Suzanne Chiles, Johnson Elementary literacy support teacher site coordinator, talks with members of the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Kingsport Board of Education and other community leaders at the school Friday. Photo by David Grace.
It’s a common event to hear about test scores and graduation rates in today’s schools, but what’s not as common is for members of the community to take a firsthand look into local classrooms.
Members of the Kingsport City Schools Board of Education, the Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen, and staff from the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce got a chance to do just that Friday, as they toured three area schools.
“Rarely — other than ball games and things like that — do people get an opportunity to go in (to the schools) and see what’s going on,” said BOE president Dr. Randy Montgomery. “One of the the things that we wanted to do was to give the BMA and the chamber folks the opportunity to go through and kind of see what’s going on in the schools and in the classrooms. There’s probably two or three of us that actually have a day-to-day idea of what’s going on, but most people’s idea of what’s going on is based on their reference of when they were there or when they had kids in school.”
Those on the tour got to see firsthand how students are grouped for more effective learning and how instruction in various subjects is integrated for maximum effectiveness.
The group’s first stop was at Johnson Elementary School. Tour participants got a peek into a math block, a literacy block and the school’s book room where teachers can borrow groups of books for various levels of readers.
Second on the tour was Ross N. Robinson Middle School, where city staff and BOE members took a look into an algebra class and a science classroom before learning about the school’s Scientia after-school program.
On the final stop of the day at Dobyns-Bennett High School, participants learned more about the school’s freshman academy before touring the Junior Air Force ROTC room and band rooms. They were then treated to lunch, which was catered by the D-B culinary arts department.
Some common themes that showed throughout the visit were the emphasis on assessment-based learning, individualized instruction and the use of technology in the classroom.
Tour participants also got a chance to ask about some of the challenges happening, such as security within the classroom; getting students involved during and after school; and the mobility rate of students.
Organizers of the tour just hope those involved took away a little better understanding of what is happening in KCS.
“This is just a good opportunity to see things going on as they are in day-to-day times,” Montgomery said.
“If we have the chance, we just love to tell people (about KCS),” said Superintendent Richard Kitzmiller. “This is one of those chances that we’re taking.”