It Takes Us All…
Mar 26, 2015
March has been a blur at St. Paul Schools. A REALLY AWESOME BLUR! There have been days when I have looked at some of my faculty members and said, “Is this really happening?!!!” and then we squealed with joy…because YES…it’s really happening!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t give some ‘backstory’ to the excitement that has occurred in our school/community during March 2015.
To sum things up in very simple terms; in August 2011, St. Paul Schools was failing. We weren’t meeting state performance indicators for literacy or mathematics (for 2 consecutive years). I was fortunate enough to be chosen as the new Principal of St. Paul Schools in July of 2011 and this is when we, as a united group of stakeholders (staff, students, parents, & community members) decided to change the fortunes of our school. We decided to focus on 1) Forming meaningful relationships with every student on our campus and 2) Significant integration of Technology across our curriculum.
St. Paul Schools:
- SPHS Named Top 10% School in Arkansas Fall 2014
- SPES Named Top 10% School in Arkansas Fall 2013
- Named a “Model School” in 2012
- Named a “Model School” in 2014
- State Assessment Turnaround:
2010 59% Proficient/Advanced 2014 79% Proficient/Advanced
2010 54% Proficient/Advanced 2014 88% Proficient/Advanced
- Added a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Program
- Increased the # of Devices accessible to students by 1000+%
- Huge Increases in Broadband Capabilities (WIFI across campus)
WHAT HAPPENED IN MARCH?
St. Paul High School was recognized as a “Focus School” at Digital Learning Day Live! In Washington, DC on March 15, 2015.
This is the video the Alliance for Excellent Education put together after visiting St. Paul Schools in rural Arkansas for two days in early 2015:
To say we are proud of this video at St. Paul Schools would be one of the largest understatements I could possibly make. The Alliance for Excellent Education spent two days in our rural community, filmed countless hours of our students, staff, and community, and interviewed several people you don’t even get to see in this video. The Alliance really took time and cared about “telling our story.” We think they “got it right!” When the video was seen for the first time, via Digital Learning Day Live! back home in St. Paul, Arkansas, I’ve been told there were several tears of pride shed. Watching this video makes all of us walk a little taller, and smile a little broader.
Here is a link to the actual Digital Learning Day Live Telecast…St. Paul Schools is featured in the first school segment, about 8 minutes in, Mrs. Lendy Eaton and myself are interviewed by Rehema Ellis, NBC News Chief Education Correspondent:
To say this experience was unlike anything I’ve been involved in is a fair statement; dark backstage, bright lights, cameras, makeup, NBC Reporter, huge live crowd….WoW!
My takeaway from the event is this: It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, YOU CAN DO GREAT THINGS FOR STUDENTS…location, size, or socio-economic status are only barriers if you allow them to be. Social Media and our Professional Learning Networks allow us to tell our stories and amplify our school’s voice.
AND THEN…The Hechinger Report!
As if this wasn’t exciting enough…A few days after we returned from Washington, DC, an amazing column written by Chris Berdik came out in the Hechinger Report. Check this out here:
Hechinger Report Column http://bit.ly/1bf8oWo
I am proud to say the success of St. Paul Schools is and will never be about me as the Principal: IT’S ABOUT US AS A COMMUNITY; ALL OF US! This journey from failing to “Fabulous” has taken all of our students, teachers, staff members, and incredible maintenance man, an understaffed but awesome technology department, supportive parents, community volunteers, and so many other people I can’t begin to name them all. I just know when we need someone to step up…THEY ALWAYS DO…that’s what St. Paul Schools is all about. For our School to be successful IT TAKES US ALL…working together, constantly focused on what’s best for our students.
Thank you to The Alliance for Excellent Education for celebrating amazing schools & outstanding educators at Digital Learning Day Live!
A special personal thank you to Tom Murray @thomascmurray for believing in our story and being a champion for what is right for all students.
Another special thank you to Kamila Thigpen for treating us like rockstars.