Issuu on Google+


SCASA STAFF Molly Spearman Executive Director

FEATURES

5

Lucy Beckham named 2010 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year!

7

Leadership for Blended Online Learning: Lessons from Dorchester Two By Joe Flora, Jeff Allen, Michelle Arnett & Kelly Purvis

12

Child Sexual Abuse: This is a School Leadership Issue By Dr. Mark W. Mitchell

17

Economically Efficient and Educationally Effective Best Practices in Tough Times: St. James-Gaillard Elementary Tops the Charts By Jesulon S. R. Gibbs, J.D., Ph.D.

23

Forging Systemic Change: The Accelerated Learning School Model By Dr. Valerie Truesdale & Mary Seamon

26

Two Heads Are Better Than One By Linda Hutchinson, Ph.D. & Sylvia Echols, M.A.T.

Mrs. Nancy J. Gregory President-Elect

30

Leading from Within: Developing Teacher Leaders By Ginger Catoe & Betsy Long

Mr. John E. Tindal Past President

36

“Walk One World”: Developing Healthy Habits While Incorporating Education, Community and Mentoring Into One Program By: Jacqueline L. Wheeler

40

School Leadership Combats Effects of Recession By Laura Gardner

42

Allendale-Fairfax Middle School Tigers: Using MAP To Raise Achievement By Brian Newsome

43

Managing Stress in Today’s Workplace By Mike Linebaugh

46

Touching Hearts, Educating Minds - Connecting With Students By Janice Keller

51

Building a New School? Plan Early and Maintain Focus to Finish Strong By Bill Laughlin, AIA

54

Perception is Not Always the Reality When Assessing a School’s Performance By Joshua L. Patterson

58

Leadership – Charting The Course For Success In Uncertain Waters By Dr. Rainey Knight, Dr. B. Jane Hursey & Audrey Childers

Hannah Hopkins Director of Meeting Planning and Training Jay Welch Director of Finance and Technology Beth Phibbs Director of Governmental Affairs Sandy Burton Administrative Assistant/Membership Coordinator

SCASA BOARD Dr. Joanne Avery President

Dr. Zona Jefferson Dr. Everette M. Dean Jr. Mr. Marion D. Waters Mr. Louis E. Lavely Jr. Mr. Rodney Graves Mr. Daniel H. Matthews Ms. Marissa P. Vickers Ms. Christina Melton Mr. Jerome A. Hudson Dr. Marian A. Crum-Mack Ms. Sandy Andrews Mrs. Nancy O. Verburg Mr. Mike Mahaffey Mr. Randall Vaughn Mrs. Marelyn H. Murdaugh Mrs. Teresa O. Hinnant Dr. Jeffrey R. Wilson Dr. David W. Blackmon Dr. Mark Mitchell Mr. Chris Christiansen Mrs. Molly M. Spearman The Palmetto Administrator is published annually by the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, 121 Westpark Blvd., Columbia, SC 29210, (803) 798-8380 http://www.scasa.org.

DEPARTMENTS

Send address changes to Sandy@scasa.org. Advertising information and contributors’ information are available online. Publication Policy: Articles should be written in an informal, conversational style, where treatment of the topic is interesting, insightful and based on the writer’s experience. The editor encourages the use of charts, photos and other artwork. To be considered for publication, articles should be submitted electronically, preferably in MSWord, using one-inch margins. The cover page should show the author’s name, position and complete contact information. The article’s working title and a one or two sentence summary should appear on the title page. Submit article proposals or completed articles for consideration to the Managing Editor, Hannah Hopkins, hannah@scasa.org. Articles submitted to Palmetto Administrator may be edited for style, content, and space before publication. Articles may not be reproduced without consent of the publisher.

5

A Message From The Executive Director No Time to Rest on Our Laurels / Are You the Next Mary Gordon Ellis? By Molly Spearman

6

A Message From The President - A Call To Action! By Joanne S. Avery, Ph.D.

63

2009 PHOTO CONTEST

66

SCASA BUSINESS AFFILIATES


A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR No Time to Rest on Our Laurels / Are You the Next Mary Gordon Ellis? By Molly Spearman

S

CASA has had a tremendous year thanks to the work of our members, staff, and education friends. Despite the economic downturn, our members were united and we were able to impact not only education policy, but state history. In an unprecedented ruling, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued a writ mandamus to Governor Mark Sanford forcing him to abide by legislation passed in the General Assembly, and to request $700 million dollars of federal stimulus funding. This meant jobs could be recovered, programs enhanced, and desperately needed aid to education, law enforcement, and other public agencies in our state. Thanks to the brilliant work of our friends and Childs and Halligan, the correct message was argued before the court and a swift and historic ruling was handed down. The justices quoted the arguments of the “SCASA versus Sanford” case and used it as the basis for their judgment. Recently, our members have been focused on the implementation

of the new Palmetto Assessment of State Standards (PASS). Working with the staff at the State Department of Education and the Education Oversight Committee, we have focused on being unified in the recommendations sent to the EOC on this very complex and important proceedings. Special thanks to Debbie Hamm, Debbie Elmore, and other SCASA members who have spent many hours working together. Now, another issue is before us - making certain that the voice of educators is united and heard during the upcoming elections. We must encourage pro-public education candidates to offer for election. We must support these candidates by giving good information, sharing our time and energy to assist in campaigns, and in helping financially. We must be registered to vote….and we must vote! Even though the 2010 elections are months away, the filing for candidates will be in February and March, so we need to get active now! Educators make outstanding policy makers! Did you know that the first woman elected to the South Carolina State Senate was a former teacher and superintendent in Jasper County Schools? Mary Gordon Ellis was elected in 1928 and ran because she was upset over funding for local schools. Sound familiar? We need that kind of dedication and enthusiasm today! Perhaps you will be the next educator candidate… or you may encourage someone to get involved!

Lucy Beckham named 2010 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year!

Lucy Beckham receiving award from MetLife and NASSP.

Dr. Nancy McGinley, Superintendent of Charleston County Schools; Honorable Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education; Lucy Beckham, 2010 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year

Lucy Beckham, Principal of Wando High School in Charleston County, was named the 2010 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year on September 28. She was recognized in Washington D.C. by MetLife and NASSP and spoke on Capitol Hill before Congressional members and staffers. We are very proud that a SCASA member is the 2010 MetLife/NASSP National Principal of the Year!

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 5


A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT

A Call to Action! By: Joanne S. Avery, Ph.D.

The past few months have been an exciting reminder of the great work that is happening in public schools in South Carolina. In a moment of determination, Ty’Sheoma Bethea reminded us all just how powerful one voice can be. The rising 9th grader at J.V. Junior High School made it clear to South Carolina and the nation that all children deserve access to a high quality education. Her small but steady voice echoed through the halls of Capital Hill and the White House, “We are not quitters.” She put a face and a place to the terrible inequities that exist in our country. Her voice triggered a series of events that are changing the landscape of public education in South Carolina. Darryl Rosser, president and CEO of Sagus International, was so moved by Ty’Sheoma’s plea that he made possible the generous gift of new student desks, furniture, and fresh paint to J.V. Martin . The engagement of Mr. Rosser and Sagus International did not stop with their wonderful gift. In July, Mr. Rosser teamed up with our State Superintendent, Jim Rex, to co-sponsor a groundbreaking symposium focused on creating the 21st Century Educational Campus. The attendees’ mission was to create a framework that will transform schools like J.V. Martin into exemplary prototypes of what public education can be in the future. Experts from around the nation explored design components for a 21st century learning environment. Changing technologies, flexible learning environments, green facility designs, and health and human services were key components of the redesign blueprint. The work of this group is two-fold. First, determine what a newly constructed school of the future should look like. And second, determine how we can redesign existing schools so that they meet future needs. The new J.V. Martin High School will serve as the prototype for new construction of an Inside-Out Center for Learning (IOCL). Existing IOCLs at Nevitt Forest Elementary School in Anderson Five and Forts Pond Elementary School in Lexington One are serving as models for the redesign effort. Two additional IOCLs are being considered as part of this project. The IOCL project was initiated in partnership with the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future and the KnowledgeWorks Foundation about a year ago. The IOCLs bring the world and community into the classroom through technology and recasting the school day and calendar, making learning a “24/7” experience for all learners. The centers use team teaching, community schooling, extended learning time and other dif6 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

ferent approaches including looping, where the teacher moves from one grade level to the next along with his or her class. In addition, medical, mental health and dental services would be provided to children and their families. Creators said the idea was to turn the school “inside out” so that there was a seamless flow of community resources into the building and, in turn, the community is invited to share school resources. Ultimately, the IOCL would serve as a model of integrated, cost-effective educational services that lead to higher student achievement, higher teacher quality, recruitment and retention, and increased community/parental satisfaction. As educators, we know we now live in an age of connectedness. Our students, new teacher graduates, and young parents understand that the “world is a keystroke away” as stated by David Houle, author of The Shift Age. This millennial generation is collective in nature, prefers collaboration, and has elevated multi-tasking to high speed. So too must our schools change and provide for their current customer. True team teaching, project-based learning targeting innovation and creativity, multiple instructional platforms, and invasive community and global partnerships must be the building blocks. Our business partners are coming to the table as well. Michelin North America announced in August their Michelin Challenge Education initiative that will connect 8000 Michelin employees with eight elementary schools in South Carolina. The vision of Dick Wilkerson, CEO and President of Michelin, is simple, yet powerful. “Our employees will provide human capital investment, the time, effort and heart, to improve public education. South Carolina is our home and these are our children. The elementary school students of today are our colleagues tomorrow, and we want them to be prepared to meet the challenges on the horizon.” It is often stated that education is the bedrock of our society’s future. In South Carolina, these words couldn’t be truer. Our efforts demonstrate that we are not complacent with having poorly ranked schools, nor the 3rd highest unemployment rate in the nation. We have shown, through our victorious law suit over stimulus funds, that we can change the course of history for public education and for all children in our great state. I applaud your commitment to doing whatever it takes to embrace every generation we serve. As an organization, we must use our strength to continue to fuel the evolution of public education in our state. Equal access to a high quality education for Ty’Sheoma and her peers isn’t just a motto; it is a call to action for all of us. That call rests in our collective consciousness for getting the answers right and acting in the best interest of all our children.


Leadership for Blended Online Learning: Lessons from Dorchester Two By: Joe Flora, Jeff Allen, Michelle Arnett & Kelly Purvis

John Smith, an incoming 11th grader at Ashley Ridge High School in Summerville, SC, had failed three courses over the previous year. His prospects for graduating were dismal. But John received a second chance at success after being assigned to a credit recovery lab where an online self-paced program, Apex Learning, was installed at the start of the school year. Before long, John was “on fire,” according to his teachers. He recovered three classes and completed one course for “initial credit.” In addition to the lab work John did during regular school hours, he worked at home, in the evenings, and on weekends. As a result

of his astounding success, John returned to the traditional school program for the second semester. Seven years ago, the Dorchester Two school district was a straggler in terms of adopting technology for school improvement. Superintendent Joe Pye was determined to change that. He set forth an ambitious goal, given that Dorchester enjoys only a moderate residential tax base and was challenged by an influx of at-risk students. Moreover, the district’s conservative culture and traditional educational philosophy opposed radical innova-

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 7


tion. Yet the needs were clear: An unacceptable deterioration of the district graduation rate highlighted the need for substantial interventions. Despite the obstacles, the district invested heavily in several new programs, including online instruction such as Waterford in elementary schools, Compass Learning products in elementary and middle schools, and the Apex Learning program at the three high schools. In the spring of 2008, Dorchester administrators and teacher leaders began to search for a new approach to improving the high school graduation rate. After visits to other schools in South Carolina and talks with several vendors, a teacher leadership team at the district’s two high schools recommended the Apex Learning system to district administrators and crafted a plan designed to use the technology to help raise student retention rates. After the superintendent’s approval, teacher volunteers were trained in the technology and during the summer of 2008, a pilot program was implemented for 8th grade summer remediation. The pilot program proved successful, offering true differentiated instruction to students. Students worked on individualized study plans at their own pace, enabling the traditional summer remediation program to become student-centered. The Apex blended online program offers a series of cascading interventions designed to identify students at the point of failure and apply corrective measures. The technology provides for online, differentiated, self-paced learning that can occur in a variety of settings within and outside school. The following components were initiated during the ‘08-‘09 school year at the three Dorchester high schools: • Unit Recovery for students failing a single quarter of one or more classes. Learning can occur before and after school, during lunch or in an Apex Credit Recovery Lab. The classroom teacher manages the curriculum. Students are evaluated through proctored tests and earn a grade of 70 for successfully completing unit work. • Independent Whole Credit Recovery for students who failed one class in the past year. The goal is to return these students to a normal four-year graduation path. The work is usually completed outside the scheduled school day. • In-School Whole Credit Recovery for students failing more than one class in the past year. This provides a framework for return to normal four-year graduation. These students are hard scheduled every day in the Credit Recovery Lab with a highly qualified teacher. Students are assessed at 80% mastery requirements for completion. Students with early completion are given the opportunity to continue in the lab to recover additional classes and/or take a course for Initial Credit that is taught by a certified teacher. • Summer School Credit Recovery for students who fail one or more classes during the previous school year. Students 8 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

are hard scheduled with a recovery teacher. The program replaces or supplements traditional summer school or extended year options. • Evening School Program for students whose situation may preclude normal enrollment in school. This program uses Apex exclusively for credit recovery and initial credit. • Curriculum-Based In-School Suspension provides teacher-assigned lessons from Apex or the student can work on any content recovery currently in progress. Students are assigned to specialized, computer-enabled ISS labs. • Homebound and Home-Based Education is delivered through Apex and administered by highly qualified teachers within each available subject area. Students no longer wait for instruction to be delivered. They work prescriptively, and move ahead at their own pace. • Whole-Group Instruction provides several Apex tools that supplement traditional instruction: prescriptive assessments, immediate feedback to determine the level of student understanding, integration of standards-based lessons with the classroom Smart Board and enrichment activities. • AP Course Offerings are increasingly available when classes are under-enrolled and cancelled. All AP students are expected to complete Apex AP review as well. Although it is too early to evaluate the effectiveness of the Apex program, student participation itself suggests remarkable progress for a single academic year. Over 750 high school students earned 656 credits through credit recovery and 267 initial credit have been earned. Just as impressive as the participation level is the process the district used to manage the program. This article seeks to capture Dorchester’s approach to educational change, discuss the implications for educational reform, and promote experimentation with blended online learning. The Apex product provides many distinct advantages, but we are not recommending Apex as the only technology for an effective online learning program. When selecting solutions that best meet their needs, school districts should consider many participating products.

Organized for Change An innovation as significant as blended on-line learning requires an alternative administrative structure to complement the regular district management hierarchy. In Dorchester Two, the superintendent made a key decision early in the ‘08-‘09 school year to appoint one of the authors, Michelle Arnett, as district Apex Coordinator. Since Michelle was one of the teacher leaders who championed the Apex program from the beginning, her appointment signaled the importance of bottom-up leadership that


would prove to be so effective in influencing other teachers to embrace the Apex program. A multi-disciplinary team led by the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Glenn Huggins, meets each week to review progress, solve problems, and move the program forward. Michelle, author Kelly Purvis, Middle/High School Curriculum Coordinator, and site-based Instructional Technology Specialists follow up with teachers and school-based administrators. The assistant superintendent keeps the superintendent informed as needed—usually every week. Although the high school principals are supportive of the program, the current arrangement allows them to focus on other priorities. This management process allows crucial decisions to move up and down the administrative chain of command with minimal friction. Because the assistant superintendent mandated that students and highly qualified teachers be hard scheduled in the credit recovery lab, decisions can be implemented quickly. Research shows that many promising educational innovations featuring ambitious, pre-determined outcomes conceived by those at the top of the district can get mired in bureaucratic conflicts. Instead, the Dorchester program improves and expands through a series of practical, incremental decisions driven by the effec-

tiveness of the instructional approach, an efficient management process, and committed people in the schools and at the district office.

Strong Support Support for those working with Apex is vital and the district has strived to offer it to teachers and other staff members. The Apex coordinator joined with Kelly Purvis to provide assistance with curriculum development, technical support, and instructional coaching. The project required a considerable amount of work in aligning the Apex lessons seamlessly with the South Carolina state standards, and Kelly’s role as a curriculum specialist proved instrumental in recommending procedures and guidelines to support current district policies. One persistent challenge involves modifying school policies and procedures designed for the traditional course schedule, where time is constant and learning is variable. Apex is just the opposite—with variable time and self-paced learning dependent on assessed achievement in the program that can occur in several locations. For example, a student could begin credit recovery after the start of the semester in order to complete his work just prior to the end-of-course test. Such an exception would not be permitted in the traditional program. The district also provides

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 9


an extended school year and summer school to complete course recovery. The rigidities of the traditional schedule must be modified to accommodate the flexibility of instructional time and place provided by Apex. The Apex coordinator provides ongoing training in the basics of program technology and navigation. She also troubleshoots problems throughout the program cycle and monitors quality. Given the large number of students involved in unit and credit recovery, managing student progress can be a big challenge. Students assigned to the CR labs are supervised by the lab teacher, but many students working for independent credit or unit recovery outside of school hours can easily get lost. For author Jeff Allen, now the district web coordinator, the current challenge lies in ensuring that curriculum and instruction drive the technology. In many districts, technology often drives teaching and learning. Jeff strives to correct this distortion by effectively communicating curricular concerns, defined by Michelle’s relation of day-to-day experiences in the operation of Apex, to the various technology stakeholders within the district. Unforeseen conflicts can arise, such as the strain on district internet bandwidth that operating web-based programs (as opposed to server-based), quickly exposed. Jeff now helps to foresee such problems and effectively communicates them within the district before they negatively impact student achievement. Finally, the district has forged a genuine partnership with Apex as the vendor has demonstrated extraordinary responsiveness in dealing with problems. The district has also has been willing to work with Apex in piloting new versions of the product and approaches to using the software.

performance has been achieved. Many students get a boost from the exhilaration of success. This contrasts with traditional teaching where learning is more standardized and assessed at longer intervals. In short, students have a much more positive experience with school life and are more likely to return to the regular program and graduate.

