As Superintendent of the McDuffie County School System, I have the great privilege to work with parents and students, teachers and administrators, and members of our community to provide the best opportunities available for every pupil in each of our schools. In order to ensure our students have a rigorous and robust education, the McDuffie County School System utilizes a Strategic Plan to outline, implement, and monitor all facets of the district. There are four components of the Strategic Plan: increasing student achievement, organizational and operational effectiveness, human resource development, and stakeholder engagement. Within our plan for the 2018-2019 school year, there are specific objectives relative to each of these goals which exemplify our commitment to the children of McDuffie County.
The first of these initiatives is McDuffie on the Move! You will see this message throughout our community this school year, and it is more than a slogan. We are working to provide our students with the best possible facilities, technology, staff, opportunities and resources. The goal of McDuffie on the Move is to rebrand and promote all positive aspects of the school system. We recognize parents have other options in regards to their child’s education; however, the public school system continues to offer the broadest spectrum of opportunities for students. The school system is on the move. We will continue to honor the tradition of this system while also embracing innovation in the programs and resources we provide for our students. On all school system print materials, the new message is Where Tradition Meets Innovation. To exemplify our commitment to innovation, our system has carefully planned and embraced several different curricular options as well as made a commitment to address discipline to ensure learning takes place in all classrooms. In the area of technology, we are stronger than ever before, demonstrated through a ratio of 1.35 students per system device and wireless access points in all buildings. We are preparing our students for jobs which do not even exist. Therefore, our instruction must be more rigorous than ever before for our students to compete not only in our state but also the nation.
McDuffie is Where Tradition Meets Innovation to actively prepare all learners for their future endeavors. We will always honor our tradition while recognizing the need to apply innovative programs and methods to equip our students with the ability to embrace changes in the world around us. There are several initiatives spanning kindergarten to grade 12 which are now in place to ensure the best and most challenging education for students. The first of these is offering foreign language in all of our elementary schools. Research indicates students who master two languages have more marketability in highly-competitive job markets. The second, at Thomson-McDuffie Middle School, is our pilot of a school-within-a-school model focusing on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and fine arts, indicative of our commitment to offering tremendous opportunities which surpass the general curriculum. After combining our research on school-within-a-school models from across the state and nation during this pilot year, our intent for the 2019-2020 school year is to expand to both grades 6 and 7. In our flagship school, Thomson High School, we continue to add more Advanced Placement courses to best prepare our students as they enter post-secondary education. In addition, as a result of the needs in our community and our region, we are constructing a new welding lab at Thomson High School. Moreover, we are also offering more opportunities for Thomson High School students to earn multiple diploma seals. In addition to the current Fine Arts Diploma Seal offered by the district, graduates may also earn Career-Ready Diploma Seals and Civic Engagement Diploma Seals in the coming year. The Career Ready Diploma Seal is awarded to graduating high school students who complete a series of activities, courses, and experiences that foster career readiness. The diploma seal is a signal to employers that a student is prepared to participate in the workforce. The McDuffie County School System was the first system in the state of Georgia to make application for the Civic Engagement Seal. In addition to coursework, students aspiring to earn the Civic Engagement Seal will need to obtain 50 hours of community service. The school system is committed to not only educating our pupils but also instilling in them a love for civic action and giving back to their community.
Not only are we analyzing our daily instructional practices, we are also building bridges to the future for students. The district is launching the Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen (REACH) Mentorship and Scholarship Program designed to encourage students to persist in their educational pursuits. The REACH program identifies rising eighth grade students who display academic promise and provides them with the support necessary to graduate from high school, attend college, and achieve success in the workforce.
The McDuffie County School System, in order to achieve each of these initiatives, must have a safe and orderly learning environment. Therefore, students have been instructed on the first day of school there will be zero tolerance for disrespect. As we prepare students for the careers of tomorrow, we must also prepare them with the decorum necessary to be successful in the workplace and as adults. In each of our schools, administrators will be utilizing the Code of Conduct to address any concerns in regards to inappropriate student behavior. In our elementary grades, we will be instructing our students each day on all aspects of good character and citizenship.
I am always excited at the start of a new school year because I know that the coming year is full of possibilities! This year is no different in McDuffie County; we are excited about this chance to begin telling our story of McDuffie on the Move. We invite you to join our movement as we showcase our McDuffie County School System classrooms, students, and teachers. I believe that with every bus ride, daily lesson, friendly smile, healthy lunch, well-maintained school building, and carefully planned school day we are moving forward into a bright future! We believe a great education is the vehicle for a stronger workforce and a stronger community, and we are committed to moving our students toward success.
Whether you are an employee, student, parent, business owner, community leader or resident, you play an important role in what we do. We welcome your involvement in our schools, and we hope that you will feel comfortable reaching out to us if we can be of service. Working together, we will continue to provide a high-quality education for all students.
If at any point during the school year we can be of assistance to you, please call upon us.
Mychele Rhodes is the superintendent of McDuffie County Schools and
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