My Future. My Learning. Just for Me.Posted by Dr. Bill Harrison on 3/9/2018Message from Dr. Harrison,Superintendent
My Future. My Learning. Just for Me.
March 9, 2018
The world in which we live is constantly changing and the world in which our students will live, lead, and prosper will look much different than today. As with many things, there’s a need to balance proven practices with researched risk; to appreciate history while anticipating the future. When Henry Ford was asked about his groundbreaking work, he said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” While our history is rich and robust, we are even more excited about our future. Our excitement started us on a digital transformation journey with the Friday Institute in 2014. Our intention was to personalize learning, enabling each student to reach their full potential. Today, our journey continues. Through a focus on our strategic plan’s first goal, Exemplary Classroom Teaching and Instructional Leadership, we collectively developed our district’s Core Four and reflected on Keys to Exemplary Leadership. As a result of the collaboration and creation of the Core Four, we began to focus on content, engagement, rigor, and data literacy. Investments in technology enabled us to be more effective, efficient, and responsive to the inevitable change. With it, teachers have the potential to provide personalized learning, allowing students to work in modern platforms and environments. Additionally, with technology, teachers can facilitate rigorous learning experiences and provide timely and specific feedback, resulting in greater student ownership and learning. Three years ago our journey began with a focus on content and instruction. The following year, we reflected on vision, strategy, and culture; and, just last year, we invested our time and energy in personal growth and relationship building. As leaders, we invite you to join the movement to the future. We are at a critical crossroad - a point at which we determine not only our own future, but the future of our community. We’ve begun the journey, but our success depends on you. We’ll know we’ve arrived when our community can say this is modern, this is innovative, this is nurturing. Each student can say, “this is M.I.N.E.”
Alamance Burlington Schools: Proud to be Public
Bill Harrison, Ed. D.
Superintendent, Alamance-Burlington Schools
One Vision; One Plan; One CommunityPosted by Dr. Bill Harrison on 10/10/2017Message from Dr. Harrison,Superintendent
One Vision; One Plan; One Community
October 10, 2017
More than two decades have passed since 1996 when Alamance County Schools merged with Burlington City Schools and, now, it’s nearly three decades after that conversation first began. Merger made sound economic sense then to numerous school districts across the state, but on the map, Alamance County Schools and Burlington City Schools never really married. Former school attendance boundaries, leftover from two separate school systems, never budged when the Alamance-Burlington School System was born.
In February, 2017, after months of public input with multiple plan revisions, the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education approved a landmark long-range comprehensive high school redistricting strategy that erases outdated attendance patterns and establishes restructured high school boundaries relevant to The Vision Plan for Public Education in Alamance County created by this community in 2013.
“We envision a public school system that is a national model for its curriculum and community engagement to empower all Alamance County students with equal opportunity for civic engagement, a meaningful quality of life and skills for economic success -- for themselves and our community.”
-A Vision Plan for Public Education in Alamance County
-adopted June 2013
Courageous leadership approved a redesigned school plan that solidifies our district’s commitment to excellent educational experiences for every child, no matter which school district or zone. The new plan is designed with the entire county’s future in mind; one vision with one plan for one community.
Change takes time and true understanding of the benefits to be gained. Change also deserves a fresh start. A generous community partner, the Impact Alamance Foundation, has donated funding to help us rebrand and refresh with a new district name and logo. Let’s look to the future as one cohesive community, as Alamance Public Schools. I would appreciate hearing your thoughts.
Bill Harrison, Ed. D.
