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Superintendent2Community Meetings Provides Insight Into Status Of Webster County Schools

The Sebree Banner of Sebree, Kentucky

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Webster County Schools superintendent Dr. Rachel Yarbrough hosted the first Supt 2 Community luncheon of the 2015-16 school year last Thursday. In welcoming guests from various areas of business and government, Yarbrough told the group that Thursday was an opportunity "for us to come together and talk about what's going on in the best school system in Kentucky."

About 40 individuals attended the meeting where they learned from Yarbrough that the district now "historically has the highest scores every in Webster County schools-every school showed improvement,"

The lunch meeting gave school personnel the opportunity to share the most recent round of K-Prep scores. District Assessment coordinator Rhonda Callaway reviewed the scores and offered explanations of how students are assessed and what those numbers mean to Webster County. Every school plus the district meet the annual measurable objective, earning the district a proficient rating based on 2015 testing.

"Proficiency is our new base line, and that's how we're going to operate in Webster County," Yarbrough noted; "There's no reason Webster County can't be a district of distinction."

Yarbrough continued, "The work is around continuing to progress and continue to improve. Our goal is to be sure every child in Webster County schools has a quality education."

Callaway reviewed each school's progress and their growth from 2014. All local school "leap frogged" over many other state schools to move up in rank and percentile, Callaway said. The district as a whole jumped 51 spots in state ranking.

Yarbrough told the group, "We can't go back; we've got to get in single digits. You will need somebody else to lead the way if we ever go back to those numbers (previous year's ranking) again."

The superintendent emphasized that the public needs to have high expectations of school leadership and each year, expect better scores and improvement. Callaway added that administration and staff "have high expectations for ourselves."

Jay Parrent, who works at Madisonville Community College and is a member of the Kentucky School Board, commended the district "for the accomplishments and the community for its support of the schools." He also commended Callaway for her "exceptional" explanation of the assessment data and how she explained a complicated process.

A number of other topics were also presented to the group Rachel Health, who heads the Capstone Learning Center at the high school, reviewed that program's activities. She noted that 305 of WCHS's 600 plus students have taken advantage of the program which offers both academic and enrichment opportunities.

Kim Saalwaechter provided a report on the Alpha Academy, a program that provided child care and educational opportunities for infants to three year olds. The program also has a full day program for three to five year olds. Designed to promote work and education, the Alpha Academy/early childhood program has provided employment for 16 individuals and provided new opportunities in the early childhood education initiative.

Link To Learn, spearheaded by DPP Todd Marshall, will provide five nontraditional instructional days for students. In case of inclement weather or a county emergency, students will have access to online or packet information so that instruction can continue outside the schools.

The new digital learning plan offers students access to mobile labs which contain lap top computers (chrome books)

Heather Roy addressed the group with an update on the Work Ready Community initiative. Two years ago the county was designated Work Ready in Progress, and continues to work to achieve the Work Ready status. The only criteria the county is not presently meeting is the post secondary education attainment. Roy reported that the Work Ready committee is ready to re-write the application for Work Ready in Progress status, but more community involvement and support is needed. "We need to show growth in the number of businesses and community members that support this initiative," Roy said. She stressed the importance of the program for the future of the county and its economic growth.

Mickey Dunbar presented information about the Webster County Kids 2 College initiative, and asked those present to support the program with monetary pledges. Kids 2 College will ensure that all Webster County students have the opportunity to attend college, Dunbar said.

Georgiann McCord provided information on the district's Title I program noting that those federal funds provide instructional assistants, teachers, coaches and help with the purchase of additional instructional resources.

In other discussions, Yarbrough brought the group up to date on school facilities, volunteer opportunities as well as grant for which the district will apply.

Before the meeting adjourned, magistrate Tony Felker noted, "This is the most exciting thing I've seen about our schools and I'm proud of it."

Judge Rene Williams added, "I was already looking at other (educational) options (for her granddaughter), but I no longer am (based on the one year growth the local schools have exhibited)," and Keith Farrell noted, "There is more enthusiasm in this district than has been here in 35 years." He added that the willingness of administration to work with business/industry is phenomenal "and it all started with Rachel Yarbrough came back (to the district)."

Yarbrough concluded the meeting noting, "Webster County is a great place to be. We have the team; we have the strongest leadership team I've ever been around. It is the best time for kids to be in Webster County Schools. Our work is right on track."

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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015

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