A Perspective on Leading in Difficult Times

As you are well aware, the challenges of working in public education are not becoming any easier.  In fact, I am first to acknowledge that there is always a desire to improve our work and optimize our success.  Our staff, especially our teachers, continue to give more and more time toward the demands placed upon them in spite of added pressure and unrelenting negative public rhetoric.

I am hopeful that the collective efforts of our staff as demonstrated through our commitment toward continuous improvement and intentionality in our goals, planning, system self-monitoring, and measures of accountability related to performance will ultimately demonstrate student achievement gains.

As indicated in my last article, there is a direct correlation between our progress and funding.  Moreover, Danville Public Schools has historically been a high performing public school system with our decline in overall performance occurring within the last five years in alignment with a decline in funding.  Stated differently, is it realistic to expect us to improve in an era of diminishing resources and increasing demands without the appropriate investment?

Fortunately, many of our programs and investments have continued to deliver noteworthy returns despite these challenges.  Our academic and programmatic “bright spots” are worthy of mentioning.  Danville Public Schools continues to demonstrate excellence in many not so well known bright spots including:

  • A Dental Hygiene Program at GWHS with Danville Community College (DCC)
  • A Criminal Justice Program at GWHS with DCC
  • Emergency Medical Technician Program with DCC
  • The only International Baccalaureate Program in the region
  • Precision Machining/Advanced Manufacturing Program (Fall 2017)
  • Full Day Preschool Program (including art and music education)
  • Algebra II Scores Exceed State Average (DPS 93, State 89)

Other bright spots include the George Washington High School Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble. Both groups performed at the District Six State event held in March and were rated superior by each, which is the top honor for performing concert bands. This is the third consecutive year that the symphonic band has received this honor and the 27th​​​​​​​​​ year that the wind ensemble has been awarded this honor.

The George Washington High School Robotics Team continues to make a name as it competes in local, regional and state competitions.  Recently, the team competed at the Central Virginia event in Glen Allen. GWHS’s Team Talon finished the qualifying round ranked 4th out of 37 teams with an 8-3-1 record and isnow qualified for the World Championship Event in St. Louis this summer.

Galileo High School continues to gain honors as one of the top 500 high schools in the nation by two national news sources as both a top high school for low-income students and one of America’s most challenging high schools.  Additionally, Galileo is one of the best high schools in the country for financial literacy.

Finally, the graduation rate for Danville Public Schools has increased by 7 percentage points since 2013-2014 from 75% in 2013-2014 to its present level of 81%.  While this level of improvement is remarkable, it is just the beginning of the gains that will be made if there is a sustainable investment locally in our schools.

According to Building a Grad Nation Report, a Data Brief co-authored by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, the nation’s on-time high school graduation rate hit a record high of 82.3 percent for the Class of 2014.  With your continued support we can meet and exceed the national average.  Ultimately, the best economic stimulus package for our community is increasing high school graduation.