Make A Summer Of
Worth The Effort
BY SARAH GREGORY
"It's going to be a great year" in Greeneville City Schools.
That was the answer from every administrator asked just before students returned today for the first full day of the 2013-14 school year.
Director of Schools Dr. Linda Stroud said the first day of the new school year is like Christmas for an educator.
"It's what we wait for all summer long," she said.
"Students bring their unwrapped gifts. It's our responsibility to help them open and discover all their unique gifts and possibilities inside."
There's a certain, special, and hard-to-describe energy that students have that enlivens the school buildings, said Assistant director for Administration Beverly Miller.
"You can just feel it when they're there. I almost don't like being in the buildings when the kids aren't there," Miller said.
That feeling, Stroud said, "is why we do what we do."
"We are just so proud of our teachers and students. Even with all the changes, they're excited," said Assistant Director for Instruction Suzanne Bryant.
This year the Greeneville City School System, like other school systems all over the state, is continuing implementation of Common Core State Standards.
The standards are clearly defined benchmarks for what every student should know at the completion of each grade level.
Though the State of Tennessee has used a standards-based model for decades even prior to No Child Left Behind federal education reform measures, 2010 marked the beginning of implementation of new Common Core standards.
During the summer break, teachers spent many hours in training sessions to learn, share, and discover new instructional methods.
Even though change is daunting, Bryant said, teachers in the city school system are enthusiastic to get back into their classrooms.
"When others are discouraged, they're excited. They're excelling in it," Bryant said.
"We're just so proud of our teachers, and all of their hard work last year is reflected in our latest achievement data."
The challenge for teachers this year, she said, is teaching students based on the new Common Core standards while still preparing them for the TCAP standardized tests of years past.
New PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) exams that are designed to evaluate students based on the Common Core standards are scheduled for implementation in the 2014-15 school year.
"There's kind of a mismatch between how our teachers are graded [through student achievement on TCAP tests] and what we're asking of them [based on Common Core standards]," Bryant said.
But still, she said, "it's going to be a great year in Greeneville City Schools."