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Sharp team to lead Knox

Superintendent Lynn Moody has made one near-miraculous thing happen: a unanimous OK from the Rowan County Board of Commissioners to a lease that will put digital devices in the hands of every student and teacher.
Commissioners had lots of questions about lost iPads, learning styles and financial details. Commission Chairman Jim Sides said he came to the meeting planning to vote against the lease. But after hearing Moody’s presentation last week, he decided it was something the system should be able to try.
Congratulations, Dr. Moody and staff.
Moody’s other bold move last week was to hire co-principals — a new concept here — for Knox Middle, a school plagued by low test scores and turnover. Moody had worked with Michael Waiksnis and Latoya Dixon in the Rock Hill school district she headed before coming to Rowan, so she is hiring known quantities. Waiksnis has been a middle school principal since 2008, and Dixon has been principal at elementary school since 2008. They have good track records and could make a sharp team.
No one can accuse Moody of settling for the status quo. Nor of avoiding challenging situations. By assigning two experienced principals to Knox, she and the school board will giving the school its best opportunity in years to improve.
Sullivan Middle School, where Waiksnis has been principal, has a diverse student body; 47 percent of its students are white. Its student test scores were close to or in some instances above S.C. state average in 2013, according to the S.C. Department of Education’s report card.
In addition, a survey answered by 44 teachers at Sullivan showed 93.2 percent satisfied with the school’s learning environment and 95.4 satisfied with the social and physical environment.
Mount Gallant Elementary, Dixon’s school, posted above-average scores in 2013 and showed even greater levels of satisfaction among teachers and parents — at times 100 percent.
Compare that to Knox, where teachers expressed considerable dissatisfaction on a recently released state survey. Among Rowan-Salisbury middle schools, the percentage of teachers agreeing that “overall, my school is a good place to work in learn” was the lowest at Knox — 43.3 percent. The level of agreement among teachers at other local middle schools ranged from 77 percent at North Rowan to 100 percent at West.
Knox teachers and parents have gotten excited about new administrators before, only to see them leave all too soon. The community, parents and school officials need to stand behind Waiksnis and Dixon next school year during the tough times as strongly as they did last week, transformation may indeed be possible at Knox — another miracle.

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