Bibb County’s principals and teachers will have some some extra support and guidance this coming school year.
Among the new positions included in the 2017-18 budget, the district has added two principal supervisors and five staff members devoted to student behavior issues.
Former Howard Middle School principal Lindsey Allen will oversee the district’s traditional middle and high schools as the executive officer of secondary schools, and former Springdale Elementary principal Donna Jackson will be the executive officer of elementary schools.
They will not be responsible for Elam Alexander Academy, Northwoods Academy, SOAR Academy, Hutchings College and Career Academy, and the Academy for Classical Education, which have other monitors in place, Superintendent Curtis Jones said.
“(Allen and Jackson) both are successful principals who have been in the district for a while, that have demonstrated an ability to move to a higher level of opportunity,” Jones said. “They believe in using research and data to inform their decisions. They are great in building relationships, and they understand our community.”
Principal supervisors are common in bigger school districts, he said. Jones oversaw all 19 principals in the Griffin-Spalding district when he was superintendent there, but the Bibb County system was too large for one person to take on that role.
In addition to their other job duties, six central office staff members had been overseeing the district’s principals. But for consistency and better communication, there needed to be a few people who could do the job full time and provide the direct supervision, mentoring and feedback that was missing.
“The job really is to help your principals improve their practices. It’s about being focused on doing the right work,” Allen said. “If (principals) win, our schools win, our teachers win, our students win and ultimately our communities win.”
The supervisors will help the principals build their knowledge, better manage time, connect with resources, achieve goals, and make decisions consistent with the district’s core values, he said. Allen and Jackson will be a sounding board for principals and a liaison between the central office and the schools, Jones said.
“Our vision is to be there to support and coach these principals to make them the very best they can be for their faculty, staff and students,” Jackson said. “My hopes and dreams are to really do everything that I can to increase student achievement in our Bibb County school system.”
The Bibb County district already has an academic coordinator — Joan Whitehead — for its Response to Intervention program, which identifies and supports students with learning and behavior needs. For the 2017-18 year, an RTI coordinator for behavior and four behavior interventionists also will be on staff.
“What we’ve recognized is that we have some students with behavioral issues that teachers may not have all the tools they need in order to deal with,” said Jamie Cassady, assistant superintendent of student affairs. “So our thoughts are to get individuals who are trained more in-depth with dealing with these kinds of issues.”
Former teachers and counselors will fill the behavior interventionist positions, and they’ll work directly with students and teachers in schools where they are needed, he said. They’ll help teachers understand the students and how to best work with them, Jones said.
“You can’t keep asking teachers to do more without giving them more resources,” Jones said. “We hope that this will be one of those missing ingredients that weren’t there before.”