Schools looking forward to continued success

First Posted: 12/31/2008

While the rest of the country begins a new year on Jan. 1, school systems are getting ready to start the second half of their year.
Though January brings the beginning of a new semester and not a new year, area officials still have some goals in mind for what they would like to accomplish with what is left of this year and the first half of the next school year.
I think we had a very successful 2008, said Dr. Darrin Hartness, superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools. All of our schools met high growth rates, we were the district with the eighth highest graduation rate, our football team won the state championship and the U.S. News and World Report listed us as one of Americas best high schools. We were in the top two percent in the state.
Hartness perhaps has a unique perspective on the past year because he began his position as superintendent in January 2008.
Its been one year since I started and I have thoroughly enjoyed this school system and this community, he said.
For 2009, the city schools hope to continue to focus on academic excellence and preparing students to be successful either in college or in the workplace by starting that preparation in kindergarten.
We will be examining the courses we offer and choosing those that are interesting to students and that also meet the demands of the area, he said. I think we had a very successful year and want to continue that success.
Surry County Schools will also be focusing on academics in the coming year with new initiatives which they have begun to implement and will continue to expand through the next school year.
The one-to-one laptop initiative is falling into place to begin a pilot program for seventh graders. The use of the Rosetta Stone language software has also begun with third through fifth graders choosing to take either Spanish or Mandarin Chinese.
The Early College High School of Design will also be entering its fourth year with the 2009-10 school year. The new class will increase the total at the school to 320 students. The North Star Academy at North Surry High School will also enter its second year in the 2009-10 school year.
We had a very successful school year in 2007-08 which we just finalized the results for, said Dr. Ashley Hinson, superintendent of Surry County Schools. This year we hope to improve upon what the students did academically.
Another major undertaking the county schools will be facing in the coming year is the construction of two new schools. A new elementary school in Dobson as well as a new middle school in Pilot Mountain will begin soon.
Hopefully by Dec. 31, 2009 well be well into the construction phase, said Hinson of the schools.
They are also involved in an option to purchase the Reece Building in Dobson to use as a storage facility as well as for technology, child nutrition and staff development uses.
Hopefully in the next 60 days we can finalize that and then whatever time it takes to ready that building, he said, referring to the approval necessary from the county commissioners for funds for the building.
There will also continue to be a focus on child nutrition and improving the health and wellness of students. They will continue to look for initiatives, such as the USDA Fresh Fruits and Vegetables grant White Plains Elementary currently has, for the other schools in the system.
For all the school districts, the main focus will be on how to achieve more with less financially, he said, referring to the continued decrease in funding provided to education from the state.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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