School district's five-year plan targets leadership, personalized learning

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comOctober 26, 2013 

The scene at Saturday's Beaufort County School Board work session.

STAFF PHOTO

After hearing from the public, parents and educators, the Beaufort County School District has put its five-year strategic plan in the hands of the superintendent and his top lieutenants.

A steering committee of roughly 50 teachers, administrators, School Improvement Council members and board of education members continued the planning work they started in July on the final day of a two-day work session Saturday.

At the full-day meeting, the committee heard presentations from the five action teams charged with crafting the specifics of the plan. Those teams include governance and leadership, purpose and direction, resources and support systems, teaching and assessing for learning, and using results for continuous improvements.

Committee members said they were generally pleased with the plan's direction. However, the teams were asked to define their goals more clearly.

The biggest points of concern involved personalized learning and using different methods and technology to help students learn and be successful. It was suggested that the approach might include personalized professional development to help teachers best instruct students.

In its feedback, the steering committee also wanted to ensure the district was implementing a plan that prepares students to "succeed in an ever-changing global society and career marketplace," a reflection of district's mission.

"Knowing that's a need we have today, how are we going to document and measure the results and the progress of developing soft skills and career ready skills as we are making someone prepared for the career marketplace?" asked Beaufort Middle School Principal Carole Ingram, a member of the steering committee.

Another area of focus was leadership, and how to have the best leaders and collaboration to achieve the plan's goals and practices.

Several committee members said that was not to suggest the current leadership is not strong or successful, but they do want everyone moving in the same direction.

Board chairman Bill Evans said he was impressed with the presentations and the thoughtful comments he heard from committee members.

"I think we're going in the right direction and now we are getting a little more sophisticated in what we're looking at," Evans said. "I think we're about halfway there."

Superintendent Jeffrey Moss and the action team leaders will now factor in the suggestions they heard Saturday and the comments they heard from the public last week.

Moss said he hopes to have a final version of the plan to present to the board sometime in January. The board will then have several months to discuss it and hear more community input before voting in April.

The district has until then to submit the new plan. The State Board of Education requires districts to develop such plans every five years, with the goal of increasing student achievement.

If the board votes to approve the plan, Moss, district officials and schools will start implementing its strategy. He said the process of creating the plan has allowed for a great mixture of perspectives.

"This process has been very helpful so that what we end up producing will be something remarkable and is something that will drive us for the next five years," Moss said.

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

Related content:

School district begins charting 5-year plan; technology, college-credit classes touted, July 26, 2013

School board votes to change grade configurations at district schools, October 25, 2013

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