First Breakfast of 2017 Boasts Big Plans for Lexington District One
The first breakfast meeting of 2017, sponsored by SAFE Federal Credit Union, felt anything but small. With Clemson winning the national championship Monday night, there was a sense of victory in the air. Even die-hard Carolina fan Otis Rawl conceded and played Clemson’s fight song as Tiger fans clapped along.
Members applauded the work of the Lexington School District One Board of Directors as well as Lexington School District One’s Teacher of the Year, Meg Huggins. Meredith Falls and Kimberly Scott of Lexington School District One also spoke about the Teacher Recruitment Fair which is scheduled for Saturday, Jan 21st at Meadow Glen Middle School.
Lexington School District One has the reputation for being the premier school district in South Carolina. For guest speaker Superintendent Dr. Greg Little, this means that instead of making wide, sweeping changes across the district, he and the school board are trying to identify high leverage strategies that will allow the district to continue moving towards the next level of performance. “We want to celebrate our past. We want to celebrate that tradition of excellence that the people here have given and at the same time we want to be mindful that we want to be better tomorrow than we are today. So we can’t just be satisfied with being great. We have to continue to push the envelope and to find those strategies to be able to continue to move forward.”
The first step for continuous improvement begins with a focus on the people, starting with developing leadership capacity within the district. The Lexington One Executive Leadership Program focuses on five levels of leadership with the district: teachers, administrators, assistant principals, principals and district staff. Little believes that having great leaders lays the foundation for having great schools.
The second-most important factor in student achievement is the quality of teacher in the classroom. South Carolina is facing one of the worst teacher shortages in recent history.
To counteract this trend, Lexington One is implementing plans for recruiting and retaining our teachers with tactics like the Teacher Recruitment Fair.
Held in January, the Teacher Recruitment Fair brings candidates from throughout the nation to the area so that the District can hire as early as possible for the upcoming school year. Additionally, they have already had two special education recruitment fairs. Dr. Little believes that offering contracts early creates a pool of high quality candidates.
The District is also developing programs to assist teachers during their first two years, which are often the most critical. The goal is not just to retain teachers, but to create effective teachers who have an impact on children and allow those teachers to reach their full potential as educators.
Another goal of the district is to be more customer service driven. “I believe that customer service is about saying the hard yes instead of falling back on the convenient no. It’s easy to say no, but we’ve challenged our district this year to really try and find the yes because we want people to know that we are going the extra mile for them each and every day.” The goal is to define what great customer service looks like and then provide the tools to help grow and improve customer service throughout the District.
A big task facing the district is the upcoming accreditation process. In March, a team from Advanced Ed will spend three days in the District to give commendations and recommendations for improvement. This process with be the foundation for creating a strategic plan for the District.
Finally, Little discussed the great opportunities available to Lexington One students. The Dual Enrollment program allows high school students the opportunity to take college courses in order to get a jump start on their college degree. This fall, Lexington One will quadruple the dual enrollment opportunities available to students across the district.
Another great program in Lexington District One is the language immersion program. Lexington One is a national leader in second languages offering programs in Spanish, German, Chinese and French. Students in the immersion program spend half of their day immersed in a second language. Currently, the District is working to create a partnership with the University of South Carolina that will allow students to take culture and language classes at a university level. Lexington One continues to be the only school district on the east coast with this type of program.
Dr. Little will return next month to discuss the challenges the district is facing and how we need to work together as a community to tackle those challenges. Little closed by saying, “I believe that when people come together for a common goal that the sky is truly the limit”.