Listening to Dr. Anthony Jackson articulate his vision of what the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools should be, members of the Kiwanis Club of Rocky Mount were reviving their own memories of school days spent in classrooms, sitting in rows with the teacher in front doing most of the talking.
Everyone was in lock-step, learning the same things at the same time. How different it is now, according to Jackson, superintendent of the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. Jackson manages the operation of 29 schools, 2,100 employees and 16,000 students with the foremost objective of enabling those students to take advantage of options after they graduate, because most jobs in today’s market require training after high school.
Not only do students need to learn to read well, handle math proficiently and acquire knowledge, but they also must become thinkers who can use these skills and knowledge and apply what they have learned in real world situations. Ideally, high school should be a springboard to a lifetime of learning. Recent curriculum changes, such as the implementation of N.C. Common Core and Essential Standards, emphasize the importance of critical thinking. The new curriculum necessitates the training of teachers, the development of new instructional delivery strategies and ways of assessing achievement without doing excessive testing. Students have a chance to work together on projects and also to learn individually. Technology has made this possible.
Among the achievements of the past seven years are an increase in graduation rate from 62.1 percent to 76.6 percent, with another 10 percent succeeding with a little more time and support; a decrease in dropout rate by 3 percent; improved End of Grade scores; the establishment of Student, Parent and Teacher Advisory Committees; and access to student records through the use of a new parent portal system allowing parents to keep up with their students’ progress.
In addition to having excellent teachers, the district continues to focus on ensuring that schools are safe and orderly and that they are operating effectively and efficiently. As a result of this focus, all of the schools in the system are always locked, even when school is in session. Visitors sign in and out and all staff members are required to wear identification badges.
The district continues to emphasize good behavior and civility on the part of students. Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools rank 4th in the state among districts having between 10,000-25,000 students for having the fewest incidents of reportable misconduct.