Written by Dr. Chris Marczak, director of Maury County Public Schools
Benjamin Franklin tells us that “an investment in knowledge pays the best dividends.” 200 years later, 80s punk band TimBuk 3 exclaimed, “The future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades.”
What do these two vastly different voices have in common? They might as well have been talking about Maury County.
As my tenure as director of schools enters its second year, we’re seeing rapid growth at each of our schools. Our students are grasping onto the 7 Keys to College and Career Readiness – an initiative we unveiled in January – and taking ownership of their futures. Our teachers are pouring themselves into their pupils’ academic and extracurricular success.
So, what’s next? How do we keep the #GrowMaury spirit alive and take a giant step forward this year? I have outlined four ways Maury County Public Schools plans to enrich the educational experience in the 2016-17 school year.
- Students will have more opportunities this year aligned with the seven Keys.
Due to the support of the School Board, the County Commission, parents and the business community, we have increased funding directly aligned with the Keys to College and Career Readiness. We are adding computers, software programs, reading teachers, math teachers and arts teachers at the elementary level to impact Keys 1 and 2. We’re sourcing teachers, computers, and software programs at the middle school level to impact Keys 3 and 4. We’re increasing tutoring, training and assistance with the ACT for Key 5. Finally, we’re adding more Advanced Placement courses, the Mechatronics Associates degree program, Project Lead the Way engineering curriculum and additional instructors for work-based learning, industry certifications, and military preparation for Key 7.
- We have a system-wide focus on the push for aligned athletics.
Our new district-wide athletic director will take the role of athletics off the shoulders and backs of the principals and give us a larger view of what athletics can be for all students in our system. Since coming on board, Larry Brown has surveyed all athletic facilities and is creating a needs assessment. He has also established a county-wide athletic leadership council and alumni task force to give feedback on where the county needs to go with athletics. We have also worked with the Daily Herald to establish a district-wide athletic awards banquet, and we’re planning jamborees amongst inter-county athletic teams.
- We have a push to improve the arts and expose more students to the arts in Maury County Public Schools.
The MuleTown Music Fest, in its second year, is integrating the school system even more with student vocal performances, instrument performances and theatrical performances. The Mt. Pleasant area is using its Kids on Stage program to align an arts emphasis throughout its three schools. We have hired three elementary arts teachers in schools that previously did not have them, and we’re offering professional development opportunities for arts teachers and arranging after-school arts programs for students.
- We have begun the process of starting a county-wide 1:1 digital program.
Students and teachers will get district-funded devices they can use at both home and school, in an effort to move our student and adult learning to a digital environment. This past school year, we implemented a school-based instructional coaching position to change our classroom learning from textbooks and lecture to an interactive learning experience in the classroom. This group of teachers has been receiving training from Discovery Education to make immersive activities in the classroom where technology can be effectively used to further learning. We have now moved into the tangible parts of the preparation program where students will participate in decision-making; what kind of laptop will students and teachers get and what will they do on their laptops when they get them? Early this fall, we will be hosting a student contest where Maury County Public School students will be able to name our 1:1 program.
We’re investing deeply in our next generation of leaders, and it’s paying dividends. The future – of these students and of our county – is incredibly bright.