Hard Choices. Better Schools.
To improve schools within a community, you have to have a roadmap. Durham Public Schools as an aggressive roadmap laid out within their strategic plan. My educational background, more specifically my Master of Information Science, Strategic Information Management, aligns with managing and understanding how to meet goals within a strategic plan. Professionally I also manage IT-related performance objectives, measures, and initiatives. That provides me with the insight that all goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely). That also means we, as community leaders we have to make sure that our goals need to be streamlined and intentional.
DPS has (5) Priorities/Goals within our Strategic Plan
Priority #1: Increase academic achievement
Priority #2: Provide a safe school environment that supports the whole child
Priority # 3: Attract and retain outstanding educators and staff
Priority #4: Strengthen school, family and community engagement
Priority #5: Ensure fiscal and operationally responsibility
I’ve had the distinct honor of representing the Durham that raised me on the School Board for Durham Public Schools – During that time I’ve been able to perform an appreciative inquiry of what needs to be addressed in both the short-term and long-term. Based on that I have detailed my top three priorities and they are as follows:
1. Retention/Recruitment of educators and other staff – Due to the “great resignation” we’re all witnessing, a huge challenge is ahead of us. Our primary need is to ensure we have great teachers and staff who care about our children. With inflation at 7.9% since time last year, we have to devise a plan to move forward by embracing a two-prong approach. The first is advocating for a stipend increase for our licensed staff. The second approach is going to go through a compensation study. An additional effort will need to be made to ensure that DPS staff with comparable positions to those at the County are paid an equivalent wage.
2. Health / Wellness of our students – We have been extremely fortunate to be supported by our community via the funding provided by the County Commissioners. The nurses, social workers, and school counselors are an additional line of defense to discovering and battling invisible mental/emotional scars. Improving the effectiveness efficiencies and broadening our levels of engagement is very much necessary. We continue to work on helping our families understand that we’re also here to help connect them with resources. We must ensure that public schools are the primary source for high-quality education conducive to well-rounded growth opportunities as our children become contributing adults.
3. Increasing the overall academic performance of our students – I’ve toured schools, volunteered, read the research, and taught financial literacy. I’ve been a board member with Evolve Mentoring Inc. for over a decade, and the one thing that I’ve seen that generates the best return on investment (ROI) is mentoring. We have to expand mentoring opportunities into more schools with a methodical, data-driven approach.