Atkinson speaks to BCSPublished 10:11pm Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Dressed in school colors and shaking pompoms, Beaufort County Schools staff ushered in a new school year Tuesday morning at Washington High School’s Performing Arts Center.
The annual Staff Opening Day included a roll call of the schools, a message from Superintendent Don Phipps and a school safety briefing.
P.S. Jones Middle School teacher Anjum Mohyuddin said she enjoyed the celebration.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet everybody,” she said.
Beaufort County had a special guest speaker to help them celebrate the new school year. State Superintendent June Atkinson attended the Staff Opening Day.
Atkinson spoke to the school district about working together to accomplish goals and the value that each of them plays in a child’s education.
“It makes a difference what’s done in kindergarten, third grade, fourth grade, fifth, sixth, all the way to high school,” she said.
She listed the county’s accomplishments after the celebration.
“Beaufort County’s made tremendous progress in many areas,” she said.
Atkinson cited the school’s significant gain in graduating seniors (now up to 78 percent) and praised the district’s leadership.
“I anticipate when we get the final numbers, that you will see a significantly lower dropout rate to an all-time low,” she said. “Even though we have fewer resources and greater challenges, I believe the teachers will make sure to meet the challenges of Beaufort County students.”
Phipps introduced “believe” as the school year’s theme. He said he chose the word because it had so many perspectives.
He illustrated his point with a video of staff, students, parents and faculty asking, “Do you believe in me” and sharing ways to show support.
Phipps ended his presentation with his perspective.
“I believe in public education, I believe in Beaufort County Schools and I believe in you,” he said. “I want you to know that we do believe in you and have faith in what you do.”
He mentioned the district’s accomplishments in increasing the graduation rate, lowering the dropout rate and improving the reading skills of third-grade students.
Phipps praised teachers for coordinating lesson plans, rather than
teaching subjects in isolation. He also said teachers were seeing more class participation. All were steps in the right direction.
“The world has changed in many ways and I want to make sure we respond to it and make the changes that we need to,” he told school staff.
Phipps also told them the school year would not see any new initiatives rolled out, initiatives like core curriculum and the emphasis on having every student reading proficiently by third grade.
“It’s not all about tests. Success in a public classroom isn’t about proficiency numbers,” Phipps said. “I’m not asking you to ratchet up another level. I’m asking you to maintain it. And the test scores will take care of itself.”