Superintendent, Alamance-Burlington Schools
Welcome MatPosted by Dr. Bill Harrison on 8/25/2017Message from Dr. Harrison,Superintendent
August 25, 2017
On Monday we will greet the Class of 2030; kindergarten students and their parents, anxious, a little apprehensive, but excited to join our ABSS family for their educational journey. Our year-round schools that began studies in July already are well on their way to another successful year for students. After 43 years in my profession, the first day of school still is my favorite date on the calendar. We enjoy celebrating with children at every school who are excited to rejoin their friends after summer break and reconnect with the familiar faces of our teachers and the time-honored traditions of teaching and learning. For us, it’s a fresh beginning like New Year’s Day when we eagerly anticipate a year ahead filled with accomplishments and advancements. We prepare all summer for this privilege. I hope our community catches our educators’ excitement and celebrates with us as we proudly put out the welcome mat for our county’s next generation of leaders.
As the calendar pages flip, the Class of 2030 will travel a path already well-marked by outstanding ABSS student leaders. Our high school seniors in the Class of 2017 earned acceptance to more than 210 institutions of higher education in 36 states and the District of Columbia. More than 110 colleges and universities in 27 states were eager to invest millions in our graduates’ future education based on their well-documented high school successes with scholarships secured in the midst of stiff state, national and global competition. The ABSS Class of 2017 earned $19.3 million in merit-based scholarship awards, the highest amount in district history, a robust $3.5 million more than the previous record-breaking Class of 2016. Class of 2030, you have plenty of role models on your pathway ahead to model the way to success.
With numerous in-state and far away colleges and communities investing heavily in ABSS graduates, after our students leave Alamance County to further their educations, gain post-secondary experiences and heightened global awareness, will they come back home? Will our scholars headed off to Azusa Pacific, Brigham Young, Bryn Mawr, DePaul, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Mississippi State, Northern Illinois, Ohio State, Pratt Institute, South Carolina, Southeastern, VMI, Virginia Tech, UVA, West Point, Whitman and William & Mary, among many other fine institutions, return to our hometown to start a career, settle down and raise a family? What about our graduates committed closer to home at ACC, Appalachian, Davidson, Duke, Elon, North Carolina A&T, NC Central, NC State, all UNC campuses, Wake Forest, Western Carolina, Winston Salem State and more?
Students who have pursued academic excellence and shown they have what it takes to succeed on the national stage; will they find opportunities that match their skill sets and expertise back home in Alamance County? Or are Alamance-Burlington Schools’ graduates outperforming their surroundings? Will the Class of 2017 scholars planning their paths to degrees in American Sign Language, Business, Chemistry, Education, Engineering, Exercise Science, Fine Arts, Global Studies, Graphic Design, Medicine, Nursing, Psychology, Sociology and more find opportunities locally as our next generation of successful professionals and civic leaders?
Our community must carefully consider what investments and infrastructure improvements are needed to entice our ABSS graduates to return and ensure a bright future for their careers and children. History, legacy and tradition are laudable civic cornerstones; but what will the path to the future be like for the Class of 2030? 2050?
To grow and prosper, Alamance County needs our ABSS National AP Scholars, AP Scholars with Distinction, AP Scholars with Honor and AP Scholars. Our community’s future success will rely heavily on ABSS graduates who have earned degrees, credentials and certificates in business and industry skills, proficient in multiple career fields, to put down roots at home. Our community’s children are counting on Alamance County to invest and innovate; to thrive, not just survive. It will be a very different tomorrow that requires advance planning today to ensure we are ready to put out the welcome mat for our county’s future generations of leaders. 2030 will be here before we know it.
Bill Harrison, Ed. D.
Superintendent, Alamance-Burlington Schools
Advocacy for AlamancePosted by Dr. Bill Harrison on 6/7/2017Message from Dr. Harrison,Superintendent
Advocacy for Alamance
June 7, 2017
Advocacy for Alamance. One by one they came to voice support for increased investment in the future of our community; students and parents, teachers, leaders, business owners and senior citizens. From taxpayers, in unison, in every area of our county, we heard, “Support our community’s Vision; support the Alamance-Burlington Schools Strategic Plan.”
