Thursday, August 21, 2014

Underway

The 2014-15 school year is off to a great start!  As I write this missive, our students and teachers are entering day 10 of the 180-day instructional calendar.  As a high school teacher and administrator for nearly two decades I have said many times, however, that the school year does not truly begin until the first football game has been played.  We can check that box this week as North Oconee travels to the Erk Russell Classic to take on Coffee County at Georgia Southern University.  What a tremendous experience for our high school students to play in a college stadium! 

Speaking of great opportunities, high school students at both NOHS and OCHS are enrolled in college courses being taught by University of North Georgia professors on our campuses during the school day.  This outstanding educational opportunity is a joint venture between Oconee County Schools and UNG and is designed to meet the strategic planning goal of expanding learning opportunities for our kids through partnerships with higher education institutions.   

Not to be outdone by his high school colleagues, Mr. Keith Carter and Colham Ferry Elementary School will begin a unique partnership of their own this year.  CFES will partner with the University of Georgia to infuse more agricultural and STEM learning opportunities into the classroom.  This partnership will place senior-level Ag education students at CFES beginning in September.  These future teaching professionals will team with current staff members to create hands-on learning experiences that incorporate Oconee County’s rich agricultural history into the learning process. It should be an exciting experience for all involved. 

Yet, the high school and elementary levels are not alone in their forward thinking and dynamic teaching approaches.  Both Oconee County Middle School and Malcom Bridge Middle School have expanded their learning opportunities for students this year as well.  All 8th grade students will be taking high school physical science and students may self-select into chorus, band, and/or coordinate algebra classes for high school credit.  These exciting opportunities launch our students forward at their own pace and position them well to take advantage of the extended learning opportunities being created at our high school level. 

As you can see, Oconee County students are being presented with some amazing opportunities for accelerated learning and growth.  I am proud to say that our students are seizing these chances for growth and asking for more.  Sustained excellence demands continuous improvement and Oconee County Schools is seeking to improve each day.  As we enter day 10, I am pleased with our growth thus far and look forward to what the year has in store.  Let me know what you think at jbranch@oconeeschools.org, or better yet honk your horn my way as we travel down to South Georgia to watch the Titans play.  I will be the guy in the dirty black truck with two kids under the age of four in the back…hopefully fast asleep.  Have a great day!




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