Platinum Partner Spotlight: StaffEZ

StaffEZ, formerly PESG, is our July Platinum Partner Spotlight! StaffEZ, LLC is one of the top-ranked Education-Only Staffing Agency in the United States. For fourteen years, StaffEZ has built a solid reputation as a stable, reliable, and proven industry leader. Because education is their only focus, everything they do is with your success in mind. From maximizing classroom fill rates to streamlining internal processes, StaffEZ works every day to ensure your students receive the ultimate benefit: the education they deserve.

In Tennessee, StaffEZ is already working with Lebanon Special School District, Grainger County Schools, Gibson County Schools, Franklin Special Schools, Manchester City Schools, and Union County Schools.

"We have been pleased with the quality of services that has been provided from the StaffEZ representatives as they continue to go above and beyond to accommodate the needs of our administration." - Scott Benson, Lebanon Special School District

Want to learn more about StaffEZ? Visit their website or reach out to Kim Woodson at mwoodson@staffez.org or 615-354-3170.


SUPERINTENDENT SPOTLIGHT: Richard Rawlings (Humphreys County)

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Richard Rawlings, the July 2019 Superintendent Spotlight, has been the Humphreys County Director of Schools for three years.

In Humphreys County Schools, they are partnering with local industries in advancing STEM education and Early Post-Secondary Opportunities for their students. This began when a local plant manager (needing a strong pool of local workers) reached out to the school system and other industry leaders to form a partnership. The immediate result was a renewed emphasis on students obtaining an Associate’s Degree in Industrial Process Control before graduating from high school. The partnership then expanded as other industries joined. The newest partner has a strong interest in STEM. His company, along with others, funded every STEM project presented to them by the school district.

They are also very proud of their federal Farm to School curriculum. One of their high schools provides lettuce and tomatoes to their schools' cafeterias. Students participate in educational activities related to agriculture, food, health, and nutrition. The program now provides hydroponic produce to all of cafeterias. Through cooperation with the school nutrition department, they have overcome such obstacles as preparation, freshness, longevity, and delivery of produce to the school cafeterias.

Mr. Rawlings’ favorite part of his job is working with a school board and administrators that recognize the importance of student growth. He also says that he is constantly amazed by how supportive his fellow Directors when he asks for advice. [<- That is what we love to hear at TOSS! Keep it up, members.]

When we asked Mr. Rawlings to share a funny memory from his time as a superintendent, he said, “I think I can safely say I am probably one of the most knowledgeable Directors when it comes to stacking sand bags to prevent a school from flooding (since we have 3 schools on the banks of a creek that constantly comes out of it banks). Yes, there is a correct way to stack sand bags. I forgot to take that class in college.” He joked, “As we interview teachers for a position at these schools, I always ask, ‘How many sand bags can you stack in 30 minutes?’”

Platinum Partner Spotlight: Energy Systems Group (ESG)

ENERGY SYSTEMS GROUP® (ESG) is a leading energy services provider that specializes in energy efficiency, sustainability, and infrastructure improvement solutions. Since 1994, ESG has been helping K-12 schools overcome the challenges of aging infrastructure and rising operational and energy costs by providing turnkey, budget-neutral solutions that directly enhance the quality and safety of learning environments. Through its core business of energy performance contracting, ESG helps Tennessee schools install new energy efficient building systems, where guaranteed savings from operation budgets help fund the capital improvements. ESG also offers a full range of sustainable infrastructure solutions including waste-to-energy, distributed generation, and renewable energy. To learn more, visit www.energysystemsgroup.com.

ESG is currently working with several TN school districts, including: Anderson County Schools, Bradley County Schools, Cleveland City School District, Lawrence County School System, Oak Ridge Schools, and Warren County Schools

SUPERINTENDENT SPOTLIGHT: Dr. Bryan Johnson (Hamilton County)

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The TOSS Superintendent Spotlight for June 2019 is Dr. Bryan Johnson, who is finishing up his second year as Director of Schools in Hamilton County.

Dr. Johnson shared some of the exciting things happening in Hamilton County Schools. Their vision is that every student graduates with the opportunity to pursue multiple pathways in life - “Future Ready.” Future Ready 2023, their strategic plan, launched in 2019 outline goals and strategies to fulfill this vision. Future Ready Institutes, the Opportunity Zone, Office of Innovation and School Choice, STEM and arts education are some of the strategies further implemented this year to offer a high quality educational experience to all students. In addition, the district, for the first time, invited 30 community leaders for an intimate look inside their public schools through Leadership HCS, a new 6- month community outreach initiative for leaders seeking a better understanding of the 21st century public school system.

Future Ready Institutes began in August 2018, as smaller learning communities within each high school to provide students with a unique learning environment through the lens of various career-themes. The institutes align what students are learning in all subjects around the specific career theme fostering meaningful connections. This effort towards rethinking the way they deliver high school curriculum started with 20 Future Ready Institutes in 13 high schools, and expanded to 27 in the 2019-2020 school year. Future Ready Preps were also launched this year in middle schools to begin exploration of college and career readiness earlier.

