Marshall County schools fully accredited

Friday, March 13, 2009
Dr. Denny Jennings, chair of the SACS committee, delivers the accreditation verdict at a special School Board meeting Wednesday afternoon.

At the end of an intensive three-day visit by a team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, it was announced Wednesday afternoon that Marshall County schools have been awarded district accreditation "with full honors" for the next five years.

"This is truly an accomplishment for you," said Dr. Denny Jennings, chair of the SACS committee. "We make it without reservations of any kind. Not every district gets it - you are among the few."

Jennings explained that her committee would make the positive recommendation to the national accreditation commission of AdvancED, who will act on it at their next meeting, in December.

Dr. Stan Curtis thanked Jennings and her team, and then thanked all the principals, supervisors, teachers, and the community and members of the school board who had the vision to make this possible, and also gave credit to "a lot of people who came before me" who made district accreditation a priority.

"Go celebrate," Curtis said. "Go tell everybody we won."

"Our loss has definitely been your gain," said Debbie Wiles, a member of the Quality Assurance Review team from Maury County, where Curtis was a principal before coming to Marshall County last year.

Kristen Gold, vice chairman, was the only member of the school board present at the meeting.

"We're certainly proud to be part of the recommendation," Gold said. "Thanks to the team for all the kind things they have to say about us, and all their hard work this week."

"Delightful," "most gracious," beautiful community," "love your schools," and "you're doing great work," were some of the remarks made by the six QAR team members.

Jennings gave a Power Point presentation to inform the group about accreditation, and highlight the things that Marshall County schools are already doing well, in addition to pointing out a few areas where the team saw room for improvement.

"These ladies have worked extremely hard," said Jennings. "Late, late hours. We've done quite a bit of extensive digging to make sure we have a very clear picture and a good perspective of your district and its work. Everything is evidence-based."

A lengthy written report will be delivered to the school system within 30 days.

Jennings said the district is to be "truly commended" for the following:

* the director's commitment to district unity and excellence

* community and stakeholder support that provides physical, financial and human resources to meet the needs of schools and students

* the district's commitment to professional development for teachers

* a strong tradition of community and school pride - not just in the sports arena, but in academic areas as well

* the district's decisions are based on the guiding focus "is it right for children?"

Jennings also listed five recommendations for the district's future. "You already have a firm start on this; a springing platform to continue with those areas," she said. "Continue and expand that process throughout your district. There are beginnings of excellence.

"Wonderful things are happening in Marshall County schools," Jennings concluded. "There are many things to celebrate."