Dr. Trina Wood, coordinator, curriculum and instruction for Cherokee County Schools, explained the process with a PowerPoint presentation during a recent meeting of the Cherokee County Board of Education.
“We are now seeking district accreditation, which means we either all fail together or we all succeed together and we are planning on succeeding,” said Dr. Wood.
“District accreditation is the national protocol for school systems committed to systemic, systematic and sustainable continual improvement,” said Dr. Wood.
“It builds the capacity of the system and its schools to increase and sustain student learning and it stimulates and supports improvement and effectiveness throughout the system.
“It ensures that all people, processes and departments and operations of the system are working concert and that is one big thing we are hopeful that comes from this process,” said Dr. Wood. “That we are all working toward one goal, that we are all working toward one vision that we don’t have schools that are out working for something separately and that we are all working toward one district goal.”
Dr. Wood said she sat in on the quality assurance review committee for Madison County as one of their advance education members this past January.
“It was a very intensive process,” said Dr. Wood. “I know many of you, especially if you have been in education and speak of accreditation at the school level, many times they get people who are from a neighboring school system to come and visit. You actually get to invite a lot of the people and so you know the people who are coming to visit you.”
“We are moving toward district accreditation,” said Dr. Wood.
“Half the team will be composed of people from outside of the state including retired superintendents, retired principals and higher education officials. You are talking about people coming from colleges who have a whole different perspective.”
“Half of the team will be composed of people from within the state,” said Dr. Wood.
“We will not know any of the people coming to accredit us and that is a good thing. It is going to give us a whole different perspective. It is a little unnerving if you think about it, but we think it is going to be a very good process and show us a lot of ways that we can improve.”
Dr. Wood along with System Supervisors Dr. Ann Dykes and Jayne Davis attended a training session in Tuscaloosa to learn more about the process and then composed a team to chair the seven standards upon which the system will be review as follows:
· Vision and Purpose-Jayne Davis
· Government and Leadership-Brian Johnson
· Teaching and Learning-Dr. Trina Wood
· Documenting and Using Results-Dr. Jimmy Myrick
· Resources and Support Systems-Robin Cunningham and Teresa Thompson
· Stakeholder Communications and Relationships-Dr. Ann Dykes
· Commitment to Continuous Improvement-Mitchell Guice
Over the next six months or so, each chairperson will make a presentation on his or her particular standard to the board.
When all is said and done, Dr. Wood said, “We will be accredited, accredited with advisement, accredited with warning or dropped. We sure don’t want to be in the drop level. Our goal is to be accredited across the board and we feel like we can do that.”
Dr. Wood concluded with a quote by Vince Lombardi, “When you cease getting better, you stop being good.”
“This is a growth process, to help us improve,” said Dr. Wood.
“I want to thank Dr. Wood, our supervisors and the board obviously knows the last few years, supervisors have retired and they have taken on additional duties,” said Brian Johnson, superintendent, Cherokee County Schools. “People may ask why are we doing something that we don’t have to do. Basically we want to make sure Cherokee County School System’s education we are offering our students is high quality.”
“I look at this a lot like we do an audit,” said Johnson. “We welcome the auditor in, we want to make sure we are doing the right thing and if there is something we are not doing that we could, we want to know about that. As we go through this process, that is where we want Cherokee County School System to be. This is a proactive way of looking at our system. Again, thanks to not only our supervisors, who are taking time out of their busy schedule, but also our administrators, our certified teachers, support personnel, that are taking time out of their busy schedule because they care about our system 100 percent. Again thanks to everyone involved in this process. At the end of the day, we are going to be a better system because of this. I am excited about it, looking forward to it.”
On a related matter, the board approved the Cherokee County School System Vision Statement, which reads as follows:
-“Cherokee County School System strives to provide all students with multiple quality educational opportunities designed to prepare them for success in this ever changing society.”
“We have met with our committee at each one of the schools,” said Davis. “After we got a basic statement, we sent it back to schools for editing, to add subtract. We got more suggestions from schools and staff and then came back together.”
“Some stated they wanted the vision statement to be short, simple so folks could remember because that is something they are going to be asked,” said Davis.