Transforming Teacher Work Life Although teachers were involved in the Apex process from the beginning, many Dorchester educators remain skeptical about the value of online learning. They typically express two major concerns. The first surrounds the quality and rigor of online instructional programs. During the past school year, as teachers have become more familiar with the Apex product, this worry has all but dissipated. In many regular classrooms, as well as the recovery labs, teachers integrating Apex lessons in the curriculum discover that Apex is more rigorous than comparable offerings in the traditional programs. Another objection is more a matter of educational philosophy. Some teachers feel that giving students several opportunities to complete course requirements is unfair to other students who fulfill their responsibilities the first time. They worry that it conveys the wrong message about effort and consequences in life. This concern is evident in the fact that a grade for unit recovery is no higher than 70. Except in the case of credit recovery, teacher participation in Apex remains voluntary. But there are incentives for teacher involvement. Teachers are required to provide an intervention in the event that a student is in danger of failing. Unit recovery through Apex, often more efficient than teacher-designed alternatives, represents a logical option for the busy educator.

Motivating Students By Performance Anecdotal evidence from district teachers suggests that Apex is successful for many, if not all, students who need credit and unit recovery. Traditional views often held that motivation provided by a teacher leads to learning performance. The Dorchester District Two experience tells a different story: Prior to online learning, many students who needed credit recovery were forced to repeat classes in their entirety where the original method of instruction followed the pattern of teacher-directed learning. These students have rarely been motivated by such experiences. And behavioral conflicts continued to erupt, despite the best intentions of the staff. According to teachers responsible for the credit recovery lab, Apex offers these students a different learning experience with built-in motivation. Students working independently at their own pace via online instruction allows students to avoid typical interpersonal conflicts that may occur in the regular classroom. The relative autonomy of online instruction also gives students a sense of control. This control is validated by greater differentiation in lessons and continuous feedback that the program provides—students cannot move ahead unless a fixed level of 10 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

Many Dorchester teachers also believe that blended online learning creates a more productive and satisfying work life for educators. As teachers are challenged by the need to differentiate, incorporate state standards, maintain discipline, and motivate students who are increasingly disengaged from the routines of traditional whole class instruction, online learning offers the opportunity for a new teaching role. In the credit recovery labs, teachers become facilitators, tutors, diagnosticians, and cheerleaders. One English teacher who is assigned the recovery lab for two periods feels that she adds more value in monitoring student progress and managing the online program than in carrying out her traditional classroom role. All teachers agree that the software itself is not an instructional management program—that task remains with the teacher. It is likely that the online role will become more appealing to teachers to the point where they may begin to request and even demand opportunities to teach in the online world.

Challenges and Cost-Saving Opportunities The major challenge for the Apex system is the difficulty that


some low-performing students have with the literacy level required to use the program. Students with poor reading skills or low cognitive ability usually struggle with the online lessons, even if they are attracted to their independence and self-paced features. So far, the district has not found a solution to this disturbing fact, but the commitment of the Dorchester staff suggests that these issues, like the dozens of other previous obstacles, will be addressed and overcome. In an era of budget constraints, the Dorchester experience suggests blended online learning may offer cost reduction opportunities. District staff members report that successful credit recovery may decrease the number of non-graduating students who return

to school after the fourth year. In addition, summer school can possibly be eliminated as credit recovery is successful during the regular school year. Finally, by definition, effective unit recovery will reduce the need for credit recovery in the first place. Dorchester’s journey with Apex suggests two conclusions: First, the district has orchestrated the change process well by selecting committed people in critical responsibilities in the chain of command and creating a decision-making process that short circuits residual staff resistance and bureaucratic inertia. Second, the district has selected a product that seems to have inherent appeal for both students and teachers and has the potential to transform school life.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Joe Flora

Michelle Arnett

803-732-7122 Clinical Associate Professor of Educational Leadership University of South Carolina

843-873-2901 Instructional Technology Interventionist Dorchester School District Two

A former school administrator, Flora has several years experience in higher education. His interests include human resources management and technology innovation for school improvement.

Arnett coordinates instructional technology for the district. In her former position, she managed the Apex program and worked with high school teachers to incorporate technology into their teaching.

Jeff Allen

Kelly Purvis

843-873-2901 District Web technology Coordinator Dorchester School District Two

843-873-2901 Middle/High School Curriculum Coordinator Dorchester School District Two

Allen currently serves as the Web Technologies Coordinator for Dorchester School District Two, where he attempts to bridge the often-disparate worlds of curriculum and information technology. A former architect, Allen joined the district as a teacher in 2004.

Purvis is a member of the district’s assessment team and assists teachers with data analysis. She is also involved in curriculum planning, standards alignment, and resource training for teachers in all secondary core subject areas.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 11


Child Sexual Abuse: This is a School Leadership Issue By: Dr. Mark W. Mitchell

In 1987 John C. Lizotte was a 24-year-old band director in Mountain Grove, Missouri. Lizotte had a reputation as a caring teacher and was liked and respected by many of the students and parents of the Mountain Grove community. In the fall of 1987, a troubled 13-year-old girl moved into the school district and became a member of the band. Lizotte immediately befriended the child and told her “I have a good listening ear, anytime you want to talk about your problems I am here for you.” The new student was pleased and flattered that this young attractive man took the time to pay personal attention to her. Lizotte and the student became closer during the school year, and Lizotte told her repeatedly that he was interested in anything and everything in her life. One day, alone in his office, he asked the student to give him a neck rub. She did. Soon it became back rubs. Then a light kiss. The student, who had never even had a date, was not sure what she was feeling. As she later stated in dispositions “I was pretty sure it was a romantic kiss.” The next kiss lasted 10 minutes. On Valentine’s Day weekend 1988, Lizotte’s wife was out of town. He took the student to his apartment. This is where she lost her virginity to one of the most popular teachers in school. The affair with the child continued and Lizotte would call her in the evening and ask her to meet him at the school. Lizotte would tell his wife he was going for a jog, then run to the school and unlock the door that led to the band room. He propped open the door with a rolled-up rug so his student lover could get in. She was told to lock the door behind her. Other times, they would leave school at sixth period her study hall, his free period, go to his apartment, and return to school in time for seventh period. Their intimate relationship continued while the student turned 14, then 15. Not well-versed in birth control, she trusted Lizotte when he told her the withdrawal method would work. She believed him when he complimented her on her musical talent. She sat first chair in the trombone section. She qualified for state competitions. She called him Chris when they were alone, Mr. Lizotte when they were not. When she acted up in music class, he never reprimanded her. Later, the student and Lizotte had a falling out when it was rumored that Lizotte had another “girlfriend” at school. Upset with Lizotte’s newest conquest, the student told her parents of 12 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009


the lengthy affair and the parents complained to the school principal. Lizotte moved to Rolla, Mo., in 1990, to take a job as band director. (Later, Lizotte would say in a sworn statement that he had been encouraged to take the job by the principal at Mountain Grove, after the student reported that Lizotte had molested her.) After two years with the Rolla school district, the pattern of child molestation began again. This time, several parents came forward to the Rolla Board of Education alleging that John C. Lizotte had molested their daughters. Unlike the first situation, this district took action. Lizotte lost his job and was turned over to law enforcement. On February 6, 1995, in the 25th judicial circuit court in Waynesville, Missouri, John C. Lizotte is escorted into the courtroom facing 129 felony counts of deviant sexual assault. Lizotte has been incarcerated in the Pulaski county jail for over 90 days. Lizotte pleads guilty to reduced charges of 17 counts of deviant sexual assault and is sentenced to two 20-year prison terms (State of Missouri v John C. Lizotte, 1995). This case was not a landmark or state Supreme Court case, however, the issue of child sexual abuse in schools was brought to the national forefront. Over the past twenty years, the incidences of alleged inappropriate sexual relations between teachers and students have continued to tarnish the reputation of public schools across the country. December 9, 2008, the 5:00 news from Tampa comes on with, “Another teacher caught having sex with a middle school student.” The next night from WRAL a Raleigh, North Carolina television station, “A high school art teacher is arrested for having sex with a 14-year old student.” The next night from a San Diego television station, “For the second time in two months a public school teacher is charged with having sex with a minor student.” Schools are continually coming under fire because of the misbehavior of their teaching staff. With an ever increasing push toward vouchers and private schools in the United States the media exploits the indiscretions of a very few public school teachers who are morally unfit to be instructing students. This unwanted publicity provides fodder for the fire to burn public schools in the eyes of the public. The opponents of public schools relish the idea that our schools are a haven for immoral adults and assume that none of these incidences would happen in a good private school. The question for public school leadership becomes “How do we stop this ever increasing problem of inappropriate sexual relations between teachers and students?” What can we do to approach the subject with a proven method of deterring sexual predators in our schools? Yes, the term sexual predator does apply to these situations. Furthermore, any time those teachers have sexual relations with students are considered pedophiles guilty of child sexual abuse.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 13


The court systems have dealt with these situations for many years, and in many of these cases schools have paid large sums of money to plaintiffs who have fallen victim to the crimes of child sexual abuse perpetrated by a member of the teaching staff. In the 1992 case of Franklin v. Gwinnett (Franklin v. Gwinnett County Pub. Schs. 503 U.S. 60 (1992) , 1992), a coach had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a student over a period of many years. Even after parent complaints to the administration, the coach was not prosecuted and was simply told to leave the district. The result of the case was a Supreme Court ruling establishing several significant precedents, not the least of which is that schools can be sued under Title IX for sexual harassment. The subject of child sexual abuse was not discussed by the court.

50% had suicidal thoughts, more than 20% had attempted suicide, and almost 70% had received psychological treatment. Approximately 30% violently victimized others (Walrath, 2003). In addition, victims report more posttraumatic stress disorder, sadness, and school serious school problems (Brown, 1986).

What is “Child Sexual Abuse?” Child Sexual Abuse is defined as; 1) Any sexual act between an adult and a minor or between two minors when one exerts power over the other, 2) Forcing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act. In addition to sexual contact, the definition also includes non-contact acts such as exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, voyeurism, and communicating in a sexual manner by phone or internet (Pyschiatry, 2008). It is highly likely that each of us knows a person who has been or is being sexually abused. Studies have shown that an estimated 1 in 4 females and 1 in 6 males are sexually abused before their 18th birthday (Hopper, 1998). In factoring out this statistic, there are nearly 39 million survivors of child sexual abuse in the United States today (Abel, 2001). Other startling facts about child sexual abuse include; 1) 1 in 5 children are sexually solicited while on the internet (U.S. Department of Justice, 2001), 2) Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults, including those on adults, occur to children ages 17 and under (Snyder, 2000), 3) The median age for reported sexual abuse is 9 years old (Putnam, 2003), and 4) Sexually abused children who keep it a secret or who “tell” and are not believed may be at greater risk than the general population for psychological, emotional, social, and physical problems often lasting into adulthood (GoodmanBrown, 2003).

School leaders should be armed with the facts listed above, as this becomes the first step in the identification and prevention of child sexual abuse. School leaders must share the facts with their teachers, staff members, parents, and board members on a yearly basis. Until the facts about child sexual abuse are openly communicated to the public, it will remain an unspoken taboo in our society.

Research has also shown that all of us likely know someone that is abusing children. The greatest risk to our children and our students does not come from strangers, but from friends and family. Perpetrators of child sexual abuse look for work in places with lots of children. Schools are the ideal place for someone who wants to violate a child. Who is actually abusing our children? 60-70% of children are abused by people who are not family members. Furthermore, as many as 60% of children being abused are abused by people the family trusts (Elliott, 1995). More than 90% of children who are sexually abused know their abusers (Simpson, 2004). The toll that child sexual abuse takes on its victims is alarming. 70-80% of sexual abuse survivors report excessive drug and alcohol use (Brown, 1986). One study showed that among male survivors, more than 80% had a history of substance abuse, 14 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

When adults sexually abuse children, they generally are not satisfied with just one or two victims. Approximately 70% of sexual offenders have between 1 and 9 victims, 20-25% has 10 to 40 victims, and serial child molesters may have as many as 400 victims in their lifetime (Elliott, 1995). People who abuse children look and act just like everyone else. In fact, they often go out of their way to appear trustworthy to gain access to children. (Elliott, 1995)

The second step school leaders must take in preventing child sexual abuse at school is to minimize the opportunity. More than 80% of sexual abuse cases occur in one-adult/one-child situations (Snyder, 2000). This fact has specific implications for educators. In a regular school setting one-adult, one-child situations are typical. Counselors, principals, nurses, tutors, music directors, coaches and many other school employees consistently have one-on-one encounters with students. While most of us believe that one-on-one relationship between students and teachers can be educationally advantageous, the risk involved in this practice outweighs the benefits. School officials need to consider the development of a policy specifically prohibiting onechild, one-teacher contacts. At the very least, the leadership of the school should conduct a building audit to determine what situations exist at school where one-child, one-teacher situations might occur. The following questions should be answered: 1) Do all classrooms have windows where easy observation from other adults is readily available? 2) If teachers meet with students one-on-one, is it in a place where they can be “walked in on” at any time? 3) Are coaches, band directors and other extracurricular teachers staying at school with just one student waiting for parents to pick up their child after practice or rehearsal? 4) Are there “hot spots” in the building where surveillance cameras cannot see hallways, stairwells, etc? 5) Are nurses’, counselors’, and principals’ offices provided with windows in the doors, or are their full time security cameras installed? For minimal expense, all of these precautions can be implemented. The cost of keeping the children and the teachers safe from these situations is well worth the time and money. The third step in preventing child sexual abuse at school or by school employees is simply talking about it. Every year, every


employee of the school district should be informed about the identification and prevention of child sexual abuse. Every year, every employee should be told directly that if they have a sexual relationship with a student of any age, they will be discharged from duty, and if they possess a teaching certificate, the board of education will file for revocation. If school employees are aware of the consequences, the school leadership can document that minimal due process was provided should any school employee fail to heed the warnings provided. The school district should keep a signed statement verifying this information was presented.

Use of alcohol or drugs at a premature age can be a warning as well (Day, 2003). Even though these physical signs are not unique to child sexual abuse, consideration of child sexual abuse should be added to the more common reasons for these conditions. There are also situations of which school leaders should be cognizant. Do the relationships between teachers/employees and students seem inappropriate? Ask these questions: 1) Does the teacher touch students in a sometimes inappropriate and frequent way? 2) Do certain students spend an inordinate amount of time with the teacher in their classroom or office? 3) Are teachers requiring students to meet with them after school or inviting students to their homes? 4) Are there students who do not want to be in a teacher’s classes or have any contact with them? As with the physical signs, these indicators do not always mean there is something amiss with the teachers; however, they are behaviors that could cause suspicion of inappropriate relationships. The fifth step in the process of identifying and preventing child sexual abuse is acting on suspicions. School leaders must convey to all employees that they must act on their suspicions if they believe a child is being sexually abused either at home or at school. Educators find that one of the hardest things to cope with is the possibility that if they act, they might be wrong. School leaders must assure employees that it is better to take the chance of being wrong, rather than ignoring a situation and having a child continue to be abused. Finally, all school leaders should get involved in reducing the incidence of child sexual abuse. School leaders must dedicate a portion of their life to educating and training their constituents about child sexual abuse. School leaders must be the significant adult responsible for helping stop an epidemic that has affected nearly 40 million people in the United States (Abel, 2001). (Abel, 2001)

The fourth step in preventing child sexual abuse at school or by school employees is staying alert. Do not expect obvious signs when a child is being sexually abused. Signs may occur but school leadership had the responsibility to identify these situations. There are varieties of indicators school leaders may look for in children such as physical signs of abuse, redness, rashes, or swelling in the genital area, urinary tract infections, chronic stomach pain, or headaches. Some other indicators in children are emotional or behavioral signs. Some of these are “too-perfect” behavior, withdrawal and depression or unexplained anger and rebellion (Saunders, 1999). In addition runaway behavior, cruelty to animals, fire setting may be indicators (Walrath, 2003), as well as age inappropriate sexual behavior (Paolucci, 2001).

