Johnny McDaniel says schools ‘Welcoming center for educational excellence’
by JOYANNA LOVE Banner Senior Staff Writer
Jan 26, 2014 | 697 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
“We understand that the needs of students are varied and so we have to find ways to help students be successful.” — Johnny McDaniel,
director of Bradley County Schools
“We understand that the needs of students are varied and so we have to find ways to help students be successful.” — Johnny McDaniel, director of Bradley County Schools
Kiwanis Club of Cleveland members received an update on Bradley County Schools from director Johnny McDaniel during a recent meeting.

“What we say is we are a ‘welcoming center for educational excellence,’” McDaniel said.

He said he wanted students as well as parents and community partners to feel welcomed in the system’s schools.

“Bradley County is continuing to grow,” McDaniel said. “We live in a great community.”

As the county’s population grows, so does the enrollment in the schools. However, enrollment in Bradley County schools has leveled out over the past few years.

McDaniel attributes this to the relocation of those displaced by the 2011 tornadoes from the county schools zone to the Cleveland City Schools zone.

“There are more available apartments in the city and the city school enrollment is up,” McDaniel said.

Bradley County School has about 10,500 students enrolled.

“We are very diverse economically,” McDaniel said.

In many of the Bradley County elementary schools, more than half of the student population is “economically disadvantaged.” Taylor Elementary has the largest percentage while North Lee Elementary School has the lowest percentage.

“We understand that the needs of students are varied and so we have to find ways to help students be successful,” McDaniel said.

The system has 11 elementary schools, with Waterville Community Elementary School being the largest.

“Their enrollment is right at 600 students. We have our CDC (comprehensive development classroom), special education population down there in addition to our regular school,” McDaniel said.

The newest school in the system is Park View Elementary, which was built in 2009.

McDaniel said it became a replacement school when Blue Springs Elementary was closed.

In addition to two middle schools and two high schools, BCS also includes a virtual school, adult high school and alternative high school.

The alternative high school is for those who are behind in credits or are working out behavioral issues that have become hindrances to completing school in a traditional setting.

McDaniel said the graduation rate for this school last year was 100 percent. The school system had a graduation rate of 90 percent.

The director of schools said the school system seeks to help students establish healthy habits. This is done through the school system’s coordinated school health and nutrition programs.

“If you come into our school (cafeteria), you will see a lot of fruit and a lot of vegetables. We are teaching them to eat healthy and exercise. We have trained our teachers in using brain-based educational resources that gets them up and moving,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel said many times students get in trouble simply because they have a lot of energy and cannot sit still.

The school superintendent said he had a similar issue in first grade, only he wanted to get up and help other students when he finished his work with their work.

“Finally, Miss Riley realized she was just going to have to let me do that,” McDaniel said.

Another way the school system focuses on students’ health is with a mobile medical facility.

Implementation of the Common Core state standards, continuing to use the Project Coach teacher evaluation model and an emphasis on leadership have been focuses this year.

Teachers have welcomed the change in evaluation model to something that encourages communication rather than trying to “hit 52 indicators,” McDaniel said.

As part of the emphasis on leadership, the elementary schools have begun holding student-led conferences.

At Prospect Elementary School, the number of people attending teacher conferences skyrocketed as 1,000 parents and grandparents attended.

The school system as a whole continues to score well on the annual state report card.

For the past three years the system has received all 5s — the highest Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System score possible.

Student proficiency scores last year showed growth in every category, except English II.

“And across the state, English II was down … it seems like maybe there is an issue there maybe with the test or with the grading I’m not sure, but we were a little surprised by it,” McDaniel said. “In all other categories, we met our growth targets and we are pleased with that.”

The local schools are also working to provide more academically challenging opportunities to students in middle school and high school.

This is being done through the advanced placement curriculum, Spring Board at the middle school level and Cambridge and advanced placement classes at the high school level.

Each high school follows an academy model that allows students to choose an area of focus such as communications or health science. Duel enrollment and industry certification opportunities are also offered.

McDaniel was named the state Superintendent of the Year last year.