Great Expectations in Bay City, Michigan

Dr. Don Clark, Administrator, Bay City Central High School

Seven years ago Bay City Central High School started a journey to raise academic achievement and hit AYP.  Bay City Central is an at-risk high school will over 50% of students receiving free/reduced lunch and 18% of the student population having special education certification.  For five of those years, we used a format that included content coaches in English and math.  We made sure that we only had subject certified teachers in our special education classes.  We implemented intervention programs.  We revised our schedule from semesters to trimester.  We made it possible for students to quickly repeat a course in which they failed to receive credit.  Our teachers were dedicated to making a difference and they redoubled their efforts to help our students be successful.  But still we continued to miss the mark.

In April of 2009 five teachers and one administrator attended a one day introductory workshop for Great Expectations held at the Bay-Arenac ISD.  It became very clear after that one day experience, that Central High School had all the pieces.  We had very talented, dedicated teachers.  We had a committed administrative team.  We had a hard working support staff.  Our curriculum was rigorous.  What we needed was to be reminded that there was a huge body of research that pointed the way to success.

Great Expectations had pulled all that research together and put it in 17 classroom practices.  Nothing new. Nothing revolutionary. Nothing excellent teachers weren’t already doing.  Great Expectations has given us a vehicle to remind ourselves what good teaching looks like, sounds like, and feels like.  Great Expectations has given us the opportunity to become the school we want to be:  A place where students are at the center of the educational process,  a place teachers are validated for the hard work that they do, and where we all have come to appreciate the importance of applying the 3 R’s to our professional lives.  We have a curriculum that is Rigorous.  We have teaching that is Relevant to the lives of our students.  We understand that without safe and trusting Relationships among all individuals at Central H.S. rigor and relevancy are nothing more than words.

…and oh, by the way, using everything we had been doing, and after moving our entire certified staff through Great Expectation training (1 day and 4 day workshops), I am thrilled to report that this June 2011, Bay City Central High School made Adequate Yearly Progress.  Combining dedicated, committed teachers with Great Expectations pushed us over the top.

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