Dr. Anthony Jackson, superintendent of Vance County Schools, was on Wednesday’s edition of WIZS’ Town Talk program to discuss the current status of the school system and plans for the future.
Beginning his fourth year with the school system on August 1, Jackson said Vance County schools are “nowhere near where we can be, but we aren’t where we were.”
Jackson said his model has been, and continues to be, giving the community a choice when it comes to educational practices. Citing the Vance County Early College and the year-round E.M. Rollins Elementary School calendar, Jackson believes “choice” is the key to educational success. “A one-size-fits-all model no longer serves a community,” Jackson said. “We need to have discussions with the School Board about offering different choices moving forward.”
The Early College, located on Vance-Granville Community College’s Main Campus in Henderson, has served the community for 12 years and has the distinction of being one of the highest performing schools in the state.
“I would stack our Vance County Early College up against any school in this state,” said Jackson. “They were voted one of the top schools in our country by US News & World Report, as were several other early colleges in our area.”
Another “choice” school, E.M. Rollins Elementary has seen enrollment soar since adopting a year-round calendar. “Year-round at Rollins has been a tremendous success for our community and we’ve seen tremendous academic gains in the school. Enrollment has nearly doubled – from 200 students to now pushing 400 students,” Jackson said.
Also on Jackson’s plate has been the massive undertaking of consolidating the former Eaton Johnson Middle and Henderson Middle schools and Northern Vance High and Southern Vance High schools by the start of the 2018-19 school year on August 27.
The new Vance County Middle School will open in the former Northern Vance High School location this fall, while the new Vance County High School will be housed in the former Southern Vance High School building.
“Staff from all of the consolidated schools have come together beautifully and have been training together all summer,” said Jackson. “We are one community.”
According to Jackson, the sentiment of “one community” is echoed in the recent events of the new Vance County High School football team. The former Viking and Raider rivals have now combined to form the Vipers and will play, at least this year, in the 2-A Conference.
To ease that transition, a recent lock-in was held to build camaraderie and allow the players “to get to know one another better.”
The Vipers have also participated in a recent meet-and-greet at Chick-fil-A in Henderson and will play in a jamboree on Saturday, August 11 to demonstrate their skills to the community.
“I was so pleased to see so many community members and parents come out [to Chick-fil-A] and tell the players that we are behind you this year,” Jackson said. “Coach [Darry] Ragland has done an inspiring job of coaching these young men and taking the mantle.”
The progress of the athletic department, as well as additional information and specifics on academic progress and performance, will be discussed in Jackson’s “State of Our Schools” address in September.
“The ‘State of Our Schools’ address is part of my five-year plan,” said Jackson. “This year’s address will include information on improvements in graduation rates, programs offered to the community, improvement in teacher turnover rates and reduction in suspension and dropout rates.”
Jackson also expressed his appreciation to the school board and the community and said he hopes “one thing people will say about my tenure here is that we didn’t shy away from the hard stuff; we have those hard conversations.”
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