As Clay County students get ready for another school year, Superintendent Addison Davis sat down with Clay Today staff writer Wesley LeBlanc to talk about the just-completed 2018-19 school year and what’s ahead for the district.
Here are excerpts from Davis’ State of the Schools interview:
Question: Now that the 2018-19 school year is over, from a top level, how do you think it went?
Davis: Overall, this school year has been a great success. More than ever, we have focused on providing an equitable world-class education for every learner. This has been accomplished through ensuring that all learners are exposed to rigorous, appropriate, grade-level curriculum and disruption-free educational experiences while providing social emotional supports, expanding extra-curricular activities, offering new academic choice programs and pathways, incorporating 21st Century technology, and providing a psychologically-safe place for all our students and employees.
Q: What are some highlights from this year?
Davis: Academic highlights: redesigned curriculum guides that aligned with Florida Standards, provided Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 Curriculums to differentiate instruction, expansion of Eureka Math in elementary school for complex thinking, greater emphasis on closing the achievement gaps, Year 2 implementation of blended learning resources to accelerate learning, establishment of Achieve 3000 Florida Standards Assessment Goal Tracker and Graduation Tracker, emphasis on effective implementation of teacher-led small-group instruction, major focus on Read-Discuss-Read protocols, expansion of Document Based Questions Literature in secondary English Learning Assessment classes, implementation of Ready Language Arts Florida Standards and a redesign and development of Intensive Reading Curriculum.
Climate and Culture highlights: established social emotional learning district priorities, added social workers and mental health supports, added Mental Health Coordinator to direct internal and external mental health resources, added Lead District Nurse to coordinate support for schools, launched Community Partnership schools at Wilkinson Junior and Keystone Heights Junior/Senior High, launched Panorama Student Survey, increased student entrance in least restrictive environment and reduced Level 3 and Level 4 infractions.
Operation and Finance highlights: established standard for camera surveillance and school hardening, added air conditioning to 112 school buses over the last 2.5 years in office, developed school police department in three months, launched School Guardian Program in elementary schools (first in north Florida), launched food truck initiative and expansion of student lunch menu, increased overall fund balance from 3% to 4.54%, provided raises for all teachers, support staff and administrators, finalized a nearly perfect financial audit from General Auditor’s Office and increased financial health of school district as Bond Rating improved from A-- to A.
Additional accomplishment I’d [Davis] like to mention: launched new logo and branding plan, launched Superintendent’s Student and Advisory Councils, launched Community Connections monthly videos, launched Parent Monthly newsletter, increased choice options within our schools, obtained National Model status at Clay High via their Criminal Justice program, confirmed state winners from Clay (Lead Nurse and Principal of the Year), increased graduation rate, Post-Secondary Reading Readiness and Post-Secondary Math Readiness scores, and record Career Technical Education industry certifications and launched Para-to-Pro initiative.
Q: Your goal is to get the Clay County School District to No. 1 in the Florida Department of Education’s accountability report. It’s currently No. 8. Do you anticipate the district moving up?
Davis: Our goal will always be to become the No. 1academic school district in the state. In order to accomplish this goal, we must continue to follow our strategic plan and leverage the knowledge and skill sets of our employees. I am blessed to be the lead educator of this great school district. My annual goal is always to remain in the top 10 in the state, which will be difficult to do, however, I am up for the challenge.
Q: Charles E. Bennett Elementary got a D grade last year. Do you anticipate that school’s grade going up when grades come out?
Davis: Charles E. Bennett has made great academic and cultural strides this school year. When I walk this school, it is evident that teachers and students are focusing on what matters most: providing a quality education. There is evidence of aligned curriculum, quality tasks, clear vision and organizational controls that are leading to positive systemic change. Based on current analytics, Charles E. Bennett is projected to be a C school. What I am more excited about is that Charles E. Bennett will become a Pre-Cambridge school in the 2019-20 school year and offer an acceleration pathway for all learners.
Q: This was Discovery Oaks Elementary’s first year as a school. How did it go?
Davis: With any new school, it takes time to build a culture. DOE has worked to create an identity that will model their climate into one that reaps success and care. This new structure coupled with great leaders and teachers along with a STEAM focus has led to tremendous outputs. The community has rallied behind the faculty and staff to ensure that DOE is one of the best educational environments in the state.
Q: As the 2019-20 school year fast approaches, what goals do you and staff have for the school district in this upcoming school year?
Davis: The 2019-20 school year will be here before we know it. Thus, we must be prepared to accept our students and provide them with learning experiences that will positively impact their lives. For the new school year, we will focus on four areas of instruction that will lead to improving teaching and learning.
As the CEO of Clay County District Schools, I will relentlessly pursue high-quality academic experiences for all students by: providing consistent opportunities to work on grade-appropriate assignments, providing strong instruction that lets students do most of the thinking in the lesson, by cultivating a sense of deep engagement in what students are learning and holding high expectations for all students and instilling the belief that they can meet grade-level standards in all stakeholders.
Q: Final thoughts?
Davis: I am excited to lead Clay County District Schools and stand to elevate Clay County as the No. 1 school district in the state.