Wilson Schools saw its fair share of changes this year, but one more is on the horizon.
The McCrory Foundation recently gave Wilson Elementary School a $7,500 grant to help the district implement Great Expectations, a professional development program used by other districts. Superintendent Tonya Finnerty said that while some teachers have had some Great Expectations training, becoming a Great Expectations school is a whole process.
“It also gives students common language and expectations school wide, whether that’s in the cafeteria or on the bus, or in the classroom,” Finnerty said.
The program focuses on building mutual respect between students and staff. Next summer, the teachers will attend methodology workshops.
“It not only builds morale, but it also helps you to respect one another,” Finnerty said. “It basically gives you tools for your classroom to enrich the learning as well as the relationship aspect of it. The research behind it shows it actually has an effect by raising test scores.”
Finnerty said she’s been planning this since before she officially started as superintendent.
“A mentor that has worked with me in the past offered to see if we could get this going, so we started that ball rolling and were able to secure that funding,” Finnerty said.
Finnerty, a former teacher and principal at Lone Grove Public Schools, said she has experience with the program.
“We started the implementation at Lone Grove while I was a teacher,” Finnerty said. “I was able to implement that into my classroom.”
Great Expectations training is an extensive process. The school will implement the program by degrees, with training and in-house coaching with a mentor.
“She’ll come and meet with all of the staff and kind of guide them in the right direction,” Finnerty said. “This is something I believe makes a real difference for academics and in the climate of the school district.”
Finnerty said she plans to implement the program at the elementary level next year. The next step, she said, is to expand to the older grades.
“The elementary and middle schoolers, they’ll soak it up right away,” Finnerty said. “That kind of starts the fire for the others to follow when they see the excitement and the awesome things that are happening.”