On Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Dawson County Board of Education heard a presentation by Assistant Principal of Teaching and Learning Nicole LeCave and other school staff on the proposed strategic plan for 2020-25 school years.
The strategic plan proposal was the result of a collective effort of the district and school administrators, superintendent, board members, community and business partners, teachers, staff, students and parents.
The goal for the strategic plan, according to LeCave, is to assess where the school system is in each aspect of its mission, where they want to be and how to get there.
“The five key questions we wanted to answer with this were ‘who are we’, ‘where are we now’, ‘where do we wanna go’, ‘how will we know that we’ve arrived’, and ‘how do we get there’,” LeCave said. “We use this five-year strategic plan to align our yearly plans to reach our long-term goals.”
Here are a few key takeaways from the strategic plan proposal.
The school system’s vision, mission, commitments and motto will be updated/revised
As part of the work process within the strategic plan, the school system will update its vision, mission and commitments, staff said. One of the biggest changes included in these updates is redoing the Dawson County Schools’ motto to better reflect the school system.
“One of the things that we did update is the motto; it has been ‘pursuing excellence for all’ for as long as I can remember,” LeCave said. “So after much discussion, the team decided to change that to ‘One Dawson: excellence together’.”
The goal in updating the vision, mission, commitments and motto was to make all of it easier for anyone to understand, not just those who work in the school system.
“The overall goal here was to put our vision, mission and commitments in a language that parents can understand; that people who aren’t teachers and educators can understand too,” LeCave said. “So we worked really hard to make it short and brief but also to encompass all the work that we’re going to do over the next five years.”
Projects will be developed to improve student performance and growth
Director of School Improvement and Accountability Tracey Compton presented the plan to improve student performance and growth within all the schools in the district.
According to Compton, the three main objectives within student performance and growth are to improve rights for all students, increase student mastery of curriculum and increase college and career readiness.
“We know that we measure the percent of students reading on grade level, but we’re also going to focus on the percentage of students reading at mid-range,” Compton said. “We want to push as many students as possible to mid-range and beyond.”
The increased rigor of classes and mastery of curriculum material will help increase how many Dawson County students are ready to successfully make the transition to college upon graduating high school, she said.
“We want to increase the number of students enrolling in post-secondary and decrease the percentage of students that need remedial classes once they get to post-secondary,” Compton said.
Leaders will encourage community engagement and improve school system culture
Director of Student Support Janice Darnell and Director of Secondary Instructional Services Nathan Hand presented board members with the plan to improve the culture and climate within the schools.
The main objectives within the culture and climate area are to improve social and emotional learning, improve positive behavior and supports, and improve stakeholder engagement.
“One of the things that we’re looking at developing and are in progress with is a district-wide K-12 social and emotional learning support standards to put in every classroom across the district,” Darnell said. “These will be practices that will go on within each classroom to help provide an additional layer of support to our students.”
Improving the social and emotional learning, as well as positive behavior and support systems, within the schools will help the culture and climate for the student body to continue to be a positive one. The strategic plan also aims to help encourage more engagement from parents and community members within the schools.
“We want to increase the number of students and teachers who engage in school events and then a number of partnerships with businesses and institutes of higher ed,” Hand said. “And we will utilize online resources because we do feel that we can improve how we communicate online.”
The system will lead an effort to assess what could be done better and what's working for staff and students
Director of Exceptional Children Todd Langley presented the board with the plan to increase learning and growth for students in the school system.
The objectives within the learning and growth portion of the strategic plan include acquiring, training and retaining highly qualified and highly talented people for every position within the school system, according to Langley. A step in achieving this goal will be to ask for feedback from school system employees, no matter what step of the employment process they’re in.
“We want to bring in highly qualified personnel so we’ll assess this through our onboarding process, personnel surveys and our employee evaluation system,” Langley said. “We want to provide growth opportunities for all positions so we will collect surveys with the number of opportunities provided and taken advantage of by our employees.”
Part of retaining employees will include assessing the reasons why employees leave the school system, and this too will be accomplished partially through asking for feedback, he said.
“We’ll do exit surveys and check for employee satisfaction for those who leave us for reasons other than retirement,” Langley said.
Increased security projects are likely headed to local schools
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Operations Hershel Bennett presented a plan to improve operational excellence. The objectives within this plan include ensuring effective and efficient operational and financial processes, ensuring preparedness of growth and focusing on safe and secure environments.
“We’ve made tremendous strides in the last five years in making our schools safer, everything from tinted windows to a second to get in the school to ID badges,” Bennett said. “We have plans to continue that growth and provide professional development on how to use that technology to have safer schools.”
The school board members voted unanimously to approve the proposed strategic plan for 2020-25.