The final step in identifying and preventing child sexual abuse is making and implementing a plan. Teach all school personnel where to go for help, whom to call for help, and how to react if they suspect child sexual abuse is happening to a student either at home or at school. Suspicion of child sexual abuse can be a frightening thing for teachers and administrators. All 50 states require school personnel to report suspected child abuse to the appropriate social service office. Information from the U.S. Office of Health and Human Services (www.childwelfare.gov) is an excellent resource to find appropriate reporting agencies. How we respond when children tell us about being victims of child sexual abuse is also very important. School employees should follow some very basic rules when students come forward to tell about being sexually violated. The first step is believing the child and making sure the child knows you are sincere. The second step is thanking the child for telling you, praising the child’s courage. The third is to tell the child that he or she is not at fault. The fourth step is to encourage the child to talk, but avoid leading questions about the details. Asking

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 15


about details can contaminate the child’s memory of events. If you must ask questions to keep the child talking, ask only openended ones like “What happened next?” or “Tell me more.” The fifth issue to address when a child tells you about being sexually abused is to assure the child that it is your job to protect him or her and that you will do everything you can to do so. Finally, seek the help of a professional who is trained to talk with the child about sexual abuse. A trained professional collecting the details from the child is usually the most effective. Professional guidance can be critical to the child’s healing and to any criminal prosecution. (Darkness to Light, 2007) Research has shown that the primary reason teachers do not report incidences of child abuse are a lack of support from the school principal. (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)., 2009) It is imperative that principals reassure the staff they will be supportive of their reports of suspected abuse, and they will keep the employees identity in strictest confidence. School leaders can make a difference in the prevention of child sexual abuse. It takes courage to tackle such a sensitive subject. Our students and teachers are definitely worth the effort. References Abel, G. M.-R. (2001). Self repoted sex cirmes on non-incarcerated paraphiliacs. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2(1), 3-25. Brown, A. F. (1986). Impact of child sexual abuse: A review of the research. Washington, D.C.: Psychological Bulletin. 99, 1. 66-77. American Psychological Association.

tions. . Washington, D.C. : National Institute of Justices Report, U.S. Department of Justice. McCurley, C. S. (2004). Victims of violent juvenile crime. Washington, D.C.: Juvenile Justice Bulletin, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs. Paolucci, E. G. (2001). A meta-analysis of the published research on the effects of child sexual abuse. Champaign: Journal of Psychology. 135, 17-36. Putnam, F. (2003). Ten-year research update review: Child sexual abuse. Washington, DC: Journal of the American Academy of CHild and Adolescent Psychiarty, 42. 269-278. Pyschiatry, A. A. (2008). Facts for Families: Child Sexual Abuse. Washington, DC: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Saunders, B. K. (1999). Prevalence, case characteristics, and long term psychological correlates of child rape amoung women: A national survey. Atlanta: Center for Diseas Control and Prevention. Child Maltreatment, 4, 187-200. Simpson, C. O. (2004). Childhood Sexual Assault Victimization in Virginia. Richmond: Center for Injury and Violence Prevention. Virginia Department of Health. Snyder, H. (2000). Sexual assault of young children as reportedd to law enforcement: Victim, incident, and offender characteristics. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Center for Juvenile Justice.

Darkness to Light. (2007). Stewards of children: Adults protecting children from sexual abuse. Charleston, SC: Darkness to Light Inc.

State of Missouri v John C. Lizotte, 25R03945650F (Missouri 25th Judicial Circuit November 23, 1995).

Day, A. T. (2003). Working with childhood sexual abuse: A survey of mental health professionals. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Child Abuse and Neglect. 27, 191-198.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). (2009, January 21). Child Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet. Retrieved July 21, 2009, from www.NCTSN.org : www.nctsnet.org/nccts/asset.do?id=1216

Elliott, M. B. (1995). Child sexual abuse prevention: What offenders tell us. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Child Abuse and Neglect, 5, 579-594. Franklin v. Gwinnett County Pub. Schs. 503 U.S. 60 (1992) , 503 U.S. 60 (Supreme Courth August 5, 1992). Goodman, G. G. (2003). A prospective study of memory for child sexual abuse: New finding relevant to the repressed-memory controversy. Washington, D.C.: Psychological Science, 14, 113-118. Goodman-Brown, T. E. (2003). Why children tell: A model of children’s disclosure of sexual abuse. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Child Abuse and Neglect, 27, 525-540. Hopper, J. (1998). Child Abuse: Statistics, Research, Resources. Boston: Boston University School of Medicine. Kilpatrick, d. S. (2003). Youth victimization: Prevalience and Implica16 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

U.S. Department of Justice. (2001). Internet crimes against children, OVC Bulletin. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime. Walrath, E. Y. (2003). Children with reported histories of sexual abuse: Utilizing multiple persspectives to understand clinical and psychological profiles. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Serivices. Child Abuse and Neglect.

POLITICAL FACTS DID YOU KNOW… Representative James M. “Jimmy” Neal, SC House District 44-Lancaster County, is a retired high school principal.


Economically Efficient and Educationally Effective Best Practices in Tough Times: St. James-Gaillard Elementary Tops the Charts By Jesulon S. R. Gibbs, J.D., Ph.D.

Eutawville, SC is not a place heard of too often. It is a small rural community without need for a traffic light, located approximately ten miles from the Santee exit to I-95. I grew up in this town and had the privilege of reacquainting myself with a hidden treasure that is part of my academic heritage – St. James-Gaillard Elementary School (hereinafter SJG). Noteworthy is the fact that at least half of the faculty and staff at SJG have worked at the school for at least twenty years. The custodian has been there thirty-nine years, the librarian has been there thirty-two years, my first grade teacher has been there thirty-one years, and my kindergarten teacher has been there twenty-eight years. I recently participated in the Spring 2009 Career Day at SJG and was awed by the aurora and ambiance of the school. I was astounded given the fact that the school district, Orangeburg Consolidated School District 3, was a party to the seminal Abbeville, et al. v. South Carolina, et al. (2005) school finance litigation brought by struggling districts against the state of South Carolina. The schools that sued the state are known as the Corridor of Shame Schools because of their proximity to the I-95 corridor and the shame harped upon the state and those communities due to the deplorable school conditions experienced by children daily. The schools argued that the state was not providing a minimally adequate education for their school districts in accordance with the South Carolina Constitution. My astonishment was also due to the extensive body of literature that paints a negative picture of schools in rural communities, primarily due to generations of families with low socio-economic status and its persistently negative effect on school performance. However, SJG does not fit this stereotypical mold due to its high performance. This article highlights the educational leadership best practices implemented to achieve and maintain SJG’s high level of academic performance. This article explores how Principal Wilson and the SJG family turn theory into practice. The theme for this Palmetto Administrator issue is Tough Times Call for Great Leadership, and St. James-Gaillard Elementary School is a testament of how great leadership can trump tough times in spite of challenging demographics. Unlike the grim depictions of the Corridor of Shame Schools, and rural schools in general, SJG is an anomaly worth exploring for best practices on how schools can be efficient and effective with limited funds. What is often economically efficient according to principles of economics is not always effective based upon particular goals, such as accountability. For these reasons, I left the career day

event determined to capture the rich story of this oasis located in the middle of what is seen as a desert. As a recipient of the Dispelling the Myth award, a consistent winner of state science fairs, and home of the 2008 South Carolina Elementary Principal of the year, I was committed to paying well deserved homage to my alma mater. Below is an overview of the school’s demographics and accountability data from the school’s report followed by the discussion on economically efficient and educationally effective best practices implemented at SJG from interviews of Principal Wilson, faculty, and staff. The article concludes with a discussion on teacher retention as the key sustainability factor at SJG. St. James-Gaillard Elementary Demographics and Accountability Trends • School Type: Rural • Grades served: PreK – 5 (School was formerly St. James Middle School. It became St. James-Gaillard Elementary/Middle School in 1988 after Hurricane Hugo demolished Gaillard Elementary School. School was later condensed to an elementary school only). • Student Enrollment: 374 • Per Pupil Expenditure: $7,830 • Poverty Rate: 88% • Absolute Rating: Average • AYP: Yes (Every year since the inception of AYP). The Economics of Education: Efficient and Effective Educational Leadership Economic efficiency is achieved by allocating limited resources in such a way that they are maximized given a set of desired outcomes (Hall & Lieberman, 1998). Thereby, a plan of action is economically efficient when desired ends are met without having to add more means (Polinsky, 1989). As educators, we are forced to be efficient. We have to maximize use of limited monetary and non-monetary resources while simultaneously demonstrat-

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 17


ing effectiveness via school accountability ratings. Therefore, it is plausible to argue that a school is efficient and effective when a good accountability track record is established using limited resources. This is not an easy task as evidenced by the number of schools that fail to meet annual yearly progress. Yet, SJG, a small rural school, has proven to be a prototype worthy of exploration for best practices. Principal Wilson joined SJG in September 1998. Prior to transferring to the district, she worked in a larger neighboring district in the capacities of teacher for ten years and assistant principal for six years. Essentially, the core of Principal Wilson’s leadership philosophy is shared leadership, which is evidenced in responses below. Seemingly, principles of labor economics dominate at SJG given the low personnel turnover and high performance of faculty and staff due to the tangible and intangible investments by the leadership team. 18 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

1. Did you ever work in a rural community prior to St. James-Gaillard Elementary School? If so/If not, what attracted you to the school? Yes, I taught at a school with similar demographics. Then, I went to a more suburban area as assistant principal. I saw coming back to St. James-Gaillard as a way to complete my circle. It felt good returning to the type of demographics similar to where I started. I wanted to be of service to the students whom I felt needed me the most. 2. Is it appropriate to characterize St. James-Gaillard Elementary School as an anomaly given its demographics in comparison to similar schools? Why or why not? I don’t know if I would call it an anomaly….it is just that the individuals at SJG are such special unique individuals. I


really do not know if you would ever see another staff of this nature. They are committed, hard-working, dedicated and caring individuals who for the most part have worked together a long time….they are family! These individuals from the custodians to teachers have a vested interest in the school that is beyond recognition. 3. What is your leadership philosophy for St. James-Gaillard Elementary School? I try to lead by example. Never will I ask my teachers to do something that I am not willing to do. Also, I try to do a lot of shared leadership. No one has all the answers. I value their opinions and input. If it sounds good we will give it a try. My teachers know that I value their opinion and input. There is no big me and little you at SJG. We are a team and you can feel it when you enter the door. 4. What is the vision for St. James-Gaillard Elementary School? We came up with a vision for our school several years ago and revisit it frequently. Our vision: We envision our school as a place of learning where all members are expected to plan, encouraged to dream and inspired to reach beyond their goals. This vision resonates through everything we do. We plan, we dream and we inspire! Our students are constantly told from the administration on down that they can achieve, be and do what they want. 5. Is it tough being efficient, allocating resources to maximize use for an intended goal, and simultaneously effective? It is hard, but what over sets this problem is having seasoned teachers who know the curriculum and necessary strategies to get across their knowledge to the students. 6. Would the average person think it is ironic that you are able to accomplish all that you do given your budget? Why or Why not? Yes, one would question the success. However, the stability and experience of the staff counts for a lot. Also, a large majority of the teachers are from the community and went to SJG as a child. They want nothing but the best for the school. They are willing to work extra hours to achieve any goal necessary. 7. Knowing what you know about schools around the state, what is it about the leadership at St. James-Gaillard Elementary School that distinguishes it? Having such a good and stable staff allows me to have shared leadership roles. The group of teachers that I have makes it easy for me to delegate. I have also worked hard to establish 20 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

a “team” atmosphere where everyone’s opinion is valued. My teachers trust me and I them. Being principal of such a staff is a dream comes true! 8. When I attended St. James-Gaillard Elementary School, faculty and staff were willing to invest their personal time and finances in students. Is this still common practice? If so/If not, how does this practice affect the school’s viability? Oh Yes…these teachers will ask in a heartbeat to go to Dollar General to buy socks or other personal items for a student. They also don’t mind coming to school early and leaving late to get the job done. Given your experiences at St. James-Gaillard Elementary School what educational leadership best practices would you suggest to other schools in order to be efficient and effective? 1. Involvement. I involve my teachers in the decision making process. I encourage teachers to visit other successful schools and bring back ideas. My belief is that we will not let statistics – rural, minority, 88% free and reduced meals – decide the success of our students. 2. Team Building. I initiate some type of team building strategies every year. We have worked closely with a nationally known facilitator on a regular basis to help keep the lines of communication open. I stress a WE environment. 3. Modeled Leadership. Be a leader that others will want to follow. Do not ask your faculty and staff to do something that you will not do yourself. 4. Shared Leadership. Work right alongside your staff. Let them see you care! I realize and acknowledge that a successful job cannot be done by me alone, so I constantly seek the ideas, thoughts, and involvement of staff, parents, and community members. I have a planning team that meets annually to review the previous year’s results and make recommendations and modifications for the upcoming year. In addition to Principal Wilson’s comments, teachers and staff were eager to share their thoughts on the place they call home. Interestingly, when speaking with teachers and staff in individual and group settings, they provided the exact same responses with sincerity and their comments directly parallel Principal Wilson’s statements. When asked what motivates them to excel at their job despite the school’s demographics and limited resources, below are the common responses in no respective order. 1. Camaraderie and Teamwork. All of the teachers stated that they can depend on each other. The speech patholo-


gist noted, “We’ve been together so long, we have become comfortable playing off of each other’s strengths and weaknesses.” The librarian noted, “We adjust to do what we have to do. We stay until the job gets done.” Similarly, one commuter teacher of thirty-one years emphasized, “We are dedicated. You can pass by here at 5 p.m. and people are here. We are willing to spend and be spent.” 2. Self-Motivation. The teachers indicated that they do not wait to do what needs to be done in order to better serve the students. The guidance counselor of thirty years noted, “Even if the principal does not show up, we will make sure things get done.” 3. Family Atmosphere, A School of Mentors. The physical education teacher succinctly stated, “The school is unique because of the caring faculty and the transfer of the love they have for their personal family to the school.” She added that the principal who was at the school when I was a middle schooler always stressed, “Our children may not go elsewhere but we will bring the necessary attractions to them.” Another teacher shared that, “We take new teachers under our wings for an extended period of time. Instead of having one mentor, new teachers have a school of mentors.” Principal Wilson has also excelled in the face of a series of losses due to the family atmosphere at the school (She lost both of her parents, her husband, best friend, and twenty year old son between 2002 and 2006.). She notes, “Throughout the struggles, turmoil, and disorder in my life, I have been

able to stand fast in my professional life because I have the constant support of my staff, students, their parents, and the community. Through it all, I have learned to stand strong and lean on my SJG family; they have sustained me and we grow stronger TOGETHER.” 4. Parental Involvement. Ironically, parental involvement is satisfactory at SJG. It was indicated that there is usually standing room only at the PTA meetings. The key strategy is that faculty and staff make parents feel comfortable by ensuring them that personnel have a personal interest in seeing their children succeed. In addition, the faculty and staff are reasonably flexible to meet parents where they are in the understanding of school operations. I witnessed this during Open House, the day I conducted the teacher /staff interviews. During this time, many parents came to the school in their best attire to meet their child’s teacher and demonstrate concern for their child’s academic progress. The school flooded with warmth and genuine care. 5. Creative Energy. Essentially, the teachers agreed that when you do not have a lot, your creative juices flow. Money is not always the answer. Overall, the principal, faculty, and staff at SJG revealed that the low teacher turnover rate and high morale amongst faculty and staff give SJG its cutting edge. The next section addresses teacher retention to conclude.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 21


Teacher Retention: Shared Leadership in A School customers are students, faculty, staff, parents, and visitors. As principal of SJG, I strive to encourage and model the concept of of Mentors Based upon the SJG school culture, it is plausible to be efficient and effective in tough times when school leaders establish an environment of shared leadership and when faculty and staff believe they have a personal interest in the success of the students and each other. Importantly, Principal Wilson’s emphasis on shared leadership directly parallels the perceived shared leadership and responsibility amongst the faculty and staff. Yes, there are some goals that cannot be accomplished without appropriate funding. However, it is true that there are some things, such as loyalty and dedication, money cannot buy (at least not on the open market). Arguably, SJG thrives because in a rural community employees do not have many schools to choose from. However, ironically, the teachers at SJG indicated that do not want to be anywhere else, which is why many of them commute to the school from Orangeburg, S.C. For example, my former fifth grade homeroom and science teacher, who commutes from Orangeburg, talked about the number of job opportunities she passed up over the past twenty-three years because she cannot imagine being anywhere else. Teacher retention is the key factor for success at SJG. Much research is devoted to teacher recruitment and retention under NCLB mandates. Recruitment and retention present unique issues in rural communities because of the lack of attractions typically sought by young, vibrant teachers. Surprisingly, the seasoned teachers are valued at SJG in contrast to where in many schools the veterans tend to be least desired because of new trends in the field that do not mirror older instructional methods. Principal Wilson has hired less than five content-area teachers in the past ten years. Hopefully, I can continue to conduct research at SJG to learn more about this dynamic to add to the body of literature on teacher recruitment and retention in rural communities. As a professor of educational leadership always seeking the perfect topic to research, I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn more about what is going on in my backyard (literally, since the school is two doors down the dirt road I traveled to and from each day). It was commendable to see President Barack Obama and First Lady Michele Obama honor Tyshema Bethea for being brave enough to write a letter to Congress about experiences in the Corridor of Shame Schools. However, ironically, in the midst of the shame, St. James-Gaillard Elementary is praiseworthy for overcoming great obstacles in a community where tough times are the norm. Just as my former teachers have watched me grow up, I too have watched them blossom in their careers. Most of them were jumpstarting their careers and family lifes when I was their student. My kindergarten teacher and I laughed about the fact that my grandmother still refers to her by her maiden name. As a final remark, Principal Wilson noted, “Our family-friendly environment emphasizes that the customer is always first. Our 22 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

defying all limitation. Yes, our students face all the ingredients for a failing school, but at SJG we do not allow those things to stand in our way.” I am grateful for the opportunity to showcase the scholarship hidden in a small place I call home. Thanks and Kudos to the SJG family! References 1. Abbeville, et al. v. State, et al., No. 93-CP-31-0169 (S.C. 2005). 2. Hall, R. E. & Lieberman, M. (1998). Economics Principles and Applications. Ohio: South-Western College. 3. Polinsky, A. M. An Introduction to Law and Economics (2d ed.). New York: Aspen.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Jesulon S. R. Gibbs, J.D., Ph.D. South Carolina State University Dept. of Ed. Leadership 300 College St. N.E. Campus Box 7515 Orangeburg, S.C. 29117 Jgibbs7@scsu.edu Dr. Gibbs’ primary teaching and research areas are school law and educational policy analysis. She has a M.A. in Economic Policy from Georgia State Univ.

