It has been one year since Robbie Heatherly went from the frying pan to the fire- so to speak.
But with a new school year just weeks away and some experience under his belt the Campbell County High School (CCHS) principal is confident about the future of the once troubled school.
When Heatherly assumed leadership just two weeks before the start of school he inherited a number of challenges, not the least of which was a school on the cusp of being taken over by the state.
With a history of failure to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), Heatherly said he knew improvements were non-negotiable and his job depended on them.
“We were in emergency mode,” Heatherly said of the position he and his staff found themselves in the days leading up to the beginning of classes.
Throughout the year, Heatherly said he and the faculty worked to make the adjustments needed to help students improve their performance.
According to Heatherly, one critical area of focus became at-risk students.
“We did a better job of identifying those students who needed help and we have developed some very strong intervention classes to give students the help they need,” Heatherly explained.
This new focus paid big dividends in the form of vastly improved test scores, graduation rate and other components measured by the AYP.
“We far exceeded the goals and expectations set for us,” Heatherly said, crediting the buy in of faculty and students to the process.
As the opening day of school draws near, Heatherly says his frame of mind is a little different than that of the previous year.
“I’m much calmer and much wiser than I was last year,” Heatherly admitted.
But this new calm does not replace Heatherly’s sense of urgency to make CCHS an academic force to be reckoned with.
In his plan for continued improvement, the principal says he and his staff are exploring ways to improve teaching strategies.
“One of Campbell County High School’s biggest problems is we have a lot of good teachers who are using outdated strategies,” Heatherly said.
While change is sometimes difficult at the onset, Heatherly is hopeful that the return of the seven period day will be instrumental in helping teachers reevaluate their strategies.
Without the dread of imminent state intervention, Heatherly hopes the motivation of staff does not diminish but is simply refocused.
“I hope the motivating factor this year is that what we are selling is working,” Heatherly concluded.