Principal: RCHS ‘Proactive’ In Meeting Needs

Craft Gives Annual Report To City Board

Rockbridge County High School is taking “proactive” and “responsive” measures to make sure students succeed, Principal Mike Craft reported to the Lexington School Board Wednesday, Oct. 9.

Craft offered an instructional report to the Board that evening as part of Lexington’s annual meeting at the high school. Lexington Superintendent Rebecca Walters said the yearly meeting is meant for the Board to touch base with the county school and see how RCHS is catering to the needs of Lexington students.

While the county division rewards students of high achievement, Craft’s presentation shed light on how the high school works to support students who face challenges, particularly in the transition into high school.

Attending to these challenges is a two-fold approach, Craft explained, using proactive and responsive action.

Before Lylburn Downing and Maury River students enter RCHS as freshman, their math and reading scores are provided to the guidance department.

“This provides teachers and staff with student historical data,” Craft said.

To “alleviate fears” of rising freshman, Craft said RCHS works to keep communication open to middle school families’ inquiries. The high school offers orientations and tours during the regular school day for eighth- graders to get acquainted with the building.

Once they are in the ninth grade, students are given the opportunity to enroll in the “Freshman Academy” course to learn high school survival skills.

“They are introduced to the Virginia Board of Education’s ‘Five C’s’: critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and citizenship,” Craft continued.

Freshman input is also used for school improvement, Craft added.

“I stop by all English classes to see what ninth-graders are thinking,” he explained. “We listen to their suggestions and open a dialogue for them.”

For Wildcats struggling academically, students whose overall grade in a class drops to a D or an F are immediately “flagged” by the guidance department as part of “D and F reports,” said Craft.

“They will meet every four and a half weeks to develop a plan for success,” he continued. “They review study skills, check for zeros, and make sure they understand their course and its expectations. Teachers are also encouraged to call parents if there is a concern in the classroom.”

“Creative scheduling” has also made an impact on student achievement by allowing input to their curriculum, Craft said.

The course Algebra Functions and Data Analysis is a stepping stone between Algebra I and II, Craft explained. Computer Math, a course added this year, has also served as an alternative to the mathematics curriculum track.

In addition to adding more foundational classes, the high school offers more course opportunities for students to explore career and technical education, which Craft said has created positive outcomes for students.

On the responsive end of meeting student needs, Craft said teachers make themselves available before and after school for additional help.

“There are learning labs all day for math, writing and foreign languages,” Craft said.

Students have also found success in peer tutoring, private tutoring with teachers and one-on-one tutoring with Washington and Lee University students. Craft added it was a recent hit with students when Washington and Lee football players came by to help with their studies.

Craft also turned to the high school’s use of “testing centers” for independent test-taking as a big help to students who are getting behind. Rather than leaving one class to catch up to another, students are able to take tests in monitored classrooms in order to catch up.

Alternative placements are reserved for students with struggles in the classroom setting. Alongside online classes and homebound education, Craft said the introduction of “eighth period” at the end of the regular school day has been successful with students who need more attention. Though eighth period is after-hours, Craft said the activity bus is available to give any student a ride home that needs it.

Concluding his presentation, Craft assured the Lexington School Board the RCHS administration is constantly working to serve students and keep a positive environment.

“You all are welcome any time,” Craft told the Board.

The News-Gazette

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