Thank you to all citizens passionate about the urgent need to invest in our county’s future after years of neglect for writing letters, making phone calls, attending public meetings and speaking in support of increased appropriations now for our community’s greatest asset, the 22,800 students in our public schools. Your voices are multiplying and intensifying, getting stronger and louder; your message is gaining momentum in Alamance, “Support public education; support our community’s future.” You are doing your part.
Thank you to my professional colleagues. I am proud to serve with you in our community as together we know we are building a better tomorrow for our children and our citizens. We have a long list of successes to share as Alamance-Burlington Schools continues to create outstanding educational opportunities to match each student’s interests and needs. Our well-documented plans and progress toward the goals in our community’s Vision for Public Education in Alamance County have been nothing short of remarkable over the last five years. We are doing our part.
Now our commitment as educators must be to continue our advocacy. We must persist in our refusal to agree with other’s complacency that Alamance as average is acceptable. From our unique vantage point in every classroom, we enjoy the privilege and recognize the sacred trust of looking directly into each student’s eyes. Every day, reflected in those eyes, we see extraordinary, not average. In those eyes we see our community’s great potential. It is our duty to persist in sharing our message that ensuring each child’s success will secure our county’s long term progress. We must persist with our passion, our calling, for cementing the foundation for our community’s future. We must not falter in reminding others of the message that today’s students will be tomorrow’s leaders; worthy of increased community investment now. We must persist in doing our part.
With our educators’ expertise and continued focus on children first, with our citizens’ growing advocacy and outspoken support, it is my hope that our elected officials will listen to our community’s compelling call for improvement and find the political will to connect those valuable assets with commensurate financial investment; do their part. It takes courage to look our community’s children directly in the eye. Our doors are open.
“We believe that educating Alamance County children will prepare good citizens, a talented workforce and strong leaders. By developing critical thinking and leadership skills in our children, we can create a dynamic, creative and diverse workforce in order to allow Alamance County to be competitive in an evolving and constantly changing global economy. Education improves the quality of life for our citizens by enabling financial independence, promoting individual health, sharing our cultural talents and heritage, encouraging commonly held values, and instilling an appreciation for our community - its past, present and future. We believe that Alamance County, bolstered by an excellent public school system that helps its students reach their greatest potential, can become one of the most desired destinations for new business and industry, and the most desired place to live, work and raise a family. We believe that investing in public education is an investment that provides a foundation for the economic success of Alamance County and the improvement of the quality of life for all its residents. We believe that Alamance County deserves our investment in public education.”
-excerpt, A Vision for Public Education in Alamance County, adopted 2013
Bill Harrison, Ed. D.
Expressing Appreciation for TeachersPosted by Dr. Bill Harrison on 5/12/2017Message from Dr. Harrison,Superintendent
Expressing Appreciation for Teachers
May 12, 2017
A handshake. A hug. Heartfelt words in a handwritten note. Simple gestures can demonstrate personal appreciation for teachers who change the world, one student at a time. Each May we are reminded of how important education experts are to our community and to our civilization when we pause to reflect on their influence during National Teacher Appreciation Week. Have you shared your appreciation for educators that have made a difference in your life?
We are extremely fortunate to live in and work for a community that shows its appreciation for our education professionals in a big way. Alamance County is filled with businesses, organizations and citizens who actively advocate for our schools and our teachers, which, in my opinion, is a very tangible form of appreciation for our vocation.
Each year, the Alamance Chamber hosts the Excellence in Education Awards program which celebrates the value of teachers and the important role that education plays in our county. The Chamber’s dedicated all-volunteer Teacher of the Year committee spends countless hours over the winter reviewing portfolios and interviewing teachers to select the Alamance-Burlington Schools Teacher of the Year.
During the first week of May, each school’s teacher of the year is honored, including charter and private schools and Alamance Community College, at an elegant celebration that seems to grow larger every year, thanks to extraordinary commitment from local businesses and citizens dedicated to showing their gratitude to those with the most important profession in the world.
Congratulations to our educators who earned this year’s highest honor for their school and for our community. You make us proud!
