Grissom column: School year will have promising start

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 22, 2009

The 2009-2010 school year is here! What a summer it has been as we waited in anticipation for the legislators and governor to pass a state budget so we could determine the effect it would have on our school system’s budget. Even though we faced extensive cuts, larger than I have seen in my educational experience, our school system was successful in focusing on protecting the classroom and not increasing class sizes. It took a systemwide effort to evaluate, identify, and make decisions on areas to cut. Although this will not be an easy year for any of us, I am positive we will continue to provide an excellent educational experience for each of our students.
The good news we received this summer was the improvement in our students’ academic growth and their achievement. A large number of schools met their AYP and ABC accountability goals. Two schools were recognized as Schools of Distinction. As a school district, by meeting all of our AYP targets in grades 3-5 and grades 6-8, we will not receive any additional sanctions.
If we meet AYP targets in one grade span next year, the school system will no longer be in District Improvement. Not having the stigma of being in District Improvement would certainly be an accomplishment for our school system.
We still have areas that need extra focus, such as dropouts and graduation rates, and we will continue to develop strategies to address these concerns.
We are looking forward to an exciting school year with a large emphasis on technology. We have several outstanding projects in place that are extremely noteworthy. Several of these are:
– 21st Century Classrooms: Our system has 15 21st Century Model Classroom teachers in place, as well as grant funding to further expand the program this fall. These 15 teachers diligently worked over the summer to develop strategies and ideas to assist other teachers with integrating technology into their teaching. Our goal is for every school in our system to have a model classroom.
– iPod Project: The iPod project at North Rowan High School continues to grow. A new grade level was added to the number of teachers and students already involved in the program. Teachers involved in the iPod project worked over the summer to develop their technology skills and to develop plans for the future expansion of the program.
– China connection: Carson High School will address globalization with its partnership and connection to another high school in China, as the principal and assistant principal share knowledge gained from their summer experiences. Students will use technology tools as they correspond and interact with students from across the world.
– PTA support: Schools continue to work through their PTAs using their school and district funds, as well as writing grants, to increase the amount of technology that is available in the classroom. More interactive boards will be placed in classrooms to increase student engagement.
– Internal communication: Because of the challenge of decreased funds, the school system will be utilizing the district website to electronically communicate with staff, such as, through online newsletters, podcasts and virtual meetings. This will reduce expenses for paper and printing, as well as travel time. Please continue to visit the district website as new items are added throughout the school year. To learn more about what is happening in the school system, the website should provide the answers to most questions. Visit us at:
As the buses roll on Aug. 25 and students walk into their classrooms, teachers have the challenge and opportunity to not only teach students, but to guide them, to inspire them and let them know they can achieve high levels by using their own abilities, gifts and talents. They can influence the life and the future of their students. What greater experience could there be than starting a new school year with a new group of eager young students?
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Dr. Judy Grissom is superintendent of the Rowan-Salisbury School System.