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Schools focus on 5 goals for plan

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POSTED: May 9, 2014 1:00 p.m.
Photo by Hollie Moore Barnidge/

Participants in Thursday's planning session for Liberty County schools get ready to start a meeting.

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After a May 1 community forum when the public was invited to submit opinions and help identify goals, the Liberty County School System followed up Thursday with the first of a two-day session on those opinions and goals.
Residents, educators, elected officials and parents gathered at 9 a.m. for a briefing on the system’s planning process and the five goals toward its mission. The goals include increasing student learning, achievement and college and career readiness; providing a safe and supportive environment; recruiting and retaining effective staff, increasing stakeholders’ involvement; and ensuring efficient operations and services.
Attendees were divided into five groups. Each group was assigned a goal and asked to evaluate how the district is doing with it, offer ideas for change and list ways the district can better provide for students. The teams’ observations and suggestions will be used in the district’s strategic plan, which is revised every five years. The forthcoming plan is for 2015-20.
Thursday’s session was led by LCSS Executive Director of Technology and Media Dr. Patti Crane and Executive Director of Special Programs Sonja Duncan.
“Some work has been done previously, but we’re going to bring it all together, and this is in preparation for our next steps in continuous improvement with our AdvancED/SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) accreditation, and we appreciate your participation in that process,” Duncan said.
Team members discussing stakeholder involvement agreed that communicating to parents, students and area residents online through the LCSS website and social media is key.
“What have we done to pull the people in, to get the community’s input and get the teachers, parents, everyone into what we’re doing here in Liberty County schools? The first thing that came to my mind, of course, was the webpage. … We have an updated webpage, and we try to keep it as communicative as we can to let people know what’s going on,” instructional-technology coordinator Cathy Lane said. “We have, I don’t have the number right now, but it’s in, I think, in the 200s now of people who ‘like’ our Facebook page. And Twitter, our board members are tweeting. … It’s become a real networking place.”
The team on staff recruiting and retention discussed ways to efficiently tell the public about school achievements, which may make the district more appealing to people moving into the area.
“I think that’s where we fall short many times because we don’t tell people what we’re doing,” BoE member Marcia Anderson said.
Fort Stewart School Liaison Officer Gregory Cooke said he thinks the system already has taken steps to better publicize successes.
“The social networking that has occurred this year has been great,” he said. “That has taken a little bit to get off the ground floor. I mean, there wasn’t a Facebook page last year, I believe.”
On student safety, the teams on student achievement and stakeholder involvement shared similar concerns that the system faces challenges not traditionally seen in schools, such as bullying and assuring parents the district is prepared for large-scale crises.
“If I had a child, for me, in today’s world, safety almost outweighs what they’re learning in school,” Frank Long Elementary kindergarten teacher Sharon Long said. “That’s something I think about every day as a classroom teacher.”
To combat undesirable student behavior and encourage success, participants stressed educators’ examples.
“When we have teachers, staff members acting a certain way, kids see that and say, ‘Well, if she can do it, I can do it, too,’” Executive Director of Division for Exceptional Programs Mindy Yanzetich said.
Today’s session, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. at the BoE office, will recap day-one activities and complete team plans.


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