2017 ABSS Teacher of the Year Freebird McKinney Williams High School 2017 ABSS Finalists for Teacher of the Year Deanna Beckham Eastern High School Casey Collins Eastlawn Elementary School Sarah McCain Southern High School Amanda Mitchell North Graham Elementary School David Price Graham High School 2017 ABSS Semi Finalists for Teacher of the Year Heather Beg Ray Street Academy Caitlin Campbell South Mebane Elementary School Inmaculada Hill Cummings High School Jess Cheap Sylvan Elementary School Rodric Livingston Andrews Elementary School Kim Macomson Smith Elementary School 2017 ABSS Teachers of the Year Tomi Balogun Grove Park Elementary Sarah Banko Woodlawn Middle School Sandra Bays Elon Elementary School Christine Bertson Pleasant Grove Elementary School Sabrina Chatman Graham Middle School Christine Chun Newlin Elementary School Nicole Coward E M Holt Elementary School Mary Beth Dowler Western High School Jennifer Fisher Alamance-Burlington Early/Middle College Lelia Geiger Altamahaw Ossipee Elementary School Carolina Guarda Turrentine Middle School Chastity Hill Hillcrest Elementary School Brittany Jackson Audrey Garrett Elementary School Candi Long South Graham Elementary School Ashley Murphy Haw River Elementary School Sarah Parrish Highland Elementary School Meagan Scott E.M. Yoder Elementary School Tracy Shelton Hawfields Middle School Brodie Taylor CTEC Beth Warren Alexander Wilson Elementary School Melinda Woodard Broadview Middle School Brad Wroblewski Western Alamance Middle School Kimberly Zangotsis B. Everett Jordan Elementary School
View a great video from the 2017 Excellence in Education Awards event sponsored by the Alamance Chamber.
Thank you to our entire staff of professionals for all that you do to support success for children in our community. Never forget that you are making tomorrow’s memories for the children in your classrooms today.
Bill Harrison, Ed. D.
Bold LeadershipPosted by Dr. Bill Harrison on 4/21/2017Message from Dr. Harrison,Superintendent
April 21, 2017
Alamance County is home to successful global industry pioneers with progressive leadership evident everywhere in business, faith-based organizations and non-profits. It is the birthplace of an internationally-known university and a nationally-recognized community college. Alamance County is becoming a community for forward-thinking entrepreneurs willing to wager their futures on self-built ideas. What’s the common denominator for success? It’s the combination of courage, conviction and commitment by experts to examine issues and opportunities with a global perspective to craft a better outcome. It’s bold leadership.
In 2012, Alamance County launched a local movement to bring a global perspective to K-12 public education for its children. It was a commitment like no other I’ve observed in more than 40 years in my profession. Recognizing that all students must be fully equipped with skills to compete in tomorrow’s global economy and that schools need strong support and investment to achieve that goal, community and business leaders worked together to construct a vision for individual success for every child. Utilizing their proven professional skills and civic devotion in crafting the pledge, these bold trailblazers also reiterated the important corresponding benefits for all citizens in supporting world-class educational opportunities for tomorrow’s leaders:
We envision a public school system that is a national model for its curriculum and community engagement to empower all Alamance County students with equal opportunity for civic engagement, a meaningful quality of life and skills for economic success—for themselves and our community. –A Vision for Public Education in Alamance County, adopted June 2013
With broad-based support from the community, in 2014, Alamance-Burlington Schools assembled a robust, well-crafted strategic plan framework to ensure that the community’s vision would be fulfilled, putting in steps and checkpoints for a five to ten year plan. Over the past two years, our county commissioners have shown bold leadership in supporting the landmark vision and strategic plan roadmap. The specific course of action charted by our education professionals already is demonstrating proven success. While it is still early in the process, there has been a high rate of return on our community’s investment to date; evidence that the vision is fueling advanced achievement for students.
