Notes from the Classroom: Union County Public Schools

Now that the school bells have been silenced for the summer, Union County Public Schools principals can focus their sights on preparing for next year.

Part of this preparation includes utilizing the summer months to help sharpen the pencils of learning. One tool in this effort is the annual Summer Leadership Conference, a tradition that has been around as long as the school system.

The conference, held this year at Parkwood High School on Tuesday, June 21, and Wednesday, June 22, offered professional development for principals, assistant principals and central office administrators on topics such as how to incorporate globalization into the curriculum, how to reduce the dropout rate and boost the graduation rate and how to improve education through innovations in teaching.

The focus of this year’s conference centered around Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis’ initiative called Globalization, Innovation and Graduation. He began the conference touching on leadership skills, using the leadership styles of President Abraham Lincoln.

“We need to learn from those who have gone before us,” he said. “It’s been said that if we don’t study and learn from history, we’ll repeat the same mistakes.”

Davis mentioned six main leadership tactics that he gleaned from Donald Phillips’ book “Lincoln on Leadership: Executive Strategies for Tough Times.” These are: preach a vision and continually reaffirm it; set goals and be result-oriented; honesty and integrity are the best policies; exercise a strong hand – be decisive; persuade rather than coerce; and get out of the office and circulate among the troops.

As part of the globalization focus, Jennifer Vollmann from New Global Citizens and Penny McGuire from World View offered insight into how to bring more globalization into schools. Vollmann informed participants about opportunities to combine service learning and globalization for students in their schools, while McGuire discussed ways to infuse globalization into the standard course of study.

“If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a school system to educate him or her to be globally competent and competitive,” McGuire said.

Vollmann recognized Piedmont High School students for their Hands of Hope project that raised money for the national effort, House of Hope, a project established for children with AIDS in Uganda. Elizabeth Libby, 16, a rising junior; Kiersten Porter, 17, and Maggie VonCannon, 17, both rising seniors, presented Vollmann with a check for $300 that was raised from selling donuts and T-shirts.

Some of the school system’s administrators, Central Services staff and Instructional Technology Specialists offered “breakout sessions,” including those that addressed integrating and understanding the new social media and ways to prevent students from dropping out of school.

Also during the conference, 52 schools were recognized for their efforts to be globally aware. Nineteen schools were designated as a International School, the highest ranking offered. Thirty-one schools were named Global Partners Schools and two schools were given the Goodwill Ambassadors School designation.

The designations were based on a points system, with 75 points or above getting the highest designation, 50 to 74 points winning the second designation and 35 to 49 points attaining the third designation.

The school with the most points for the second year in a row was Cuthbertson High School, with 86.62 points. New Salem Elementary and Porter Ridge Middle schools had the next highest scores, respectively, with New Salem getting 83.7 and Porter Ridge Middle getting 83.2. This is the second year New Salem has been named an International School.

The points system allows schools to earn points based on such things as travel of staff and students, having cultural awareness days, international days and different strategies and components of their school improvement plan that are designed to promote globalization and global education.

-Information provided by school system’s Communications Office

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