Pamela Baldwin, superintendent of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, and her leadership team delivered the district’s second annual State of the Schools address Wednesday night, introducing and explaining initiatives that hope to improve the district.
The event was held at Culbreth Middle School, sponsored by the district’s PTA Council, open to the public and streamed live online. Baldwin and her leadership team updated the district community on key initiatives from the academic year, its strategic plan and the overall state of the school district. The theme of Baldwin’s address was simple: there is room for improvement.
“We have challenges,” Baldwin said. “Real challenges. Challenges that impact real kids, real families. Truth be told, we’ve had them for many years and they are yet to be resolved.”
She asked the crowd what the district's number one issue is.
“Here it is as plain as I can say it: not every child is succeeding," she said.
Baldwin said while many students in the district are performing at or above grade-level standards and while the district has several successful aspects, she wanted to focus on the challenges the district is facing.
Baldwin called for the district community to unite together to fight to better serve students of color, students with disabilities and students of low socioeconomic status. The state of the school district, Baldwin said, is motivated to address its challenges.
“(The district) is making great progress with lots of work to do,” Baldwin said. “We are laser-light focused on resources and allocating those resources to the right schools and programs.”
Several members of Baldwin’s administrative staff summarized the initiatives their respective departments are implementing to better the student experience and the district as a whole.
Jessica O’Donovan, assistant superintendent for instructional services, discussed the district's implementation of its instructional framework, which values engaging instruction, inspiring learning spaces and empowering classroom culture.
“Reaching every child to empower, inspire and engage: this is the ultimate goal of our strategic plan,” O’Donovan said.
Charlos Banks, senior executive director for student services, introduced the district’s goals to change its code of conduct to address punishment that negatively and disproportionately affects students of color. This revision will happen in three phases with phase one being to address the current code of conduct, phase two being to recalibrate the code and introducing and launching the new code in the third phase.
“Our goal at student services is not to serve everyone equally, but to provide equitable support to ensure that each child receives what he or she needs to be successful,” Banks said.
Erika Newkirk, senior executive director of human resources, spoke on the administrations continued efforts to recruit and retain teachers.
“This is our village,” Newkirk said. “This is our community. A critical part of our village is the 2,200-plus employees that support our 12,363 students.”
Newkirk said the administration’s goals are to actively recruit and retain a diverse workforce, create a culture and system of support for that workforce, and create, promote and empower an environment that values development.
“The number one thing is relationships,” Baldwin said. “We have to know our students in a way that when we react to a behavior, whether positive or negative, we know that student well enough to know what interventions or what resources to get them to.”
When these relationships exist, Baldwin said, the district becomes better equipped to address every student's needs. Baldwin said she hopes to create a culture where every member of the district is fully invested in the success of every child it serves.
“You’re going to have to drag me out of here, kicking and screaming, before I stop advocating for every single child in our district,” she said.
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