Shelby County School Leaders Celebrate Excellence at Annual Meeting

Fuller at Celebrating Excellence meeting photoSuperintendent Randy Fuller addresses Board of Education members and district leaders during the annual Celebrating Excellence meeting.

Since the implementation of the Shelby County School District’s strategic planning process 11 years ago, Superintendent Randy Fuller estimates that over 600 goals in the 12 strategic areas have been met. Fuller joined district leaders and board members on Thursday, September 21 at the annual Celebrating Excellence meeting to highlight the latest accomplishments from the 2016-2017 Strategic Plan and to preview Goal Action Plans that have been developed by the various strategic leadership teams for next year.

Along with celebrating the success of the strategic planning process, Fuller also shared the other three components of the organizational vision for the district, which he refers to as the four “Engines that Drive Our System.”  The other components include Continuous School Improvement (CSI), Leadership Development, and Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.

Dana Martin, School Improvement and Federal Programs Supervisor, said the district’s local indicator for state accountability purposes was to increase the number of student-led conferences because it fosters students’ leadership skills and encourages them to take responsibility for their own learning.  During the 2016-2017 school year, 30 percent of all students in Shelby County participated in a student-led conference, which helped every school in the district receive 100 points for the local indicator on the state’s A-F Report Card. Earning those points, in turn, helped the school district earn an A on the state report card – the only county school district in the state to do so.

This year, the state has added a program review to their accountability model. For schools without a 12th grade (elementary, intermediate, and middle) the objective is to improve family engagement in innovative ways. The district plans to meet this objective by implementing the Shelby County Parent Connection “Shelby Talk” blog and hosting two virtual events in September 2017 and January 2018. The topics discussed on the blog will be student assessment and curriculum and instruction. Parents will be able to view a record presentation and then post comments and questions on the blog during the virtual event. Instructional staff will review the questions and respond with answers.

For schools with a 12th grade (high schools), the program review objective is student advocacy.  The district plans to meet this objective with the development of the LEAD Program, which was overseen by Kim Bailey, Counseling and Testing Supervisor. Through the LEAD Program, every student is assigned an adult advocate.

Under the Continuous School Improvement process, Martin said the district will shift to the Scantron Performance Series as the state-required assessment and data from this assessment will now be used by the Alabama State Department of Education to determine improvement and accountability results.  However, Shelby County schools will also continue to use ACT Interim Assessments to drive instructional decisions. The two data days which were built into the current school calendar will be used to analyze data from both sources to improve student achievement.

Dr. Lynn Carroll addressing board photo

Dr. Lynn Carroll, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, gives an overview of the accomplishments in the area of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment.

Dr. Lynn Carroll, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, shared an overview of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment, which Fuller considers to be the core business of the district.

“This is what we do,” Fuller said to the district leaders and board members who were present. “This isn’t replicated anywhere else.  We make the extra effort and I want to commend you.  This is by design and it is intentional. Sticking to our roadmap is what makes us successful.”

Dr. Carroll said the instructional team is always looking at the district’s vision of “being a model of excellence” as their motivation.

“Our instructional team is a model of excellence,” Dr. Carroll said. “We want to always be looking at our processes and improving.”

She explained to the board that Shelby County students had shown great progress with ACT Aspire, the assessment just phased out by the state. She credited the hard work of the instructional team, instructional coaches, teachers and administrators in helping students rise to those higher standards. The ACT Aspire Interim Assessments were also a great tool in helping to provide real-time data on students, which is one reason why the district will be continuing to use it despite the state’s decision to switch to a different assessment. 

Dr. Caroll’s praise of the ACT Aspire Interim Assessment was echoed by High School Coordinator Jay Peoples, who said as a former high school principal, he used to be frustrated that the testing data for students was not current.  Administrators would have to wait for the data to be released months after the assessment was given, which was not beneficial to some students, especially seniors. With the interim assessment data, students and administrators are able to get a current, real-time snapshot of a student’s progress and use that data to drive instructional needs.

“This gives teachers real-time data on actual students, not passed students who have already moved on,” People shared. “I am grateful for the substantial commitment that the board has made in this area. It gives us a much sharper instrument to use. Instead of a chainsaw, we now have a scalpel.”

Dr. Leah Anne Wood, Coordinator of Strategic Planning and Leadership Development, shared the district’s efforts toward developing its own leaders through programs like the Administrative Residency Program, which is helping to train new administrators, and Teacher Leadership Academy, which is training teacher leaders who are aspiring to become future administrators.  

Dr. Wood said most of the principals and assistant principals jobs which have been filled by the board in the past two years have been products of these two programs.

