Schools

South improvement plans approved

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NEW MARKET — As discussed at the district’s regular September meeting, Southmont’s overall school improvement plans were approved and adopted last week.

The plans include six main goals shared by every teacher, administrator and staff member throughout the district.

• Academic Achievement: Meet a 5% achievement and 5% growth increase on English language arts and math state-mandated assessments.

• Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum: Staff update curriculum maps, instructional calendars and common assessments as part of instructional planning for onsite and distance learning.

• Professional Development: The district will actively support the use of available technology, and professional development occurs for the integration of technology for onsite and distance learning.

• Connected Community: Staff ensures excellent communication with the community.

• Supportive Schools: Staff develop a culture of supportive relationships with all students.

• College and Career Ready: Southmont graduates 97% or more seniors with a Core 40 or more rigorous diploma.

Each goal comes complete with strategies and statistics, as laid out by several teachers, principals and administrators.

“We took a different approach than what we have in the past because of COVID-19 and all of the business and all of the mitigation required in the current situation,” Curriculum Coordinator Anna Roth said. “It was still collaborative and a back-and-forth process.”

A team of administrators met to discuss the benefits of common goals between buildings while developing the plans. Another focus of the team was to review.

“Most of the time you don’t seek to rapidly or drastically change goals from year to year, so we reviewed the goals we already had in place; there were some things that were changed,” Roth said.

All discussed how to achieve the common goals, beginning with Southmont Junior High Principal Kevin Wilkinson.

“We really want to improve on our ILEARN scores,” Wilkinson said. “We’ve really focused on remediation in the classroom — using the data to figure out which kids aren’t getting it and helping them. We have remediation courses as well for kids who need two or three intensive interventions. If they’re reading on a third-grade level, it’s really hard to present them seventh-grade material.”

High School Principal Jesse Burgess discussed Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum.

“Our hope is that by the end of the year all of our PLC (professional learning center) groups will have curriculum maps up and ready and up to date,” Burgess said. “But most importantly, what they’re really working on now — they’re developing a skill that they think is going to be something that they’ll need to know in school and post-school. They’re picking skills individually in the PLC process; they’re developing a road map that everybody in their PLC group can use, and then they will assess that throughout the year.”

New Market, Ladoga and Walnut principals Brittany Cooper, Sonna Schafer and Eric Brewer, respectively, spoke for the elementary schools, citing the use of enriching resources, transparency, college and career preparations, aligning strategic plans and identifying gaps in education as strategies to improve student achievement.

“These guys are amazing,” Superintendent Dr. Shawn Greiner said. “They are in the trenches. They have it coming at them from all angles, at all times. I applaud our principals.”

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