From the principal: 10 reasons to love Salisbury High
By Luke Brown
Special to the Salisbury Post
• The four-year graduation rate is a measurement of the percentage of students that began high school together as freshmen and completed the requirements for graduation, four years later. The 2016 graduating class of Salisbury High School achieved an increase in the four-year graduation rate to 83 percent, up from 67 percent in 2015.
• Of those graduates, 78 percent continued their education in a two- or four-year college or university.
• The 2016 graduates of Salisbury High were offered scholarships totaling $5.97 million dollars.
• Students that earn A’s and B’s are distinguished for their achievement in the honor roll. The 2016 fall semester saw 253 students of Salisbury High School merit honor-roll standing.
• The new Hornet Bucks incentive program rewards students for attendance, academic and personal growth, and for good work. During the first semester, 328 students were eligible to be awarded prizes donated by private and corporate Hornet sponsors. Of those 328 students, 80 students were presented prizes.
• The number of students referred to the office for disciplinary action by their teachers has decreased this year by 39 percent. A new program that has been initiated is expected to be even more effective in reducing disciplinary referral. The program notifies and solicits the cooperation of the parent(s) before disciplinary referral. The new program was implemented at the commencement of the second semester, so currently our data is limited. However, so far, parents and teachers alike have expressed their satisfaction and elation with the effects of the new program.
• Salisbury High School is about to launch a new mentoring platform that will affect the lives of 98 students who are at risk of dropping out of school due to various disaffecting influences. Community leaders from fields such as clergy and business have shown interest in counseling students with difficult challenges. We hope this program, in coordination with our new school behavior plan, will provide intervention for students before out-of-school suspension becomes necessary or disaffecting influences result in the student dropping out.
• Out-of-school suspensions at Salisbury High School are down 17 percent for the 2016-2017 school year due to the introduction of a Reverse Suspension Program that allows parents or guardians to spend the day with their student /child in lieu of out-of-school suspension. The prospect of having parents accompanying them to their classes has incentivized desired student behavior.
• Salisbury High School has improved classroom failures from 15.05 percent from the 2016 spring semester to 14.2 percent for the 2016 fall semester.
• The addition of data-walls in our classrooms has allowed our students to monitor their own data and progress on a regular basis. Students review their testing histories to help develop their personal goals for each individual class. The goals are documented and, after each assessment, students can compare their performance with their goals. We are hopeful that data-walls will enhance students’ ownership in the classroom (and perhaps encourage healthy competition) and will allow students to measure and monitor their own success more frequently than the current nine-week grading period.
What can’t be measured
These numbers reflect a few of the positive things happening at Salisbury High School that can be easily quantified. There are efforts, endeavors and achievements that unfortunately aren’t easily measured and often go without notice or recognition.
Not so easily quantified are the hours our teachers spend analyzing classroom data and designing personalized lessons to improve and maximize student cognition and conation.
Not so easily quantified is the passion of the calling, that affection and devotion that our teachers possess that impels them toward being better as a communicator, motivator and instructor.
These numbers do not tell you of the many students who are active in night school to make up credits for previous grade deficiencies or nonperformance.
These numbers do not appraise the number students who drop out of high school and later return to community college to complete their high school requirements. All of us end our formal education at some point — some after high school, some after college, and some after achieving an advanced degree. Many of us go back to school at a later time as a result of financial ability or recognition of the need for further education. This is not typically reflected in the numbers.
These numbers do not reflect our many success stories of former Salisbury High School students who go on to achieve success in colleges and universities. It is important to point out that children and adolescents do not experience the same opportunities ( e.g., environmental conditions, mental health proclivities, nutrition, emotional and familial support, cognitive stimulation, emotional and maturation rates of growth). Subsequently, they mature differently and at various rates of progression.
It is important for us to understand that some of our children attend school while facing challenges most of us cannot imagine, such as inadequate nutrition, sleep deprivation, poor housing conditions, substance abuse in the family, criminal environment, etc.
Attendance has been cited as a major reason for the number of dropouts. Attendance often is a symptom, not the reason. The disparate causal factors of school performance are more complex than merely citing school statistics. It also requires that we take a long, hard look at our communities and families.
To improve schools requires investment from the students, parents, schools, governments, teachers and communities. It requires a culture that is committed to the value of education.
Confucius is quoted as saying: “If your plan is for one year, plant rice. If your plan is for 10 years, plant trees. If your plan is 100 years, educate children.”
There is perhaps no greater aspiration than the education of our children. It is the reason most of us in education are in this profession.
Proverbs 29:18 says: “Where there is no vision the people perish.” It takes time to revolutionize a culture, to alter cultural mindsets and attitudes. That is what we are striving to do every day.
If given the choice between achieving a 100 percent graduation rate or seeing children realize their full potential, I would choose the latter. The administration and staff of Salisbury High School are committed to helping each child realize their maximum potential.
Luke Brown is principal of Salisbury High School.