Taking a moment to reflect on this school year
Published 12:14 am Monday, May 23, 2016
By Lynn Moody
Superintendent of Rowan-Salisbury Schools
As we move into the last few weeks of the school year, I asked my cabinet to reflect the current school year. They quickly listed so many accomplishments and the list was exciting and endless. I want to share with you a summary of some of these initiatives:
We launched Achieve3000 in September. Achieve3000 targets individual student lexile reading levels to accelerate learning and put all students on track for college and career success. Our district has nearly doubled the expected lexile reading growth. Our students have been recognized nationally for their accomplishments.
Ready Rosie is an online literacy program for all Rowan County parents of children up to eight years-old to help them help their children to read through the use of hundreds of short videos in both English and Spanish.
Ready, Set Read Rowan
Read, Set Read Rowan brings the community together to focus on literacy. The primary goal is to help reach our goal of 90 percent of students reading on grade level by 2017.
Beginning this summer, students will have a “ virtual” Rowan Public Library card allowing them to access thousands of free resources using only their student ID number.
We hosted our second community literacy summit raising awareness for how our children’s early years have a lasting impact on learning, health and success. Strategies were created to support a stronger literacy foundation for our children.
Our curriculum and human resources departments hosted a first-time-ever professional development for students in UNC-Charlotte’s education department last fall offering free professional development on blended learning.
The Rowan County Chamber of Commerce is working on developing a business incentive package to support teacher recruitment efforts in bringing the best teachers to our children.
In partnership with Catawba College, secondary math and science teachers are participating in the first science, technology, engineering and math Master’s ‘full scholarship’ cohort. Participants agree to serve our district for a minimum of five years.
We hosted our second “EdCamp Rowan” in March. EdCamp is a new trend in providing professional development and is a free “un-conference” hosted by educators, for educators.
Twitter chats are a unique way we share professional development outside of the normal school hours. This year’s four-part series examined our four major digital partners: Discovery Education, Achieve3000, Schoology and Apple Inc.
N.C. Technology In Education Society (NCTIES) 2016 conference
We participated for the first time as a vendor at a teacher technology conference providing direct professional development on the vendor floor. This unique recruiting strategy allowed teachers from around N.C. to see the work of our students and staff.
One-to-one technology in all grades
With the addition of iPad carts for Kindergarten through second grade classrooms, we are now one-to-one in all grades! It is exciting to see students in these grades reading books, making presentations, practicing math facts, and using ‘Smarty Ants’ on their iPads.
Discovery Education (DE) TechBooks
We expanded TechBooks to include Kindergarten through 12th grade students.
The Techbook series:
- Saves teachers time by including model lessons, student activities, and assessments
- Provides interactive features that change reading levels of text and enable text to be read aloud
- Updates regularly at no additional cost
TechBooks allow students to learn anywhere and anytime on their Rowan-Salisbury Schools digital devices.
School based data meetings
Each school in our district has a data leadership team that works collaboratively to review, disaggregate and reflect on data collected from multiple sources and assessments to personalize learning for students. Teams now include all teachers and even groups of students.
Knox Center for Accelerated Studies (magnet school)
As a result of two years of research and planning, beginning in 2016-2017, Knox will transform the learning environment becoming the Knox Center for Accelerated Studies. The program will provide students with opportunities to earn up to five high school credits and engage in relevant and real world problem solving experiences.
Career Pathways provide academic and career and technical education courses beginning with the eighth grade. This alignment leads to additional career options beyond high school such as an associate degree, bachelor degree and beyond, as well as industry-recognized credentials.
Superintendent’s student leadership team
Student leaders from each district high school met to share and redesign the high school student experience. The student leaders were the first group to hold a presentation at Wallace Educational Forum showcasing their ideas to increase career pathways, cultural experiences, smart lunches, and collaborative spaces in schools.
Our graduation rate increased from 80.9 percent in 2014 to 85.14 percent in 2015 making this the highest graduation rate in the district’s history.
Several district high schools added smart lunchtime to increase opportunities for student collaboration and interventions.
Exceptional children’s department
We created 11 small group classroom settings (six elementary and five middle) to serve students that were identified through assessments to have specific academic and social needs. These settings provided for more intense instruction. Professional development throughout the year focused on reading and math programs, social skills and behavioral instruction.
School resource officers
The professionalism of school resource officers (SROs) has been integral to ensuring safe campuses. SROs were awarded a State Farm Grant for specialized training.
We increased safety through the addition of a visitor management system, vestibules, card reader badges, additional cameras, lighting and fencing improvements.
Collaborative spaces have been implemented throughout the campuses. Furniture, floor coverings and other accessories now provide a space that is conducive for today’s sharing and learning.
Child nutrition feeding program
We expanded our summer meals program and renovated an old school bus to take out into the community feeding over 100,000 meals and snacks during the summer to children. This program will include two more buses this summer. Twelve schools participated in the community eligibility program and were offered both free breakfast and lunch to all students.
Community school visits
Each week a school in our district opened their doors to welcome community visitors, parents, elected officials and school administrators into their schools. Led by student ambassadors, visitors toured campus to see and hear about achievements happening every day in our schools.
Out of state/county visitors
We were honored to host the N.C./S.C. Digital Superintendent Symposium and the N.C. Business Committee for Education meetings this spring. They were held at the Wallace Educational Forum because of our excellent training spaces. A number of school districts across NC, including Swain, Wake, Mt. Airy, Elkin and Forsyth visited our schools to learn more about our digital transformation.
And this year is not quite over yet!