Wednesday, August 09, 2017

TOP STORY >> District marks second year

Leader staff writer

A Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District convocation on Monday morning heard testimonials about its first year, while poor test scores lingered in the air.

But for the first two hours of the district’s second year, it was all about the positives:

Enrollment is up about 100 students.

Seniors last year received $2.5 million scholarships.

The high school program where students can get concurrent credit from UALR or Pulaski Tech worked great.

About 2,000 Chromebooks were activated in classrooms last year.

The high school marching band won 15 trophies in four competitions.

The district’s transportation department was one of only six in the state to win the school bus safety award.

Arnold Drive, Tolleson and Murell Taylor elementary staff completed their second year of A+ training where they learn to infuse the arts into their instruction.

School board president Daniel Gray welcomed the packed audience at McArthur Church off Hwy. 67/167. “Our test scores are out and are unacceptable,” he said after the welcome, “but I’m not here to be negative. Where we are at is not where we are going to stay. I believe in us, I believe in our scholars. I have high expectations for everyone.”

Jacksonville teachers, like most other public school district employees, reported back to work Monday and have a week’s worth of professional development, team building, and classes before students come back Monday.

Dr. Tiffany Bone, one of two new assistant superintendents for the district, told the crowd, “I saw those scores. So what’s next? I’ll tell you, next year we will be celebrating our high test scores.”

The guest speaker, Freddie Scott Jr., an 10-year veteran of the NFL, a former secondary science teacher, now working with the state Education Department, unveiled a philosophy for the district: “We are planting seeds of success for Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District, but it will take time to see the harvest.”

Scott, a Grady native, told the district administration, teachers and staff that in order to achieve this the district needed to focus on being a team, make smooth transitions and celebrate triumphs.

Scott said he wanted to be a doctor. “I was good in math and science, and a doctor I knew said I would make a good doctor. I said OK. See how easily moldable young people are. Be careful what you say.”

Scott went on to Amherst College and qualified for medical school but ended up in college in Cincinnati playing football.

He had an 11-year professional career. “In 2001, my son called to congratulate me. He just heard I was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. That same day my doctor called and said the test came back and I had cancer,” he recalled, adding that’s why you celebrate when you can.

But he also said that he wasn’t going to die and survived cancer.

“You’ve got to work hard, not for one game or one day, not even for one year, but every day. Be the head, not the tail.”

Superintendent Bryan Duffie agreed, adding, “Each of you are part of this team. We can make this district great. We can do this…it just takes time.”