Eds. note: This is part two of four in a series looking at how Ardmore City Schools have been affected by the Vision 2020 initiative. Part two looks at professional development and support available to Ardmore teachers.

Editor’s note: This is part two of a four-part series looking at how Ardmore City Schools has been impacted by the Vision 2020 initiative. Part two looks at professional development and support available to Ardmore teachers.

With 2020 less than a month away, the results of Vision 2020 have suggested that improving education in Ardmore will not be accomplished with a single initiative. While a fact sheet from the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce touts a 1/4 cent countywide sales tax for education as a main accomplishment since 2009, some intangible improvements are also evident across the school system.

Ardmore City Schools superintendent Kim Holland has said that voter approval of the 2013 sales tax and its 2018 renewal has helped the school system keep up with updates and upgrades, especially with regards to technology. “Ardmore City Schools would struggle without the county sales [sic] tax,” Holland said in an email, and nearly constant construction at many schools in the past five years means that major upgrades and expansion are finally underway.

Myiesha Antwine is in her 14th year with Ardmore City Schools and her third year as principal of Jefferson Elementary. She has seen the physical upgrades across the district and is experiencing them nearly every day this year as construction continues on a new gymnasium and office at Jefferson Elementary. When asked about what she believes has been the biggest change for the school system, however, the construction was only one point among many.

Opportunities for teachers and principals to expand their professional abilities are investments being made since Vision 2020 launched a decade ago. Antwine pointed to new technology, teaching strategies, and professional development opportunities available to her staff. Specialized resources from the school system are available to teachers. “You don’t really have to go outside to get your experts because we’re trained in that,” Antwine said of her colleagues district-wide.

Teachers also receive training resources from the Oklahoma State Department of Education and other outside agencies, according to Antwine, in topics like special education, crisis training, childhood trauma and safety. Lincoln Elementary School principal Lacy Barton said her staff is also afforded a variety of professional development from the district as well as support from outside the district.

Barton pointed specifically to educational support given by the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce. According to the chamber's website, education improvement is one of their main goals. A specific activity of the chamber is to partner with willing schools to implement joint programs and Barton says professional development resources for staff has been expanded to include schools outside of the district.

“There are increased opportunities to work with area teachers and administrators, and I do see that more than I did when I got here 13 years ago,” Barton said.

Antwine feels the district is evolving and becoming more effective at educating students. “You can tell from the way that the students are talking. They’re talking about their goals, long-term goals.”