School leaders make New Year’s resolutions

By Wendy Byerly Wood -

The core team members for Elkin City Schools have created New Year’s resolutions to help guide them toward meeting identified opportunities for improvement.

“When I came on board in December, I had a couple of weeks before winter break, so I met individually with the core team members — the directors and principals and assistant principals — to get to know them and see what they feel are strengths and opportunities for improvement,” explained Superintendent Dr. Myra Cox of where the activity of making resolutions originated.

She said at her first core team meeting of 2017 in January, she shared with the entire group the strengths which were mentioned and celebrated those. The main focus of the meeting though was looking at the opportunities for improvement and brainstorming ideas collaboratively of what could be done to reach those improvements.

“I asked them to write down a New Year’s resolution and specifically look at the opportunities for improvement and where they fit in with their role and how they could address them,” Cox said. “It turned out to be a very impactful activity.”

The focus for the core team members is on the 4 Cs, the same 4 Cs the school system uses in the classroom — communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity. “I told the core team I want us to model the 4 Cs and tie that back to that New Year’s resolution. When trying to solve a problem, are you thinking critically, are you communicating, are you collaborating, are you being creative?”

Cox said that each month, she will recognize one core team member working on solving a problem and working toward an opportunity for improvement by using one of those 4Cs, and she’ll call it “C Who’s in the Spotlight.” The team member will be highlighted on the school system’s website with a note about which of the 4 Cs the person modeled.

“We also are aligning all those opportunities for improvement with the district’s five strategic goals, so we can talk about the strategies and steps we are taking to meet those,” said Cox.

The five strategic goals are aligned with the State Board of Education’s goals.

• The first state goal is, North Carolina public schools will produce globally competitive students. In Elkin, the goal is, by 2018, all students will be educated through a STEAM-focused curriculum that engages students holistically across the disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

• State goal two is, North Carolina public schools will be led by 21st Century professionals. In Elkin, the goal is, every educational professional will use a comprehensive balanced assessment system to inform instruction and measure student growth and the progression of learning. Formative and summative assessment systems available may include EVAAS, mClass, ClassScape, SMARTER Balanced Assessments, and End-of-Grade/End-of-Course tests.

• The third state goal is, North Carolina public school students will be healthy and responsible. In Elkin, Elkin City Schools will provide a safe and healthy environment where students are empowered to make positive decisions on physical and mental health, leadership development skills, and service opportunities (develop connectivity to the community and world) to ensure success in the 21st Century.

• State goal four is, Leadership will guide innovation in North Carolina public schools. In Elkin, the goal is, involve internal and external audiences in order to transform student learning and student successes; expose students to a variety of skill-sets and career choices while preparing them for a high-skilled, service economy that is driven by information, knowledge and innovation.

• The state’s fifth goal is, North Carolina public schools will be governed and supported by 21st Century systems. In Elkin, Elkin City Schools will promote student learning utilizing various avenues of technology as a means of integration and to ensure meaningful application of learning for success in the 21st Century.

During the second semester of this school year, Cox said the core team will revisit the strategic plan and monitor the system’s steps toward completion of these goals.

Her personal goal, as a new superintendent, is to “just continue to listen and learn and do more as I learn more,” said Cox. “I intend to fully involve teachers, parents and the community in the future plans for the system, and we’ll put together committees and advisory boards to help.”

A third goal Cox wants to aim for is building relationships with community and business partners. “I want the school staff to create opportunities for the students to participate in activities that impact our communities and surrounding areas,” she said. “I think it is vitally important what we do as educators impacts what students want to do in their lives.”

She plans to continue working with Surry Community College and partnering with them more to increase students’ opportunities at The Elkin Center as well as on the Dobson campus or through hybrid classes so that the school system helps meet the needs that are essential for the workforce.

Upon recently meeting with the student council representatives at Elkin Elementary and Elkin Middle schools, Cox said she was impressed with the work those groups are doing to support community organizations through food drive, blood drives, cheering up residents at area nursing homes and raising money for groups like the ARK, the Ronald McDonald House and the schools’ technology needs.

“I asked the students what advise they have for me as a superintendent,” Cox said. “At the elementary school, they told me to get to know the kids, be visible and get in the classrooms. At the middle school, they said to stay true to myself and don’t let others control me, and to enjoy it and have fun being superintendent.”

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

By Wendy Byerly Wood

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