POLITICAL FACTS DID YOU KNOW… Representative William R. “Bill” Whitmire, SC House District 1-Oconee County, is a retired educator from the Oconee County School District.

POLITICAL FACTS DID YOU KNOW… Senator Floyd Nicholson, SC Senate District 10-Abbeville, Greenwood, Laurens Counties, is a retired educator from Greenwood County.


Forging Systemic Change: The Accelerated Learning School Model By Dr. Valerie Truesdale & Mary Seamon

Beaufort County School District serves a diverse community. While many folks immediately think of the lush and beautiful tourist stops of Beaufort, Hilton Head Island or Hunting State Park, Beaufort County School District is a majority- minority and a majority-poverty school district. The county is home to four schools with over 90% subsidized lunch, a far cry from the impression that many visitors have of Beaufort County. The district is fortunate to have opportunities for collaboration with human service agencies, local businesses, the faith community, and the media—as well as local, state, and federal governments—to help children become productive citizens. Since Beaufort County School District has not met adequate yearly progress for multiple years, the state has designated Beaufort Schools as in Corrective Action. This status is a serious one, indicating that bold plans must be developed to turnaround unsatisfactory schools. The district has identified four schools,

Whale Branch Middle, Whale Branch Elementary, James J. Davis Elementary and St. Helena Elementary, for a bold plan to transform the learning culture and accelerate learning. High poverty, historically underachieving schools must be provided the same quality opportunities as other schools. After many community meetings, the district leadership team crafted a model to significantly change learning, teaching and leadership in an Accelerated School Model. The goal is that school teams will accelerate learning for youngsters l ½ years of growth in one year. Beaufort County School District has adopted the following schematic as an informing tenet of the model: The Accelerated Learning Schools share a history of underperformance, resulting in a significant number of students’ being unprepared for success at the high school level. Working as a leadership team, the district staff with twenty-eight principals have undertaken a goal of intervening in these high poverty schools to address learning patterns.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 23


The proposal for Accelerated Learning Schools includes a focus on three areas: learning, teaching and leading. Learning: All students can learn, if given time and support to master instructional standards. Teaching: Teachers can grow when outstanding pedagogical strategies area modeled in an authentic setting. All teachers deserve to see how “A” quality teaching looks, feels, and sounds. Leading: With bold, inspired leadership, historically underachieving schools can be transformed into strong learning cultures. Specifically, the comprehensive, systemic reform model includes: Learning: Academic intervention is early and intense. As part of a commitment to accelerate learning, the district has partnered with Head Start and Early Head Start to add fifteen classes of children ages six weeks-three years. The district dedicated resources to serve eighty more at-risk four year olds, using federal stimulus aid funds. The United States Department of Education has documented that a high quality school experience boosts later achievement and social development, reduces the likelihood of retention school or placement in special education, and increases the chance of graduation from high school. Early inter-

24 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

vention is critical, especially for children of poverty. Children in high poverty communities often enter school exhibiting poor literacy skills, including limited vocabularies and ability to recognize letters and numbers. Learning: Extended learning time is an essential ingredient for students to master standards. Utilizing federal stimulus funds, the Accelerated Learning Schools will operate for an additional twenty days of extended learning time (ELT) this school year. ELT days are spread throughout the year, with one week for Jump Start in August, one week for Catch Up in October, another week for Catch Up in March, and a week for Make up in June. The seamless design does not differentiate the additional days as “remedial” days. Rather, in the Accelerated Learning Model, there is a seamless design so that students are all learning together on “regular” days and “extended learning time” days. The more time students are involved in targeted and directed instruction based on their particular needs, the more likely they are to achieve at higher levels. Children who lag significantly behind their peers academically cannot make up the deficit with the same amount


and time of instruction. Below grade-level children need additional instruction in engaging lessons to transform performance. Learning: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)infused lessons engage students in hands-on activities. While all students are served in foundational English/Language Arts and Math programs, programming is differentiated to allow students who have mastered foundational skills to study one or more academic areas in depth. These schools use science, technology, engineering, and mathematics –infused interdisciplinary units to excite students to learn. Since Accelerated Learning Schools are STEM-infused schools, opportunities abound in engineering and project activities including robotics, Lego construction and design, weather stations, archeological studies, graphic design, and problem solving. Through simulations requiring inquiry into an issue, design of a solution, construction of a model and description of the solution to peers and adults, students will learn the 21st century skills that they need to be successful. Students interested in outdoor activities will be able to join Master Naturalists in modules structured to integrate technology. Beaufort County School District is fortunate to be a partner in the Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination (AEMDD) grant which engages students in arts integration. Now in its second year, the grant targets Accelerated Learning schools by focusing on the living arts and is dedicated to preserving the unique local culture. Adding the Arts to the teaching/learning environment encourages children, including those who have historically not been successful in school by engaging the students in a creative learning framework. Teaching: Master teachers demonstrate high quality teaching, in an authentic setting. Using a slightly modified Teacher Advancement Program (TAP), a master teacher has been placed in each grade level at each school to model best practices for grade level colleagues with in a real-time class setting. Although master teachers will not evaluate colleagues, they will provide coaching in the best pedagogical strategies to accelerate student achievement. To encourage participation in the master teacher program, an incentive bonus is provided to the teacher for making a twoyear commitment. Any teacher was eligible to apply for a Master teacher position at an Accelerated Learning school. Preference was given to candidates who were National Board Certified or already trained as TAP master teachers. After a rigorous selection process which involved State Department of Education Teacher Advancement Program staff, Master teachers were placed in the four schools. Leading: Transformational leadership is required. Any school administrator could present a plan for transforming one of the Accelerated Learning Schools. Talented principals crafted bold plans that were presented to a team including the senior staff of the school district and the State Department’s Office of Palmetto Priority Schools. The transformation plan required that the principal candidates address the following:

Desired Outcome: At least seventy percent of students will meet a target growth on Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) equivalent to 1½ years of gain within one school year. Current reality: An accurate assessment of school achievement, organization and structure, including areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Plan for transformation: A comprehensive one-year plan with three year extensions in areas such as scheduling, teacher assignment, time in core subjects, professional development, involvement of community, use of data, utilization of instructional coaching staff, and formative/summative assessments. The Accelerated Learning Schools proposal requires that courageous action be taken in regards to high expectations for students, for teachers, and for school leaders. Since the schools include twenty days of Extended Learning Time, teachers were asked to submit their interest in a 210 –day contract. Those teachers who were not interested in teaching 200 days and/or whose standardized test scores did not indicate they were likely to grow students l ½ years of growth in one year were reassigned to other schools. Collaborative support in necessary transfers by the other twentyfour principals has been truly inspirational. The goals for Accelerated Learning Schools are lofty. Yet the goals will only be achieved by support from an intense network of community partners, volunteers among the retirement and faith-based community, school leaders, district support and the Board of Education. Working as a county-wide system with high expectations for all, Beaufort County Schools are focused on transforming the learning culture for the neediest of learners, breaking the cycle of underachievement deeply rooted in high poverty communities.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Dr. Valerie Truesdale Superintendent of for Beaufort County School District, South Carolina. Ms. Mary Seamon Served as chief instructional services officer for Beaufort County School District, South Carolina.

POLITICAL FACTS DID YOU KNOW… Representative Denny Neilson, SC House District 56-Chesterfield & Darlington Counties, is the District Technology Student Job Placement Coordinator for Darlington County Schools.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 25


Two Heads Are Better Than One By Linda Hutchinson, Ph.D. & Sylvia Echols, M.A.T.

During these tough times in public education, job-sharing offers real advantages to the school district, the building administrator(s), the teachers, the students and their families. From 2002 until June 30, 2009, we shared the administrative position at Central Child Development Center (CCDC) in Rock Hill Schools, Rock Hill, South Carolina. We applied for the position as a twosome, we interviewed as a twosome and we were hired as a twosome. It was the first school-level administrator position the district had ever considered for a “job-share” and quite possibly we were hired because the job description included over 30 competencies in a myriad of professional fields. It took our combined backgrounds (50 + years!) in general and special education teaching, counseling, health-care, supervision and administration, community participation, and parent education to meet most of the criteria advertised for this position. We began work while the school was in the final stages of construction and our first meeting was in the construction trailer behind the school. At that point, we realized a degree in interior design would have been nice as well. 26 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

Over the next seven years, we created a job-share position that we think worked extremely well. And we learned some important things along the way. First, these are tough times in public education. We identified some of the bigger challenges our school district, teachers, students and families were facing. They included: Financial cutbacks for districts at a time when schools are trying to meet more and more student and family needs • An ever-increasing heterogeneous student population • Strong pressures on teachers for student achievement and accountability • Economic hardships and stress facing families, school staff and faculty. These and other challenges require the best leadership, and sometimes that can mean more than one leader! Job sharing can work well if certain conditions are in place. The two people must share a similar philosophy about education in general and in particular, their instructional level. For us that


meant that we had the same ideas about developmentally appropriate preschool education.

partner. A job-share should not allow for competition of any kind, to include further advancement in the school system.

It is also important that these two people have a similar leadership style. We both viewed our school as a learning community where students, teachers and parents all had important roles to play in decision making. Because we were collaborative and set that example, it was easy to encourage collaboration throughout the organization. We placed a strong emphasis on the role of the family in its child’s education. Additionally, we approached the allocation of funds or budgeting in a similar manner. We both believed the best monetary investments were those things that truly enhanced the children’s education and helped the teacher provide engaging activities. It is imperative that people who share a job be able to completely trust one another. They must know that the other person will always want what is best for the school community and for the

The importance of good communication between the people sharing a job cannot be overstated. A system must be devised that allows for daily notes so that neither person enters into a situation about which they are not knowledgeable. It is also important that all concerns or issues that may arise are discussed openly and sometimes, with great expediency. This means that even on the days one person is not working, they may need to be accessed due to an emergency. Two very important qualities for job-sharers to have are not unique to this situation. They are important for all administratorsbeing flexible and having a sense of humor. No matter how well two people communicate, there will be times when a decision was made or a situation handled differently by one person than

POLITICAL FACTS

POLITICAL FACTS

DID YOU KNOW…

DID YOU KNOW…

Senator John W. Matthews, Jr., SC Senate District 39, is a retired Elementary School Principal.

Former U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond was a teacher and coach until 1929. He then became Superintendent of Edgefield County Schools, serving until 1933.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 27


the other would have handled it. When this happens, it is critical to be flexible. That and having a sense of humor are always great assets in every situation! We found the advantages of job-sharing far out weighed the disadvantages. One of the big advantages was that two peoples’ strengths were brought to the school. Linda had a strong background in preschool and special education curriculum. Sylvia’s strengths were working with families and her involvement in the community. This allowed for duties to be divided along areas of interest and skills. Our Linda Hutchinson and Sylvia Echols experience affirms recent research on the benefits of retaining experienced principals through job-sharing. Elizabeth Hertling in “Retaining Principals” stated that “Dividing tasks between two leaders who possess skills in different areas lets schools benefit from more wellrounded leadership.” When there were challenges, such as personnel issues, it was most helpful to have someone with whom to discuss the problem and make the decision. This adds wisdom and makes the process less lonely. Brainstorming and innovation are increased with two people who are passionate and knowledgeable about their work. This enhances collegial planning and evaluation. As one of the teachers said, “When there were issues or concerns, our two principals were able to hear all sides, discuss the situation and make a decision together.” Another great advantage is that each person comes to the job fresh and ready to go. Sharing prevents “burn out” and fatigue. Additionally, the flexible scheduling allowed each partner more family time, more time for other professional opportunities and time for civic involvement. This brings new information and perspectives to the school and results in less stress and more job satisfaction. Job-sharing is an excellent way for professionals who are nearing retirement age to continue to work and to contribute years of wisdom and experience. It could also work for an experienced educator to work with a younger or less-experienced person and serve as a mentor. Each would learn a lot from the other. Two administrators provide the faculty two perspectives and two 28 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

people with whom to reflect, seek advice or commiserate. It also means that faculty frequently received “kudos” or positive reinforcement twice. Another teacher said, “Having two principals gave us twice as much support, knowledge and encouragement. They were not tired out because they had days to back away from school situations allowing them to return refreshed and enthusiastic.” And finally, because there were two people to cover the responsibilities, very few days were used for sick leave, personal leave or vacation. When these days were needed, the schedule was arranged for the other person to work. This allowed for stability, continuity and less disruption in the school environment. After seven years of job sharing the administrative position at CCDC, we have very few drawbacks or challenges to report. Perhaps the greatest drawback was the need to communicate daily. We left notes in a file share for each other at the end of every day and we talked by phone several times a day if a difficult situation needed to be handled immediately. Such communication can be time-consuming and requires vigilance, but we believe it is extremely important to the success of a job-share. In some cases office space may need to be shared as it was for us. Sharing an office was easy for us because we are both minimalists in our approach to furnishing and decorating a space. Without even discussing this, our office ended up with two matching desks, some comfortable seating and displays that mainly featured pictures of and art work done by the children. No “Odd Couple” were we! In order to identify drawbacks that our faculty and staff thought were significant, we surveyed our staff by asking them two questions: 1. What were the advantages of our shared position in their opinion? 2. What were the disadvantages of our shared position in their opinion? Most of the teachers responded that there were no major disad-


vantages. One teacher did state, “I can only think of one. If we were discussing a specific issue with a child or family primarily with one of the principals, we might have to wait until her return to continue the discussion.” This is where daily communication comes in. Even though a teacher might choose to discuss an issue with one of us or the other, we were aware of all such situations and would enter into the discussion if we felt it needed immediate attention. Our job-sharing experience was in a public preschool serving 3 and 4 year olds. It worked well in this situation and we believe it could work in elementary school. We do not have insights into how this arrangement would work at the middle or high school level. While there is very little research about job-sharing in the field

of education, in Kathy Lacey’s survey of “Attitudes to Job Sharing and Co-Principalship” she found that “Not one ex-principal, male or female, totally rejected the possibility and many stated that they would have found job-sharing or co-principalship attractive at different stages in their career. ‘It is something that I always dreamed of when I was a principal.’ said one.” References Hertling, E. (2002, March). Retaining principals. Retrieved March 5, 2008, from http://teachers.net/gazette/MAR02/eric.html Lacey, K. (2007 ). Attitudes to job-sharing and co-principalship. Retrieved March 5, 2008, from http://ssat-inet/olc/papers/Lacey07.html

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Linda Hutchinson, Ph.D. 507 East Black Street Rock Hill, SC 29730 lhutchin@rock-hill.k12.sc.us 803-981-1118 Linda Hutchinson has over 30 years experience as a teacher, a college professor and as an administrator of public, private and university early childhood programs.

Sylvia Echols, M.A.T. 507 East Black Street Rock Hill, SC 29730 sechols@rock-hill.k12.sc.us 803-981-1081 Sylvia Echols has taught in public schools and college, worked as a child development specialist in medical practices and served as the director of a pre-school laboratory school.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 29


Leading from Within: Developing Teacher Leaders By Ginger Catoe & Betsy Long

“The top priority as principals should be to help teachers learn to grow, to get better, which, in turn, will help children and inevitably help schools.” ~ Morgan Lee, Education Associate, Office of School Leadership South Carolina Department of Education

From the Principal’s Desk: “When I became a principal, I knew that I would have to “step it up a notch” to maintain the high performance and high expectations for our students, school, and myself. However, I knew that in doing so, I would need help. In reflecting on this challenge, I considered enlisting the assistance of consultants, or expertise from the outside, to assist us in reaching our goals. The more I reflected on our school’s vision, I realized the untapped potential within my school building. It was my responsibility to groom 30 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

this talent, to find ways for teachers to become leaders in our school! Almost ironically, I received an invitation to nominate teachers to participate in the Foundations of School Leadership (FSL) program, sponsored by the South Carolina State Department of Education. Over the past three years, seven teachers from our school have completed this program.”

