Lamar County Schools is committed to excellence in the teaching and learning process. Providing quality work that is challenging, engaging, and rigorous for ALL students EVERY day in EVERY classroom is the primary focus of all instructional programs in Lamar County.
Located in middle Georgia, Lamar County boasts a rich educational heritage. A relatively new county formed in 1920, our current school facilities were begun in 1975 and were formed from many community schools that existed over the years: Aldora School, Barnesville High Industrial School, Booker School which changed to Forsyth Road School, Gordon Military Academy, Milner School, and Thomaston Street School. Senator Richard B. Russell is numbered among Gordon Military's prominent alumni. We serve over 2500 students in one school at each grade span: Primary [PreK-2], Elementary [3-5], one Middle School [6-8], and High School [9-12]. We are proud to have Gordon College, Southern Crescent Technical College, and Gordon GYSTC as teaching and learning partners.
The Lamar County School System is dedicated to providing all students with a curriculum that is challenging and provides quality learning experiences. The K-12 academic curriculum is aligned to the state’s academic expectations and programs of study. Scientifically research-based assessments are implemented that help teachers monitor instruction and realign instruction based on the results. The data collected and assessed on the Balanced Score Card (BSC)/ District Improvement Plan (DIP) and individual school-level Balanced Score Card (BSC)/ School-Wide Program (SWP) plans are utilized systematically in planning effective daily instruction that meets the needs of our students. Our district goal is to prepare each child to be college and career ready utilizing a pathway that will be appropriate and attainable for the individual.
The district’s website communicates resources for parents in helping students understand the state’s curriculum. Sample tools that schools use are course descriptions, syllabi, and weekly newsletters to parents. Common Core standards and essential questions are posted in all classrooms. Exemplar models, rubrics, and teacher commentary help guide students to expected learning outcomes. Teachers use benchmark assessments and progress monitoring data to drive instruction, which leads to individual student interventions. Struggling students are regularly monitored and assessed in an effort to master common core standards through the Response to Interventions (RTI) pyramid. Teachers use content and grade-level meetings to focus and plan instruction based on student data. Students are provided age appropriate technology and additional assistive technology to guide learning outcomes. Intervention Labs and Extended Learning Time (ELT) focus on Response to Interventions (RTI) /Student Support Team (SST) interventions and allow students extra time and instruction to master the standards. Administrators use the Georgia Teacher Observation Instrument (GTOI), classroom Focus Walks using e-Walk software, and will pilot Georgia’s new Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES) to provide teachers with constructive feedback and guidance toward delivering effective instruction. There is much information available for teachers supporting instructional improvement in the teacher handbooks as well as through observations and feedback forms. Also the system and each school host new teacher orientations where basic guidelines and expectations are communicated.
Lamar County staff members engage in systematic and continuous professional development based on the Balanced Scorecards and each school’s SWP plan. Through the GTOI and Focus Walk data, system leaders can determine the pacing and topics of professional development and how it impacts improvement in instruction and classroom practices. To further growth among our building leaders and teachers, the district is piloting the TKES & Leader Keys Effectiveness System (LKES) Evaluation Programs during the 2013-2014 school year. The district is committed to providing Learning Support Specialists (LSS) to coach and assist teachers in examining student achievement and RTI data. The role of the Learning Support Specialist (LSS) is to support the teachers in the administration of quarterly benchmarks, disaggregating data, and helping to prescribe and implement new strategies that engage students in the mastery of standards. Data-driven professional learning is facilitated by the LSS based upon the review of the data. Progress monitoring includes multiple measures, both formative and summative.
Creating and sustaining a culture of professional learning, growth, and accountability is highlighted as an essential component of our Performance Framework/Strategic Map. The district is committed to providing a focus of district-wide professional development based on the outcome of student achievement scores and teacher input. Across the system, weekly planning is conducted using the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) continuous improvement model. Additionally, the system embraces a systematic RTI/SST process involving formal conversations regarding student learning. The district-wide “Teaching and Learning” Intranet site provides new vertical alignment documents created during the 2012-2013 school term that will provide a stepping stone for more horizontal and vertical discussions. Additional curriculum Scope and Sequence, Unit Maps and Cluster Maps are currently in process.
As a part of the Lamar County School’s Mission Statement, partnering with families is a priority. There is a plethora of contact points between families and all levels of the school system. It is the intention of the school system and all of its schools to implement a system of multiple points of contact with families that keep parents informed and engaged in the learning process for their children. The district and school websites, the Parent Portal, the school messaging system, daily agendas, and weekly Tuesday folders are examples of current contact points among stakeholders. There are also structures in place at all schools by which each student is engaged by at least one adult advocate on a regular and consistent basis. In each of these settings the students’ educational experience is supported by ongoing discussion with a designated adult that incorporates the monitoring of grades, attendance, student morale and daily progress. The structures include “Teachers as Advisors” programs at the middle and high schools. In the elementary and primary schools, the students’ advocates are their homeroom teachers. There are common reporting policies and processes such as the Powerschool Parent Portal, midterm progress reports, required parent conferences, and report cards. We believe meaningful two-way communication between and among all stakeholders critical to our students’ success.