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Monday, December 30, 2013

13 great accomplishments of Mobile County schools in 2013

Posted by Rena Philips in General  |  Comments (1)

There’s a reason state schools Superintendent Tommy Bice called Mobile County Public Schools the “epicenter of best practices” for the entire state when he visited the district in August.

That’s because great things are happening in our schools every day.

In 2013, Mobile County Public Schools decided to take a more proactive approach to applauding those great things through the “It Starts With Us” campaign.

So, while 13 may be considered an unlucky number, we decided to make it a lucky one in Mobile County by naming the 13 greatest accomplishments of MCPSS in 2013.

If you’ve got one you’d like to add, please do so in the comments below. Or, join us in a conversation on the Mobile County Public Schools Facebook page.

Here they are:

1. Signature Academies open

Mobile County opened its first four Signature Academies to better prepare students for the workforce. They are: Aviation and Aerospace at B.C. Rain; Health Care at Blount; Advanced Technology, Manufacturing and Industry at Citronelle; and Teaching and Learning at Mary G. Montgomery. The district plans to open five more in 2014. Stay tuned to hear what they are.

2. More students graduating college and career ready

Superintendent Martha Peek announced early in 2013 that MCPSS’s graduation rate had increased to 70 percent and we are well on track to increase it to at least 80 percent by 2020, a community-wide goal.

Further, more students than ever before took Advanced Placement tests – through which they can earn college credit – this spring. In 2013, MCPSS had 2,191 students take 3,118 AP exams. Members of the Class of 2013 earned 1,483 professional credentials and $68 million worth of college scholarships.

3. New elementary schools open

A new Taylor-White Elementary opened in August on Eliza Jordan Road in west Mobile and a new Whitley Elementary opened in October in Prichard. The state-of-the-art $11 million schools are loaded with modern technology, including SMARTboards in every classroom, and each have among the state's first-ever built-in tornado shelters.

4. B.C. Rain and other construction projects

School officials dedicated the completely renovated B.C. Rain High in May and broke ground on a new aviation and aerospace training facility on the Dauphin Island Parkway campus. Major renovations were completed at Indian Springs, Maryvale, St. Elmo, and Robbins elementary schools over the summer. Ground was broken on a new Calcedeaver Elementary in northwest Mobile County. A new Augusta Evans for special-needs students is scheduled to be completed in Hillsdale in a few months.

And the board approved a slate of $100 million worth of construction projects that will be completed over the next several years. That includes a new Citronelle High, a new K-8 school in Mobile’s Trinity Gardens and major renovations at Lott, Mae Eanes and Phillips Preparatory middle schools and at Tanner Williams Elementary. Also, Dauphin Island Elementary, Cranford Burns Middle, LeFlore High and Williamson High are getting new additions. Seven elementary schools are getting multi-purpose buildings and the exterior of Barton Academy will be renovated.

5. "It Starts With Us"

Mobile County Public Schools launched a new marketing campaign aimed at getting the word out that good things are happening in our 90 schools every day. About 300 community members attended a kick-off and businesses are getting behind the effort by buying and donating billboards across the county. was re-launched and the school system is using social media (including @superpeek on Twitter) and to spread positive news. Students and teachers have rallied behind the call-to-action in the classroom. Two old buses were painted with the slogan to act as traveling billboards across the county.

6. Murphy students return

Less than eight months after a Christmas Day tornado devastated Midtown Mobile’s Murphy High School, the students returned to campus in August for the first day of the 2013-14 school year. The students had spent the spring semester sharing Clark-Shaw with the students there. MCPSS would like to thank the Alabama Legislature for allocating $15 million toward the renovations and repairs.

7. Teachers/Counselor of the Year

Clark-Shaw Magnet’s Cathy Irby and J.E. Turner Elementary’s Lauren Brannan were named Mobile County’s Teachers of the Year for the wonderful work they do every day in the classroom. Brannan was selected to the state’s Sweet Sixteen of top teachers. Also, Mobile County Training’s counselor Gwendolyn Bethea was named Alabama's New Counselor of the Year.

8. A super evaluation

The Mobile County school board in August gave Superintendent Martha Peek a perfect evaluation, citing her efforts to increase the graduation rate, to improve communication throughout the district, to provide transparent accountability on school construction projects,and to practice sound fiscal management to support the district’s educational programs.

9. New board member

The board appointed a new member to represent District 4, Tracie Roberson, a local attorney. She was sworn in during November, after Levon Manzie was elected to the Mobile City Council. “I hope for District 4 to be noted as the best district in the school system,” Roberson said, “and I’m going to make sure my schools get everything they need to be successful." The board voted Reginald Crenshaw in as its new president.

10. BYOD expands

About a dozen more schools signed on to MCPSS’s new technology effort, BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, also known as MiDevice. That brings the total up to about 20 schools. Students at participating schools bring to class their web-enabled devices, such as tablets, smartphones, e-readers, netbooks and laptops to use in hands-on classroom activities and to complete projects. The school system provides devices for students who don’t have their own.

11. Near-perfect audit

Mobile County Public Schools received an excellent audit by the Alabama Examiners of Public Accounts, with just one minor finding at one of our 90 schools. That’s significant as the school system operates on a $669 million annual budget.

12. Project SEARCH

Mobile County Public Schools partnered with the Mobile Infirmary to put 12 graduates with special-needs to work. The students are gaining independence and job skills as they rotate through various departments of the hospital. Officials, parents and students have said this is a life-changing program for the participants.

13. Stuff the Bus

Students at all 90 schools pulled together to stuff not one, but two “It Starts With Us” buses full of toys for needy children. As a result, 6,767 toys were delivered to WKRG in December as part of the station’s Great Toy Drive. Students from several schools went on-air to talk about the importance of giving back to the community. This was on top of other holiday-related community service projects that schools were already doing, including a warm blanket drive at Just 4 Developmental Lab, and angel trees and food drives throughout the district.

Honorable mentions

These events are also well worth noting: 

  • Thousands of eighth-graders learned about possible careers at the annual Worlds of Opportunity two-day hands-on career fair in September. 
  • Mobile County became the only district in Alabama to have all of its cafeterias be certified by the USDA for meeting the Healthier U.S. Schools Challenge by serving healthier meals. 
  • Also, the district began providing free breakfast daily to all students through a federal grant. 
  • Anna Booth, Calcedeaver, Dixon and Indian Springs elementary schools were named Torchbearers by the Alabama Department of Education.
  • Dixon and St. Elmo elementary schoosl were named CLAS (Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools) Banner Schools.
  • MCPSS expanded its random student drug testing program, known as “Yes to the Test.” 
  • The Greater Gulf States Fair gave thousands of students free tickets for acing their EQT’s.
  • And hundreds of third-graders at five elementary schools learn to be Super Citizens thanks to a program sponsored by Alabama Power.


Comments on "13 great accomplishments of Mobile County schools in 2013"

12/31/2013 10:57:35 PM CST

1. Sonya Bryant said...

Wow! Awesome!! Congratulations to the BEST school system.  Can't wait to see what 2014 holds......

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