Superintendent looks at 2015-16 year: Where we’ve been and where we’re going

Published 10:00 am Friday, August 14, 2015

By  Dr. Lynn Moody

Rowan-Salisbury Schools Superintendent

We are renewed, refreshed and ready for an extraordinary new school year!

The last school year was our foundational year for big changes in turning the ship around. It was the transformational year for our teachers, students and staff as we focused on our strategic plan with the emphasis on literacy and student engagement. New doors and visions were opened for teachers and students in the physical appearance of classrooms as well as in the way instruction is being presented.

Where we have been

To look ahead, it is important to look back on what we have already achieved that will spring board us into a great start for this new school year. We are excited to have implemented:

  • New Literacy Framework bringing consistency and direction across the district for teaching reading and literacy;
  • New collaborative spaces in our classrooms, media centers, as well as inside and outside student gathering areas;
  • New deployment of our 1:1 Digital Conversion and placing a laptop or iPad into the hands of our students in grades 3-12 and new laptops to our teachers;
  • New “Hot Spots” created through community partnerships to provide WiFi to students for extended and supervised learning beyond the school day;
  • New school hours to align efficient school operations, afterschool activities, makeup days, and a later start time for school buses to start rolling in the early morning hours.

What we accomplished this summer

To add to this foundation, over the summer Rowan-Salisbury staff and students have worked hard learning, sharing and preparing for a great start to the new school year by:

  • Creating curriculum for problem-based learning;
  • Creating a new digital citizenship curriculum for grades K-12;
  • Sponsoring our upcoming annual innovative Back-To-School Teacher Conference where educators teach each other;
  • Offering professional development for clerical staff in Microsoft Office, with Career Technical Education students assisting the instruction;
  • Leading students through summer camps and summer programs in areas such as reading, book swaps, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), English as a Second Language, Lego robotics, science photography, student councils, band, athletics and more;
  • Opening school media centers for students to promote reading during summer months;
  • Attending state and national conferences, including 230 educators attending ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education);
  • Traveling to China, Singapore and Malaysia for a few of our educators;
  • Participating teachers collaborating with educators across the state to research best practices through the Governor’s Teacher Network;
  • Preparing and delivering thousands of meals for our children through the Summer Meal Program.

With much in place, we are anxious to welcome back approximately 20,000 students for an extraordinary year. We have learned many things through professional development this summer and are excited about new teaching strategies in our classrooms that we believe will engage our students. Expect your child’s class to include solving real-world problems and collaborating with other students and professionals. To compliment our deployment of technology devices, all students will engage in a digital citizenship curriculum created by teachers this summer.

A few more new and continued programs for the new school year

As we continue moving forward, I applaud our community partners in supporting our schools. We invite you back into our schools for community visits every Wednesday. Look for the schedule on our “Back-to-School” webpage and under “District Information” on our website Students lead these tours to proudly showcase what is happing at their school. We hope to see you there!

We are happy to be working with the local YMCA to provide more opportunities for before and after school childcare options for families. Parents may contact the Y for more details.

A new Student Leadership Team will be created to function as a student advisory council for the superintendent. These high school students will have the opportunity to learn and take a leadership role in promoting the district and our strategic plan inside our district and in our community. The selection will be by an application process. Also new for several of our high schools will be the “PowerHour Lunch” that combines lunch with learning during an hour block of time to benefit students with additional opportunities.

School Nutrition worked closely with transportation to repurpose an older school bus to be used for feeding programs for our children. The bus has been beautifully wrapped and re-furnished to accommodate student meals and WiFi for learning.

We need your support; our children need your support, in moving ahead to positively encourage our students to reach for new heights and to move our literacy priority to the forefront in our community. You can do this by asking students what they are reading and share with them what you are reading.

Reading recommendations

With literacy being our district’s focus in our Strategic Plan, I want to pass along to you two books that I highly recommend for parents to read: “Mindset,” by Carol Deck, is about how to encourage your child to have a growth mindset and “The Element,” by Sir Ken Robinson, is about how to help your child find their passion.

Thank you for helping us with our growth and passion to take the Rowan-Salisbury Schools to the next level.