Committed educators, passionate students and strong business and industry partnerships have been key to their early success. Business partnerships have resulted in better alignment of addressing talent pipeline needs of the future, higher student engagement, an increase of 900 students taking Early Postsecondary Opportunities (EPSOs) and more than $2 million of private investments into their Institutes.

Hamilton County Schools has strong support from the business community and includes branded business partners such as Unum, Erlanger Health, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, EPB, See Rock City and Bryan College. They continue to field interest, welcome and cultivate both branded and non-branded partners. STEM efforts in Hamilton County Schools have positioned their district as a national leader in digital fabrication with 17 digital fabrication labs in their schools. In the labs, students are engaged in activities such as: designing and 3D printing orthopedic devices for people and pets with special needs, conducting research on the viability of autonomous electric vehicles and taking salvaged parts from a computer to build a robot. Success for the future means preparing graduates with relevant tools and meaningful opportunities.

The more recently launched Office of Innovation and Choice will help accelerate the district’s focus on great quality school experiences for all students and expanded choice options for parents to make better informed decisions in their student’s educational planning.

My favorite part of my job is spending time in schools with students, teachers, and school leaders. In this role, it is important to not be consumed by the various challenges each day presents. It’s always refreshing to step into classrooms and engage with students around what they are learning and see their academic growth. Spending time in the classroom with young learners and listening to how their teachers are reaching them with the knowledge they will need to succeed at the next grade level or after graduation reminds me of why public education is so important and why we engage in this challenging work every day.

Every student and teacher has a story to share that reminds me of the importance of our work. Gabe Armstrong, a 2019 graduate of Soddy Daisy High with a full-ride scholarship to Georgia Tech and fellow graduate Jake DiChiacchio, who has a full-ride scholarship to Brown University, offered personal testaments to the value of AP classes and dual enrollment in a formal PowerPoint presentation given to their school administration encouraging more availability for future students. Kadijah Tinker, a 2019 graduate of Lookout Valley High, found her place in the band and now wants to return to Hamilton County Schools one day to teach music and help others to find their place in a band program. Zavier Chavez, a 2019 graduate of Chattanooga High School Center for Creative Arts and a 2019 Presidential Scholar, is on his way to Harvard University with dreams of one day being a lawyer. Marie Holland, a recent graduate of Sequoyah High, who was unsure of her path to success found her place as one of the few female students in the school’s Welding Program. Marie excelled and had a job waiting for her the week after graduation at a local manufacturer with excellent career prospects ahead. These stories of student pursuing their own paths to success inspire me every day.

The amazing teachers and leaders in Hamilton County Schools also inspire me. Jinlin Baker, a special education teacher, engages in her labor of love with students each day seeking to discover a new way to help her class communicate, learn, and grow. Dr. Le Andrea Ware, principal of the year for Hamilton County Schools, returned to her alma mater last year to lead Howard High with her vision of HOPE (Helping Others Pursue Excellence) and her passion for children and Howard that earned her this district honor. In addition, Andrea Dyer, an ESOL teacher in the district, who not only teaches students from Guatemala, but also travels to the country frequently to understand their families and where her students come from so that she can better address the student’s educational needs in her class is empowering.

There are so many more stories that I don’t have space to share, but each one recharges me and keeps me focused on providing a great educational experience for all students in our district.

FUN FACT: Dr. Johnson is a self-proclaimed sports enthusiast. He’s a huge fan of Notre Dame football (Go Irish!). He’s also set a personal goal of visiting every Major League Baseball (MLB) stadium.

Platinum Partner Spotlight: The College Board

The College Board programs and services work together to help all students clear a path to their future.

The redesigned SAT Suite of Assessments provide actionable college and career readiness measurement at key points in a student's K-12 experience, in time for students to develop personal study paths proven to increase post-high school readiness. Advanced Placement opportunities, including new courses in Computer Science Principles and Seminar and Research, allow students to demonstrate and earn college credit that is recognized nationally and internationally, not just at in state colleges and universities.

Virtually EVERY Tennessee school and district utilizes a combination of College Board's PSAT, SAT and/or AP programs in support of moving more students toward college and career readiness. Each district has their own College Board data portal.

To put the power of your PSAT, SAT and AP data to practice, contact Jim Morris at 319-329-4590 or jmorris@collegeboard.org.

Testimony from Shelby County Schools:

Shelby County Schools (SCS) implemented a number of exciting initiatives to ensure increased college and career preparedness for our students. Those initiatives included a partnership with the College Board to provide AP and Pre-AP professional development for our teachers as well as the implementation of SAT School Day in seven of our high schools and PSAT 9 in every SCS high school. Many of our students shared that having 43% more time per question on the SAT vs. the ACT made a big difference in allowing them to truly demonstrate what they know and are able to do. Additionally, our students took full advantage of the post-exam support provided by the College Board. The individualized practice and skills development that our students were able to access through the linking of student PSAT or SAT scores to Khan Academy will positively impact future performance for our students. We are now diving into the rich, online data reporting and will use the results to guide future instruction and intervention. I highly recommend that you reach out to Jim Morris, our Tennessee representative for the College Board. Jim has been an incredibly knowledgeable and valuable partner in bringing awareness to our district.

- Linda Sklar, Director of Optional Schools and Advanced Academics