“I’m most proud of the fact that it’s a total community plan,” said Superintendent of Ashe County Schools Travis Reeves. “More than 80 people contributed to the plan, and we’ve included some great ideas.”
The plan highlights six areas of priority designed to create globally competitive students, attract innovative teachers and support staff, help students become healthy and responsible, promote a collaborative environment among parents, students and the community, place an emphasis on the use of new technology, and streamline operations.
Reeves said the steering committee, comprised of Ashe County Schools staff, Board of Education members, principals, teachers, students, and community partners, diligently outlined the plan’s six goal areas.
“A lot of thought went into this. The steering committee took their jobs very seriously,” said Reeves.
Once these six areas were identified, each priority was broken down into action planning teams made up of subject matter experts.
“These were very diverse groups,” said Reeves. “They brought a lot of different knowledge to the table.”
Globally competitive 21st century students: “The Ashe County School System is committed to preparing students to be globally competitive in grades Pre-K through 12. Students must be challenged to exceed their expectations and must be ready to be successful in this competitive environment.”
In part, this means balancing literacy across the curriculum by implementing writing across the curriculum, integrating technology and literacy, and assessing student literacy progress by implementing quarterly benchmarks.
Academic rigor will also be stressed by the exploration of implementing a graduation project for high school seniors, increasing the number of students who graduate with college credits (earned through Advanced Placement courses), and increasing the number of students taking advantage of dual enrollment courses.
Accountability and evaluation are also made a priority in the new plan. Eventually, students will complete their testing requirements online by 2014, versus marking answers on a bubble sheet.
Innovative 21st century professionals: “Ashe County Schools will recruit and retain highly qualified professionals to teach and model 21st century skills for our children.” Continue to attract, employ and retain highly qualified and informed staff who are motivated to effect long-term achievement. Meet the No Child Left Behind highly qualified criteria determined by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction licensure department. Provide high quality instruction in every classroom by utilizing instructional methods to address various learning needs, eliminating achievement gaps and engaging all learners.
Healthy and Responsible 21st century students: “Ashe County Schools will provide a learning environment that is healthy, inviting, respectful, supportive, inclusive and flexible for student success.” Improve the health and wellness of students and personnel. Provide a safe, orderly environment for all students and employees. Support access to nutritious foods/beverages that meet/exceed national standards for all students and employees.
Collaborative Community, Student, and Parent Involvement:“Ashe County Schools will promote a collaborative spirit as we partner with parents, students, community members, businesses, faith-based organizations, civic organizations and others to impact student success.”
“The support we get from area churches, businesses, and government is what makes us so successful,” said Reeves. “That community spirit is what makes Ashe County tick. It’s really a unique living and working environment.”
Transformational Technology: “As 21st century students and professionals, it is important for Ashe County Schools to integrate technologies in the classroom, school and central office on a daily basis.” This means, in part, to utilize and provide software, hardware, and cloud applications to support and enhance 21st century teaching and learning, maintain and enhance infrastructure and instructional technology support, and explore equitable access to personal teaching and learning devices.
Optimal operations:“As stewards of taxpayer dollars, Ashe County Schools must insure that every aspect of its operations aligns with all district-wide initiatives to provide quality 21st Century Schools and academic excellence. Ashe County Schools will strive to ensure its business and district operations focus on maximizing these resources for student achievement.”
Goals include increasing efforts to become more energy efficient as measured by cost savings, developing a plan to increase program efficiency in transportation, and review, restructure, and reorganize technology services to better support the ongoing operation of schools and the district.
“It took six months to work out this plan,” said Reeves. “But it was necessary; our students deserve the very best education we can give them, and we think outlining and focusing on these areas will help us do that.”