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Reflection of first year as superintendent

As I complete my first year as superintendent at Buckingham County Public Schools (BCPS), we have made tremendous gains, but we still have areas that we will continue to work to improve. The School Board and I have worked on a Strategic Plan for the division which include a new Motto, Vision Statement, Mission Statement and the development of four goals. Our Motto is “Developing the future, one student at a time.” Our Vision is for our BCPS students and staff to grow, learn, and excel as productive citizens in a global community. The Mission of BCPS is to cultivate successful citizens by creating a safe, positive learning environment where all students and staff can adapt, create, collaborate, think critically and meet the challenges of an ever-changing society. Our goals are as follows:

Daisy Hicks

1. To achieve and maintain 100 percent accreditation;

2. To hire and retain highly qualified staff;

3. To provide a safe learning environment;

4. To increase and maintain community engagement.

To assist with our attaining our division goals, we have implemented a division-wide professional development program in which nine teachers in the division provide professional development opportunities for teachers before and after school. This aligns with Goals #1 and #2.

We must continue to attract, hire and retain the most outstanding staff. In a world of technology at your fingertips it was important to implement an online application program. Over the last year, BCPS adopted a program to make the opportunity for employment more accessible for individuals to apply for vacancies assisting with alignment of Goal #2.

Another key element of progress in BCPS was the reorganization of Central Office Administrators’ duties to ensure the talents of each person are being utilized to support the division’s vision.

Through the process of continuous school improvement, it was identified that we needed to implement an additional layer to our reading programs. We are meeting this need by including Orton-Gillingham into reading classrooms. We are continuing to focus on implementing an inclusive model at all grade levels to assist with decreasing the achievement gap of our exceptional learners on Standard of Learning Assessments. The continuous school improvement model has identified the need to have a continual focus on ensuring the alignment of our written, taught and tested curriculum. Teachers have been provided a lesson plan model that includes key components that must be included, to assist with the development of aligned lesson plans. Instructional administrators meet monthly at schools to conduct team walk-throughs and provide feedback to teachers and administrators. This practice will continue in order for instructional leaders to review practices across all grade levels and focus on vertical alignment. This process will allow us to support the leadership development of our principals and enhance their knowledge of sound instructional practices.

We joined the Comprehensive Instructional Program Consortium which allows our teachers and administrators opportunities to network with their respective colleagues to share best practices and utilize common benchmark assessments, pacing guides and lesson plans. Teachers who have had great success with student achievement on Standards of Learning Assessments across Region VII and VIII have assisted with the development of these resources.

We developed a Behavior Remediation Program designed to help our students who experience behavioral challenges at school learn to process through and reflect on those experiences to acquire the social, emotional and behavioral skills necessary to prevent future incidents. Each staff member through our Champion Program selected a student to check on and work with throughout the school year and beyond. The Champion Program aligns with Goal #1 and #2.

No child in grade PreK-8 will have to worry about hunger at school. We applied and received approval for the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) as implemented under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010; therefore, all students in grades PreK-8 are provided a nutritious meal for breakfast and lunch each day at no charge. (Aligns with Goal #1)

Long-term goals for the next 10 years were developed through the Capital Projects Plan. We continue to strive to make BCPS become a welcoming and attractive environment in our community. Throughout the past year, we have completed some beautification projects. Safety and comfort of our staff, students and visitors is a top priority. The installation of new cameras at the High School and the purchase of a new chiller for the Middle School have assisted in progress of Goal #3. BCPS received a Security Grant to continue the employment of a security officer at the Carter G. Woodson Complex. We have applied for a Security Equipment Grant. If received, we will update the security cameras at the Middle School. Partnering with local agencies continues to build community support. We have partnered with our local police department, fire department, emergency management team, hospitals and Emergency Management Coordinator Cody Davis to conduct an Active Shooter Tabletop Drill with Virginia Department of Emergency Management to review our Crisis Plan and receive necessary feedback for improvement. Over 80 people attended this training assisting in alignment with Goal #3.

It is essential that we establish positive relationships with community members. In order to develop our relationships, Julie Dixon conducted a Family and Youth Needs Assessment for Buckingham County. A Shoe Giveaway and Health Fair Event, hosted by Jenkins Donelson Foundation, was held for Buckingham County families. Families came to get shoes and other clothing items for their children as well as learn about foot care. The administrative team has focused on conducting home visits over the summer. This will continue to be a focus as it is very important to build positive relationships with our families. We must not rely on families coming to the schools to see us, but make a sustained effort to visit them in their homes. Notifications will continue for parents and community about school events by utilizing our website to post a calendar of events for each school and through use of our instant phone messenger system. In the near future, we plan to use social media to showcase the great things that our students are doing in addition to providing information to our parents and community members. Communication is key to building a successful school structure and meeting Goal #4.

The last year has been a busy but productive year. It has been a year in which our vision has been clearly defined. We have established goals to provide direction for us to ensure all students receive a quality education. As I reflect, I know change can be good and positive when completed through a balanced approach. Balance allows change to occur through an implementation pace which is not overwhelming to teachers, staff administrators. I continue to be thankful and honored to serve a caring and supportive community that emphasizes the needs of preparing our students for a productive future.

Dr. Daisy Hicks is the superintendent of Buckingham County Public Schools. She can be reached via email at dhicks@bcpschools.org.