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— Dr. Andrea Kelly, superintendent of Gravette schools, welcomed back teachers and staff for the new school year at a meeting in the Performing Arts Center at GHS. It was part of the four-day in-service for teachers held last week.

Kelly's remarks set the tone for the coming nine months which should see construction start on new school buildings. She noted the school is in very strong financial condition and that increasing student achievement is a bottom-line objective.

After thanking the attendees and introducing school board members, she continued with her remarks:

"If you are new to the district since this same time one year ago, please stand as we extend a big Lion Pride welcome. Each of you is very special to this organization and you were selected because you bring a defined strength to the organization based on your personal strengths and experiences. For those of us returning, please extend a helping hand to any of these new employees working close to your area. Treat them as if they were a guest in your home - listen to them, answer their questions, guide them to appropriate resources and be their mentor throughout the year.

"And always there are transitions out of the organization that are notable. Just this week Linda Henson and Leonard Garside have announced they will retire at the end of this school year. We thank them for their years of service and enhancing the lives of their students. Linda and Leonard, please stand to be recognized.

Focus On Strengths

"The achievements made in our schools during the year have led me to believe that extraordinary success for all is possible in the Gravette School District. What does it take to make extraordinary success a reality? This occurs when we have positive relationships and personal connections. When we expect the best from each other and make positive differences for others. When we focus on our strengths, provide support and make our shortcomings insignificant. When we believe we are all capable of greatness, we enjoy our work, learn and grow together and turn possibilities into reality.

"We need to celebrate our successes in academic achievement, athletic competitions, in the performing arts, vocational and technical skill achievements and individual student and teacher achievements. One achievement to celebrate today is Angela Scott's recent election as the state President of the Health Occupations Division. Angela, please stand and be recognized. Along with that honor came the request for Gravette Public Schools to be represented on the National Apprenticeship Board. We will learn more details within the next few days.

"Very shortly you will see the start of construction on a new 8,200 square feet band and choir complex at the middle school and a new 14,290 square feet field house. On the drawing board is the remodeling of space in the middle school for two self-contained classrooms, remodeling of the annex to house food storage and the new Lion Pride Academy consisting of a business technology program and a family and consumer science program.

Stimulus Funds

"We asked you at the end of last year to submit purchase requests as a result of the 1.2 million dollars we will receive as a part of President Obama's

stimulus fund. The order process will be slow so bear with us. It's just the nature of the compliance process we must follow. From those funds, however, over the next two years we will see significant updates to classroom technology and the supporting infrastructure.

Establishing Goals

"The Board of Education will undergo very shortly a review of established goals to determine our accomplishments, what gaps continue to exist and what we can do to continue our quest for greatness. However, they can't accomplish that review in a vacuum. They and the leadership team need your input and feedback. As you exit this morning you will be given a sheet of paper with broad categories addressing organizational development and how we can impact student learning which is our bottom-line objective. We need to know from you how we can: 1) increase student achievement; 2) improve instructional processes; 3) ensure efficient and effective organizational performance (in other words what are we doing that gets in the way of operating in this organization?) and 4)

develop and train a quality workforce to enhance student achievement. As I stated, the categories are broad, but we only need bullet points from you based on your place in the organization in each area that identifies specific activities and support systems to accomplish greatness. Your suggestions could be related to classroom enhancements, safety issues, refining operational processes and workflow, scheduling, technical resources, facility and maintenance items. Signing the survey is optional. And, believe me, your suggestions will be given serious consideration.

Finances Are Good

"This district is in a very strong financial position and it is my duty to maintain that position, but it will take all of us to keep us there. I just ask that you manage your place in this organization as if it were your business -- would you make the same decision if the funds were coming from your personal checkbook?"

She concluded, "We are blessed with great students, a caring staff and a very supportive community. These are the ingredients for achieving greatness. Have a great year !"

News, Pages 1 on 08/19/2009

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