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Group examines key opportunities
Group examines key opportunities
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Opportunities to address the whole student relative to their education and the Hope Public School District as a community partner in that process were addressed as the HPSD Parent Ambassadors discussion program continued recently.

HPSD Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart facilitated the meeting at the Hope High School cafeteria, emphasizing the district’s role in two broad areas including, so-called “wrap-around services” and priority concepts.

Hart had campus principals briefly reflect upon a “positive point” from each school, with a general picture emerging of outstanding academic growth, excellence in student achievement, evolving student initiative, and professional commitment to new learning initiatives.

Dr. Hart discussed the need to develop more opportunities for the whole student relative to their education, including addressing issues of homelessness, food scarcity, and mental/physical health.

He said the HPSD currently has at least 100 students who qualify as “homeless” under federal guidelines, with, perhaps, another 100 students on the verge of qualifying. Hart said initiatives such as the Hope High School Campus-Based Health Clinic and the new effort to establish “needs pantries” on each campus will offer students new opportunities to have a better quality of life that will result in better academic success.

Hart said the HHS health clinic is on track to open in August, and provide mental and physical health services for students.  Work is under way to renovate the former family and consumer sciences “cottage” on the HHS campus under a grant from the state to provide those services.

Food and needs pantries are developing on each campus with donations sought for clothing, shoes, coats, and single-serving non-perishable food items that are ready to eat or easily prepared in a microwave oven.

The second half of the discussion Thursday night focused upon development of opportunities for teacher retention, public perceptions, and discipline consistency for the district.

Drawing from previous discussions on strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities, three focus groups were formed to distill a key priority from that information.

Hart asked each group to consider how the district and its stakeholders might improve or perform each area of priority.

Suggestions regarding “teacher retention” included better support measures for new teachers, more professional development for principals, more frequent action on pay schedules, creation of a longevity bonus, more celebration of teachers as a profession, equalizing work load, and maintaining consistent objectives.

Under “public perceptions,” suggestions included stronger social media presences from campuses, better sharing of information between campuses, more use of EAST program resources for public information, demonstrating how “Bobcats Serve,” timelier updates of campus websites, shared campus broadcasts, and more efforts to engage the Hope community generally.

Addressing discipline consistency, suggestions included better adherence to the district handbook, improve student/parent understanding of the handbook, improve student engagement in classroom, better mental health services, better understanding of “root causes” in student discipline, and better training of teachers regarding consistent discipline across classrooms.

The group will meet again in the early fall.