From Bryan Station principal Mike Henderson
“There have been major improvements from three years ago, and the review team recognized that. The report says the principal has a good vision for the school, the principal cares about kids, and the principal has the right ideas about where we need to go as a staff team, but he’s not monitoring classrooms and he’s not making sure the right kinds of instruction happen on a regular basis,” he said. “The review team has given me some great feedback on what I need to do as a leader. I set an example of what I expect every day, but I have not been in the classrooms as much as I want to be. It’s more than setting an example, you have to live and breathe what you believe.”
As noted in the state review, Henderson said, improvement efforts have really centered on College and Career Readiness.
“One of the first things we have really focused on here at Bryan Station is creating a culture of academic excellence among our students. Our kids’ attitudes toward school have changed. They know they have to be college and career ready. They’re aware of the benchmarks they have to meet and I’ve seen a real change in mindsets – they realize that the goal is more than just graduating from high school. Our students know they have to be prepared for the next step in their college and career journey.”
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And the numbers reflect that, Henderson said.
“Our goal for this year is to have 54.4 percent of our seniors hitting the college and career readiness benchmarks. Last year our accountability score for college and career readiness was 40 and we are at 48 right now. We feel confident that in the next six weeks we’ll be able to reach our goal. We’ve had a big increase in the percentage of our students who are career ready. Last year we were at 4 percent and this year we’re already at 10 percent.”
Active student engagement is the key, he said, explaining that the instructional leadership team at the school is going to have to find a way to ensure that every classroom is a place where learning is exciting and individualized.
“Our teachers have been working hard and we have started the right initiatives,” he said. “Many of our teachers have embraced the innovative instructional techniques we are trying to embed in our practice. However, we still have too much of what I would call ‘traditional teaching’ going on in the building.”
Henderson said the staff is now more aware of areas where improvement is needed. He noted that in the first review, school staff had scored themselves much higher than the state team.
“Our self-study was much more in line with the findings from the review team this time,” he said. “We have reached a point where we realize what we’re not doing well, we have started to celebrate what we are doing well, and we’re using the feedback we get from outside sources to help us move forward.”
From now until the end of the year, Henderson said his team will be making more visits to classrooms to evaluate the instruction and engagement. “We need to make sure we’re providing outstanding instruction right up to the last bell on June 6.”
“As the principal I take responsibility for the results,” Henderson said. “It’s my job to create a living breathing working team to move Bryan Station forward and I’m fully committed to developing the leadership capacity in this building.”