To attain audacious civic goals leaders must carefully examine local issues then look outside their own organizations and communities to understand best practices, review competitors’ strategies and find the best solutions that likely won’t mean business as usual. It takes courage and commitment to stay the course rather than stalling progress or abandoning a community-crafted plan designed to assure future economic benefits for all citizens. Looking beyond today to plan for tomorrow’s benefits requires bold leadership.
In 1933, during the worst economic conditions for North Carolina and this nation, our General Assembly passed the School Machinery Act that dramatically changed the system of funding public schools in our state. Even in the midst of the Great Depression, courageous leaders looked for a better solution to level the playing field for all students, then, without hesitation, set the plan in motion. The daring funding formula crafted during those desperate days has remained unequalled over the last seven decades of our state’s history. Since the Great Recession of 2008, North Carolina’s General Assembly has not matched the bold leadership and courage displayed in 1933, nor have our schools recovered to pre-recession investment levels. Failure to be bold has left us behind.
Currently, in Alamance County, both our tax rate and our tax base are lower than our neighbors to the east and west. Typically, tax rates are low when the base is high as is common in coastal and mountain vacation communities with elevated property values. If we continue to be successful in attracting new business and industry to our community, our tax base will increase with their added investment and the tax rate can go down. The higher the tax base, the more a single penny on the tax rate will generate. For example, today, the same one penny on the tax rate generates $4.8 million in Guilford and only $1.3 million in Alamance. Those pennies support, among other community services, school facility needs, teacher supplements and specialized education programs for students. I happen to believe our children deserve no less than what the children in our neighboring counties receive. Determining how to level the playing field will require bold leadership.
There are no investments made in any community that yield a higher long-term return than assets applied to teaching its children. Improving our education system will attract and retain business and industry, fueling growth and expansion of our economic base. Investing in public education is the most important economic development strategy our community can employ. As responsible civic-minded citizens, we must continue to invest in our collective home to ensure a bright future for all.
I am extremely proud of our school system, our students, our teachers and all of our employees who do remarkable work for the young people we serve. Additionally, I am delighted with the spirit of support we enjoy from our entire community. Our business leaders, friends in the faith-based and nonprofit fields, higher education partners, and our Alamance Chamber are all demonstrating bold leadership as we strive to make our collective vision a reality. We need support from all of our stakeholders; our community cannot be satisfied with the status quo.
Looking beyond today requires bold leadership and demands that we combine our courage, conviction and commitment to construct a better tomorrow for our children. The common denominator is us.
Bill Harrison, Ed. D.
One Vision; One School DistrictPosted by Dr. Bill Harrison on 3/23/2017Message from Dr. Harrison,Superintendent
One Vision; One School District
March 23, 2017
City schools. County schools. Our schools. In 1996, Alamance County Schools and Burlington City Schools joined together, creating Alamance-Burlington Schools. It was a bold move backed by this community’s courageous leaders. The visionary merger of two school systems made sound civic sense. A small yet strategic hyphen in the name was sited to symbolize the new, shared school district, forever linking two separate histories.
Since 1996, community changes have included expansions of city limits, population shifts and enrollment growth, but school attendance boundaries, those imaginary lines, leftovers from two separate school systems, stood steadfast. On the map, Alamance County Schools and Burlington City Schools never merged.
Recognizing the need to address outdated attendance patterns that made perfect sense long ago with separate school districts, after months of public input and multiple plan revisions, the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education approved a long-range comprehensive high school redistricting strategy in February 2017.
Decades overdue, the bold new blueprint erases outdated attendance patterns and establishes restructured high school boundaries reasonable for today, robust enough for our community’s future needs and relevant to The Vision Plan for Public Education in Alamance County created by this community in 2013.
Courageous leadership approved a redesigned school plan that solidifies our district’s commitment to excellent educational experiences for every child. With expanded specialized program offerings planned for two choice schools at Graham and Cummings, the district re-design will provide enhanced opportunities for all students. The addition of a new high school will relieve long overcrowded schools and manage well-documented population growth coming to our county.
