Academy of Dover Turnaround–one man’s perspective

There is nothing more fulfilling than being a part of success. The school is one of the great turnaround stories in Delaware education. Student Achievement is up. School morale is up. The school is run better according to best practices in many areas. More needs to be and will be accomplished to make this a premier school. I am fully optimistic that the next year will bring that goal to reality.

Now it should be obvious that this was a team effort. In fact I would say optimistically, I may be responsible for 5% or even 1%, but my 5% was essential to it happening. When I highlight my part in this to show you why I can be trusted, let it be with the understanding that a lot of other people did their part too. It was a team effort as the article said and without everyone’s effort the school would have failed. I especially credit the leadership of Mrs. Mary Scott (board president), Mrs. Leida Sanchez, MBA (treasurer), and the dedicated staff who went beyond the call of duty.

The Academy of Dover was a good school fundamentally (thanks to the vision of its founder), but it was facing some real challenges. The former management company did not live up to expectations and the school faced closure if changes weren’t made. The Department of Education demanded a new board of directors be chosen. I was honored to be one of those selected.

We faced 4 challenges. We needed better administrative procedures including financial management and reporting. We needed to improve our test scores and raise student achievement. We needed to meet 24 conditions set by the department of education. We needed to restore our image (damaged by the negative publicity from the problems which threatened the school’s viability) in the community and among our own parents.

Board President Mary Scott gave us our assignments. There was too much work to be done as a full board in just a couple of months before school opened this past year. So we each took an area and reported back to our committees which compiled and reviewed the work and reported back to the full board. We still had to have special meetings which lasted for 4 and 5 hours each (for an unpaid position). The results were worth the effort. We accomplished the conditions several at a time. We established Board Procedures for governing the school. We retained a firm to do an audit. We established best practice financial management. We sat down with our management consultants and made clear what we needed to happen. We had our contracts brought up to best practice legal standards. We brought the school up to the same standard expected of districts in many ways.

Stage 2 After the administrative items were handled, we went for the tougher job of bringing up student achievement. We implemented tracking of every student so a teacher and parents could know were each student stood not only in a class grade, but on each skill to be tested upon by the State (DSTP). We used Iowa testing at the beginning and end of the year. Next year we will test at the beginning, middle, and end of the year using MAPS.

I proposed a new math curriculum, Singapore Math which will be implemented next year. It is the number 1 rated math program in the world. We will be one of three schools in the state of Delaware to pioneer the program.

I also proposed a physical fitness policy, we now have one reflecting recommended practices and even received a grant to improve it. School safety was another priority of mine (having a child in the school) even though we had no incidents. We tightened some procedures and our bringing in more technology to help us over the coming year.

I have also had a part in bettering communications with the parents through a newsletter and an updated website. I also authored a parent satisfaction survey.

We are utilizing our computers better to aid learning. We have one for every 2 students. One of my areas was technology.

My part included writing some of the board procedures. It also included marketing and public relations. I authored the marketing strategy for the school. It was a low cost/ high effectiveness strategy. The school’s enrollment is up over 30% and climbing.

I am also one of those who proposed a gifted and talented program which will be brought on line this coming school year.

As I said many others did more, but my part was also significant because I am an activist. I do not believe in just belonging to a group. I am a man of action. If elected to levy court, I will do my best to achieve the goals laid out. I want to see a strong, sustainable economy. I have a record of achieving what I set out to do. Please give me a chance to work for you.

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