“E to the power of Engagement”

This week, we will look at the first in our four-fold process for continuous improvement – “Engage all stakeholders in the support of quality education and continuous improvement.” Our community knows all too well things change. What once was a booming mill community and flourishing economy is now, fifteen years later, still trying to redefine itself. Consequently, it is definitely in the school district’s best interest to provide the educational opportunities needed by local employers, higher education, and business leaders."

As mentioned in last week’s article, Laurens County School District 56 will undergo its five-year accreditation visit in March of this year. Accreditation is important; however, accreditation is not nearly as important as our focus on continuous improvement. As a district, we must constantly review, revise, eliminate, add, and improve our services to our students, our parents, and our community. How we go about this improvement process always begins with our stakeholders. And that is exactly where we start today with our continuation of last week’s article “to the power of e.” This week, we will look at the first in our four-fold process for continuous improvement – “Engage all stakeholders in the support of quality education and continuous improvement.” Our community knows all too well things change. What once was a booming mill community and flourishing economy is now, fifteen years later, still trying to redefine itself. Consequently, it is definitely in the school district’s best interest to provide the educational opportunities needed by local employers, higher education, and business leaders. In an effort to provide our students with necessary skills for employment, our district worked in concert with other districts to secure competitive federal funding for our Carolina Alliance for Technology (CAT) and Gear Up grants. These grants have the distinct and clear goals of providing rigorous instruction in pre-engineering and computer science (CAT) and college admissions for all students (Gear Up). As a result, there is a collaboration among business leaders, school and district leaders, and community members in the ongoing efforts associated with both grants. Not only is there the expectation of continuous improvement but also the resources of many good partners in achieving the desired goals. We work closely with institutions of higher education to constantly revamp curriculum to meet the rigors of college admission and technical skills for employment. Piedmont Technical College and Districts 55/56 work collaboratively with an intensive program for identified students at Center for Automotive Manufacturing (CAM). We meet quarterly to assess the program’s needs, review successes, and chart new courses. We work with Z-F Automotive Transmissions, Piedmont Technical College, other local supportive business leaders, and representatives from the SC Department of Commerce to achieve enumerated goals. We also work with Presbyterian College, Piedmont Technical College, and USC-Union to provide dual enrollment opportunities for students planning to go to two- or four-year institutions. We are especially appreciative for the Presbyterian College Confucius Institute and the opportunities to expose our students in middle school to Chinese language and culture and in high school to dual enrollment courses in Chinese. We annually coordinate with the Laurens County United Way for funding, mentoring, and support with our Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program. Additional civic organizations and business leaders support us with mentoring and resources for new extracurricular organizations, e.g., Leo Club (Lion’s Club), Future Farmers of America (FFA). We recently partnered with the Greenville Hospital System and the Laurens County Hospital to review and possibly start three new programs. These programs will introduce our students to employment opportunities in the healthcare industry. Although our community may have experienced serious economic downturns in the last twenty years, the willingness to support our efforts and build a common vision with all stakeholders has never been stronger. When we moved into both the new high school and the renovated middle school, various employers donated their time, resources, and service to move the furniture and teachers’ belongings...all at no charge. Walmart Distribution Center, the SC National Guard, CrossFit, and the City of Clinton all gave vehicles and manpower to defray the costs of having to pay a professional moving company. Talk about a community working as one! We have vibrant, engaged, and concerned stakeholders in Laurens County School District 56. At the head of these wonderful, community-minded citizens is our very own board of education. Our board members do not receive a single dime for their services. They oversee the budget, advocate for the students and community daily, and legislate policies to increase our effectiveness. Talk about servant-leader capacity…just look at a board member. Only by working with committed and caring community stakeholders can we ever hope to achieve our mission of providing “a world-class education driven by integrity, teamwork, and perseverance through a culture of continuous improvement.” We accomplish our goals, achieve our objectives, and secure our vision and mission with the close and abiding support of our community. Together, improvement is our constant! (Dr, David O’Shields is superintendent of Laurens School District 56.)

My Clinton News

P.O. Box 180
513 North Broad St.
Clinton, SC 29325
Phone: (864) 833-1900
Fax: (864) 833-1902

 

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