It is both an honor and a privilege to serve as Superintendent of Muscle Shoals City Schools. Our school district is the pride of our community. When I think about our schools, three themes emerge: pride, vision, and involvement.
Our schools are a source of pride in the city of Muscle Shoals due to the reputation of excellence long established that continues to the present. This reputation did not happen by chance. It began with a desire by city officials and citizens to provide a quality learning opportunity for students. This was the impetus for creating Muscle Shoals City School System in 1958. The early administrators were very effective in establishing a district designed for success. Indicators of success and thus pride include standardized test scores, extracurricular successes, and academic competitions. In each of these areas, students from Muscle Shoals excel. The recent Standards Assessment Report (SAR) prepared for the AdvancEd Quality Assurance Review documents many examples of various successes and is available by clicking here. The successes of students, groups, and teams are a source of pride for our community. In these achievements, the focus is outward. We also want our students to develop a sense of pride in Muscle Shoals. We attempt to instill pride in our students for their schools and city. We want them to be proud to say, "We are Muscle Shoals!"
A school district's vision, beliefs, and goals serve as the foundation for student achievement. These ideals must be aligned and work in concert if maximum student achievement is to be realized.
The basis for the current vision and goals began during the summer of 2003 when a strategic planning committee worked to develop a mission statement, beliefs, and parameters for Muscle Shoals City Schools. The committee consisted of 36 stakeholders representing school administrators, teachers, support personnel, city leaders, business and community leaders, and parents. The committee worked cooperatively and collaboratively to develop foundational beliefs that would allow Muscle Shoals City Schools not only to build upon prior successes, but also to meet the challenges of the future. This strategic plan was revised in 2007. It was the belief of the committee that the current plan was still viable, relevant, and reflective of the district so only minor revisions were made to the plan.
The strategic plan was revisited during the winter of 2009. While the committee believed the mission statement still had merit, it needed to be expanded to in order to truly communicate our ultimate goal for the students of Muscle Shoals. The revised 2009 mission statement added four words, three of which we view as very important- "all" and "obtain wisdom." The new statement is:
The mission of the Muscle Shoals City School District, a progressive system of excellence, is to provide opportunities for all students to obtain wisdom and achieve their greatest potential through challenging expectations that create a vision for a successful future.
We want our students to accumulate knowledge and new experiences. However, our goal is for them to have the ability to make sensible and wise decisions based on their personal knowledge and experiences. We want our students to be wise. In an attempt to most effectively communicate this mission, we took the ‘meat' of the mission and created the following slogan:
"Providing opportunities for all students to obtain wisdom and achieve their greatest potential!"
An African proverb states, "It takes a village to raise a child." This idea is transferable to education in that the level of parental involvement impacts student achievement, i.e. the greater the involvement of adults in a school, the greater the level of student achievement. The unique thing is that the involvement of a parent not only positively impacts their child, but other children as well. The attendance, participation, and involvement of parents in all phases of their child's educational experience in Muscle Shoals City Schools are commendable and greatly appreciated by the school administration.
Muscle Shoals City Schools have a longstanding tradition of excellence which did not happen by chance. The support and high expectations of city officials, parents, administrators, and teachers have blended together into a culture where excellence is not only expected, but demanded. We are certainly blessed to have teachers, support staff, and administrators who are both conscientious and dedicated. These factors, combined with a sense of pride, a student focused mission, and incredible parental involvement, provide an environment in which our schools can continue to flourish. I commit to every stakeholder that we are working diligently to meet our Board of Education member's challenge to be the top school district in Alabama. After all, "We are Muscle Shoals!"