Sallie B. Howard
Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts & Education is a free, independent, public charter school in Wilson, North Carolina that serves over 800 students in grades K-8. Their mission is to provide every child — privileged or underprivileged — the kind of education that nurtures students’ gifts, talents, and potential. In 2011, the consulting team from Calgary Academy was asked to participate in a project to move Sallie B. Howard towards a 90/90/90 school. (90% students below potential, 90% living in poverty and 90% performing at grades above state average.) This three-phase project included: leadership development which was critical to overall success; a teacher development plan based on best instructional practices; and an organizational development plan to ensure the school utilized resources effectively. The project faced a number of challenges, including 100% staff turnover every four years. Despite building strategies to find, train and stabilize staff and introducing our leadership and staff development programs, the school failed to implement our resource utilization plan and our core literacy and numeracy skill development program.
We were engaged to help improve student literacy and numeracy performance in state exams. At the same time, Sallie B. Howard was struggling with nearly 100% staff turnover every four years, effectively freezing any attempts at instructional progress and limiting teacher culture. Leveraging our experience in empowering school leadership teams, combined with our track record of turning around underperforming schools, Sallie B. Howard enlisted our help to become a 90/90/90 school (90% students below potential, 90% living in poverty and 90% performing at grades above state average).
The cornerstone of our academic plan included extensive core literacy and numeracy skill development training to help teachers maximize their students’ performance. We took a team of 20 staff to North Carolina to deliver summer training workshops focused on active reading and writing strategies.
Following the summer kickoff, our Instructional Coach spent two weeks every month working one-on-one with teachers and observing their instruction. This required diligent teachers, and we started this part of the process with a fresh staff onboarding plan, introducing them to the new education programs to implement in their classrooms. Once introduced, our staff modelled the new instruction and delivery techniques, working side by side with Sallie B. Howard teachers.
We also worked closely with the school’s leadership team, guiding them through the development of a 5-year strategic plan. For two years, we provided summer professional development aligned with the school’s strategic plan through a comprehensive teacher-training program.
We achieved our goal of working with leadership and developing an educational plan to significantly reduce staff turnover. We also saw substantial improvement in the school’s math performance, increasing to the 80th percentile. Qualitative surveys indicated the school climate improved substantially. When our consultancy ended, we left the school with a fully developed strategic plan, and a leadership team equipped with honed management skills.