Such a well-crafted plan to advance our community’s Vision for public education deserves a fresh start. With a nod to the bold moves of the past, but squarely focused on our future, it is time to rebrand our school system to represent our entire county, erasing imaginary boundaries and looking ahead as one cohesive community. I favor Alamance Public Schools; no hyphen needed to represent our collective Vision for world class education for every child.
Please share your thoughts and suggestions about rebranding our community’s schools.
Bill Harrison, Ed. D.
Redistricting Update, January 2017Posted by Dr. Bill Harrison on 1/19/2017Message from Dr. Harrison,Superintendent
Redistricting Update, January 2017
January 19, 2017
Providing an exceptional education for every child in Alamance County is our own citizens’ directive as expressed in A Vision for Public Education in Alamance County, adopted by the Alamance-Burlington Board of Education in 2013.
“We believe that all Alamance County children, regardless of circumstances, must have equal opportunity to realize their full potential and to prepare themselves to successfully face the challenges of the future and be productive members of society. For this to happen, we must invest in safe learning environments, and a challenging, dynamic, analytical, practical and flexible system of education.”
The Vision is a powerful document created by community stakeholders, business leaders and educators. I urge you to read it and understand how it serves as the foundation for the district’s road map, the ABSS Strategic Plan, adopted in 2014, and our current conversations about high school redistricting.
After 20 years of being joined in name only, long-range plans are now underway to fully unify our district, improve school equity and consistency, and invest in facilities so that all schools are equipped to offer world-class educational experiences for every child in every corner of our county. This community has progressed a great deal since 1996 when Burlington City Schools and Alamance County Schools merged, but substantial long-term investments and commitment to change to benefit children in our schools are both critical for ensuring that Alamance County will achieve the Vision.
“We believe that the children of Alamance County, when educated by exceptional teachers, using the best methods, in great facilities with commensurate support and expectations from families, community leaders, and the community at-large, can achieve exceptional post high school successes.”
-A Vision for Public Education in Alamance County, 2013
The Alamance-Burlington Board of Education will be voting on the proposed high school redistricting plan on Monday, January 23 at the regularly-scheduled January Board of Education meeting that will begin at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in the upstairs auditorium at the district’s administrative offices located at 1712 Vaughn Road, Burlington.
Main Points of the ABSS High School Redistricting Proposal*
*Maps showing the redistricting boundaries are available for viewing at the district’s central office lobby (1712 Vaughn Road) and in each high school lobby
- As previously outlined, there will be 5 comprehensive high schools with designated attendance zones:
Eastern Alamance High Southern Alamance High
Western Alamance High Walter M. Williams High
A new high school to be constructed between Eastern & Southern high schools will manage overcrowding and explosive growth in the southeastern portion of the county.
- In addition, 2 specialty schools without attendance zones (magnet-like schools) will offer expanded educational choices and opportunities for students:
School of the Arts on the current Cummings High campus
(grades 6-12; modeled after the highly-successful Durham School of the Arts)
Skilled Trades Academy on the current Graham High campus
(including the Municipal Services Academy & Early College expansion with ACC)
- In addition to the construction of a new high school, facility upgrades and additions to handle overcrowding and modernize buildings and infrastructure are part of the current proposal for Eastern, Southern, Western and Williams.
- Renovations needed to upgrade Cummings and Graham buildings for specialized programs are also included as part of the proposed plan.
- Pleasant Grove Elementary will be renovated.
- An addition at South Mebane Elementary will be needed to manage continued growth in the Mebane community.
- A county-wide bond referendum will be necessary to provide funding for these projects or a combination of a bond with public-private partnership funding. The cost of the proposal, including a new high school and upgrades/additions at existing schools is currently estimated at approximately $125 to $150 million.
- It is estimated that it will take a minimum of 3 years before the construction of a new high school is completed once a bond referendum is passed or funding is secured.
