Fall Issue of WCS Newsletter: Setting Our Sights on Becoming The Best in NC

Published Thursday, October 1, 2015 at 11:44 am

Editor’s Note: Check out the fall issue of Watauga County Schools newsletter, The Learning Leader, here and read the superintendent’s message below: 

By Watauga County Schools Supt. Dr. Scott Elliott

I want you to know that our school system is embarking on two broad and ambitious goals:

  • To be the best workplace in NC for educators
  • To be the best place in NC for children to go to school.


Allow me to explain what we mean by these goals and what I think it will take to get us there. I’ll start with some of the factors that determine the best place for educators to work.

– Teacher supplements: For the most recent year available (2014), Watauga ranked 47th out of 115 NC school systems in local salary supplements for teachers.

– Supportive administrators and policies: I believe the number one factor influencing the satisfaction of educators is the extent to which they are respected and valued in their schools.

To have an excellent teacher in every classroom, we must have an excellent principal in every school. Our leaders and policies must be focused on supporting high quality teaching.

– Health and safety: Our schools and our community must be healthy environments for teachers to work and live. One area where we are seriously lacking is in the presence of School Resource Officers. Ideally, we should have one in every school.

– High quality facilities: In addition to safe and healthy facilities, we must have state of the art learning environments. We have a beautiful, state of the art high school. However, we have significant facility needs in our K-8 schools that will worsen with time.

Here are a few other factors I think are critical.

– Culture and climate: Do we understand our purpose and are we united in our efforts? Are our schools happy places to learn and work?

– Community engagement and belonging: Do our educators feel part of a larger community, not just employees in a building? Does our community support and care about our educators?

– Meaningful relationships with students, teachers, and colleagues: Teaching and learning is inherently relational. If we don’t understand and value these relationships, we will not create effective schools.

Now, what factors are important in creating the best place in NC for children to go to school and what will it take for us to get there?

1) Safe and welcoming learning environments: Everyone deserves to live and work in a safe and healthy environment. For students, this means being able to come to school without fear of being harmed or exposed to violence. It means schools free from the effects of drugs and alcohol, and that students are provided the support and assistance to overcome these difficulties when issues do arise in their lives.

2) High quality teachers and leaders: All my years in public education tell me there is nothing more important than a highly effective teacher in every classroom. No amount of new programs, technology, and extra resources can compensate for a teacher who is not effective. We must attract and retain the best teachers and school leaders possible so our students can have the best education possible.

3) Individualized attention: Our school programs must seek to tailor instruction to each child’s gifts and needs. Some students will need formal plans to ensure their needs are met; all will benefit from instructional technology that helps adapt instruction to their individual talents and interests.

4) Experiences of students and parents: “Customer satisfaction” is often overlooked in education. We should pay close attention to how well we meet the needs of our stakeholders.

5) Opportunities for exploration and enrichment: We want all students to be well rounded learners by offering a wide range of opportunities to develop skills and explore new interests in the arts, athletics, career and technical education, and other areas of interest.

It is crucial that we all work together to create both the vision and the reality for our students to have the best education possible. I believe this community has the capacity and the heart to make that happen, and I am certain that the children of our community deserve nothing less.

Dr. Scott Elliott


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