Greene County Schools
NUA Director: Mamie Merrifield
Greene County, GA is located off Highway 20, 71 miles southeast of Atlanta. The Greene County School System holds grades pre-school to grade twelve, consisting of four schools: Greene County High School (GCHS), Carson Middle School (CMS), Greenesboro Elementary (GES), and Union Point Elementary Schools (UPE). Greene County Pre-K, and Greene County Alternative School are housed in separate building and receive indirect support for teachers through Large Group Seminars (LG). There are approximately 2,000 students enrolled in the district.
In the Greene County School System, 13% of students have an IEP (Individualized Education Program), a written plan for students eligible for special needs services with 5% English Language Learners (ELL), students in the process of acquiring and learning English Language skills. All schools qualify for Title I funding with 94% free and reduced lunch status.
The major racially identified student groups are: 67.5% African American, 20% White, 5% Hispanic/Latino, 4.5% Asian, with approximately 3% other identities.
The purpose of the partnership between Greene County Schools and NUA is to design an effective program of professional development that:
Engages GC educators in a collaborative examination of the process of learning in order to guide students to high levels of achievement
Enhances opportunities for collaboration among schools and the GCS central office as they work to refine their instructional programs
Builds on the strengths of students, teachers, support staff members and administrators
Focuses on accelerating the achievement of all students
NUA began services in January 2010, with teachers from GCHS and CMS. An Instructional Assessment (IA) was conducted at each school consisting of a Principal Interview, a Teacher Survey, a Student Survey, Classroom visits and a Data Review. From the IA, the following cross-district recommendations and goals guide the professional development content:
Build an increasingly positive climate for learning.
Learning and teaching are enriched by a positive, nurturing climate. To build such a climate:
- Strengthen relationships.
- Focus on learners’ strengths.
- Stress process and effort more than product and grades.
Increase student motivation.
Students become engaged and exert more effort when they are highly motivated. To have a positive influence on their motivation:
- Make instruction culturally relevant.
- Emphasize collaborative learning activities.
- Focus on performances of understanding.
Aim for high intellectual performance.
- Engage students in genuine inquiry.
- Invite students to use a range of thinking processes.
- Raise expectations and make them clear.
The NUA Course of Study (COS) and Course of Action (COA) provide direct service to teachers around NUA’s Pedagogy of Confidence highlighting High Operational Practices (HOP) that support student achievement moving towards High Intellectual Performance (HIP). In Greene County, these direct services include awareness sessions for the School Board, and the school leadership teams; 2 Large Group Seminars (LG) held on Saturdays, 4 GCHS Student Voice sessions, one held during a LG seminars followed by 3 one-hour sessions during site visits; and 6-8 site visits to each school. In May 2010, NUA provided a 3-day Summer Institute for the entire district personal, approximately 170 full-time employees including teachers, administrators, instructional coaches, paraprofessionals and central office staff along with 20 GCHS students. This Summer Institute was followed by a 2-day Back to School Institute in July. In addition to the 170 from the previous session, 41 new teachers were added. Additionally, the leadership team from CMS traveled to Minneapolis to attend NUA’s 4-day Summer Academy where they were immersed in intensive PD while networking with fellow educators from other NUA districts. Two additional site visits were held at GCHS and CMS in September, which also included a session with students.
Currently, GES and UPE are engaged in the IA process. Once completed, these two schools will also receive site visits throughout the year. Teachers from the Pre-K school with join the GES staff during site visits. Instructional Coaches will receive 4 days of professional development and Principals will participate in 2 sessions designed to optimize their instructional leadership. NUA’s Saturday LG Seminar will occur in January 2011 with a one-day Summer Institute scheduled for June.