Strategies for Student Success 2015 - Page 45

Rigorous Academics and Character Education Fuel Success at Dyersburg City SchoolS Elementary school students at Dyersburg City Schools might find themselves, in the middle of the day, removing scuff marks from a hallway or helping walk a dog. Dyersburg City Schools Director Neel Durbin says these responsibilities bring out the best in students of all ages, academically and otherwise. And apparently, the kids like it. “We give them a lot of responsibility for things that you wouldn’t think fall on kids,” Mr. Durbin said. “When a child feels like they’re doing something important, they are.” “We asked them, ‘What do you need? What do our students need to be successful in your particular workforce?’ That can mean any industry, including various higher education settings,” Mr. Durbin said. “We reverse-engineered this. We started at the end and then worked toward the beginning.” District officials learned that soft skills are a critical component of post-graduation success. Students must know how to take responsibility, function on a schedule, and communicate well and appropriately with others. 2015 SCORE Prize district finalist Dyersburg City Schools does an exceptional job of preparing students for college and the workforce, starting with kindergarten and continuing through graduation. A rigorous, career-focused curriculum combined with comprehensive, age-appropriate development of soft skills ensures that students graduate with the academic preparation and personal focus needed to succeed after high school. The northwest Tennessee district has maintained a trajectory of increasing academic expectations for many years, netting strong gains in math over the last three years and ACT test scores above the state average. But it’s only been in the last five years that district leaders worked to connect this academic growth with development of other skills needed for college and career. This effort began in community conversations with various local industry leaders, the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce, and downtown development associations. Rigorous Academics and Character Education Fuel Success at Dyersburg City SchoolS Elementary school students at Dyersburg City Schools might find themselves, in the middle of the day, removing scuff marks from a hallway or helping walk a dog. Dyersburg City Schools Director Neel Durbin says these responsibilities bring out the best in students of all ages, academically and otherwise. And apparently, the kids like it. “We asked them, ‘What do you need? What do our students need to be successful in your particular workforce?’ That can mean any industry, including various higher education settings,” Mr. Durbin said. “We reverse-engineered this. We started at the end and then worked toward the beginning.” District officials learned that soft skills are a critical component of post-graduation success. Students must know how to take responsibility, function on a “We give them a lot of responsibility for things that schedule, and communicate well and appropriateyou wouldn’t think fall on kids,” Mr. Durbin said. ly with others. “When a child feels like they’re doing something important, they are.” 2015 SCORE Prize district finalist Dyersburg City Schools does an exceptional job of preparing students for college and the workforce, starting with kindergarten and continuing through graduation. A rigorous, career-focused curriculum combined with comprehensive, age-appropriate development of soft skills ensures that students graduate with the academic preparation and personal focus needed to succeed after high school. The northwest Tennessee district has maintained a trajectory of increasing academic expectations for many years, netting strong gains in math over the last three years and ACT test scores above the state average. But it’s only been in the last five years that district leaders worked to connect this academic growth with development of othe [›YYY܈YH[\Y\\YܝY[[[][]H۝\][ۜ]\[\[[\HXY\HY\؝\Y\[B[X\و[Y\K[۝ۈ][Y[\X][ۜ˂