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Guest editorial: Gadsden County school superintendent touts effectiveness of summer learning program

If you ride by any of the Gadsden District’s school sites over the summer, you will not only see students engaged in educational and enrichment activities but entwined in the masses are Gadsden’ high school students who are part of the workforce.

As Superintendent, training future leaders to have workforce experience is an extension of my platform. The District has developed a summer learning experience pilot program for more than forty students from Gadsden County to further develop the skills necessary for career readiness upon graduation.

The program is part of an overall effort by the Gadsden School Board members and myself to address some of the barriers that impact the whole child as they progress through the public-school system to graduation.

While teacher effectiveness is the strongest school-related determinant of school success, other student behaviors reduce even the best teacher’s ability to provide learning opportunities to students. This program is designed to address some of the deeper barriers that impact student learning.

The selected students are part of a pilot program that involves their parents and Gadsden County community partners. We have high expectations of the participants. Students were selected based on their willingness to become more engaged in their education, explore future career pathways, and to become part of a core group of leaders upon their return to the high school next year.

They will be provided with training and mentorship to develop essential job skills for future employment as well as a strong work ethic.

The students will develop problem solving and critical thinking skills as they participate as tutors, classroom mentors, teaching peers, senior ambassadors, and communication reporters. Facilitated student-led projects will help this pilot group of student leaders and their parents become more engaged in their own futures.

The program will not end with the summer experience. Students in the program will be monitored throughout the next school year to ensure that barriers such as attendance and behavior do not impact their path to graduation and successful postsecondary experiences.

Future summer participation in the program will depend on student performance and behaviors in their 2018-2019 school year. Parent partners will be involved in the mentorship and the monitoring and are critical partners in the success of this program. This program is an initial spark designed to improve the skills necessary to be successful in school and beyond.

It is a launching pad for deeper implementation of promising strategies designed to help all students reach their life goals.

Through the broad range of supports and opportunities being developed by the governing School Board and myself, the Gadsden District hopes to continue to achieve its strategic vision that it will prepare all students to live and successfully compete in a global society.

The Board is working collaboratively with parents and community partners to provide a safe, caring, rigorous, and engaging instructional experience that leads to all students learning and succeeding.

We want you, “the village,” to join our team and take a walk with us on this educational journey! Help us with our most prized possessions, as we continue to ‘Put Children First’ and move from ‘Good to Great’ in the Gadsden County School District!

Guest editorial by Roger P. Milton, Superintendent of Gadsden County School District