MacKenzie told parents the top two goals at CES are safety and high achievement.
“That is where we spend our money and that is where we spend our time,” he said.
The school received the 2013 Reward School for Progress award given to only the top 5 percent of schools in Georgia for test score improvement.
Attendance is another topic the principal discussed. CES is second in the state in terms of students’ attendance. MacKenzie remarked that trend seems to be continuing this year as they have had a minimal number of tardies and students out of school.
The student population, which is currently at 992, is an additional area CES ranks high in contrast to schools throughout Georgia. The third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes are the second largest in the state.
MacKenzie said, “I am proud we are a large school, but I don’t want that large school feel. We don’t want to feel impersonal or out of touch or like a big factory.”
Last year the school gained a resource officer, which helped traffic around the school tremendously. MacKenzie emphasized he desired the officer to be viewed by the children as a friendly resource teacher rather than disciplinarian and chose not to utilize the officer for punitive situations.
Nine new teachers were hired at CES as well as a new assistant principal, Melissa White.
The new administrator addressed the audience and shared how she came to CES. The Cedartown native taught second and third grade before becoming an assistant principal. Then after moving to Arizona, she spent two years as a principal at an inner city school. White’s motivation to return to Georgia was rooted in her desire to raise her two children near her family, who still reside in her hometown.
One question that remains high on the list of educators and parents is the new testing system implemented this school year. White discussed what they currently know regarding the changing system.
“We are moving to GMAS — Georgia Milestones Assessment System— which align with Common Core Standards. The Common Core is used across the U.S. and they are trying to find the equalizer in what we are teaching so that students can be competitive nationally and globally. The difference between the two standardized test is that, whereas on the CRCT students found the answer and bubbled in the correct one, [GMAS] is really a thinking test so we are working to teach our students to be thinkers.
“We tell our teachers, ‘Teach to the test.’ We have taught the students based on the standards from day one. It is vital that they learn to think throughout the year and are ready for the test.”
White explained the standards also have a growth measuring element, which follows students and tracks their improvement from year to year. This is one standard by which teachers will be evaluated.
New to this school year, MacKenzie instituted the E and I Block — Enrichment and Intervention — which is a time period specifically set aside to give every student the opportunity to increase their skill level or to “fill in the gaps they may have in certain areas.” Topics and activities focused on STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math— will be another focus highlighted.
Lastly, White reviewed the Adopt a Classroom program. During the 2013-14 school year, every class in at CES was adopted by a business, parent or relative. White encouraged parents to take part in the program, which provides classes with extra money for activities. The program requires at least a $150 pledge.
The next Principal’s Roundtable will be the second week of the second semester in January 2015.