One Team. One Goal. Student Success.
by Jon Gillooly
July 23, 2014 04:36 PM | 6192 views | 9 9 comments | 77 77 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Retired educator Betty Gray fires up an auditorium full of current principals and assistant principals as one of several guest speakers Tuesday morning at Kennesaw Mountain High School at the 2014 Cobb County School District Leadership Kickoff. <br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Retired educator Betty Gray fires up an auditorium full of current principals and assistant principals as one of several guest speakers Tuesday morning at Kennesaw Mountain High School at the 2014 Cobb County School District Leadership Kickoff.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
Cobb County Interim Superintendent Chris Ragsdale welcomes district administrators. <br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Cobb County Interim Superintendent Chris Ragsdale welcomes district administrators.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
Cobb County Schools special students services administrators Steven Benson, Shari McCrady and Dominique Terens head to the auditorium with freshly brewed coffee and biscuits for the start of the event.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Cobb County Schools special students services administrators Steven Benson, Shari McCrady and Dominique Terens head to the auditorium with freshly brewed coffee and biscuits for the start of the event.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
slideshow
KENNESAW — The Cobb School District’s chief academic officer has rolled out a three-point plan for advancing teaching and learning for the next five years.

For the past two days, Cobb principals and their leadership teams have gathered at Kennesaw Mountain High School in preparation for the coming school year, which begins Aug. 4.

One of Chief Academic Officer Mary Elizabeth Davis’ points is targeting student engagement through the use of physical movement. A teacher, for example, may make a statement and ask students who agree to move to one side of the room and those who disagree to the other side. Each side is then tasked with citing reasons why they agree or disagree with the teacher’s statement.

“We’re doing the same activity, but you just got them up. You got them to move and you got them to take a side,” Davis said. “That engages kids. Gets them moving. Keeps them attentive, and of course, there’s tons of research about physical movement and the brain’s activity.”

Another point in her plan is ensuring every child in the district graduates and is prepared to enter the workforce or higher education. A third prong is improving teacher training by doing such things as providing a collection of in-house digital training videos for teachers to access at their convenience.

“It’s important because we do not want to pull teachers out of their class in order to help them learn some new techniques,” Davis said. “We want to protect the time they have with children, and that’s what we hire them to do. So it’s hard for them to access teacher training unless we give it to them where they can access it right at their desktop or during their planning period or at home even.”

Davis believes the principals were receptive to the plan, saying there was satisfaction in hearing a clear outline of where the district is headed.

“This will become part of the language that every principal is using to articulate. If you’re in a Cobb school, this is what you can count on,” Davis said. “Cobb County classrooms are where you want your kids to have their academic experience. It’s a superior alternative to any other choice.”

Interim Superintendent Chris Ragsdale began the leadership kickoff Tuesday by unveiling his slogan for the coming year: “One Team. One Goal. Student Success.”

The program featured a pre-taped interview with U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, in which Ragsdale asked the senator about topics such as teamwork. Isakson discussed each topic before introducing a speaker to take the stage and also share thoughts on the issue.

Veteran educator Betty Gray, who was former Gov. Roy Barnes’ teacher at South Cobb High School and who served on the Cobb Board of Education from 1993 to 2008, emphasized making students the top priority.

State Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-west Cobb), chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, addressed leadership. Retired Dickerson Middle School principal Carole Kell, mother of Cobb Superior Court Judge Tain Kell, spoke of teamwork, and MDJ publisher Otis Brumby III touched on community engagement.

“This was the first chance that I had to get in front of all these 600 people and let them know what is going to be different for our school district,” Ragsdale said. “The theme is teamwork, being part of the team, and taking that a step further is customer service, having that laser focus for what’s going on in the classroom.”

Ragsdale told the group there are two types of positions in the district: teachers and those who serve them.

“We have a new vision,” Ragsdale said. “We’re going to be one team with student success as the goal, and we’re starting a new day for the Cobb County School District.”

