FLEMING ISLAND – Clay County Public Schools Superintendent Addison Davis was all that stood between the county’s school administrators and zesty barbecue Tuesday as he gave a presentation to …
FLEMING ISLAND – Clay County Public Schools Superintendent Addison Davis was all that stood between the county’s school administrators and zesty barbecue Tuesday as he gave a presentation to principals from across the district at Fleming Island High.
The annual luncheon is a way for the superintendent to connect with the principals the day before everyone heads back to their jobs to kick off the new school year. Davis began with a quote on the screen before leading the educators in icebreaker activities. The quote encouraged small changes in the present as a means to create major systemic change over time.
“What small shifts can you plant in your school this year?” Davis asked. “How will this change positively impact the future in which you try to continue to move Clay County Public Schools?”
This is the thought that resonated in the minds of principals as they were sent around the room giving out high fives to music find people with matching shirts or shoes. Throughout all the silliness of icebreakers, Davis hoped to spark progressive thought in the school heads in preparation for his first full school year as superintendent since his November 2016 election.
Davis’ presentation focused mainly on the concept of moonshot thinking, which is based on the theory that individuals should focus on improving their current situation 10 times instead of adding 10 percent to what they already have. Administrators watched a video that explained that improvement means a minor change, but improving something tenfold requires you to completely redevelop your way of thinking. “We don’t know how to do it yet, but we’re going to do it anyway,” is a quote from then-President John F. Kennedy about sending a man to the moon – the video described this quote as a concentrated version of this school of thought; according to the theory, every goal should be a moonshot.
“Don’t be afraid to take risks,” Davis said. “We need to be transformational innovators in our work, as leaders in our schools, in order to do something great.”
This presentation was the last chance Davis would have to formally address representatives from every Clay County school administrative staff before school’s Aug. 15 start date, so he hoped to light the fire of change at each school represented. Davis wants to bring the district together in hopes of landing among the Top 10 school districts across the state, as well as provide students with a complete learning experience that gives every child exactly what they need from their education.
Thomas Pittman, principal at the event’s host school FIHS, said his school’s focus is rooted heavily in student data.
“At Fleming Island High School we’re always focusing on the small things,” Pittman said. “From a data standpoint, we look at our stakeholders and what they need to succeed.”
Pittman also said that part of their success is determined by the school’s relationships with parents and community members, and invites anyone who wants to talk about the school to make an appointment through the front office. Pittman is willing to take any suggestion that might improve the learning environment at the school.
On the other end of the K-12 system, Lake Asbury Elementary School Principal Tiffany Outman hopes to instill positive learning concepts in the minds of much younger students, and with this school year being her first as principal at the school, she has even more room to grow. Also using data as a key factor in determining the proper educational practices, Outman said the staff will be relying on teachers to put her concepts into use.
“We’re looking at implementing small group work where the groups will be chosen by the teacher based on their opinions of who would work well together,” Outman said. “Also, all of our lessons this year will deal in both academic and social learning.”
Combining academic and social-emotional learning will, in Outman’s opinion, create a more inclusive platform to ensure the students are developing not only academically, but in all aspects of their lives.