From the Media Center: “Let me start by stating that I have always been a leader. Un-


fortunately, as a K-12 student, I was usually the ring leader in mischief and, as a result, was often led to the principal’s office! Thus, it would undoubtedly come as a surprise to many that here I am as an adult, writing an article with my administrator on teacher leadership in schools. It is this personal narrative, however, that leads me to my main point: all schools house leaders. In fact, most schools are filled with potential leaders, from the custodians and bus drivers to the related arts teachers and twenty-year veterans. The challenge of the administrator, though, is to recognize those leaders, identify their strengths, and give them the freedom and confidence to flourish. Given the proper cultivation, teacher leaders can produce amazing results while making the job of the administrator a little less taxing, much more productive, and supremely fulfilling.”

Unleashing “positive deviants” Research on teacher leadership indicates the evolving nature of this component of school success. School leaders must learn to identify the “positive deviants” (Schmoker, 2006, p. 118) on their faculty and staff and develop their leadership talents utilizing targeted professional development experiences. Initially, a simple survey could reveal key leaders on your staff. Different personalities are suited for different types of leadership roles. Your school leaders do not all need to be outspoken, “take the bull by the horns” individuals. In fact, you will undoubtedly find that some of your most powerful, most versatile leaders are not, nor would you want them all to be! Wilmore (2007) noted eight common traits of teacher leaders: (1) creativity, (2) flexibility, (3) thirst for lifelong learning, (4) risk-taking, (5) sense of humor, (6) sense of efficacy, (7) intrapersonal skills, and (8) interper-

sonal skills. For example, in the year-long FSL course, participants study various facets of their personalities. Surveys, such as Myers-Brigg inventories and Leadership and Time Style analyses, allow teachers to reflect upon their skill sets and knowledge. Often, this self-reflection can serve to ameliorate a more productive shift in their leadership tendencies. When deeply analyzed, participants gain an awareness and understanding of their own behaviors and preferences as well as that of others. Long noted, “This is an incredibly revealing and beneficial process. While the results of these types of inventories are typically for the takers’ personal knowledge and enrichment, administrators may opt to engage a faculty in some activities that involve voluntary sharing of the survey information and begin to do some group analysis of results.” In addition to being an enjoyable and atypical professional development exercise, this type of activity reveals that all types of personalities are beneficial and crucial to the success of an institution. At this juncture, administrators can begin to groom various teacher leaders for particular tasks, roles and niches.

Start by asking for help. Initially, principals may have to explicitly ask for help with a task and see which teachers volunteer. Simple appeals for assistance allow teacher leaders to naturally emerge from their faculties and mesh their individual goals with the school-wide vision and mission (Phelps, 2008). Chairing committees, writing reports, presenting at conferences, coaching student teams, mentoring new teachers, or writing grants are typical ways for teachers to ignite their leadership abilities. Teachers empowered by these opportu-

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 31


POLITICAL FACTS DID YOU KNOW…There are 65,000 certified teachers in South Carolina. 20,000 of those teachers are not registered to vote. Another 15,000 of those teachers were registered, but did not vote in the last election. So, 35,000 teachers out of 65,000 teachers were either not registered or did not vote. nities are more likely to develop leadership capacities to initiate change in their school communities (Wilmore, 2007). Johnson and Donaldson (2007) identify with Schmoker’s “positive deviants” characterizing them as teacher leaders who are visible change agents in schools. Schmoker (2006) notes that principals must allow opportunities for teachers to work to “teach each other the practice of teaching” (p. 118). By identifying these teachers or teams of teachers and working to foster their success and expertise, principals cultivate expanded school-wide visioning, a task not readily the product of outside professional consultants. By providing time in the daily schedule, teacher leaders can expand their leadership skills by conducting peer observations, presenting at faculty meetings, overseeing common planning time meetings, attending district leadership meetings, and participating in local and state leadership classes (Wilmore, 2007). Today’s school leaders can ill afford to squander opportunities to better serve students by promoting this type of school leadership change. “It will take the efforts of educators to redefine the norms of teaching and support teacher leaders in their work so that every school’s instructional capability expands to meet its students’ needs” (Johnson and Donaldson, 2007, p. 13).

End results – positive school climate To some, the above described scenario may seem a little manipulative or contrived. Others may be cautious about allowing teachers these levels of freedom and authority. The benefits of such interactions and empowerments, however, cannot be underestimated. When you think about it, teachers are natural born leaders! Tapping that often unresolved potential and energy can empower teachers to take a key role in developing a flourishing school filled with highly achieving student and adult learners. In fact, research shows us that it is critical to provide teachers with the skills, knowledge, and dispositions that allow them to grow

as experts in their classrooms and leaders in their schools and districts (Katzenmeyer and Moller, 2001). Allowing a teacher to realize his/her full potential within a school can often make the difference between a teacher leaving the profession due to frustration, burn-out, and feelings of helplessness, despair and isolation or remaining and thriving in the classroom and as a school and community leader. In the later scenario, of course, teacher morale, student learning, and the tenor of the overall school climate improve – all necessary essential ingredients for the success of a 21st century school. To learn more about the Foundations of School Leadership program, contact the Office of School Leadership, South Carolina Department of Education, at 3700 Forest Drive, Suite 300, Columbia, SC, 29204. http://www.ed.sc.gov Foundations of School Leadership Program Coordinator: Morgan Lee, Education Associate Office of School Leadership South Carolina Department of Education 3700 Forest Drive, Suite 300 Columbia, SC 29204 803-734-8313 phone • 803-734-4387 fax mlee@leaders.ed.sc.gov References: Johnson, S. M. and Donaldson, M. L. (Sept. 2007). Overcoming the obstacles to leadership. Educational Leadership, 65(1), 8-13. Katzenmeyer, M. and Moller, G. (2001). Awakening the sleeping giant: Helping teachers develop as leaders. Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press. Phelps, P. H. (Jan/Feb, 2008). Helping teachers become leaders. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues, and Ideas, 81(3), 119-122.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Virginia Catoe, Ed.S. Principal • Doby’s Mill Elementary School 1964 Ft. Jackson Road • Lugoff, SC 29078 803-438-4055, ext. 8401 • Graduate of the University of South Carolina Ed.S. program, 2009 • South Carolina Association for School Administrators’ Assistant Principal of the Year, 2007 • Co-authored with Betsy Long “…It’s Library Fantasyland,” December 2007 “SCASL Media Center Messenger,” Volume XLV, pp. 22-23. • Married to Marcos Catoe; mother of two sons, Gunnar and Zane

32 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

Elizabeth Long, LMS Teacher and Media Specialist • Doby’s Mill Elementary School 1964 Ft. Jackson Road • Lugoff, SC 29078 803-438-4055, ext. 8448 • Graduate of Appalachian State University, Master of Library Science, 1996 • South Carolina Association of School Librarians’ Media Specialist of the Year, 2008 • 2008 National Board Certified Teacher • Co-author with Ginger Catoe, “…It’s Library Fantasyland,” December 2007 “SCASL Media Center Messenger,” Volume XLV, pp. 22-23. • Married to Chad Long; mother of daughter, Maggie


“Walk One World”: Developing Healthy Habits While Incorporating Education, Community and Mentoring Into One Program By: Jacqueline L. Wheeler

This article is being reprinted with the correct author’s name. Hundreds of walking clubs exist in elementary schools. But this school has incorporated map reading, geography, fitness, mentoring, and a website all in one! When the Walk One World walking club began its first day of walking, it simply was a way to engage students in a healthy activity while they waited for the school day to begin. In August of 2007, students who arrived to school before the 8:30 am bell would sit in the cafeteria and be monitored by a staff member. Fortunately, it became obvious by the second day that students needed an alternate location and activity as the noise level was hard to maintain, as well as provide a quieter outlet for students who did not enjoy the commotion. The walking club began in September 2007, organization and goal-setting quickly became the focus. In order to establish an organized routine, book bags were deposited according to the student’s grade level. For instance, if you were a first grader, you always put your book bag on the edge of the ‘blue line’ every morning. Second through fifth grades also had a specific location, thereby enabling students to quickly retrieve the book bags at the end of the walk. In addition, another organizational tactic was to have students walk in one direction only, and also stay ‘in the red sidewalk,’ or the outside of the gym floor. This enabled a flow of traffic that allowed for over 100 students to walk each day with ease. A whistle command was used that enabled participants to hear over the music and react immediately. One whistle meant that each student had to stop and touch their knees and quickly get quiet. Music was played daily and with over 100 students chatting and walking, this whistle rule proved to be extremely effective.

36 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009


As September drew to a close, a large United States map was placed on the wall and I developed the plan to have our club ‘walk’ across the United States. Exactly twenty-two laps around the outside of the gym were equivalent to one mile, and our walk across the United States was done as a group. Initially, I kept the distance logged with only one map and daily sign-in sheets to keep track of students and the distance that we covered. Before long, we had left Hilton Head Island and were heading towards Alabama, with the goal of reaching Sacramento, California by year’s end. But word of the early morning walking club spread among the students at the school, and before long, a few parents had joined our club to walk with their child. One of these parents was overwhelmed with the number of students walking around our gym and looking at the map on the wall to see where we were. Much to my surprise, this mother turned out to be not only a parent to one of my students, but also a representative for AAA of the Carolinas! Before long, we had maps for every student in the club. Consequently, “map day” became a regular phase of the program where maps are handed out at the beginning of our new adventure, and students are matched with a ‘buddy’ to help locate the cities and states. This community liason for the Walk One World walking club became the spark that ignited the enthusiasm with the stu-

dents. Before we knew it, we were holding random ‘ticket’ days, where students would come in and get a ticket and numbers were drawn at the end of that day. Prizes from AAA of the Carolinas included stuffed animals, jump ropes, bike helmets, pedometers, flags, beach ball globes, and pencils. Students continued to walk and locate cities, and the number of parents walking fluctuated

from week to week. Before we knew it, our group of over 132 children and parents had reached our final destination, and it was only December! I knew that I needed a plan to continue to promote the fitness and the enthusiasm that I had seen with the students in regards to map reading. In addition, I couldn’t believe how many students couldn’t wait to come walk each morning. When provided with an outlet and alternative to sitting, these students wanted to walk! By the time we reached our holiday break, I knew I had to come back with a plan to keep walking….but to what or where? An internet search lead me to the story of the two Kunst brothers, who actually circumnavigated the globe from 1970-1974. Their story is chronicled in The Man Who Walked Around the World, by Dave Kunst. In addition, these brothers have also been featured in several Guiness Book of World Records as well as in city documents and government buildings in each of the cities that they walked through. Their story is one of dreams, perseverance, goal-setting and the human spirit as they walked through four continents and 13 countries in four years, three months, and sixteen days. Without a doubt, this story was one that could not only keep us walking and staying fit, but also incorporate map reading beyond the United States, and take us ‘overseas’ where we could travel as a group to other countries, cultures, and follow a route that a ‘real’ person had actually walked. In addition, AAA of the Carolinas once again added their support in the form of world maps which were handed out to each student. “Map Day” was held once again in the gym, and students helped others as we located the countries that we would attempt to walk through. The story was

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 37


told to the club members as they worked diligently to locate the continents and countries. Enthusiasm grew each day as the PTA of the school came through with a map that would take 8 panels to mount on the wall of the gymnasium. This map became a focal point for all the students in the school as nobody had seen a world map so large! Numbers were placed on the map, indicating exactly where we were and our final destination. Parents and community members occasionally came to walk in the morning with the students, as well as local AAA representatives, including the District representative. Local sponsor, Chick-Fil-A also added their support, with the ‘cow’ arriving to help us celebrate our culminating event which took place on June 1, 2008. The students, parents, and community had logged 14,450 miles the first year of walking as a group. Our final mile became a school-wide celebration as the media, community groups, PTA, Principal, Assistant Principals, and entire school faculty walked the final mile on the nearby high school track. Water was distributed on the final lap and students headed for the nearby Visual Performing Arts Center at the high school for a presentation. Students were surprised to watch a 20-minute video, set to music, of the entire year of walking and working out in physical education classes. Every child was featured in the video and the excitement was overwhelming as fitness and geography came together as the community celebrated a year of growing, learning and working together to reach a common

goal. Local sponsors, AAA of the Carolinas and Chick-Fil-A were honored for their constant support of our efforts to provide students with the opportunity to walk for a purpose, stay fit, and learn about various cultures and countries;

38 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

In August of 2008, year two began with the Walk One World walking club with the same procedures in place that helped establish our organization and routines the previous year. Book bags were once again placed in an appropriate pile, one whistle meant to stop and freeze and music played with the addition of a new speaker system. In addition, Walking Club Captains were stationed on the corners of the gym monitoring students, assisting younger students with book bag placement, and keeping our gym safe. The number of student walkers averaged between 80-135 students a day, and a new route and adventure was planned. After the first week of establishing the routine and procedures, ‘Map Day’ was held with AAA of the Carolinas and students were once again given their personal maps of the United States and the world. Fifth grade students were matched with first graders, fourth with second graders, and third graders worked together once again. The excitement was obvious as the students wanted to know “where are we walking to this year?” It was exciting to inform over 100 students that we would travel to the New 7 Wonders of the World, which were declared in July, 2007 in Lisbon and included several countries that many of our students were from. In addition, it was rewarding to have students recognize locations identified last year with our maps, and incredible to see how excited students were with learning new geography! But that wasn’t all that the students were excited about. Because the celebration was such a success, the students in the club began to ask about our final goal, the miles it would take to accomplish the walk, and what kind of party was in store if they reached the final 7th Wonder. Captains explained that the club would sell water each morning and all proceeds would pay for the picnic at the end of the year, if we walked the distance which doubled the previous year. This meant that students had


to get to school and walk their one mile five days a week in order for our group to achieve a distance of 30,000 miles. The task seemed daunting, but with the walker number so large, the distance was achievable. Captains were assigned a mentee, or Junior Captain (younger student) who would work alongside them and learn how to monitor bookbags and student behavior. The more students that took ownership of their walk, the better behaved our group became. Students began to reinforce walking, not running, staying on the outside of the gym to get the full mile, and supported all procedures. Before long, many students were requesting to be involved in the Jr. Captain program, with hopes of one day becoming a Captain. Criterion was established that set the standard high to be considered a Captain, and these students became role models for our school’s character mission statement. In addition, the role of Captain became empowering, thereby increasing personal responsibility and setting the standard for personal behavior. What was started as simply something other than sitting in the cafeteria, has now become the event that starts the morning at our elementary school. Students never know what day will be ‘ticket day,’ (where prizes are randomly handed out), or what idea has just been developed. But the amazing fact remains: despite the organization, rules, procedures and sheer volume of walkers, the students keep coming back the next day! Walking has never been so ‘cool,’ and map reading has never been easier when everyone gets their own map and mentors help with locations. In addition, the community members who so generously offered support and donations, including a natural connection to the local AAA office, the club cannot help but continue to grow. The domain website of walkoneworld.com is now a product of our groups efforts to expand our club’s success and help other schools get started. Principal Gretchen Keefner, herself a walker and fitness advocate, has encouraged the community to join the students on whichever day they can fit it into their busy schedules. In addition, Assistant Principals Amy Kaufman and Pam Maddox sometimes join our group and walk with the student body of the school, getting to know the children. Students have not only witnessed the administrative support towards their fitness and geography efforts, but also celebrated alongside our leaders as we reach final destinations. What started as simply a ‘club’ has now grown to a web-worthy cause that

allows information to be accessed by other schools and organizations. Groups can now follow our lead and develop programs in South Carolina that create cross-curriculum activities and sponsorship, as well as developing community relations. The website of walkoneworld.com has been a positive continuation of the student’s involvement in the walking club, with membership levels rising each year. The website allows students, parents, community members and beyond, the opportunity to learn as we learn, track our distances, and get involved in future projects. This walking club has grown to be much more than a diversion for students waiting before school. It’s impact upon student learning, personal responsibility, geography awareness, leadership qualities and good character traits has been tremendous. Together, our school and the Hilton Head Island Community are forerunners in the pursuit of a high quality education for all South Carolinian children! References Kunst,D. & Trowbridge,C. (1979), The Man Who Walked Around the World. William Morrow, New York, N.Y. World Walk Travel Adventure. (n.d.). The First Verified Walk Round the Earth. Retrieved September 5, 2007, from http://home.earthlink.net/~earthwalker1/.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacqueline L. Wheeler Physical Education Teacher • Hilton Head Island School for the Creative Arts, 78 Timber Lane Hilton Head, South Carolina 29926 • (843) 837-4005 B.S. & M.Ed. Health and Physical Education, Exercise Science, Teacher Certification K-12 ( Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania). Began career as a District Representative for Campbell Soups Company in Pittsburgh, PA where numerous awards were won for presentations, sales, and Corporate Displays. Taught health and physical education for six years at the Community College of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, as well as in Maryland and South Carolina public schools. Candidate for National Board Certification. Mother of two children.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 39


