MORTONS GAP, Ky. (11/22/13) – Hopkins County Central High School’s principal, Tommy Burrough and community liaison and student mentor, David Kyle presented the school success story at the Madisonville Lions Club Wednesday, Nov. 20.
Over the past two years, Hopkins County Central High School has managed to motivate students and faculty members in meeting higher expectations for overall student achievements. The school has fully united its curriculum to help eliminate achievement gaps and prepare students for assessments and transitions.
“In the last couple years, our kids have made a tremendous change,” said Principal Tommy Burroughs. “I came in a few years ago and there was a lot of turmoil; the school needed some stability. There was a lot of apathy. Students asked why the tests they had to take were so important.”
When the school finally hit rock bottom in being within the bottom 5 percent in the state of Kentucky two years ago, some students took it in their own hands and decided they wanted to make a change.
“The teachers were sick, they had worked so hard in the classrooms but the students weren’t taking the education they were given and applying it to the tests like they should have been,” said Burroughs. “Finally, 40 kids stood up and said they wanted to fix this and that they didn’t like what was being said about them.”
Burrough said those 40 students empowered the rest of the student body and faculty to work harder in achieving their goal from being at the bottom and moving to the top.
After two years of hard work, the school moved from the top of the bottom 5 percent to being ranked 21st out of 231 high schools in the state and one of the best in their region.
David Kyle’s position was created almost two years ago to help with getting the community more involved, to get the students families more involved and helping those students who needed more assistance.
“I came in last year and I don’t have a background in education but in a master’s in counseling,” said Kyle, community liaison and student mentor. “So when I started, I knew how to get the community involved and let them know what we were doing.”
Kyle said the school first started with PTSA, which is a parent organization and was recognized nationally last year for having one of the largest increase in members.
“We send out daily announcements of what is going on in school and to keep everyone informed,” said Kyle. “With our persistent graduate list, the kids are scored. We had 26 last year, and those are the 26 that are most likely to drop out of high school and we had no idea what to do with it. But we knew we needed to develop a program for it and I just started meeting them one-on-one.”
Kyle said after he met with each individual, he began to notice that it wasn’t that the students didn’t care, but they had a lot of other obstacles and issues going on in their lives that took precedence over their grades.
“After I met with each student, I began to develop a rapport with them,” said Kyle. “So I started tracking them. Every Friday morning, I check their grades. If there is progress I don’t check with students the following week but if their grades have declined I will and discuss what is going on and doing this, you really find out what’s going on.”
Kyle explained how important it is in meeting the needs of a student.
“If we have kids who are hungry, we take them to the family resource center and get them on the backpack program. So, every Friday there is a backpack of food in their locker for the weekend,” said Kyle. “Parents have come in for trainings. I did a training on emotional and mental health support for adolescences, that way the parents understand and can provided these supports for their child.”
Kyle also said that 80.2 percent of their senior class last year was college and career ready. He also said that instead of finding things that are wrong with the students, they try and find the good things and use positive reinforcement.
“The faculty has amazed me so far,” said Kyle. “They have given up their planning periods to do reviews with students before their tests, so it’s fresh in their minds. They are all taking the extra steps. We offer extended school, which students receive an eighth of a point. And they have responded well to it.”
Photo provided by Amber Averitt
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