Principals: Schools on target

Published 9:57 am Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Franklin City Public School Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle presents a gift package to Franklin High School Assistant Principal Jason Chandler. The principals were being recognized for Principals Week, which was Jan 5-11. -- CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

Franklin City Public School Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle presents a gift package to Franklin High School Assistant Principal Jason Chandler. The principals were being recognized for Principals Week, which was Jan 5-11. — CAIN MADDEN | TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—The administrators of S.P. Morton Elementary and J.P. King Middle schools have met – or will meet – with the Virginia Department of Education Office of School Improvement representatives regarding priority school status.

S.P. Morton Principal Dr. Debbie Harris Rollins said the elementary school is on track with what is expected of them as a Priority School, which is a school in the bottom 5 percent of the commonwealth’s schools, though there are some concerns, she added.

“We are on target with what the Virginia Department of Education requires,” she said to the Franklin City Public School Board last Thursday.

They have assessed 53 of 96 indicators, Harris Rollins said, but 37 of the 53 have not been fully met.

“We are creating tasks to show how to address those indicators,” she said. “There are 96 things that the state has roughly said, if these routine things are exercised with fidelity, you will have a successful school.”

Specifically, Harris Rollins cites lesson planning as one of the indicators they are working on.

She also said she was working meticulously to make sure that there is a 100 percent buy-in.

“If you have even one teacher in your school who is not doing that all the time, then that indicator is not fully implemented,” she said.

Harris Rollins said that teachers have bought in to the plan, and that she is proud of them.

Indicators are not the only concern, however, Harris Rollins said.

“We are getting ready for benchmark testing,” she said. “It is foremost in our minds.”

At J.P. King, which is also a Priority School, Principal Lisa Francis said her VDOE meeting would be rescheduled due to weather.

“Mainly what we are focused on is our special actions,” she said in a phone interview. “For J.P. King, it is mostly professional development. I feel good — we are moving in the right direction.

“The biggest thing with the state is making sure that what is written, is what is being taught, and then making sure that it is aligned.”

Regarding improving lesson plans, Francis said they had the first round of fine-tuning them last week.

“What the teachers brought back from the break was great,” she said, as the teachers were asked to revise their plans, after receiving an opportunity to see what a lesson plan should look like. “We are building on those, and meeting weekly.”

She said the lessons are rigorous, and that they are going in the right direction.

“I know J.P. King will do great things,” she said.

Francis added that the teachers are working hard, and that the students are buying in.

“I want to give the teachers credit,” she said. “They are truly the hardest working staff that I have ever worked with.

“The kids are vested in learning, and they want to do well, and they want J.P. King to do well.”

Testing was the topic at Franklin High School, said Principal Travis Felts, as the school had recently had Standards of Learning testing.

“We had positive early results,” he reported. “Including two perfect scores — World History 1 and Geometry.”

Leading up to the test, Felts said they bumped up the dedication, including an hour of tutoring for students, and a Saturday SOL Academy, where 83 students attended.

Felts said that was 28 percent of the student population, and that it was the highest number of students to ever to attend the academy.

“I want to thank the Franklin High School teachers for being the most dedicated and caring group of teachers,” he said. “If you see a Franklin High School teacher, thank them. They’ve worked hard. A lot of them will see the fruits, once testing is done and we can report the official results.”

Felts was also positive about the future.

“It is still our goal to achieve full accreditation, and that is an attainable goal,” he said. “We’re still in the running for it.”

The principals were also active participants in Bully Prevention Month, which is January.

At S.P. Morton, they will have a presentation, and they also launched an anti-bullying poster contest, where the students emphasized three rules: be safe, respectful and responsible.

At J.P. King, students pledged to not bully, and they started with a group of sixth-grade girls, which Francis said needed some extra TLC.

To build good character, starting with those girls, guidance counselor Meta Stratton, will talk about how to be a good student and how to be good in the community. Next month, Francis said, she will start working with sixth-grade boys.

“It is a good way to start building relationships with the students,” she said. “They are interested in it, and they have embraced (Stratton).”

At Franklin High School, the students signed a pledge and received red bracelets. Felts added that homeroom teachers, freshman seminar, health and physical education classes and student tutoring also had guidance topics that included bullying.

In other news, the principals and assistant principals were honored by Supt. Dr. Michelle Belle, as part of Principal Appreciation Week, which was Jan. 5-11.