When school opens Aug. 13, Clayton County will have earned the notoriety of having a 100 percent Highly Qualified Staff, according to Clayton County Public Schools Director of Human Resources Damaris Garrett.
According to Damaris Garrett, director of human resources for Clayton County Public Schools, in order for teachers to be considered highly qualified, they must meet all three of the following criteria.
Not only must the teacher be fully qualified by the state, they must hold at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited four-year institution and demonstrate competence in each core academic subject area in which they teach, Garrett said.
“This means Clayton County Public Schools has ensured that those individuals who are in front of our students have demonstrated that they have content mastery of their assigned subject,” she said.
“This is important on a fundamental level because it reflects our commitment to quality instruction,” Garrett added.
While the move to reach this goal began in 2002, the Clayton school district began to aggressively recruit instructors who had earned the Highly Qualified status five years ago.
Teachers who were already in the school system were then moved so they would no longer be teaching classes outside of their content area or were encouraged to explore educational opportunities that would bring their qualification level up to the higher standard, Garrett said.
According to Clayton County Public Schools Superintendent Edmond Heatley, Ed.D., when he was named to this position, he learned one of the biggest concerns parents had was teachers instructing in classes in areas outside their certification. “I charged our Human Resources Department with the task of eliminating this concern and they have accomplished that,” Heatley said.
Reflecting on the upcoming school year, Heatley it would also see as much emphasis placed on students being career ready as college ready.
“Having a student ready for college or a career has always been big here in our school system and it will continue to be a high priority,” Heatley said.
He explained the school system has enhanced its career education pathway, both at the Perry Center and in the regular high school curriculum. “This means that if a student is going into the engineering field, for example, he won’t be taking one engineering career-related class and then go to auto shop, music or another non-career related course,” Heatley said.
The superintendent explained that students on a career pathway would take a succession of courses related to their career choice.