer reading losses and to determine the feasibility of extending the instructional day at Tharrington Primary School and Jones Intermediate School.
The specific goal of another priority focus is by June 2015, the percentage of certified employees achieving an overall rating of accomplished on their annual evaluations will increase by 5 percent over the baseline for 2013-2014. Another strategy is to provide professional development to ensure consistency and use of a common set of standards within and between schools to evaluate teacher performance. This system will provide supportive and effective feedback and provide constructive criticism and guidance.
The district also has set a one-year goal in the third focus area of establishing a growth mindset to permeate the district, improve communication and promote a positive public image aligned with the district vision, mission and core values.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 719-1952.