At the Superintendent’s Forum held at Essex High School Monday night, Essex County School Superintendent Dr. Scott Burckbuchler said that, after having completed his first year as superintendent, he has a vision of “opportunities for growth which focus on various strengths.” Burckbuchler proffered developing “opportunities to communicate and connect with staff with community input.”
With the fear of Essex High School losing its accreditation should it not meet the Virginia State benchmarks for education, Burckbuchler stressed the importance of developing and maintaining strong relationships between staff, teachers and students.
Burckbuchler said, “If you never see yourself in the future, you’ll never get there,” and “without a culture for students, faculty and staff to communicate respectfully, we won’t make it.”
The mission statement on the projector said “Essex County Schools exist to serve the individual educational needs of our students,” and Burckbuchler focused on the need to establish “common goals through positive relationships.”
The goals cited in the program literature and reinforced by Burckbuchler are, “We will help our students graduate, we will ensure the progress of our students, we will teach our students to be productive in the 21st century,” and “We will partner with the community and focus our efforts and available resources.”
In response to an attendee’s question of whether they had any policies of progress to fulfill their goals, Dr. Lori Watrous spoke to the need “for staff, faculty and parents to work together to achieve results” and to promote better skills at the craft of teaching.
Waltrous said there was an academic review process to determine teacher effectiveness and “assess the quality of teachers based on the state’s framework.”
Another attendee, Tom McKinley, asked, “What about the parents? I graduated in 1976 without all this and without the school taking the blame for bad behavior. Why does the school system keep backing up taking blame for children’s behavior?”
He went on to say, “Bring a child to school ready to learn — it’s just that simple.”
Burckbuchler responded, “The last statement articulated the struggle to form close relationships where a teacher can phone a parent for something to be done at home to correct behavior.”
Since the forum, Burckbuchler announced Tuesday, August 5 after press time that the goal regarding partnerships had changed to the following due to feedback:
“To do so, we will work in partnership with parents, students and the community in the shared responsibility of providing excellent education and growth opportunities for each student. We will actively seek creative partnerships throughout the community to ensure all students are inspired, engaged, and show continued improvement.”