School Leadership Combats Effects of Recession By Laura Gardner

Saturday, August 8th, two weeks before school, dawned hot and muggy but the student lot was full of cars. Golf carts manned by administrators and volunteers zipped back and forth across the school lawn, ferrying to cars parked on the outskirts of the lots or along side roads adults with arms full of free clothing, food, and school supplies. The optimism was tangible but the First Annual Goose Creek Unity Day offered area families much more than possessions. To socioeconomic groups that have often felt betrayed by the educational system, Unity Day offered a sense of belonging, support, and welcome. Berkeley County, like many others across America, has suffered the effects of the recession with many parents coping with lost income. Goose Creek High School – always predominantly populated with students from working class families, now further hampered by a struggling economy – also hosts the largest population in the district of students for whom English is a second language. The high school and its three feeder middle schools, one intermediate school, and four elementary schools, have the challenging task, familiar to educators, of maintaining high levels of student achievement in spite spi of increasing poverty. Believing that students shouldn’t be handicapped either by stud fear of need or by parents’ inability to purchase hundreds of dollars of school supplies, principal Jimmy Huskey’s original desire was to provide those supplies in addition to free clothing. “As “ you talked to families who came in to the th building, you understood they were in trouble,” Huskey said. “Schools need to tr be the first line of defense for children.” As he sought support from area churches and civic organizations, the project grew. Nearby Greater Mt. Zion Church offered to Near help with the donation of food boxes, purchased through the Lowcountry Food Bank. Local editor of the NAACP newsletter, John Matthews, added health screening. Schools, businesses, and other organizations donated time and products with a local facility offering one month’s free storage of donated goods, a vendor whose wife is a teacher at the school sharing free bags of boiled or roasted peanuts, and a primary school feeding guests over 3,000 hot dogs and drinks. Free health screenings took place in fifteen-minute intervals throughout the five-hour event. Guests took home over five-hundred boxes of free food and hundreds of pounds of adults’ and children’s clothing. Items that remained at the end of the day were collected by Good Will Industries. 40 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009


As if proof of the project’s impact was needed, Huskey has received a number of thank you notes and phone calls from the community as well as queries from other parts of the district about the next Unity Day. One note from a parent summed up comments frequently heard during the day, “The help… means so much to me. Some days we struggle to get the basics.” For principals who wish to duplicate Unity Day, Huskey offers a bit of advice. “When they use the word community, we want them to think of Goose Creek High School.” To support that concept, the Unity Day Committee advertised and sent out flyers in English and Spanish, welcoming without language barriers everyone who lives in the area. The Committee made phone calls to any organization or individual who might be interested in helping and held bi-weekly meetings at the high school for all volunteers. To encourage family literacy, organizers collected books to give away on the day of the event. Lest the project appear to have benefited only those outside the educational community, Huskey touts the advantages to school administrators. “Working together on this project made our schools the hub of the community,” he suggests. “We principals of the feeder schools have had lunch several times to bounce around ideas, to talk about how to meet the needs of our students. It has made us stronger leaders.” Chief Academic Officer, Archie Franchini, connects Unity Day with one of Berkeley County’s Core Values: … refining a team concept throughout the district that values the role of our community partnerships in meeting the needs of our CENTERPOINT (the students). “This project emphasizes our common desire to partner with the community to do everything we can to support students, to remove any stumbling blocks to their learning so that they may be as successful as possible.” This duplicatable project provides a solution for problems revealed by widespread research into the impact of economic instability on children and learning. Ultimately, Unity Day gave families a reason for believing in the schools and motivation to support the instruction that goes on inside the buildings. “We have a lot of people who are hurting right now. Unity Day increased the feeling that schools are here for the people,” Huskey concluded. “It’s going to take everybody to raise these kids.”

POLITICAL FACTS DID YOU KNOW… Former SC Senator Kay Patterson was a social studies teacher at W.A. Perry Middle School in Richland District 1.was a social studies teacher at W.A. Perry Middle School in Richland District 1.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 41


Allendale-Fairfax Middle School Tigers: Using MAP To Raise Achievement By Brian Newsome

Allendale-Fairfax Middle School is excited about the growth of the sixth, seventh, and eighth grade students on the recent MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) test administered in early December 2008. Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) are statealigned computerized adaptive tests that accurately reflect the instructional level of each student. Students were recognized on Thursday, December 18, 2008 at an assembly program to celebrate their successes. Two hundred thirty (230) students received prizes from the school treasure chest for gains of 5 or more points. T-shirts were awarded to ninety-four (94) students achieving at least a 10-point gain, and a pizza party was held for seventy-four (74) students who met a

42 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

proficient or advanced cut score. Fourteen students were also recognized for having the highest gains on the Winter MAP assessment. Those students were: 6th Graders Raekwon Davis, Larissa Richardson, Colin Carroll, Naquanda Moore, 7th Graders Moneisha Monroe, Tommie Gill, Tiera Gill, Ra’Keem Buxton, Kadisha Barker, 8th Graders Antonio Carter, Aaliyah Carter, Joseph Rogers, Kendra Daniels, and Jalen Hall. These fourteen students were taken to Pizza Hut in Hampton for lunch on Wednesday, December 17, 2008. Encourage your children to keep working hard!


Managing Stress in Today’s Workplace By Mike Linebaugh Public Sector Account Executive South Carolina Colonial Life

The economy is taking a harsh toll on South Carolina’s education system. Reduced funding has forced school administrators to make even deeper cuts to budgets that were already desperately lean. Layoffs, reduced staffing and the mandate to do more with less put continued pressure on today’s principals and staff. And rising tension at home from reduced incomes, the higher cost of living and greater demands on everyone’s personal time squeeze employees from both sides. So how does today’s workforce deal with the increased stress of our frenzied world? The first step is to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress, says Jada Richardson, manager of the health and wellness program at Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company, a leading provider of benefits offered at the workplace, including South Carolina state employees. “Stress tends to cycle,” says Richardson. “With the economy right now, there’s more awareness of stress because we’re out of our comfort zones. But stress is always present. It’s just a matter of how we deal with it once we recognize the signs and symptoms.”

Know the signs and symptoms of stress. Though stress can present itself differently in people, here are some of the most common signs: • Irritability • Moodiness • Inability to sleep • Increased heart rate • Increased blood pressure • Muscle pain and tension • Headaches • Loss of appetite or increase of appetite • Depression

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 43


Take steps to reduce your stress. Stress can be both good and bad for our bodies, but it’s the negative side effects of stress employees need to be especially careful in managing. Follow these tips to help take control of the stress in your life.

your life from the lives of the people you’re helping. That can make a big difference in the amount of stress you experience.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Linebaugh, CLU (803) 422-9847 or michael.linebaugh@ColonialLife.com

1.

Exercise. Yes, you’ve heard this one before, and there’s a good reason why. Research proves that exercise increases the release of endorphins, nature’s natural painkiller and mood enhancer. Even short walks or brief sessions of exercise will make you feel better immediately afterward, with the side benefit of improving your overall health at the same time.

2.

Get more sleep. Your body restores itself and replenishes its energy while you’re asleep, so make sure you don’t shortchange yourself in the sleep department. Take brief naps whenever you can, or go to bed 15 minutes earlier each evening. Every little bit of extra sleep helps.

3.

Take a 10- or 15-minute break at work. Physically remove yourself from your workspace each day to give your mind and body a break. It takes a conscious effort to make this happen, but it’s well worth it. Invite a friend to join you because you’ll be more likely to stick to your plan. And don’t work through lunch.

4.

Take time out for yourself. Each day, spend a little time doing something you enjoy. Read, take a walk or sit quietly by yourself in a calm place. You’ll be amazed at how even short timeouts will lift your spirits.

5.

Develop a support network. Don’t go it alone. Talking with friends or spending time with family and coworkers who care about you will make you feel better and realize you’re not alone.

He is a public sector account executive for Colonial Life in South Carolina, which provides some of the personal insurance plans offered to state employees.

A Special Note to Educators Working in a school system can be both rewarding and stressful. Those in the field of education tend to be passionate about their desire to help others. But when red tape, documentation and politics start to take away from the hands-on duties of teaching and helping, teachers and principals can feel overwhelmed and disengaged. That’s when it’s time to separate work from home. “Try not to make work so personal,” says Richardson. “Understand and realize your limitations in helping others. Sometimes we take on the burden of other people’s problems on top of our own stressors and become overwhelmed. Learn how to separate 44 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

POLITICAL FACTS DID YOU KNOW… Representative Mike Anthony, SC House District 42-Spartanburg & Union Counties, is a teacher and coach.


Touching Hearts, Educating MindsConnecting With Students By Janice Keller

Looking for the best methods to reach students who are not meeting the criteria set by our state and federal guidelines is a challenge that sends many school improvement planning teams into a tizzy questioning techniques, investigating strategies, and searching out programs. Hours are spent in data analysis, research, review, and reorganizing. As this is going on; school staff, students, and parents feel the pressure of possible consequences they could be facing. I can’t help but ask myself, “Are we looking at this all wrong?” Can we step back and say, “Now wait a minute. What are we doing? Isn’t it time we delve into this educational nightmare in a different light?” According to Thomas Edison, “The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are, first, hard work; second, stickto-itiveness; and third, common sense.” Using this creed as a guide, it is time to look deeply at what is going on in education today. We need to look not just what is going on in our own buildings, but in the whole educational arena. If we stop, step back, and really examine the heart of education and not just the 46 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

outward framework of the system, then maybe we can begin to make strides towards true school improvement. As Blacksburg Elementary began the process of honest deep reflection, sifting through a plethora of educational baggage, we were left to address relationships and hidden curriculum you do not find in textbooks or on any tests. The bottom line in making a difference in a child succeeding or failing doesn’t rely on the amount of materials available or the latest top-notch program


implemented for achievement of the masses. What truly makes a difference is exceptional teaching done by quality educators who have a passion for children, knowledge, and life. This reminds me of the commercial we see where someone is bonked on the head and says, “I could have had a V-8”. Research from the eighties dealing with effective schools, Madeline Hunter’s effective teacher materials, and William Purkey’s research on invitational learning has been right there for the utilization. However, in our desire to find that magical combination of technological genius or miracle program, we left behind the ultimate reason for making improvement in the first place. That being the goal to make sure our children become caring, compassionate, and capable individuals, who are ready to thrive in the world in which they live.

A Little Background Four years ago, Blacksburg Elementary School changed. No longer was it the only elementary school in the small upper state town of Blacksburg. With a new primary school opening, opportunities for existing staff to relocate became available. Many transferred into positions at the new school, while others filled needed vacancies throughout the district. This left the elementary school with the challenge of filling the vacant positions. From cafeteria staff to the principal, new personnel walked the halls on opening day. Many of these unfamiliar faces were also new to the profession. Even though seven of the 21 classroom teachers had experience in education, the remaining 14 were first year teachers. The school’s grade make-up also changed. Instead of serving students in grades 4K through fourth grade, Blacksburg Elementary began serving students in grades three through five. Three years down the road and assessment results showed progress was being achieved, just not at the rate set by regulations of No Child Left Behind. BES found itself the victim of AYP failure. Initiatives were put in place to target demographic areas not meeting AYP criteria. After receiving current test data this past August, results told the story. We had finally met our minority demographic but unfortu-

nately, fell short in five newly identified areas. This was a blow felt hard by the entire school family. The leadership team once again began the tedious task of going through the mounds of data. Trends were identified, plans were made, and improvement strategies were implemented. Then, in October, word came that our school was going into Corrective Action. In this article, I hope to share some of the steps taken at BES in order to lead the students, staff, and myself to true school improvement. Even though we are in the beginnings of our new journey, already it has become a journey of true success.

Step One: Look Within: Leadership-First and Foremost When the school you are leading continues to fall below the mark, you have to take stock and face the facts. Steps had to be taken for deeper analysis of the educational program, but I also knew I had to take a long look at my leadership. Difficult self assessment had to take place concerning expectations, purpose, and vision. Was I being the educational leader I needed to be? What had I done or not done that led the staff and students down this road? I was the one they all depended on to see the vision, to offer direction, to bring in the research, to guide toward effective classroom management, to facilitate differentiation in instruction and to model excellent teaching. I was the one ultimately responsible and I had failed. Self-reflection is not easy, but it is necessary. Once I wiped off my pride and came to an understanding of my own shortcomings, I was ready once again to take charge and be the instructional leader Blacksburg Elementary students and staff needed.

Step Two: Go to the Professionals: Frontline Experts The leadership team has been in existence at BES for several years. Grade level teams were used and guidelines were in place.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 47


the news about corrective action, the leadership team was already actively and effectively in place. Members were ready to face the challenge of finding a solution to the stumbling blocks causing our students to make inadequate progress. Problems as well as accomplishments were brought to light. The leadership team and School Improvement Council conducted a needs assessment that focused on tracking achievement and progress over the past four years. These teams diligently sought out reasons for our students not meeting the standards. We did find that even though our students had fallen short in meeting the criteria for achieving AYP, there were pockets of success throughout the school.

Step Three-Recognize Quality Instruction Areas of success were identified. Essential questions were formed. Why were these areas successful? What was different about these areas as compared to those where improvement was not realized? Could we duplicate what we see working?

Still, this was a resource that was not fully utilized. Meetings were held, agendas followed, and plans written; but additional insight could be gained from the members of the team. These individuals needed to be more than just an information gathering entity. After all, they were the ones on the frontline, facing the educational battle on a daily basis. So, we changed the purpose of this team. No longer would the team come together a few times a year to take notes and review school wide plans. This was going to be an action team. The school leadership team began meeting before school every other Thursday. Together, we studied the steps for becoming a professional learning team. We set our guiding principles (norms) and began conversations about pedagogy and current trends. (Illustration 1) The members of this team consisted of grade level lead teachers, math and reading coaches, and representatives from the special education department, guidance counselor, assistant principal and myself. One difference I began noticing was the confidence with which these individuals began leading their grade level meetings each week. These meetings were having purpose, educational issues were being discussed, and the teams began transforming into educators who were becoming proactive instead of reactive. Focus was shifting from defining teaching as how much material was covered to how well the students were learning the material being covered. When the school received 48 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

This is where that research from the eightes popped its head. Each of our successful pockets of success had several things in common. Classrooms were directed by educators who had effective procedures in place. Nothing was left to chance. Routines had been established to ensure education was not interrupted. All students were held to high expectations and there was no room for excuses no matter what your socio-economic status was or your identification label. Gifted students were equal to resource students. Relationships were built with the students. These teachers knew their students and they made it a point to make each child feel safe and non-threatened. They had classrooms that were inviting and student friendly. The students knew by how they were treated, their teacher cared. These teachers “touched the hearts “of the students they taught. Instructional activities were developed to meet individual styles and abilities. Students were held accountable for their learning. Incentives, praise, humor, accountability, routines, consistent expectations, fairness, and respectfulness. It was all there. The teachers in these classrooms knew their curriculum and spent time planning and preparing for success. They did everything they could to make sure children had every opportunity to succeed. If a student failed in their room, these teachers saw it as their own failure and failure was not an option for them. These individuals held themselves to high expectations. Attendance among this group was high, collaboration was part of their day, and they continuously sought out new methods to reach their students. In summary, we found that effective teachers related positively to four major components. • • • •

classroom environment students instruction colleagues


Step Four: Moving Forward Once we identified what was working, conferences were held in order to have discussions concerning trends, effective teaching practices, and expectations with each individual teacher. Focus groups were created in order to address common needs. Groups met once a week to study effective teaching strategies, effective planning procedures, using assessments to guide instruction, and differentiation. Time was spent on building positive relationships, creating an inviting classroom, matching assessments to individuals, managing the classroom, and reflection. During a focus group session teachers had an opportunity to discuss current research, reflect on their own understanding, share accomplishments, and relate new learning to their own classroom situations. Teachers left the sessions with growth and reflection opportunities to help strengthen their own abilities as an educator. (Illustration 2) Other activities included peer observations and peer mentoring. One successful tip for setting up focus groups is the size. These groups need to be small enough to become personable and diverse enough to add various perspectives. Because this was a major part of our school improvement initiative, it was important for the administration to set the example, therefore, we were actively involved with each group and completed all the growth opportunities, along with conducting individual conferences, differentiating the groups’ activities based on common needs.

