The Stone Mountain High School principal is one of several DeKalb County administrators in new places dealing with the same reality — budget cutbacks in lean economic times. Still, they are expected to deliver in regards to improved student achievement and teacher preparation.
“I’m an optimist,” Jones said. “I believe if you put a plan in place and you get the right people on the bus and in the right seats — everybody having the same objective — we can not only maintain, but succeed.”
The 2012-13 school year for students in the DeKalb County School System began Monday. District projections tab total enrollment at around 99,000.
For Jones, Stone Mountain High is the latest stop in his 33-year career as an educator.
“I know a lot of resources have been cut, so it’s up to us — educators and parents — to be innovative,” said Jones. “If the adults can come together and talk rationally, there can be a win-win.”
Jones plans to realize such high hopes through, among other things, maximizing instructional time in the classroom, implementing reading and writing benchmarks across the curriculum and emphasizing critical thinking skills.
“We have to find innovative ways to address all student needs,” Jones said. “Don’t just teach a kid something and move on; let’s see if they’ve mastered it before doing that.”
Parental involvement will also be pivotal, Jones said.
Stone Mountain High has submitted an official request for a parent resource center, whereby parents can learn ways and skills — computer literacy, for example — to support their child’s education.
A parent resource center will be a new addition to the Stone Mill Elementary School campus this school year.
That is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of “parent-centric” programming, said new principal Marchell Boston II.
“Here, continual parent presence and involvement will be the norm … part of our culture,” Boston said. “Unlike other schools, we actually have a systemized program that gives parents specific ways they can support the school during the school day and beyond it … custodial work, food service, reading to students, to name a few.”
Perhaps Boston’s primary challenge is leading a school with a primarily transient population.
“Our students live in approximately eight apartment complexes,” he said. “It’s hard to build that sense of community with people coming in and out … but that’s exactly what we have to do.”