- Beginning in the Fall of 2017, areas South of Church Street, currently in the Western Middle/Western Alamance High attendance zone, will be rezoned to the Turrentine Middle/Williams High School attendance zone. (Areas along and near the Guilford County line). This adjustment in attendance boundaries will help to ease overcrowding already occurring in the Western zone. It is not dependent on construction of the new high school.
- Beginning in the Fall of 2017, areas South of Interstate 85/40 to Alamance Road, currently in the Southern Middle/Southern High attendance zone, will be rezoned to the Turrentine Middle/Williams High attendance zone. This adjustment in attendance boundaries will help to ease substantial overcrowding already occurring in the Southern zone. This change is not dependent on construction of the new high school.
- With the redistricting changes that go into effect Fall of 2017, the proposal includes a “grandfather clause” that would allow students to stay at their current school through the remainder of the grade span (6-8 or 9-12) with parents providing transportation.
Updating facilities to world-class educational standards, balancing changing demographics and providing equity in programs and support for every school while managing increased enrollment growth are challenges that can be met with strong community support and belief that every child must succeed in order for Alamance County to prosper. We hope that you will support increased investment in our schools and in our plans to offer world-class educational experiences for every child in our community.
Bill Harrison, Ed. D.
- As previously outlined, there will be 5 comprehensive high schools with designated attendance zones:
December ReflectionsPosted by Dr. Bill Harrison on 12/14/2016Message from Dr. Harrison,Superintendent
December 14, 2016
As the holidays approach I always find myself in a reflective mood. Since the Thanksgiving break, I have visited a number of schools to have lunch and conversation with students, interacted with our faculties at afternoon meetings, and dropped by countless classrooms. All of these interactions have reminded me how grateful I am to serve a school district that is staffed by dedicated professionals working with incredible young people.
I talk and write about this community’s Vision Plan for Public Education and our ABSS Strategic Plan on a regular basis. In addition, I frequently reference the exceptional progress we have made toward making the Vision a reality. Our Board of Education has stayed the course; our County Commissioners have supported our efforts; and the business and faith communities continue to play critical roles in our district accomplishments. We have much more work ahead, but the Vision continues to be our community’s conversation centerpiece around helping every child achieve his or her personal best. Recently, the entire community celebrated the official launch of the Alamance Achieves initiative, a national framework for achieving collective community success. At the kick-off event, the energy in the room was electric. When a diverse group of people comes together to work toward a common goal, phenomenal outcomes are the result. The window of opportunity is wide open in Alamance County and we must seize the moment to ensure every child’s success.
Larry Coble, my friend, mentor, and past director of the Piedmont Triad Education Consortium, recently shared that, when governing bodies cannot measure what is important in public schools, they make that which they can measure important. Thus, North Carolina’s high stakes accountability model for schools was born. It is critical to point out, however, that so much goes on in our schools each and every day that cannot be measured. Our teachers, principals, assistant principals, teacher assistants, custodians, bus drivers, school counselors, social workers, nurses, central office staff and child nutrition experts make connections with nearly 23,000 children every single day. While the impact is not easily measured, every employee plays a major role in the well-being and success of our students. I appreciate each one of my professional colleagues for their individual abilities to reach and teach children.
I do not dismiss or discount our state’s accountability model. It does tell a story that can help us improve; but clearly, not the whole story. I am proud that, due to the hard work of all of our school-based and central support staff, every area we measure is on a positive trajectory. Our improvement in student growth has exceeded my high expectations, and we continue to record strong gains in proficiency. While our graduation rate took a slight dip last year, over the previous 5-year period, the trend has remained positive. Our collective goal is for ABSS to be the place where children want to come to learn, much more than just a place where they have to come. When students want to be in school, everything else falls into place.
