(Staff photo by Deanna Coronado )
According to Middle School Principal, Chad Morgan, the district has been participating in the University of Virginia School Turnaround Specialist Program, which is an intensive intervention and leadership development program designed to help teachers and administrators improve or "turn around" their failing or under-performing schools. Morgan said that the school was selected as an eligible district based on the fact that it was under school improvement for not meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).
According to its Web site (www.darden.virginia.edu), The University of Virginia School Turnaround Specialist Program is the "only school turnaround program in existence that utilizes a systemic approach to change by working with school districts, and in some cases, state-level leadership teams to help them build the internal capacity necessary to support and sustain effective school turnarounds."
The University of Virginia School Turnaround Specialist Program focuses on two components critical to successful and sustainable turnarounds:
* High-impact school leaders.
* The district capacity/conditions necessary to initiate, support and enhance transformational change.
Calling upon the most innovative thinking in business and education to address the challenges and needs of education leaders charged with turning around our nation's lowest-performing schools, the University of Virginia School Turnaround Specialist Program is one that educational leaders at Senath-Hornersville believe in, according to their report to the board.
Jerri Kay Hardy, academic coach and director of curriculum for the school district, explained that the turn around program works with education leaders, like herself and the teachers that attended, to identify key issues within the school based mostly on data and teacher feedback, and uses that information to create strategies based on those needs.
According to the University of Virginia School Turnaround Specialist Program, it recognizes that there is no one formula for turning around a low-performing school, but that it is able to achieve results by combining the type of executive education typically only received by top-level business leaders with ongoing support, resources and tools for school and district teams.
The University of Virginia (UVA) Curry School of Education, together with the Darden School of Business, implemented a School Turnaround Specialist Program in 2004 to improve low-performing K-12 schools in the state. Generally speaking, the nationally-recognized program is designed to ensure the principals and teachers participating receive support at the district- and school-level. Accordingly, participating school districts must form district- and school-level leadership teams to accompany the principal throughout the training process. This is what Senath-Hornersville has done, starting with the elementary and middle school level staff, with plans to bring the high school on board in the near future, according to Hardy.
Educator Sherry Harris, who has been with the district for approximately 23 years, said that the recent workshop attended in Virginia was the best she has participated in throughout her tenure. Other long-term teachers with the district shared the same sentiment, including Tonya Galyean, who said that she has participated in several improvement and professional development programs over the years, and that the University of Virginia's program is the best and most promising, by far.
According to the teachers and administrators, other neighboring schools that are also participating in the program include Kennett, Charleston, Caruthersville, and Hayti.
In total, the staff at Senath-Hornersville has made three trips to Virginia to attend trainings and seminars made available through the program, with one being canceled due to inclement weather. Morgan said that representatives from the program have also made numerous trips to the school, to further efforts for improvement.
The Board of Education learned on Tuesday, during executive session, that High School Principal Rich Thomas intends on resigning from his position, effective at the end of the school year. Thomas has only been employed with the district for one-year, serving during the 2010-2011 academic year. Following the board's acceptance of Thomas' letter of resignation, Superintendent Larry Wood indicated that the school would be looking within the district first for a replacement, before advertising outside the school.
Long-term educator, Dana Blankenship, who teaches Family and Consumer Sciences for the school, and has taught there for 31 years, submitted a letter to the board announcing her plans for retirement, which was read during the regular portion of the meeting. According to Blankenship, she will leave her position at the end of the school year. The board voted, during executive session, to replace Blankenship by moving educator Brooke Shrum from her current position in Spanish tutorial to the Family and Consumer Sciences role.
In new matters facing the district, the board accepted the Superintendent's proposed snow make-up days, which are as follows:
* February 21, 2011;
* April 22, 25, 2011, and;
* May 26, 27, 2011, with the 27th being the last day of school for students within the district.
Wood added that there is potential for the students to be released at a half-day status, depending on the data pertaining to inclement weather closings, as other schools have opted to do.
The board approved Wood to submit and application for summer school. Details will be provided on this issue, once they become available through the district.
In terms of miscellaneous matters, the board approved adding Emily Andrews to its substitute teacher list, and for Wood to being accepting bids for the removal of a building owned by the school and located across from the high school campus, which is in bad condition. The building is historically recognized by many Senath-Hornersville High School alumni as "Raymond Carroll's" the "Mom and Pop" grocery store, in which they hung out at before and after school began, purchasing snacks and sodas while visiting with fellow classmates.
* Some of the information in this article, pertaining to the school's involvement in the University of Virginia School Turnaround Specialist Program, was sourced from the program's Web site, www.darden.virginia.edu. Additional information was provided by the administration at Senath-Hornersville Public Schools.