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School board mulls improvement plans

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Edgecombe County Board of Education held a board retreat Monday in the meeting rooms of a Rocky Mount hotel.

During the full-day retreat at the Country Inn and Suites, board members discussed a wide range of issues related to plans to improve the school district’s academic performance and its operations. Among the items discussed was the school district’s new Curriculum and Instructional Support Services plan created by the district’s newest assistant superintendent, Dr. Stacy Stewart.

The plan, which is designed to improve teacher and administrative performance and make the best use of the district’s educational resources, focuses on six areas of concentration: communication; professional development of teachers, administrators and staff; supports to principals, teachers and students; and evaluation of the use of school funding. Stewart has set up a system of evaluations of teachers and administrators with specific suggestions as to how they can perform more effectively.

School board members were enthusiastic about the plan that Stewart has implemented since she was hired in November.

“The beauty of this plan is that everyone is working together,” said school board member Evelyn Johnson. “Everybody is accountable and everybody is working with everyone else and is getting everything they need to succeed.”

School board member Raymond Privott thanked Stewart for her hard work.

“Most people want to do right but just don’t know how. You have laid this out for them,” Privott said. “They will have the how and the what and know where to go for answers. Change will not come overnight — but we did not fall in the ditch overnight, either.”

School board member William Ellis said he thought the plan would be especially beneficial considering the relative inexperience of many of the teachers.

“We have a fairly young staff and group of administrators, so this level of support will be very helpful for them,” Ellis said.

The school board also discussed a planned trip to Washington, D.C., to visit the Van Ness Elementary School and another high school in the area in order to fuel ideas for innovations to Edgecombe County Public Schools. Members of the school board and some teachers and administrators will visit the school in April during the school district’s spring break. The cost of the trip will be financed though a $25,000 grant award to the district.

“Some of the ideas used at the school are not new, but they have been used in a way that has helped transform that district and I think they would have value here,” said Superintendent Valerie Bridges.

Johnson agreed after watching a brief video about the school.

“We need to make our schools more like a home where students can feel safe and loved,” Johnson said. “We need to hear their voices and give them choices, because that is how they learn.”

The afternoon sessions focused on school board training offered by Allison Schafer, legal counsel and director of policy for the N.C. School Board Association, and by Ramona Miller, director of board development and technology for the same organization. The training sessions focused on discussions of the legal duties and responsibilities of the board, effective governance and board operating protocols.

The Edgecombe County Board of Education plans to hold more retreats in the future, school board Chairwoman Evelyn Wilson said. The next retreat will be planned for the summer.

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