Bradley County Schools experienced a very productive year in 2010 with many accomplishments, changes and implementation of new programs. Work will continue in 2011 to implement changes from the Tennessee Department of Education including Tennessee's First to the Top (FTTT) plan.
New state standards and new standardized tests are not the only changes affecting Bradley County Schools. The Bradley County Strategic Planning Committee which developed the BCC 2035 growth plan has projected student enrollment to increase by 1,214 students by the year 2015 and 4,303 students by the year 2035. With schools already at or beyond capacity, this means additional facilities are needed for Bradley County Schools. The Bradley County Board of Education recently completed a capital projects/facility needs assessment which recommends a new middle school, improvements at Lake Forest Middle School, a classroom addition at Walker Valley High School, and land for an additional elementary school in the south and in the north. The board plans to present these requests to the County Commission Education and Finance Committees in the very near future.
In 2011, Bradley County Schools will focus on "rigor and relevance" in the classroom. With the numerous changes to the academic standards in Tennessee, there is a clear need to offer teachers additional training and resources to increase the rigor of teaching in the classroom and provide students with real-life applications to demonstrate the relevance of the lessons. Bradley County Schools has enhanced teacher training with the use of instructional coaches and technology coaches to train teachers to successfully and creatively use the many resources available to them. Teachers now utilize interactive boards in the classroom which provide a vast array of hands-on student activities and lesson plans. With FTTT funds, Bradley County Schools has put in place a Technology Program Coordinator to focus on the needs of middle and high school teachers to include more integration of technology in the classroom. The focus of the secondary technology coordinator will also be an assessment of the effectiveness of secondary computer instructional and testing programs.
FTTT funds have provided an opportunity for Bradley County Schools to staff much needed transitional coordinators. Bradley County Schools now has a transition coordinator to serve the needs of eighth grade students transitioning to high school. This position addresses four areas that affect 8th to 9th grade transition. They include social factors, organizational factors, academic factors, and stakeholder factors. Activities are being planned to foster positive relationships among students and to provide more collaboration between counselors, teachers and administration of middle and high schools. Eight graders will visit their zoned high school during the spring semester. Additionally, FTTT will provide a summer bridge program to provide remediation and enrichment for upcoming ninth graders.
The coordinator for the 5th to 6th grade transition has just completed a survey of all fifth grade students to determine their concerns, fears, and apprehensions as they look ahead to middle school. A plan is being developed to insure clear communication between each middle school and its feeder elementary schools. Fifth graders will visit their middle school during the spring, and a summer bridge program is also planned for upcoming sixth graders.
During the past several years, Bradley County Schools has focused on reading and language arts with much success. The emphasis on reading will continue as the system launches into a systemwide math initiative. During this past fall, elementary parents were enlisted to help their child learn basic math facts. Parents were given specific resources such as flash cards and web-based activities to enhance the work with their student. This is an on-going focus for parent involvement. Elementary teachers are also receiving intensive training in the area of mathematics to enhance teaching and to engage students in more rigorous learning.
New math initiatives will also be a focus for middle and high schools in the spring of 2011. Lake Forest Middle School will begin an intervention program - Tools for Numeracy - at all grade levels. Each grading period will target a group of students for additional math instruction. During February Lake Forest students in the career tech class will produce a segment for the school morning show entitled "Mathematical Monday." The segment will feature a physical demonstration of mathematical terms. Ocoee Middle School will continue to offer a Summer Academy with a focus on math. Each middle and high school has developed specific math initiatives to be implemented in the 2011-2012 school year.
The Smaller Learning Communities Grant (SLC) awarded to Bradley Central and Walker Valley High Schools in October, 2010, is underway with the implementation of many activities in the first year of the grant. These activities are designed to prepare students to be successful in post secondary education and careers without the need for remediation; to create engaging, rigorous learning environments where all students are motivated to maximize academic potential; and to create an environment of caring and concerned core teachers who will monitor student progress and provide support according to the need of the individual student. Bradley Central and Walker Valley have recently filled the positions for College and Career Coaches to work with students, teachers, and parents to promote post-secondary plans and parental involvement. The schools will be taking groups of students to visit college campuses and will conduct expanded college and career fairs locally.
