The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

July 25, 2013

School system’s leadership prepares for upcoming year, identifies "core values"


TARBORO — A Leadership Academy prepared Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) administrators for the upcoming year. The school district’s 50 or so administrators met at Barnhill Training Center in Rocky Mount last week for a four-day professional development session.

“We are very pleased with our process,” said John Farrelly, ECPS superintendent. “We have to continually build up the expertise of our leaders.”

During the Academy, based on ECPS’ vision – “Focused, Connected, Ready,” the administrators received training on everything from classroom management to 21st century classrooms. The leaders also discussed strategic goals and core values for the district.

”I would say it was one of the most impressive events that I’ve been to in my 16 years (as an administrator),” said Marc Whichard, principal at SouthWest Edgecombe High School. “I think it’s going to be a powerful school year…The district is very focused on what our goals and objectives are, and we have the human capital to make it happen. Mr. Farrelly’s a good leader.”

The professional development session included team-building exercises.

“I like the ‘Team First’ attitude our administrators are taking,” Farrelly said.

Technology was another focus area of the training session

“We’re really trying to enhance technology as a tool that can affect learning,” Farrelly said. “Students are wired differently these days, with the fast-paced technological world that we live in…”

Administrators completed a half-day session on "Power School," the district's new system for inputting and tracking student data.

"It's really going to change how we use data to measure student growth," Farrelly said. "It's also going to enhance our ability to communicate with parents."

The administrators also identified the district’s top five “core values” – community, relationships, continuous improvement, rigorous curriculum instruction and safe schools.

"Community" means helping all of the district's stakeholders to become "lifelong learners," said Farrelly. The "relationships" piece means establishing positive relationships, between teachers and students, administrators and administrators, and the school district and parents.

"Continuous improvement" means "monitoring and implementing strategies and initiatives" to ensure the success of ECPS, according to the superintendent. The "rigorous curriculum instruction" component means promoting growth in students, putting them in a position to be "successful in life." The "safe schools" core value is about more than keeping students out of harm's way. To Farrelly, it's about creating an environment where people respect "diversity and the learning process" and students feel comfortable asking "hard questions" and taking chances.

"Job No. 1 is for us to provide and embrace safe schools," Farrelly said. He said the district plans to meet with teaching staff and the school community to get their input on the core values, as well.

The school system has made several changes in administration for the upcoming year and Farrelly said he looks forward to the new leadership in the schools.

“One of my biggest jobs is finding quality leaders,” he said. “If we have 14 great principals, then we have a chance to have a great school system.”

The new administrators will have an additional training session before the beginning of the upcoming school year. Farrelly would like to express his appreciation to Barnhill Construction Company for the use of the company's facility for the Leadership Academy.