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Come teach in Rowan

These are challenging but exciting times in the Rowan-Salisbury School System. Resources are stretched, but ideas and a spirit of innovation abound. If you’re a top-notch teacher passionate about helping every child learn, consider applying for a job here.
Statistics reveal our challenges. Over the past five years, already-low student test scores have been on a downhill slide, as have enrollment and family incomes. The recession was especially hard on Rowan County. But new Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody is shooting for transformational change, and a talented pool of teachers could make it happen.
“The best thing we can do is put a good teacher in the classroom,” Moody told commissioners this week, “ … better than a good superintendent.”
Make no mistake, we have talented teachers. Every parent of school-age children can name several. But teacher turnover climbed to 13.77 percent in 2012-13. With big changes in teaching staff and leadership positions, Dr. Moody is managing a new team that has a lot to learn but also a fresh perspective. Hiring co-principals to lead Knox Middle School in the city is a good example. New approaches to teaching are coming, too.
In the coming year, the system will phase in fresh technology. Moody and the school board are diving headlong into a digital conversion. Commissioners unanimously approved a three-year lease to provide students and teachers with digital devices — an iPad tablet or MacBook laptop for each by the end of the next school year.
Of course, all the devices in the world are worthless if teachers don’t know how to integrate them into their instruction. The Christian Science Monitor recently called schools’ switch to digital “The Big Learning Flip,” with students learning basic content on their computers at their own pace, while teachers focus on working with individual students on specific skills. That’s a big paradigm shift for teachers; a lot of training is in order.
Commissioners could reinforce the initiative by increasing local teacher supplements, currently the lowest in the region. Moody and the school board did not request new money to make the digital conversion; they’re redirecting existing funds. But they have requested $715,000 from the county to give each teacher a $300 boost. That really would signal a new day and encourage teachers who may be daunted by the tasks they face. If this batch of commissioners doesn’t approve bigger supplements because they have different priorities, don’t let that discourage you. Three new commissioners are being elected this fall. Things are turning around in Rowan County. Come be a part of our transformation.

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