Last updated: March 06. 2014 5:11PM - 1895 Views
By Tanya Chilton tchilton@civitasmedia.com

Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe addresses participants at the 2014 Elkin City Board Retreat.
Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe addresses participants at the 2014 Elkin City Board Retreat.
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The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction recently released summary reports on educator effectiveness which placed Elkin City Schools at the top of the statewide list of school districts for the percentage of teachers meeting or exceeding expected student growth for 2012-2013.

According to the report, the Elkin City Schools’ district had a rating of 97.4 percent of teachers in the district that had students who met or exceeded student growth expectations. The system had 43.6 percent of students documented as exceeded expected student growth while 53.8 percent met expected student growth.

Growth in this instance refers to teachers who had students demonstrate more than a year’s worth of academic growth within a single academic year. Elkin City Schools was well above the state average of 23.3 percent exceeding expected student growth.

Elkin City Schools Superintendent Dr. Randy Bledsoe said, “The teacher effectiveness data rating is relatively new to our state based on recent changes to the teacher assessment instrument. But this report reinforces the tremendous work and challenges that our staff faces each day as we truly prepare each child for future academic and career success.

“When you look at the discussion today of our children getting a quality education, and the cost of education, our parents can be reassured that each student is getting a year’s worth of academic growth for a year of schooling in our district. Our staff, students, parents and community have another reason to be proud of our schools and the rich tradition of academic excellence.”

Bledsoe said making sure every individual student is getting a year’s worth of growth remains part of the move to become a district of significance.

What Elkin teachers do particularly well, added Bledsoe, is adjust to where the student is in learning in order to give them what they need.

At the Elkin City Schools recent board retreat, Dr. Vernon T Farrington, program coordinator of Educational Leadership at High Point University, and Dr. Barbara J. Mallory, associate professor of Educational Leadership of High Point University, co-delivered a talk about specifically what it means to “become a district of significance.”

“Coming home to Elkin” should resonate with students in their future careers in the approach, they explained. “It takes you out of a sea of sameness — where you seek to make change,” said Farrington. It was described as the drum beat that sets a district apart from others and within its framework a desire to create good citizens who are part of the community, said Farrington.

Mallory said, “We are better today at schooling than we have ever been, just to celebrate success is not significant, what is (significant), is going the next step and is a good sense of home, as they attend Elkin schools.”

When kids want to return to communities in which they grew up and studied and reinvest their time, talents and expertise, the district then has moved beyond success into a more encompassing view of significance that reflects the community in the approach, they explained.

Mallory said, “Districts are clinics,” and called their partnership with Elkin City Schools an opportunity to give back. Farrington and Mallory both knew Bledsoe from East Carolina University while he was earning his doctorate, and where Farrington was on the faculty at the time.

Farrington said building sustainable change is a necessity to become “a district of significance.” He told the board and those in attendance, “Your partnership with us is helping to train school leaders, principals and future superintendents through the next 20 years, it is a great win-win.” Meanwhile, “You have a great superintendent in the mix,” said Farrington referencing Bledsoe.

In the talk, the discussion centered on surrender, survival, success and significance being four markers found in communities that apply to education and administrators. The most desired stage is significance, which is going beyond test scores into areas of enrichment that transcend into the community.

Other work referenced, by Phillip Schlecty, was on the moral responsibility of leaders and administrators to build within schools a sense of belonging and citizenship, a gladness to be learning there, a feeling of community and a desire to return.

“If you are on the pathway to significance, you are leading cultural change,” said Mallory.

Bledsoe added, “Here are we connected with the community college and universities and creating an environment, where the student understands it is not just a school building but it is everybody in this community, that was one of our guiding purposes.”

Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.

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