Beginning their 2021-22 school year visits in September, the Department of Public Instruction District Visits and Voices team traveled to Haywood and Madison counties. They witnessed the flood damage from Tropical Storm Fred during the first week of school, but more importantly, the team was able to witness the resilient communities who rose to meet the challenges to continue supporting students.
Beginning in Haywood county, Superintendent Catherine Truitt’s team saw the devastation from Tropical Storm Fred that was both heart wrenching for those who lost everything, but awe-inspiring when recognizing how the community supported one other. Whether in the face of the pandemic or the natural disaster, Haywood teachers have continued to provide support and continuity for their students. Supporting students’ health and wellbeing continues to be a priority for this community right now, in an effort to ensure learning can continue and students feel supported.
Despite a number of challenges, one school had its best academic year — by some measures — during the pandemic: Haywood Early College’s overall proficiency last year was 98.7%, and has been named an Apple Distinguished School. https://t.co/u0IKahngCU
— EducationNC (@EducationNC) September 7, 2021
In a year filled with uncertainty and change, the Haywood County Schools staff found a way to prevail.
Although the 2020-21 test scores were not required, Haywood county ranked 10th among North Carolina’s 115 school districts. Further indicative of the district’s resilience, Hayward Early College was named an Apple Distinguished School in September, becoming only the fourth school in North Carolina to receive the prestigious recognition. Through strategically placed support for students and teachers, Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte leads the district’s commitment to keeping students in the classroom five days a week to ensure students can succeed for years to come.
I went back through Cruso today with leadership from @HCSNC to take a look at the damage from TS Fred. The sites were unbelievable, even 3 weeks after, and the stories were both tragic and uplifting. They have been through so much but they just keep powering through, together. https://t.co/Y6RvQ7AytI
— Jeremy Gibbs (@JeremyRGibbs) September 10, 2021
The team wrapped up its day in Madison county and met with Superintendent Dr. Will Hoffman and Assistant Superintendent Lisa Gahagan with a discussion on student mental health and Senate Bill 654. The NCDPI staff’s visit was threefold: first on the how the Agency can support districts in response to the bill; second, a discussion on universal pre-k; and lastly, conversation centered around the implementation of the science of reading. To help districts with Senate Bill 654, the Agency held a meeting for superintendents and charter leaders to provide clarity on the implications of the bill for district leaders. While on site, the team also had a chance to listen to the district discuss its desire for universal pre-k. Finally, as part of the first cohort of LETRS training, Madison county has already seen how an intentional focus on reading is instrumental in furthering district success.
Now what? Student support was an emphasis throughout the team’s visits in both Haywood and Madison counties. The multitiered support in Haywood county prepares students for anything they face in life. Additionally, Haywood county builds support for teachers, administrators, students and the community to foster commitment and resiliency through education. As districts continue their science of reading training and implementation, the Agency provides support for educators in this transition through LETRS training. Additionally, NCDPI works to support districts in expanding early literacy programs.