Grissom column: An eventful year for RSS

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 30, 2011

The 2010-2011 school year will come to an end next week as our graduates walk across the stage to receive the key to their future, a diploma. It has certainly been an exciting and productive year in spite of the economic climate. Even with these challenges, our school system experienced many accomplishments this past year, such as:
• Developing and implementing a new two-year District Improvement Plan.
• Developing new School Improvement Plans for all 35 schools aligned with the District Improvement Plan.
• 31 of our 35 schools meeting expected or high growth on the ABC accountability model (an increase from 26 out of 35 schools the previous year – this year’s results will not be available until later this summer)
• Seven schools receiving the designation as Schools of Distinction (an increase from two schools the previous year); There were no Low Performing Schools.
• Increasing the graduation rate to 73 percent (from 66.2 percent previously); all high schools showed improvement.
• Exiting of eight schools from Title I School Improvement.
• Meeting all Title III (English as a Second Language) annual measurable objectives (first time ever!).
• Reducing the number of suspensions and disciplinary offenses.
• Hosting numerous site visits from teachers and administrators from across the country to see technology being utilized in our classrooms.
• Completing the digitizing of records.
• Completing training modules on formative assessment.
• Developing comprehensive professional development plans for early release days.
• Receiving funds from the Department of Public Instruction for two schools to participate in reading diagnostic assessment using PDAs.
• Developing a comprehensive Detailed Scope of Work to receive Race to the Top funds
• Expanding the 21st Century Model Classroom Teacher Project to all 35 schools
• Expanding the iPod Touch project to all students in the seventh and eighth grades at North Rowan Middle and the fifth and sixth grades at Knox Middle schools
• Expanding the number of interactive boards from 32 several years ago to 992.
• Wiring several activity buses to accommodate the use of technology tools.
• Providing training in literacy (Reading Foundations) to 300 teachers.
• Sending two teachers from Carson High School to visit the partner school in China (funded by the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation, Inc.).
• Expanding the partnership between China and Carson High School with the addition of Mandarin Chinese and Chinese cultures taught by a teacher from China.
• Receiving a $950,000 grant to extend science training and hands-on science equipment in our classrooms.
• Receiving an excellent financial audit report.
• Expanding the Rowan County Early College to grades 9 through 12.
• Receiving $2.1 million dollars to improve Henderson Independent Alternative Program.
• Participating in the state’s Math Partners Grant.
• Implementing the new teacher evaluation process
• Providing audio coverage of School Board meetings and posting online.
• Posting financial information on the school district website.
• Recognizing our students and staff members for awards, honors, and customer service.
• Achieving several athletic state championships.
• Achieving state recognition for our annual report by the North Carolina School Public Relations Association.
• Achieving national recognition by Apple Computer as an Apple exemplary program
• Providing numerous professional development opportunities throughout the school year.
• Achieving national recognition in Education Executive Magazine.
• Expanding faith-based partnerships from 44 to 54 churches
• Recognizing 15 schools with the Energy Star certification from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
• Expanding the number of fresh fruit and vegetable grants to include 10 elementary schools
• Showcasing technology with the community event “Technology Matters – What’s Right With Public Schools.”
The list could go on and on! The Rowan-Salisbury School System continues to be a great school system that is only getting better each year. We are facing even more challenges next year with a devastating budget and economic outlook. However, I have no doubt that the wonderful employees in our school system will continue to do their very best each and every day for our students to be successful.
Until fall …
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Dr. Judy S. Grissom is superintendent for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.