D-45 school plans focus on student achievement

Barnwell School District 45 principals presented updates to each school's strategic plan during the regular board meeting April 25.
The plans layout areas each school wants to improve in and focus on during the coming year. Developing the plan is a major process involving teachers, administrators and parents. A district planning session was held in March.
Crystal Stephens, the district's director of curriculum, said the number one priority during the process is student success.
Barnwell High School Principal Jon Burdge said he wants to continue to provide virtual learning opportunities to students.
He also said he wants to continue recruiting struggling students for after-school programs where they can get the extra help they need. "Our team last year was very, very relentless in getting those students into these programs so they don't lose credit," he said.
Burge stressed he wants students to be workforce ready after graduation if college is not in their plans. He said it's important the business community has a solid relationship with the school so students and employers can be matched.
Guinyard-Butler Middle School Principal Senaca Baines talked about expanding students' cultural education. He said next year there will be a Hispanic Heritage Month, African-American History Month, Native American Heritage Month and Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month.
He said there will be quarterly teacher meetings to make sure at-risk students are identified and given the extra attention they need.
Baines also said he wants teachers to have a conversation with every parent or guardian of each student.
We want to tell them "we're here if you need us," he said.
Barnwell Elementary Principal Jackie Sease discussed a school-wide writing program and providing foreign-language exposure to all students.
Sease added it's important to keep teacher morale high. She said teachers and staff need to be recognized for their hard work whenever possible.
"We have to keep teacher morale up," she said, "They have a very tough job; they're in the trenches."
Barnwell Primary Principal Donna Selvey said a big part of the coming year will be increasing the amount of non-fiction students read.
She also spoke about focusing on teacher morale and communication with parents.
Selvey said making sure the school is clean and safe is a top priority. She said third-grade students along with teachers will fill out surveys to address things they're concerned about.
In other business:
Following the recent elections, the board voted for its officers. Rhett Richardson was re-elected as vice chair, Chad Perry was re-elected as chair and Abraham Sexton was re-elected as clerk.
James Byrne, a middle school student, was recognized for winning the annual Soil and Water Conservation District essay contest. This year's topic was "Where Does Your Watershed."
Barnwell High School Principal Jon Burdge accepted a plaque on behalf of the school. The school was recognized as a Palmetto Gold school for high levels of performance and closing achievement gaps.
The board went into closed session to discuss employment issues. No action was taken after the session.