Each of the 12 Strategic Leadership Team chairs also presented a list of their accomplishments for the 2016-2017 year.  Those accomplishments included:

Communication:

  • Designed a template for website with links to teacher email, Google Classroom, and blog sites
  • Hosted annual Showcase of Schools event attended by more than 250 community leaders.  
  • Implemented three one-day hashtag social media campaigns (#shelbyfirstday, #shelbyoneday, and #shelbyseniors17)
  • Implemented #journeyshaper campaign
  • Purchased Blackboard Social Media Manager
  • Began the Social Media Ambassadors program

Community Partnerships:

  • Held PTO Forum on January 25, 2017.  
  • Enhanced skills preparation and fostered college and career-readiness through the following:
    • Presented Communication Matters interactive program in each high school to 11th-grade students
    • Partnered with University of Montevallo to implement “Soft Skills in Action”
    • Developed pilot program at Calera High and Montevallo High called “Leaders Building Leaders”

Continuous Improvement:

  • Expanded Engaging Elementary Engineers (E3) with increased participation from community partners like Honda.  Students had the opportunity to experience engaging STEM activities to nurture and improve college and career readiness
  • Increased the number of problem-solving and critical thinking competitions for all students such as Jr. United Nations Assembly for middle schools, United Nations in high schools and robotics for all grade levels
  • Administered interim assessments in all schools for students in grades 3-10.  Scheduled data meetings to analyze interim data to inform instructional practice in all schools
  • Held zone data meetings to frontload ACT Aspire summative data to be used for continued school improvement.  Modeled the use of the Data Dashboard to analyze several different data sources
  • Refined the CSI walkthrough process allowing for individualized focus based on school needs.
  • Successfully continued to increase the number of student-led conferences for our Local Indicator 
  • Thirty percent of all Shelby County students participated in a student-led conference

Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment:

  • Implemented Aspire Interim assessments and analyzed data in order to guide instruction
  • Utilized coaching teams in all K-8 schools to provide targeted, job-embedded professional development
  • Refined professional learning communities at all grade levels (up to and including building leaders) to ensure faithful delivery of the Instructional Framework
  • Deepened implementation of standards-based learning targets, both short and long-term
  • Developed a process for screening, identifying, and supporting students with characteristics of dyslexia

Facilities:

  • Conducted four Capital Plan meetings throughout 2016-2017 to develop and update progress on existing plan and identify needs for the future
  • Refined budgeting process to identify and focus on specific needs in addition to general maintenance
  • Conducted regular training sessions with local school maintenance technicians and custodial personnel for asbestos training and compliance training sessions.  Also included were instruction in work order requests and awareness of maintenance needs
  • Continued to evaluate performance through computerized maintenance manager system (School Dude) in regards to work orders complete, man-hours and cost

Governance and Leadership:

  • Implemented and evaluated the Strategic Plan
  • Held annual “Celebrating Shelby County Successes” meeting on September 22, 2016
  • Held two Board retreats in November 2016 and May 2017
  • Provided new principal financial training on September 15, 2016
  • Met with nine teachers ready to begin their administrative residency
  • Assigned mentors for all new principals and assistant principals
  • Designed and implemented the Teacher Leadership Academy

Human Resources:

  • Developed the Leadership Effectiveness evaluation process for school leaders and aligned it to the new online platform through TalentEd PERFORM
  • Implemented the Educator Effectiveness evaluation model for teachers and provided online training of TalentEd PERFORM
  • Provided a mandatory open enrollment for Shelby County benefits.  Employees were encouraged to view their benefits.
  • Evaluated Lincoln Financial Group and completed the RFP.  Employees were surveyed to gauge what qualities they were interested in as a representative for supplemental retirement
  • Purchased Record, a process management solutions program with People Admin.  Record is a record-keeping digital file cabinet that will keep all of our district’s personnel records

Learning Supports:

  • Implemented Why Try program at pilot sites – New Direction and the Linda Nolen Learning Center, and with students in self-contained units
    • Recidivism rate for students at New Direction was less than five percent, lower than in past years
  • Transition – Career Technical Educational Center (CTEC), Success Program, New Direction
    • Exit portfolios for Success students, students met with career coach in planning for college/career
    • New Direction students completed Student Playbook for Success – Student-Led Conferences, Playbook will be presented at re-entry conference
    • CTEC – mock interviews with Chamber of Commerce members
  • Immigrant Parent Education – Family Engagement
    • Conducted parenting sessions on using INOW in partnership with the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (HICA)
    • Held a Health Fair in the Calera community
  • Held Young Adult in Transition (YAIT) meeting at American Village
  • SC Transition team completed a Transition Summit, 2nd annual Parent/Student High School Information Seminar, and three transition meetings
  • Community Partnership with University of Montevallo to develop a new program called Falcons Integration through Education, Leadership, and Discovery (FIELD) which will be implemented during the 2017-2018 school year 

Professional Learning:

  • Provided an entire day of professional development for those new to the profession
  • Created mentor website with multiple resources
  • Assigned and trained mentors for each new teacher
  • Provided monthly breakout sessions for administrators to discuss specialized topics
  • Planned specific professional development for PE and special area teachers at the Summit
  • Encouraged teachers to pursue National Board Certification (NBCT)
  • Recognized NBCT at the Teacher of the Year program with a plaque
  • Conducted an NBCT conference

Safety and Discipline:

  • Provided topic-specific training each month to assistant principals throughout the school year
  • Supported the on-going safety needs of local schools in the district
  • Addressed the mental health needs of our at-risk students (who are without insurance coverage) by contracting with a mental health counseling provider and assisting the parent in securing insurance coverage for their child
  • Provided parent resource classes to parents whose children were attending the New Direction Alternative School program

Support Operations:

  • Developed spreadsheets to track utility usage by square foot of facility.  Evaluated data by school to identify areas of improvement
  • Utilized Child Nutrition Program software to identify allergens in recipes and a la carte items.  Identified students who have known allergens to verify/question chosen menu items
  • Provided My School Bucks accounts to staff to allow prepaid school lunch purchasing
  • Developed processes to identify number of students per route to alleviate delays and overcrowding in high growth areas

 

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