Additionally, I want ABSS to be the organization where every education professional wants to work. We have made a concerted effort to provide outstanding support for our personnel and career-enhancing professional development opportunities. Both are strong indicators of employee satisfaction. The 2016 North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions Survey results showed significant improvement in both areas with our teacher attrition rate dropping by nearly 4 percent. For the first time anyone can remember, our district-wide attrition rate fell below the state average. That is yet another important statistic on a positive trajectory that can be measured.
Moving into the holidays, I am grateful for the opportunity to serve more than 3,000 dedicated ABSS colleagues and a committed community. I hope each one of you has a wonderful holiday making memories with treasured family and friends. Thank you for all you do.
Bill Harrison, Ed. D.
School SuccessPosted by Dr. Bill Harrison on 9/22/2016Message from Dr. Harrison,Superintendent
September 22, 2016
Our community’s Vision for Public Education and the Alamance-Burlington Schools Strategic Plan continue to drive our efforts to offer world class educational opportunities for every student. This will mark our third year of working together on the Strategic Plan to make the Vision a reality for our community. I am excited about our progress to date and our emphasis on the foundational elements of our professional development focus for ABSS educators we call the Core 4:
- Curriculum Content and Standards (what teachers teach)
- Rigor (challenging every student)
- Pedagogy (how teachers teach)
- Data and Assessments (using data to inform decisions about instruction)
The Core 4 elements are critical for our students, schools and community success. We have more work ahead, but most importantly, we have a strong plan in place for sustaining our trend of continued academic growth and constantly challenging all students with rigorous coursework at every level. Watch a short video about our district’s professional development emphasis for our educators and how the framework is aligned to our ABSS Strategic Plan.
I anticipate that our third year together will demonstrate great success as we continue to keep our attention on the “right stuff”.
With a strong focus on each child and not on once-a-year summary results of test scores, we are pleased that our educational initiatives are resulting in considerable gains for individual students and schools. Our district accountability results for more than 22,500 students in 2015-2016, measured by the State of North Carolina, demonstrated substantial forward progress over the prior year in our collective efforts to help each child reach his or her personal academic best. Thanks to the commitment and dedication of our educators:
- ABSS achieved a combined grade level proficient score (Levels 3, 4 & 5) of 51.8% for all end-of-grade and end-of-course test results for students in grades 3-5, grade 8, and grades 9-12, an increase from 49.9% the previous year.
- Our career and college ready score (Levels 4 & 5) also increased over the previous year, a 2.3 percentage point rise.
- For ACT test results for all high school juniors, 51.3% of students scored at or above the University of North Carolina system entry requirement composite score of 17, an increase of 2.4 percentage points from 2014-2015.
- Nearly ninety percent, or 30 of our district’s 34 schools with a growth status, met or exceeded academic growth goals, up a robust 6.4 percentage points from 2014-2015. Only 2 of our 36 schools, Ray Street Academy and the Alamance-Burlington Career and Technical Education Center, do not report a growth status. Thirteen (13) schools exceeded expected growth in 2016.
- While our 4-year cohort graduation rate dipped slightly by 1 percentage point from the highest level in district history of 82% in 2014-2015, 93% of all ABSS graduates completed high school with, at minimum, a 3rd level math course, an increase of 1.1 percentage points from the prior year.
Our work to challenge and grow our high learners and support our students who may be struggling to master a particular standard is crucial to our community’s vitality. Ensuring that each student experiences the excitement of achieving personal success is our goal. Collectively we are building our community’s future work force and its leaders of tomorrow with support from local businesses and higher education partners. The investment that our teacher-leaders make each day to help more than 22,700 students achieve academic success is our community’s strongest economic asset and our commitment to Alamance County’s Vision for Public Education.
“We believe that education is the foundation for individual success, and that education should provide the knowledge, experiences and skills for future careers, further educational opportunities and continued and constructive participation in our democratic society.”
– A Vision for Public Education in Alamance County, 2013
Bill Harrison, Ed. D.
- March 2018
- October 2017
- August 2017
- June 2017
- May 2017
- April 2017
- March 2017
- January 2017
- December 2016
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