By Pam Dudding Contributing writer
Schools, like families, often rely on a budget and plans to set future goals for their facilities and the needs of their students and staff.
At the February School Board meeting, Superintendent Jeanette Warwick shared the six—year-plan, which was developed in 2017 and goes through 2023, will be revised.
Members present at the February monthly meeting were Superintendent Jeanette Warwick, Chair and Craig City District Rep. Trace Bellassai, Vice Chair and Potts Mountain Rep. Faye Powers, Craig Creek Rep. Kevin Altizer, Simmonsville Rep. Darren Gilreath and New Castle Rep. Walter Marsden.
With an approximate population of 5,000, Warwick reminded everyone that CCPS is the largest employer in Craig County.
“Fifty percent of our students are labeled as disadvantaged, which means they receive free or reduced lunch trays,” Warwick said. “Twenty-five percent of our students have disabilities.”
When she met with the initial committee, below is what was approved.
Noted Warwick, “Craig County Public Schools instills a love of learning and prepares our students to become responsible, contributing members of society. Every child a graduate, every child prepared for life.”
She added that their expectations are their vision statement, “CCPS is committed to providing a challenging and rigorous educational program. We provide instruction in a caring and safe, healthy learning environment which promotes the five C’s: Critical thinking, Creative thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Citizenship.”
Core Values were also developed, explained Warwick:
- Excellence – fostering academic excellence in our students through creative and critical thinking
- Integrity – we want to instill to our students the importance of being honest, and act in an ethical and respectful manner at all times
- Collaboration – we want to support relationships among students, staff, and families in the community to ensure effective communication and opportunities to benefit our students
(We had some mentoring which we started with some of the churches and that is just one of the examples of the collaboration pieces that we want to begin to work on – to have the community to work with the schools and students.)
- Accountability – we take responsibility for our progress – to create transparent evaluation of students’ success, staff quality and management of the community’s resources (including budget and administration)
For CCPS, the big picture goal for 2022-2023 is a sense of pride in our school programs and facilities, students, and community.
Said Warwick, “We continue to promote that sense of pride as we look at possible renovations to our auditorium, a new gym floor, working on the grounds and maintenance, to creating pride in our facilities. We are also holding our students accountable when they are not showing pride by possibly not taking care of our schools, which has been a goal of school administrators.”
“We want students to graduate with skills and knowledge with meaningful employment, post-secondary schools. Whatever path they choose to take, we want them to be prepared for that. Also, to provide competitive academic programs,” she added.
CCHS has partnerships with BTEC and Virginia Western to offer dual enrollment.
Some of the challenges CCPS continues to overcome is changes of staffing.
“We have had multiple superintendents and school administrators,” Warwick noted. “Continuity is important to continue to work towards your mission and your vision.”
This year, CCPS added an additional Ag position and got the Land Lab up and running. They also increased dual-enrollment classes and added a culinary arts program.
Explained Warwick, “We continue to focus on high-quality classroom activities, to promote positive school culture as many of our teachers live here in Craig County, as well as graduated from CCPS and have returned to give back to their community.”
She noted that they are continuing to work on a positive climate during this pandemic.
“As the pandemic declines, we hope to be able to bring in volunteers again from our community and businesses,” Warwick added.
Bellassai also suggested to conduct a survey where names are not required. Warwick added that the DOE has a survey that provides that avenue.
“Any tools we can use to measure and make sure that we are providing our staff and our teachers with the support that they need, we are willing to use,” she said.
Gilreath added to make sure they show appreciation to the custodians, “They do the dirty jobs, and many times are the lowest paid.”
Warwick shared that in December, they had 13-days of Christmas recognition where the community showed great support and every staff member received a gift with some receiving more than one, as the community gave so much.
“We do staff appreciation weeks with luncheons as they really like to eat,” she said.
Also, McCleary Principal Gerri VanDyke has a committee that focuses on school culture.
“I’m glad you mentioned that as it is something we have really worked on at McCleary,” VanDyke shared, “We engage all the staff and custodians.”
Her committee serves as a conduit where all staff can share their concerns, etc. and then they meet once a month for a potluck (which coincides with their staff meeting). They also have a cake monthly for all staff member birthdays.
“We also have a whoop-whoop wagon where a staff member gets something off this wagon as a little thank you,” she said. “The tootle is a positive title, where you can give a ‘tootle’ to the teacher, staff or a student. These are read out loud in the announcements and they pick out a prize. We also have spirit week where teachers can wear jeans. For them to have a voice, it has been very benefiting.”
“We need to tell people thank you in what they do,” Warwick added.
For the board and public review, a letter was sent, informing all that the school is no longer doing contact tracing and information regarding the optional testing program for themselves or their students.
“We have ordered HEPPA air filters which we are putting in every classroom,” Warwick shared. “We are also partnering with CC Emergency Services to provide interested staff with an N-95 masks which CDC recommends, but they have to be fitted.”
The Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC), a group of parents and school staff are active in meeting four times a year, to discuss special education issues and work on the local plan that comes to the Board for approval.
These committee members include President and CCHS parent representative Karol Moses, Shari Winebarger, Vice president and parent representative; Samantha Gilreath, SPED teacher MS/HS rep; Alyssa Schulke, (K-12) Music teacher and high school general education rep.; Katie Flinchum, SPED teacher (K/1) McCleary rep; Frances Foster, McCleary general education rep.; Steven Tate, McCleary parent rep. and Gerri Vandyke, McCleary principal and administrator rep.
The school board asks community members to be active in their schools. Volunteers are always needed and being a part of attending the monthly meetings helps to keep everyone in sync. They provide the meeting live on the website as well.
The meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. at the high school auditorium.