To further rigor and relevance in the classroom, Walker Valley High School, through the SLC grant, has initiated the application process to offer an International Baccalaureate Program for its students. Administrators from Bradley Central High School will present to the Tennessee State Board of Education in April, 2011 a plan to offer the Cambridge AIEC Diploma Program at Bradley. If the program is approved, Bradley Central High School will become the first Cambridge high school in the state of Tennessee. Both the IB and the Cambridge programs are alternative graduation programs that are internationally accepted. These respected and proven programs are of particular importance to international companies such as Wacker and Volkswagen and will benefit all students enrolled in the programs. Another step toward a more rigorous curriculum will be increased advanced placement (AP) offerings at Bradley Central and Walker Valley High Schools.
Bradley County Schools has also implemented an on-going Aspiring Administrator Academy to provide leadership training for future administrators. Currently, the Academy has accepted 14 applicants who met an established criterion and received recommendation into the program. AAA utilizes system administrators and master teachers, as well as community leaders, to inspire and equip potential administrators.
In addition, Bradley County Schools will continue to focus on the health and wellness of our students and staff in the coming year. The US Department of Agriculture has just this year proposed the first major overhaul to school meals in over 15 years which includes reduction of sodium, elimination of trans fats, more fruits and vegetables and low fat milk products, as well as eventually requiring all whole grains. For several years now, Bradley County Schools has placed an emphasis on healthier school lunches that feature more fresh fruits and vegetables. This year the Bradley County Child Nutrition Department has increased the allotment for fresh fruits from $12,000 to $52,000.
School cafeterias have been transformed into an extension of the classroom to teach students the importance of making healthy food choices that will evolve into lifestyle changes for better health. At one time, school cafeterias in the county only offered hot meals. Now students have several options they may choose from - a hot meal or healthy grab-and-go offerings such as fresh "complete-meal" salads or turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread with baked chips, just to name a few. Students also help determine menu items. Selected students participate with cafeteria managers and school counselors to taste-test new items with whole grain, low fat and low sodium content.
Nutrition is not the only focus toward improved health of students. Bradley County Schools' Coordinated School Health has worked diligently to enhance physical education classes for students at all levels. Through grants such as PE4Life and Fit4Life, students can look forward to using spin bikes, rowing machines, climbing walls, Nintendo Wii stations, and a low-ropes course. PTO donations and in-kind donations were also responsible for new equipment and programs for physical education. Through the use of technology, students will now have access to a physical fitness assessment tool that will allow them to set personal fitness goals. This spring seven schools in Bradley County will add walking trails that will be used by students during the school day and by the community after-hours. Bradley County schools are beginning to offer before- and after-school fitness clubs which provide opportunities for students to participate in zumba, yoga, aerobics and fitness walking.
Bradley County Schools is also concerned with the well-being of faculty and staff. The Nutrition Department joined with Coordinated School Health to offer a health fair for staff at the beginning of the 2010 school year. Over 60 health vendors were on hand to provide information on services available to teachers and staff. In partnership with Skyridge Medical Center, health screenings were also offered. The community embraced the idea of the health fair by donating healthy lunch items for the event which served over 800 teachers and support staff. Health-related professional development was also provided.
Outside the classroom, students from Bradley County Schools excel in numerous extra-curricular activities. The Health Occupation Student Associations at both Bradley Central and Walker Valley High Schools consistently have state winners in student competitions. Students place in the top in state Skills USA and Future Business Leaders of America competitions as well as mathematical competitions. The Bradley Central FFA holds the national record of being the only FFA chapter out of 7,439 high school FFA chapters in the United States to have received 43 consecutive National Chapter Gold Emblem Awards. Choral and band programs receive numerous awards each year at competitive performances. Students also consistently participate in charitable events to give back to the community.
Bradley County Schools has a very dedicated and hard-working staff of professional educators and trained support staff whose goal is to provide welcoming centers of educational excellence committed to the total development of the students they serve. The mission of Bradley County Schools in partnership with parents and the community is to develop literate, self-confident, creative and responsible citizens who can meet life challenges and who will value life-long learning.