Gray, who chaired the school board when Ragsdale was the district’s technology chief, said she is pleased to see him in the superintendent’s role and is optimistic about the future of the district.

“As I talked to young people there today — I don’t know why I’m saying young people, but when you’re 81 you can call anybody young — I’ve seen so many of these people grow, and I know how they feel about kids,” Gray said.

“They think the focus is on kids, and that’s as it should be. That’s the focus on the team as outlined by the superintendent, and Johnny Isakson tied all of this together: that it’s a collective kind of enterprise, that public education is too critical for us not to give it our best shot.”

If the test scores from schools in south Cobb are not as high as other parts of the county then the resources need to be brought to bear to help those students improve their performance, said Gray, who lives down the road from Pebblebrook High School.

“Opportunity ought to be available to all regardless of the zip code,” Gray said.

Comments
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Interesting speakers
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July 24, 2014
Having octogenarians deliver messages of where Cobb is going is a bit scary considering none of the key note speakers have probably ever used a Smart Board, know what a CCRPI score is, understand the nuances of a Student Growth Percentile, or realize the stress of implementation of TKES/LKES/SLOs and student surveys. Great former educators, no doubt. Great forward thinking educators who can rally the leaders of today for the next generation of school leadership... that leaves a lot to wonder...
Go COBB!
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July 24, 2014
I wasn't there but my principal friends were and they said it was a great day! Betty Gray and Lindsey Tippins are fantastic people to get our group excited about the year. Mr. Ragsdale - I had my doubts about you, but you are definitely headed in the right direction. Let's keep this POSITIVE momentum going!
You're kidding...
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July 24, 2014
The myriad of problems facing this county and Mary Elizabeth Davis is targeting student engagement through the use of physical movement? Yet another out-of-touch Educrat. When was the last time she was in a classroom? I'd love to see the chaos (=sarcasm) when the 41 students in my daughter's high school lit class try to get up and move around.

Here's a target: lose some of the "chiefs" and hire more teachers so class sizes can return to no more than 28. Then, if you want to affect activity (God knows we're a rotund society), either increase the amount of P.E. required or mandate the end of the block schedule in favor of the traditional (read: academic) schedule. This would serve the triple purpose of 1.) allowing students to sit for shorter periods of time 2.)have students walking around the building twice as much and 3.) allow more for seat hours in each class. Win-Win-Win.
Cobb schools client
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July 24, 2014
Still Elementary is looking for an ESOL teacher. Did Cobb get some of the 1100 illegal immigrant children dumped in Georgia by the current presidential administration? Were others placed in classes over the last six months without the public's knowledge?
Cobb Educator
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July 22, 2014
Best Day in Years! Cobb is back and this was one of the best programs in many, many years. Ragsdale is keeping a focus on teachers and those who serve them - what a wonderful way to start the school year! The 4 guest speakers, each introduced by Isakson, was a masterful event. Ragsdale Executive Cabinet brought the message home and there are some rising stars there too. Keep up the good work.
We'll see...
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July 24, 2014
It's a nice slogan, but we all know the status quo will remain. Who gets to define what "serving teachers" means? Not the teachers I can assure you. What is going to happen the first time a teacher tells a their bossy, micromanaging administrator that what he/she is demanding is not supportive of what they're doing in the classroom? That teacher will be looking for a new job.
levi strauss
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July 22, 2014
There should be a colon after 'goal' (not a period). They can't even get their slogan right.

Equal education
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July 22, 2014
Every child in CCSD is giving the same opportunities. Unfortunately, it is much easier to blame the teachers or the lack of resources for those students who choose not to take advantage of the opportunities every student is presented. The parents of students, whom are not doing well, need to step up. They need to have the attitude that education begins in their home and it is their job to make sure their kids are doing well. We are losing teachers left and right because no one serves the teachers. We are micromanaged, told what to wear, and treated like we are 5 years old. Let us do our jobs and spend your efforts on training the parents. I love my students and would do anything for them. Their parents are a problem though! It is sad for the kids.
Holden Caulfield
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July 25, 2014
AMEN!
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