On Monday, January 9, 2017, Russellville Independent Schools had the privilege of hosting State Senator Whitney Westerfield and State Representative Jason Petrie in the data room at Stevenson Elementary School.
This setting alone spoke volumes in regard to the work that is taking place in our district. Because of limited time, an agenda provided our two principals: RJSHS, Mrs. Kim McDaniel, and SES, Mrs. Robin Cornelius, a few minutes to highlight some of the outstanding work that is taking place in our district such as FRC, Autism Room, READ 180/System 44, etc. Mrs. Carol Kees, Family Resource Coordinator; Dr. Steven A. Moats, Chief Academic Officer; and Mrs. Cassie Reding, District Instructional Coach, also had the opportunity to provide insight.
Time was allotted for Senator Westerfield and Representative Petrie to share their thoughts about charter schools, common core, and other related items that impact education.
Superintendent, Mr. Leon Smith, stated our focus is to work together to close the opportunity gap for all students.
“We are always working to close achievement gaps, but with charter schools looming on the horizon, we are trying to communicate how hard we are working in public schools to provide all students the opportunity to learn,” Smith said. “As I have tried to process and select some highlighted areas to discuss, the amazing part of all this is the realization that we are doing some amazing work this year. There was no way in our allotted time that we could communicate everything, so we were very intentional in our preparation. We are fortunate to have had them come to join with us. It was also very encouraging to hear both gentlemen appreciated this time as much as we did. They were the first to suggest additional meetings to keep all informed and up-to-date.”
After the meeting, Mr. Smith said, “I want to thank each of you for your attendance, preparation, and input in our meeting today with Senator Westerfield and Representative Petrie. While we had limited time, I believe you all were pretty awesome in the time allotment given to share just a small fraction of the outstanding work you are doing in your building. It was also good for us, as a district, to reflect on the good things that are taking place, as well as remind ourselves how hard each one is working every day. Mrs. Cornelius, thanks for allowing us to use your ‘Data Room’ for this meeting. In just a few weeks, you have transformed that room into an incredible work room as well as a ‘visual’ to the work you are doing to address the needs of Every Child, Every Day! The room itself made a huge statement to both Senator Westerfield and Representative Petrie. Thanks to each of you in attendance for your positive dialogue. You created a non-threatening and comfortable setting for Senator Westerfield and Representative Petrie to listen and share their ideas. There is no doubt that we have created an open line of communication for the future. I think they were also surprised of the knowledge and awareness from our staff of some of the bills that are currently on the table this session. The wonderful food and presentation was prepared by Patsy Hendrick, and made a statement that we value our guest and staff.”
RIS School Board Member, Davonna Page said, “I just want to echo Mr. Smith’s remarks! Thank you for your time, your dedication, and your professionalism. We have started an important dialogue that we need to continue in February when the legislature reconvenes. Great job!”