Originally Published: August 22, 2016 6 a.m.
Hello, my name is Brian Moore and I “get” to be the principal at Taylor Hicks Elementary School. I use the word “get” because it is not a given, but a privilege. Taylor Hicks is a special place. One in which I am only the fourth principal in Taylor Hicks’ 54 years of existence. Given the national average, elementary principal tenure at the same school is four to five years; this should give evidence to Taylor Hicks’ culture, strength of faculty, family focus, high academic / behavioral standards and belief that every child has within themselves to be successful.
Last year, Taylor Hicks reinvented our school by embracing the next generation of education in the form of the “Blended Learning“ model. For those not familiar, the basic concept is to strategically and purposely integrate technology each day to reinforce and enrich academic core instruction. I couldn’t be more thrilled with students’ growth and level of academic mastery within this new model and our first year of implementation.
With the above said, I am ecstatic to announce that Taylor Hicks has been “pre-approved” for one of the most sought after education grants; the 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grant. Taylor Hicks will receive $700,000 in grant money over the next five years.
As a result, we will be able to provide extensive before and after-school tutoring and enrichment opportunities for students. The CLLC grant’s purpose is to create community learning centers to promote high-quality; standard-based learning options to support academic achievement, social-emotional well-being of students, foster community partnerships and bridge the relationship between school and parents.
The 21st Century academic support is designed to provide targeted interventions by identifying at-risk students and ensuring they have access to researched-based activities and strategies to address academic needs. In combination with during school interventions, tutoring and classes will be created based on student academic needs with highly qualified teachers and professionals who will deliver instruction, assess, and monitor student progress to make adjustments to instruction as needed. Essentially, the 21st Century grant expands the school day so students who need extra helps can receive it before and after school.
In addition to academic support, students will have a plethora of enrichment opportunities. Students will be able to expand their knowledge and interests of Science Technology Engineering Arts & Mathematics (STEAM) through robotics, computer coding, engineering and other inquiry based enrichment clubs. In addition, students will further explore their interests in writing, reading, drama, art, fitness, music and much more.
Family engagement is another large component of the 21st Century grant. I always say that parents are the first and foremost educators in their child’s lives. Taylor Hicks’ staff is just blessed to be along for the ride. The 21st Century grant provides funds so Taylor Hicks can host family engagement nights. The purpose of these activities is to offer meaningful and engaging activities including parenting classes, math nights, family literacy events, informative grade level nights, etc. A child’s education is most effective when it is a team effort between parents/guardians and school. The 21st Century grant provides the means to strengthen this team.
Taylor Hicks, as well as all PUSD schools, are community schools. Another portion of the 21st Century grant is to forge partnerships with local businesses, churches and community members. Truly a child’s education becomes a village approach.
Finally, student social/emotional growth is a portion of the 21st Century grant. Taylor Hicks has always promoted excellent character in our students through our proactive Character Counts school plan. The grant allows us to expand upon this foundation by providing service-oriented projects, clubs like “Character Council”, and structures to highlight students’ random acts of kindness and good citizenship.
As I enter my 12th year as principal at Taylor Hicks, I often reflect upon my journey. Being awarded the 21st Century grant may be the most significant event in Taylor Hicks’ history. It allows us to break the confines of the 8:25 a.m. to 2:40 p.m. school day. As educators, we always say there is not enough time to do everything we need to do within a school day. Now… truly the sky is the limit.
I welcome community members to visit Taylor Hicks and see our Blended Learning model and 21st Century Community Learning Center in action.