Monday, October 15, 2012

U.S. Department of Education Recognizes NISD as "Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Champion"

Dr. Dawn Marie Baletka, Director of 
Grant Services, and Superintendent 
Rory Gesch at The White House 
Sunday, Oct. 14 attending a reception
for "Together for Tomorrow School
Improvement Champions."
Superintendent Rory Gesch and Director of Grant Services Dr. Dawn Marie Baletka visited The White House in Washington, D.C. this week as part of a two-day event during which Navasota Independent School District was recognized as a "Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Champion" by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) for the district's Responsible Students, Volunteers, and Parents Program (RSVP).

The "Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Challenge" (TFT) invites schools, national service programs, higher education institutions, and community-based organizations to work together to facilitate school improvement. The USDE and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) recognized 31 organizations from across the nation as "Together for Tomorrow Champions" for the 2012-2013 school year. Navasota ISD was the only organization in Texas to be recognized.

"School improvement should be about more than just schools. It has to be about the whole community," Gesch said, "and the RSVP program, like all of the initiatives recognized as 'Together for Tomorrow School Improvement Champions', is about making meaningful connections among people to improve a community's quality of life and, in our case, to improve the learning experiences of our kids as well."

The RSVP program is based on the positive youth development program, Raising Healthy Children. The program is a K-12 initiative that promotes protective factors and reduces risk factors as it delivers both intensive professional development to all staff and workshops, training, and resources to parents. The goal is to increase commitment and bonding of students to the local schools in an effort to decrease discipline referrals and increase attendance, academic achievement, and post secondary education.

The RHC approach is grounded in a 30-year longitudinal research study that has identified predictors of positive student outcomes including academic achievement and commitment to school. To address these issues, family support and parenting workshops are offered using three family programs - Guiding Good Choices, Supporting School Success, and Raising Healthy Children.  Workshops are offered throughout the school year for parents of students and anyone else who is responsible for raising a child who attends district schools. In addition to parental support initiatives, full-time, on-campus program coaches provide support to school staff developing and strengthening skills in the areas of classroom management, instruction, cooperative learning, and student motivation. The program is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Adolescent Health.

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