Principals present improvement plans

Reading Time: 4 minutes

By Toni Stauffer

On Sept. 25, principals from Russell County schools presented Continuous Improvement Plans (CIPs) to the Board of Education. The Board also approved Bills and Account, an Extended Day Program, a Field Trip Request, Athletic coaching supplements, a Credit Recovery Program, Federal Programs Extended Services, Pre-K Budget, and additional school buses.

Dixie Elementary

Paula Thompson, Principal


• Math: 17 or more students proficient in math growth; 20 students that went above, or way above their growth target.

• Reading: Overall increase of 24.5% in Star Reading in all grade levels.

• Global scholar areas of improvement were fourth grade math and reading: “We really need to work hard there. We’ve seen a little bit of a trend that we are struggling,” Thompson said, “but we’ve put some changes in place and we’re implementing some new things in fourth grade; so, hopefully, that will be no more. We didn’t meet our 95% attendance goal; we rezoned and had a lot of new students coming in…”


• Implement research-based instruction

• Increase student achievement • Send teachers to the “Get Your Teach On” professional development conference

• Utilize technology like interactive touchscreens (panels)

• Increase fluency and problem-solving concepts in math

• ELL (English Language Learning): help students improve proficiency

For reading, help students create books with illustrations

Ladonia Elementary

Jacob Johnson, Principal

“We made a 79 on our state report card. We’re going to be a B, and we’re going to make a high B,” said Johnson. “Then, we’re going to make an A, and we’re going to be a high A. That’s our goal.”


• Competitive test scores, despite having a high rate of transient and impoverished students

• Free lunch and breakfast


• Focus on good instruction by having a return to accountability in the classroom for teachers

• Focus on training for staff

• Increase writing activities to improve reading skills

• Make sure state standards are being taught

• Continue with after-school tutoring, but with an outside platform, possibly Elevate K-12.

• In culture, continue to make improvements using the T.I.G.E.R.S. (Triumph, Invincible, Gratitude, Excellence, Respect, and Strength) team system

• Continue to work on discipline by focusing more on intermediate intervention

• Communicate more with parents on the classroom side

• Find more ways to involve parents and continue parent workshops

• Continue implementing and learning new technology, such as the interactive touch screens (panels)

Mount Olive Intermediate

Jennifer VanSlander, Principal

Successes and Goals

• Parent Involvement: VanSlander said that parents have been eager to be provided    additional opportunities to be a part of the school and to be engaged

• Math and Reading: “The district has a curriculum that the teachers are able to use in implementing and planning lessons,” said VanSlander, “but there’s a gap between their understanding about how students learn and the resources and materials they have to support student learning.” She said they are going to invest a lot of time and money, anywhere from between three to five years on this particular work, and that this is only the beginning…the first step on providing quality professional development for teachers.

• School Improvement:

•Mt. Olive Intermediate needs some defined systems around student behavior, so they’re going to focus on creating Tier 1 PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Supports)

Mount Olive Primary

Larry Saulsberry, Principal


• 62%-81% improvement in reading proficiency across all grade levels

• Math: 72%-85% improvement across all grade levels

• Reading: 58% of kindergarten students met reading benchmark scores by the end of year

• More than 97% of parents felt welcome in the school

• Received more than 100 survey responses from parents


• Decrease number of student retained in each grade level

• Decrease total number of disciplinary infractions

• Focus on attendance

• Focus on growth of EL (English Language Learners) students

• Provide opportunities for teachers to grow and become leaders in the district

Oliver Elementary

Nancy Edwards, Principal


• Scored 86% on state report card grading last year.


• To improve reading comprehension across grade levels

“Up until 3rd grade, you are learning to read, but after 3rd grade, you are reading to learn,” said Edwards.

• Continue to do classroom observations together to aid in collaboration

• Examine individual student goals and goal setting

• In math, improve math problem-solving (fluency in reading will help to accomplish a lot of other goals)

• In culture, continue to create a positive social and academic environment among students and teachers.

• Continue to build relationships with parents

• English Language Learning: No students at this time, but goals are in place.

Russell County High School

Shelia Baker, Principal


• Received a “High Hopes” grant as a part of the math initiative that allows more access to more development training opportunities

• Math department is now fully staffed

• All 9th and 10th grade content-area teachers have received training in E3 college readiness courses

• We now have four AP classes (computer science principles, physics I, biology, and U.S. History 11)

• Implemented ACT Prep courses for all juniors

• Graduation rate is now at 81%, the first time we have made it to the 80s. In 2012, we were at 58%.


• Working on all the content areas, but reading and math are the driving forces

• Working to increase graduation, college, and career rate to meet/exceed state standards

• Continue to work on cultural aspect by focusing on community

• Work on improving English Language Learners’ proficiency since they scored low on reading and writing. Currently, there are only four ELL students.

• Partner with the “High Schools That Work” framework, sponsored by the Southern Regional Educational Board to bring all areas together

• Promote development opportunities and infuse gained knowledge into school setting

• Work with the Columbus Regional Math Collaborative at Columbus State to assist students in improving math skills

• Continue work on improving graduation rates

Russell County Middle School

Alison Waldrop, Principal


• Increase in student count from 760 to 796

• 100% of core classes have interactive touchscreens now (panels)

• Time management has led to a decrease in disciplinary referrals

• Our football team is 3-1

• Volleyball team is drastically improving


• Continue focus on the students who are still performing below grade level

• Continue focus on cohort program with Russell County High School to act as a bridge for students to high school dual enrollment and AP classes for college prep.

• Continue with innovative programs for students, such as the news program

• Implement new behavior support plan

• Continue with collaboration between students, parents, and teachers for enrichment and intervention program

• Implement “Spring School” in March to help students avoid summer school.

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