LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams and top district administrators are visiting the district’s 17 schools and its support operations this week on a back-to-school tour designed to make sure the 1,300 employees “have all the information we have.”
The message from Williams is upbeat, showing the administration’s appreciation for the substantial work done during his tenure of more than two years, relating how that work has put LCPS on a course toward continuous improvement and pledging the support of the Central Services staff in the 2018-2019 school year.
On Monday, Williams, Associate Superintendent Frances Herring, Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II, Finance Director Eric Adams and Interim Human Resources Director Pam Heath followed an 8 a.m. stop at Kinston High School with a presentation to 100 staff members at Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School an hour later.
“They’re a lot of positive things happening in the district. We’re on the right path and we have to stay on that path,” CSS principal Rhonda Greene said, echoing the central point of the superintendent’s presentation.
As evidence of the district’s forward momentum, at each stop on the tour William cites data showing the graduation rate increasing, the dropout rate decreasing, the value of grant awards growing and the academic performance of students trending upward.
Although official results of state accountability testing from last spring won’t be released until next month, expectations are that LCPS will continue the dramatic improvement that last year won it statewide recognition and played a part in the Lenoir County Board of Education being honored with the School Board Leadership Award by the North Carolina School Boards Association.
To the teachers, administrators and staff at CSS, Williams stressed the need to stay true to the elements of the improvement plan put in place two years ago because they’re working.
“We’re not about test scores. We’re about helping children; that’s our passion. But sometimes test scores are how we’re evaluated,” he said.
After a week of professional development workshops that brought teachers back to work Aug. 13, schools are scheduling a mix of mandatory and optional workdays this week. Monday was mandatory at CSS and, Greene said, the staff was making the most of it.
“We’re celebrating some this morning. We’ve had breakfast together and introduced all our new staff,” the principal said. “Aside from celebrating, we’re looking at how we did (last school year), what our strengths are, where our weaknesses lay, what we’re going to focus on for the whole school year.”
Classes begin Monday.
Going into the new school year, Heath, a veteran of 40 years as a teacher and administrator with LCPS and now in her seventh interim role since retirement, offered the CSS staff an assurance authenticated by the fact that she’s been there.
“We’ve got your back,” she said. “We’re your biggest cheerleaders.”