Step Five: Praise and Good Times Individuals have different reasons for doing what needs to be done and accomplishing sometimes the “impossible”. It is up to us to find out what motivates the students and staff in our building. There are those who do it because it is the right thing to do. Others work for recognition, to hear their name over the intercom, or see their name in print. A good pat on the back works for some, while there are those you just have to “pay”. At Blacksburg Elementary we have implemented several recognition programs this year to help with attendance and behavior. Every two weeks we recognize the classes at each grade level, who have the highest attendance and lowest discipline infractions. Banners are hung over the classroom doors and the classes are recognized in the school newsletter. Each nine weeks, classes with the overall highest attendance and lowest behavior infractions are rewarded with ice cream or popcorn parties. At the end of the year, a fun day was planned for overall yearly winners. Students were given certificates and pencils from the office for any improvements made from first nine weeks to second nine weeks. Even students who had gone from a “U” to a “D” received one. The day those certificates were given, the school was buzzing. Students left the building waving their awards.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 49


Some parents called to say thank you, because it was the first certificate their child had ever received. Teachers send home postcards weekly telling parents good things their child has done in their classroom. Each teacher makes sure all students get several of these throughout the year. Another special treat for the students is the school wide singa-longs. Every other Friday morning before class pick-up, students enter our gym clapping to our school song “We’re All in This Together” from High School Musical. We spend the next fifteen minutes singing and dancing. Our favorite dance is a toss up between the Chicken Dance and Cha- Cha Slide. Our favorite songs are “Lean on Me” and “YMCA”. During this time you never know which student has planned a special presentation to share. We have fun, laugh, and just enjoy being in that moment together. I once thought about not doing this. Luckily, a letter came across my desk from a student. The student was thanking me for having this special time on Fridays. She shared that when she wakes up on Friday mornings she is very worried and “stressed” because of the tests she has waiting for her at school. But then, when she walks in and hears the music, she forgets about her tests and “shakes” all the stress away. This helped me realize just how important those 15 minutes are to the students and me. A few of the incentives in place for staff include opportunities to be recognized on an “Impressive” board. Information cards can be placed on this board by staff sharing what they have noticed that is impressive about another staff member. At the end of the month, the cards are taken down and a drawing is held for free lunches in the school cafeteria. The cards are then delivered to the impressive staff with a special treat attached. Another day the staff enjoys is Wacky Wednesdays. The first Wednesday each month is designated as a dress down day with a special theme, such as “Down on the Farm”. Refreshments to match the theme are set up and the day is a fun appreciation time for the school. No matter what you have in place, the key is to make sure you are taking the time to show appreciation and reward hard work. It is easy to get caught up in the business of the profession and have good intentions, but we have to remember that good intentions die; kind, complimentary words and actions live forever.

In Summary

about your programs 2. Search out what works then duplicate it 3. Provide opportunities for staff to become quality educators 4. Motivate and Praise 5. HAVE FUN Maybe this is more philosophical than we are used to hearing in education, but looking back over the course of history, those individuals, those communities, those entities who stand the test of time have one thing in common-Attitude. How can this type of can-do attitude emerge? Significant individuals who invest their time and energy to the well-being and greater good have a resounding influence in the character of a student. Who were some significant individuals in your life as a child? I bet you have a teacher on your list! References Blankstein, A. (2004). Failure Is Not an Option. California: Corwin Press. Brighton, C. M. (2009). Embarking on Action Research. Educational Leadership, 66. 40-44. Carter, D. (2005, December). Qualities of an Effective Teacher. United News: News of the United Church of God. Retrieved from http://www.ucg.org/un/un0512/effectiveteacher.htm Clark, R. (2004). The Essential 55 Workbook. New York: Hyperion. Douglas, R. (2007). Ahead of the Curve. Indiana: Solution Tree. DuFour, R. (2006). Professional Learning Communities at Work. Indiana: Solution Tree. Meyer, J. (2001). A Leader in the Making. Oklahoma: Harrison House. National Research Center on English. The Effective Teacher. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/inits/americareads/ educators_effteach.html Peters, S. (2006). Do You Know Enough About Me To Teach Me? South Carolina: The Peters Group Foundation. University of British Columbia. Effective Teaching Principles and Practices. Retrieved from http://www.tag.ubc.ca/ resources/evaluation/appendixc.php Whitaker, T. (2003). What Great Principals Do Differently. Ohio: click! Publishing Services. Wong, H. (1991). The First Days of School. California: Harry K. Wong Publications.

1. Face the cold hard facts: about yourself, about your staff,

POLITICAL FACTS

POLITICAL FACTS

DID YOU KNOW…

DID YOU KNOW…

Representative Jackie E. “Coach” Hayes, SC House District 55-Dillon & Horry Counties, is the Athletic Director and Head Football Coach at Dillon High School.

Representative William “Bill” Clyburn, SC House District 82-Aiken & Edgefield Counties, was principal of Aiken Elementary School and Aiken High School.

50 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009


Building a New School? Plan Early and Maintain Focus to Finish Strong By Bill Laughlin, AIA

School board members are well intentioned people--but in many cases, do not have extensive experience in the building and construction field. Thus, building a new school often surprises them as a long and involved process. They would do well to educate themselves about that process long before it begins.

The Labor Day Guarantee In office and retail construction, owners can delay opening without serious consequences. But if a school building is not ready

on Labor Day, the community will be in an uproar. The solution is adequate planning. A good working estimate for a new school, from conception to occupancy, is three to five years. The project schedule’s length depends on a variety of factors, but is generally driven by the size and type of school (elementary, middle, or high school, and new or renovation). School board members and administrators who believe their school can be built faster than a normal project will likely set themselves up for failure.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 51


Look Ahead 5 Years . . . Every Year To prepare for the building process, school boards should maintain regularly updated capital improvement plans. Once a district determines that it needs a new or renovated building, it should take four to six months to look for, select, and procure a new site. Another one to two months should be spent on various site assessments. Selecting a qualified and experienced design team can take one to two months; the design process typically takes nine to 14 months. While the building design and site design should be done together and finish at the same time, each process follows a slightly different track. Site reviews and approvals can take six months or more, while a building permit review takes one or two months. Once the design and permitting processes are complete, the project is ready to receive bids from general contractors, a process that takes about a month or two barring contingencies.

Even so, team members may believe that a contract signed to complete a project on time means a rush job. That approach will make little difference come Labor Day, because an 18-month project usually takes about 18 months – not 12 or 14 months. Instead,school board members should equate the school design and construction process with a marathon, planning ahead and then maintaining an even, calculated pace throughout the process--coming in strong all the way to the finish.

Turning the First Shovel A district should expect a new elementary school to require 1418 months, a new middle school to take 17-21 months, and for a new high school, 24-28 months. Move-in times are typically an additional one, two, or three months for an elementary, middle or high school, respectively. Qualified planners will be sure to include general contingency time for unforeseeable delays such as bad weather, labor and material shortages, poor soil, etc. The best way to manage all those deadlines is for the district to designate an internal employee to create and manage a project implementation schedule. While meeting the deadlines will be a team effort, the final responsibility should rest with the district. They have the most control over the front end of the schedule, where it is easy to fall behind schedule. If this happens, the problem is almost always impossible to fix; the district will need to make (or implement) contingency plans to open the building late—often by a whole year, not just a month.

It Really Takes That Long Experienced construction companies know how to recognize projects with doomed timelines, yet may still bid on and accept projects with unrealistic deadlines. (Such deadlines may also reduce competition.) A responsible winning contractor will make a good-faith effort to complete such a project on time, but may also be prepared to pay liquidated damages (per day charges for each day late).

52 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bill Laughlin, AIA, REFP, LEEDap A Vice President with Moseley Architects, P.C. www.moseleyarchitects.com, a mid-Atlantic firm specializing in educational design. He can be reached at blaughlin@moseleyarchitects.com

POLITICAL FACTS DID YOU KNOW… Representative Dr. Jimmy C. Bales, SC House District 80-Richland County, is a former teacher, principal of Lower Richland High School, and Director of Career Education for Richland District One.

POLITICAL FACTS DID YOU KNOW… Representative Curtis Brantley, SC House District 122-Jasper, Hampton & Beaufort Counties, is a former principal of Ridgeland Middle School and Ridgeland High School; assistant principal of West Hardeeville Elementary School; Director of Operations for Jasper County Schools; and District Superintendent.


Perception is Not Always the Reality When Assessing a School’s Performance By Joshua L. Patterson

Because schools are complex organizations, a school’s improvement does not occur in a smooth linear process but, instead, typically progresses in uneven stages. Since the enduring effectiveness of a particular practice cannot be quickly observed, tests are generally the tool used to measure a school’s effectiveness (Elmore, 2003). Thus, to properly assess a school’s effectiveness the use of multiple measures is required. In today’s age of accountability, many of America’s public schools are under fire. Some schools are identified as models to emulate and others are issued labels such as “below average” or “failing.” Furthermore, many advocates of school reform debate the grading of 54 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

schools. They claim such assessments can actually bring adverse affects to a school’s genuine performance. They assert that some lower performing schools are actually doing a more effective job than their high-performing counterparts. While many low-performing schools, which typically serve those from low socioeconomic backgrounds, implement strong research based practices, some high-performing schools simply strive to maintain status quo (Popham, 2005). With so much misleading information regarding schools, who’s to say which ones are actually more effective? Effective schools, regardless of their label, are those that promote a shared vision, implement practices that are


POLITICAL FACTS DID YOU KNOW… Former Senator Mary Ellis Gordon was South Carolina’s first women senator Ellis was graduated from Winthrop College in 1913 and took a teacher/principal position at Gillisonville, S.C. In 1924 she was appointed superintendent of schools for Jasper County. She instituted a school bus transportation system so that she could close one-room rural schools and allow students to receive improved education at centralized schools. Ellis mandated that teachers become involved in professional development through teacher-training programs. When Ellis sought to improve African American schools by purchasing new textbooks and hiring a college graduate to supervise Jasper County’s black schools, she was fired. In 1928 she entered the state Senate race. She narrowly defeated her opponent, who had led the opposition to her education initiatives in Jasper County for African-Americans. As a state senator, Ellis served on various committees including those covering education, the military, natural resources, and penitentiaries. (Source: www.southcarolinastatemuseum.org) based on the specific needs of students, foster a culture that is centered around openness and trust, and are led by disciplined leaders who promote the success of the school before their own. Effective leaders, who support the academic achievement and well-being of all students, can be found within all types of schools. Currently though, in this age of mandated tests and report cards, a leader’s effectiveness is often times dependent upon the public’s perception of a school’s performance. In spite of this existing bureaucracy, these transformational leaders are those who refuse to settle for the organization’s present condition. They exist in high-performing schools and, while the label of their school often impairs them, they, also exist in low-performing schools. Characterized by specific common traits, these leaders are selflessly dedicated to the organization in which he or she serves.

The word “passion” in its Latin form, passus, means to have suffered or to have undergone. Though this word is often used to mean a great desire or yearning, transformational leaders are fanatically driven beyond end to produce sustained results within their schools, regardless of how difficult a task may be (Collins, 2001). This kind of passion is what effective leaders hope to invest in their faculty. They strive for greatness and surround themselves with people who desire the same. Likewise, effective leaders model leadership and scholarship within their work (Elmore, 2003). While holding this same expectation for others, they balance motivation and rigor without overpowering. Transformational leaders are ambitious, but when successful, remain out of the spotlight. Modestly, such leaders accredit the school’s success to other factors or individuals. Similarly, when the organization experiences setbacks or disappointments, these leaders, refusing to pass blame on others, take personal responsibility (Collins, 2001). Everything, positive or negative, that oc-

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 55


curs within an organization is ultimately the responsibility of the leader. Effective leaders recognize that this responsibility cannot be delegated or ignored. Effective schools should not begin with a vision. First, effective schools must ensure that the proper leadership (i.e. administration, faculty, staff, etc.) is in place. Without a coalition of leaders, it is impossible to pursue a vision (Fullan, Bertani, & Quinn, 2004). Second, any brutal facts concerning the school’s current performance must be discussed. When the brutal facts are recognized, effective actions required to improve schools become apparent (Collins, 2001). Additionally, several questions should also be asked: What are the core values of this organization? What are the provisions for the vision and how can they be possessed? What does the school do well? In which area(s) does the school need to focus attention? Where is the school now and where does it want to be? Only when an objective assessment of a school’s current performance has been made can a vision or plan of action be appropriately developed (Collins, 2001). Without a set vision, personal preferences and individual agendas become the basis to which decisions are made. In schools where there is no vision, mistrust and confusion arise. No one knows what actions to take and if they take action, they don’t know why they took it. This creates for an unhealthy climate. Furthermore, without vision there are no established goals to attain in which a principal can motivate and direct the faculty to a common purpose.

should also be developed (Collins, 2001). Though a transformational leader could not expect to implement all the necessary changes within the course of one year, on-going evaluations and proper adjustments to ensure continual progress should be made throughout his or her tenure.

In creating a vision, it is important to involve the school’s stakeholders, including those who may not always agree with the decisions you make. To ensure the best answer, organizations must debate vigorously (Collins, 2001). Furthermore, collaborating together and making decisions that are driven by well-informed data, stakeholders should arrive at a consensus for the school’s vision. An effective vision is one that is not only shared among all but is one that can be manifested through the practices of the entire organization. As a leader, in order to address the success of all learners, it is his or her role to promote the school’s vision and to develop a plan in order to achieve it. While the vision of the school may never come to fruition, the vision must be created “with the end in mind” and should guide all decisions that affect the school. Once created, a vision must then be clearly communicated, implemented, and stewarded, making any needed revisions along the way that reflect a change in the school’s needs or population. Effective schools are concerned about making advancements; thus, some former routines and habits should be sustained while others should be slowly discontinued. After implementation of the school’s vision, the most effective organizational and instructional practices must be researched and employed. Concurrently, a look at the school’s current practices should be considered. In addition to a school’s “start doing list,” a “stop doing list” 56 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

To be effective, schools must have competency and capacity. Effective educators are those who have the competence to believe that no excuses can be made for their students and their opportunities to learn. Likewise, within a good school of strong capacity, all shareholders, who work together for the same purpose with common values and core beliefs, will make no excuses for the school they serve (Bolman & Deal, 2003). When goals of student achievement and school performance are made with an in-depth understanding of the organization and the students it serves, schools can take actions that are assertive and confident.


Without such understanding, decisions are made with doubt and uncertainty, thus organization and human resources are used ineffectively. While competency can help to create effective schools, sustaining them cannot be done with competency alone -- a strong internal capacity must also exist. When leaders set up their successors for even greater success or when an organization is not dependent upon the sole leadership of one person, organizations have a strong internal capacity (Collins, 2001; Fullan et al., 2004). With all the external accountabilities surrounding schools, it is easy for schools to lose focus of their initial purpose. Capacity that is supported and guided by a shared vision can establish strong internal accountability throughout an entire organization. Effective schools do well in spite of external pressures. In nature, these schools establish rigorous expectations themselves. They agree on norms for instructional practice, internally assess student learning, establish procedures for monitoring instructional practice, and provide feedback to teachers, students, and administrators alike regarding personal performance (Elmore, 2003). Effective leaders know that you cannot advance the cause of students without meeting the needs of the adults who work to teach them (Fullan et al., 2004). One way to build capacity is through on-going professional development. Recognizing that the faculty and staff should be involved in their own growth, the activities of professional development should focus on the total improvement of the school. Professional developments, occurring in context, must be on-going and relevant to the teachers they assist (Fullan et al., 2004). By communicating their learning needs, teachers should be able to guide the learning community in which they serve. While working collaboratively with other colleagues, the organization not only builds a strong internal capacity, but also supports the utmost goal of schooling -- to improve student learning. Similar to implementing a vision, you cannot build capacity without the right people within the organization. Another way to build capacity is through distributed leadership. While any organization naturally has one person or team who is ultimately responsible for the organization’s existence, sharing this responsibility with others builds capacity. Effective leadership is distributed because no one person can do all the work required to improve instruction and increase student achievement. Furthermore, while compelled to recruit people for the organization’s biggest problems, effective leaders resist this temptation. These are issues the leader of the school or district must address. People want to invest themselves in opportunities, not problems (Collins, 2001). Internal capacity is built when people, who possess different strengths, collaborate with one another to address the challenges schools face (Elmore, 2003). An effective culture does not happen without effort; therefore, all essential ingredients must be in place. Having the right people who are fanatically invested in the organization and who

are driven to carry out the vision through daily practices creates a culture that is conducive to creating and sustaining effective schools. It is the leader’s responsibility to foster a climate where the success of all students is celebrated, regardless of the school or district he or she attends (Fullan et al., 2004). An effective culture is one where people are safe to express their thoughts. People have a need to be heard (Collins, 2001). Furthermore, effective organizations build in mechanisms in order to identify areas of probable concern and worry -- good leaders do not ignore these warnings. It is essential that leaders identify elements of a toxic school culture and do all that he or she can to resolve them. Likewise, when adversity is addressed directly and when people respectfully debate in search of an answer, a school’s culture as well as its overall performance confidently strengthens. A school’s culture is its personality. It is the feeling outsiders sense when they enter through the doors of the organization. When leaders actively build and nurture a positive school culture, an environment is created in which everyone, both teachers and students, are willing to perform what is needed in order to promote or sustain the success of the entire organization. In our nation, there are currently some high performing schools that are truly effective organizations; however, contrary to inappropriate labels, there are some low performing schools that are as equally effective. Carefully developed assessments of schools are essential in determining a school’s performance. While needed, such assessments must be determined from multiple sources that uphold rigor and credibility. With the complexity of schools, any single method that is quick and easy should be examined with great skepticism. Not every component essential to effective schools can be quantified and numbered by a solitary method. Many people outside the walls of schools have distorted views of effective schools because they do not have a solid understanding of the elements required. Improving a school’s performance is not easy, but with disciplined people, thoughts (vision), and actions (practice) schools can create and sustain effective organizations that promote the academic achievement and well-being of all students. References Bolman, L. G., & Deal, T. E. (2003). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Collins, J. C. (2001). Good to great: Why some companies make the leap and others don’t. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc. Elmore, R. F. (2003). A plea for strong practice. Educational Leadership, 61 (3), 6-10. Fullan, M, Bertani, A., & Quinn, J. (2004). New lessons from districtwide reform. Educational Leadership, 61 (7), 42-46.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 57


Leadership – Charting The Course For Success In Uncertain Waters By Dr. Rainey Knight, Dr. B. Jane Hursey & Audrey Childers

“The idea of public education depends absolutely on the existence of shared narratives and the exclusion of narratives that lead to alienation and divisiveness. …Public education does not serve a public. It creates a public.” (Postman, 1995, p. 17)

LEADERSHIP Effective district leadership threads through every level of the educational experience. School Board members, Superintendents, principals, administrators, teachers, support staff, parents, and students play a vital role in the effectiveness of our educational systems. Arguably, we need a “common” education: Leaders at all levels with common philosophies and beliefs partnering to implement commonly accepted best practice techniques while pressing toward commonly held marks of excellence in education. Sadly, this is too often an uncommon occurrence. We can58 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

not blame a lack of leadership on the devastating impact of budget deficits or the perceived corruption of public support for our schools. True leadership stands independent of the climate of the times. This applies to the school, as well as the home. Education sorely needs those who selflessly lift the needs of our children above their own political aspirations, their own preferences, their own comfort levels, and their own personal goals. Education needs uncommon leaders to join forces with other uncommon leaders to accomplish a “common” education. Education needs leadership that stands with hands on the wheel, sees clearly the horizon and charts the course to a safe harbor beyond the raging storms of today.


Leadership - The Captain of the Ship

The Crew—Levels of Leadership

The image of the ship parallels the image of our educational system and its leadership. The successful navigation of the murky waters of the 21st century and the more immediate choppy waters of today depends upon an understanding of the dynamics of educational leadership. Effective educational leadership must seek to chart the course to excellence in education. The ship is the educational enterprise, while the deep water represents the forces within our world that act upon it. The crew represents everyone from the crow’s nest at the highest vantage point to the engine room deep below where the workers must depend upon the courses, sightings, calculations, and decisions made above. The actual course the ship follows relies on the direction and coordinates set by the crow’s nest and the Captain. The Board members represent the highest level and occupy the crow’s nest, with eyes toward the horizon, ever vigilant to direct us away from danger and toward the open seas. The Captain, or the Superintendent, makes decisions in response to their vision and assessments. The Captain calls out the orders necessary to match the course set and avoid the obstacles observed. The cooperation and communication between the Board and Superintendent are critical if the leadership is not to run aground or fail to reach the intended destination.

In large measure the success of the journey depends upon the initial actions, assessments, and processes set forth by the Board and the Superintendent. Both must demonstrate a keen understanding of when to share the decision making and when to issue a needed directive, when to drop anchor or when to pick up speed, when to stay the course and when to change direction, when to weave all levels of leadership together and when to let some levels determine their own course, or when to build relationships among all levels and when to sever malignant influences. Such immense responsibility requires the full cooperation of both the Board and the Superintendent and a shared focus on the steps leading to all children learning at ever increasing levels with the skills needed to successfully compete in the global community. A positive working relationship between the Board and the Superintendent are pivotal to the health, connectedness, perspective and motivation of all other levels of leadership. Based on the vision of the Board, the Superintendent assesses the best course to reach the agreed upon port of call. Accurately and effectively developing this vision depends upon input from all levels. Once goals are determined, the Superintendent adjusts his/her directives based on the feedback received from the various members of the crew. The entire ship’s crew plays a vital role and holds a unique perspective necessary to the safety, wellbeing, and smooth sailing of the school district. In fact, lead-

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 59


ership occurs at each and every level of responsibility. There will be a leader on deck, a leader in the bridge, a leader in the engine room, just as we know there will be leaders among our principals, our teachers, our parents, our students, our support staff, and our community members. Progress, however, cannot be made without informed change.

Sirens of Change Failure to sustain a focus on the programs set forth for our critical elements---teachers, parents, and students--can cause us to wander endlessly. By failing to stay the course, we become the proverbial “man without a countryâ€?, forced to never reach any destination. One can easily see that if any ship changes course too often, the port may never be reached. This is especially true in times of uncertainty. Yet educators are too often prone to lose faith that there may be land just beyond the horizon. Instead, we adopt a new buzzword, jump to a new approach, find a new guru, and leave the latest and greatest from last year in our wake. We ignore the research, which indicates that it takes approximately five years to bring about systemic and lasting change. Knowing this, district leadership must determine when the system should hold anchor or when the anchor should be pulled up on deck, when to stay the course or when to change the course. Too often our attempts to implement needed changes or redirect the ship are short-lived. Especially in times of uncertainty, we remain in the shallows for safety, a sure way to run aground. If we are to avoid the sand bars and land locks of the times, we must seek the deeper waters of change. We must pursue systemic change. Most practitioners would agree that systemic change cannot occur within an educational system without the coordinated efforts of both the Board and the Superintendent to insure an environment of inquiry, risk taking, and trust. Nor can those efforts be successful if there is not a purposeful focus on the quality of the interfacing experiences of teachers, parents, and students. Systemic change requires the district leadership of the Board and Superintendent, to rightly sense the levels of involvement necessary to arrive at goals, thereby advancing the system in the desired direction. In addition, they must determine the pacing of those changes, fuel a passion for needed changes at all levels, secure the needed resources to support those changes, create a connectedness between and among all levels of leadership, provide cycles of assessment and feedback, and make adjustments resulting in ever increasing heights of student achievement. To implement and sustain change demands all hands on deck. Motivating systemic response on the part of all stakeholders requires relationship. 60 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009


Two SHIPS in the night Leadership that launches relationships at all levels will reap opportunities to create lasting, effective change. So interrelated are the two that the reverse is also true, relationships launch leadership. Wise leaders recognize that one cannot move the minds of others without the underlying foundation of relationship and trust. Just as the High Schools that Work (Southern Regional Education Board, 2009) research identifies relationships with students as an important element in raising student performance, so educational leaders who are hoping to reach new plateaus of success across districts, states, and our nation at large must recognize the need to build relationships at all levels with all stakeholders. Despite the fact that the Board and Superintendent hold vested authority, they will not activate the full power available to implement and sustain educational improvement without first establishing genuine relationships with and respect for all layers of the educational endeavor.

Mutiny or Bounty? When leadership ignores the importance of relationship, mutiny may actually threaten the bounty. As mentioned earlier, the Schools that Work movement purports the new three Rs in education as rigor, relevance, and relationship. Relationship is an oft-repeated theme, as borne out by the old education axiom which says, “Children don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Regardless of our backgrounds, our age, or the role we fill-- relationship seems to be the requisite connective glue wielded by every great leader. Effective leadership requires the ability to speak and interpret the languages of all levels within the educational enterprise. Speaking with ease in “multiple languages” is essential if the foundational element of relationship is to be built among all educational stakeholders and the community beyond. The wise synergistic leader will move the hearts of all the varying participants forward, knowing that this in turn will move education forward. Mutiny gives way to motivation and the bounty so desired in education sits on the horizon.

The Age of Discovery There is not a single charted course for educational success. The children, who cross the thresholds of our schools each year, demand our sustained pursuit of the best pathways to their hearts and minds. The educational silence that has yet to be pierced by a clear declaration of discovery sounds as a cry of distress for each successive generation. Across the profession of education at large the silence is deafening. Our children will not pass this

way again. The uncharted waters of education call for informed, courageous educational explorers. We must map the course. Balboa, Columbus, Ponce de Leon, and others sought to cross uncharted waters in search of a specific goal or destination. Following the limited lead of others who had gone ahead they found themselves off course or at unanticipated destinations. Across the centuries in America, the educational process has not been specifically mapped out. School systems are awash in new trends, touted success stories, and purported high standards without any set course of action. Educators, like ancient mariners, set sail for an intended port or goal, only to find themselves outdistancing their resources, in uncharted waters, crushed by the rocks of resistance, or arriving at some unwanted port. Whether at the helm in the boardroom, the Superintendent’s office, the principal’s office, the teacher forum, the student council meeting, or the parent association meeting--leaders lead and others follow. As such, leaders light the way and determine the process others will follow. If the leader does not cast the light far enough, all will stumble.

The Levels of Leadership The destination for any great ship, including educational leadership, is set by the captain who then depends upon the navigator to direct them to the destination. In addition, the captain depends upon those on the bridge to coordinate all efforts toward that end. It is a team effort with every role important in reaching the final destination. The captain steers the ship, turning the huge wheel, which is connected to the rudder. The response of the rudder then turns the ship. This connection is a sure reminder that there can be no turning of the ship without the connectedness from the top level to the bottom. The success of the journey depends upon the sharp eyes of those in the crow’s nest, the men or women in the engine room, and the wipers. With a strong vessel and a connected crew, a ship can weather the big storms or the most deadly currents, bringing its passengers and packages safely to a new destination. The age of discovery must be now; we have only to look into the eyes of promise of our children to comprehend the urgency of our mission. References High Schools That Work. (n.d.) Southern Regional Education Board. Retrieved August 20, 2009, from http://www. sreb.org/Programs/HSTW/HSTWIndex.asp Mistral, G. (2009). Retrieved August 17, 2009, from http://thinkexist.com/quotes/Gabriela_Mistral/ Postman, N. (1995). The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School. New York: Knopf, 17.

“Many of the things we need can wait. The child cannot…To him we cannot answer ‘Tomorrow.’ His name is ‘Today’.” – Gabriela Mistral FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 61


Star Gazing Diamond Hill Elementary School Abbeville County Schools

2009 Photo Contest Daddys Home Waccamaw Elementary School Photographer: Ray White, Georgetown County Schools Little did the kindergarten students in Ryan Yonkers class at Waccamaw Elementary know there was a special meaning to the small American Flags they were crafting one morning. Soon, an unexpected soldier walked tall through the door. No one was more thrilled and surprised than the young son who plowed through classmates in a straight line for his loving father - still clutching the small American Flag he had just drawn.

State Finals Loss Carvers Bay High School Photographer: Ray White, Georgetown County Schools

State Finals Loss Carvers Bay High School Photographer: Ray White, Georgetown County Schools

In the closing moments of the 2008 Class A Division I State Championship football game at S.C. State University, Carvers Bay cheerleaders could not watch the action as their beloved Bears lost in the title game for the second consecutive year to Chesterfield. The one cheerleader who did manage to watch the final seconds couldn’t hold back her tears.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 63


We Missed! Georgetown Middle School Photographer: Ray White, Georgetown County Schools

Cooking with Culinary Arts Dixie High School Abbeville County Schools

These two Georgetown Middle School students react to a missed question in the annual Junior Academic Bowl. Their mood brightened considerably shortly after this when they helped lead their team to the overall championship. Yuck! Plantersville Elementary School Photographer: Ray White, Georgetown County Schools

Yuck! This was Plantersville Elementary School’s Thanksgiving lunch - and a tasty one at that - but the fantastic turkey and side dishes didn’t pass the visual inspection of this small girl who obviously had her heart and taste buds set on something else. Worms! Worms! Worms! Long Cane Elementary School, Abbeville County Schools

64 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

Frances Mack Primary School Lexington School District Four Welcome Back! PE teacher, Caitlin Hubbard demonstrates walking in a “Zone Zero” in our hallways with Bear Hugs to pass out to students following school routines. Bear Hugs are awarded to students for following expectations as part of our PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Supports) model at FMPS. Turtles Turtles Everywhere! John C. Calhoun Elementary School Abbeville County Schools


Edisto Elementary School Students at Edisto Elementary School investigating habitats using STC Animal Studies Kit.

Students at Edisto Elementary School investigating sound using FOSS Physics of Sound Kit.

Teachers at Edisto Elementary School involved in creating successful Professional Learning Teams.

FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 65


SCASA BUSINESS AFFILIATES ACT, Inc. (404) 231-1952

Educational Resources Group, Inc. (843) 539-1213

LS3P Associates (803) 765-2418

SC State Credit Union (803) 255-8417

AIG VALIC (803) 743-2022

Educational Tools (800) 586-9940

M. B. Kahn Construction Co. Inc. (803) 736-2950

Scantron, Inc. (803) 439-6515

American Book Company (770) 928-2834

Empowering Writers (919) 333-6799

MBAJ Architecture (704) 375-2510

Scholastic, Inc. (770) 342-8564

ANC Group Inc. (888) 424-4863

Evans Newton, Inc. (904) 710-7260

McGraw-Hill/Contemporary (706) 333-5351

SchoolReach Instant Parent Contact (800) 420-1479 x8035

Apex Learning (803) 319-4031

Firestone Building Products, LLC (803) 781-0526

BHG, Inc. (803) 520-7166

Foreign Academic & Cultural Exch. Serv. (803) 782-3902

McMillan Smith & Partners Architects, PA (864) 585-5678

School Specialty Planning & Student Development (800) 221-1165

Moseley Architects (704) 540-3755

Scientific Learning (919) 325-3435

National Teacher Associates of SC, INC. (972) 532-2100

SCOIS (803) 737-2733

Biducation (423) 433-8046 Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative and Security Systems, Inc. (800) 240-3400

GCA Services Group, Inc. (865) 588-0863 Global Recruitment LLC (703) 928-0144

Boykin and Davis, LLC (803) 254-0707

GMK Associates (803) 256-0000

Bridgeway Solutions (803) 312-3559

Goodwyn, Mills, and Cawood (864) 527-0460

Broadway Technologies “SafeCeiver” (864) 243-0254

Greene, Finney, & Horton (864) 423-5752

Calloway, Johnson, Moore & West (803) 957-9373 C-Anne Able Agency, Inc. (803) 796-9410 Childs & Halligan P.A. (803) 254-4035 Coastal Biodiesel Group (843) 347-7060 Colonial Life (803) 750-9222

Hart, Inc. (828) 645-4734 Herff Jones (704) 847-9801 Horace Mann (217) 788-5716 ID Shop, Inc. (864) 223-9600 Ignite! Learning (803) 749-0744

CompassLearning (678) 429-4695

ITS - Information Technology Services Co. (864) 979-3558

Computer Software Innovations, Inc (800) 953-6847

J. M. Smith Corporation (864) 542-9419

CPSI, Ltd. (800) 659-8240

JBHM Education Group (601) 987-9187

CSI School Portraits (803) 432-3515

Johnson Controls, Inc. (803) 414-0424

Curriculum Advantage, Inc. (864) 234-0422

Jumper Carter Sease Architects, P.A. (803) 791-1020

Cynergi Systems, LLC (864) 486-0267

K12 Insight (703)953-2539

Data Recognition Corporation (763) 268-2000

Keenan Suggs Insurance (803) 799-5533

Dell, Inc. (803) 317-8173

Kuder, Inc. (800) 314-8972

Duff, White & Turner L.L.C. (803) 790-0603

Learning Labs, Inc. (800) 334-4943

East Educational Services, Inc. (803) 781-4416

Lifetouch National School Studios (803) 788-1605 Lineage Services Group, LLC. (803) 960-6986

66 PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR • FALL 2009

NORESCO (803) 807-8866 Nu-Idea School Supply Company, Inc. (803) 773-7389 PACE Learning Systems, Inc. (800) 826-7223 Parker, Poe, Adams and Bernstein L.P. (803) 253-8917 Pearson (843) 260-4698 Planned Financial Services, Inc. (864) 232-7153 Presentation Systems South (704) 662-3711 Professional Development for Integrated Inquiry (864) 656-1716 R. L. Bryan Company (803) 343-6808 R.A.I.D. Corps & Carolina Analysis (864) 583-4747 Ross, Sinclaire & Associates, LLC (800) 255-0795 Saf-T-Net AlertNow (800) 213-7168 SC Alliance of Black School Educators (803) 269-2715/(803) 241-2497 SC Association of School Nurses (803) 321-2620 SC Chamber of Commerce (803) 799-4601 SC Council on Economic Education (803) 777-8676 SC ETV (803) 737-3322 SC School Boards Insurance Trust (803) 799-6607

Scott McElveen, LLP CPAs (803) 256-6021 Select Health of South Carolina, Inc. (843) 569-1759 SFL+A Architects (910) 484-4989 Southern Accounting Systems (800) 552-2530 Southern Management Group (803) 256-1989 Stevens & Wilkinson of SC, Inc. (803) 765-0320 TE21, Inc. (843) 579-2520 Tests for Higher Standards (804) 725-7997 The Breakthrough Coach (904) 280-3052 The Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (713) 522-1111 TiGROUP (803) 933-9337 United LTC Network, LLC (843) 361-9000 University Instructors (864) 616-4638 VC3, Inc. (803) 733-7333 Voyager Expanded Learning (803) 518-9364 Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School (803) 896-6462 Willie J. Rice Photography (843) 379-3796 Wireless Generation (212) 796-2259


FALL 2009 • PALMETTO ADMINISTRATOR 67



2009 fall palmetto administrator magazine