STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – DeKalb County School District (DCSD) Superintendent Mrs. Cheryl Watson-Harris has her sights on the 2022-2023 school year as she continues to lead the district onward and upward to achieve the vision of a DCSD graduate.
Mrs. Watson-Harris delivered her second State of the District address on Jan. 26 and highlighted the vision of the future, as well as the successes the district has achieved over the last year. The district celebrated several accomplishments last year, including its acceptance into the League of Innovative Schools by Digital Promise, winning the Student Support Team Association for Georgia Educators (SSTAGE) “Star Award for Promising Practices,” and being identified as a learning residency site by the Harvard Graduate School of Education, providing the opportunity to host its first Doctoral fellow.
DCSD also had three schools—DeKalb School of the Arts, DeKalb Early College Academy, and Arabia Mountain High School—to be recognized by U.S. News as some of the top high schools in Georgia. Seven schools were named FY21 Title I Distinguished Schools, and Smoke Rise Elementary School was one of two schools recognized as a 2021 National ESEA Distinguished Schools.
The vision for the DeKalb County School District graduate provides the district with an aspirational vision for all scholars. The belief is that by providing empowering experiences to all scholars while removing barriers, all scholars will reach their preferred future.
This vision has led to increases in our SAT scores, ACT scores, and increases in our schools’ College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) scores. The district also saw increases in graduation rates. Southwest DeKalb High School’s graduation rate increased from 55 percent to 65 percent.
“I’m glad that our superintendent is forging onward and upward to celebrate some of the great triumphs of our district,” said DeKalb County Board of Education Chair Vickie B. Turner. “It’s been a challenging time, but we’re still here. We’re still here with the business and priority of educating our students in a way that’s quality and excellent.”
Mrs. Watson-Harris outlined the district’s focus for the 2022-2023 school year—committing to foundational principles that support equity, excellence, and empowerment. She said she believes that committing to these principles will support DCSD to achieve its birth to postsecondary success milestones, close access and achievement gaps for prioritized students, and equip DCSD graduates with the skills necessary to access their preferred future.
“As we move towards a new vision of excellence, we are planning for next school year now,” Mrs. Watson-Harris said.
Mrs. Watson-Harris discussed the district’s vision for success, and other priorities, such as academic and professional growth, student and staff wellness, family and community engagement, and conditions for learning. The superintendent hopes to adopt several initiatives, including implementing structured collaborative learning teams and content-specific professional learning, implementing district-wide K-12 social-emotional curriculum, engaging families in increasing the portfolios of innovative schools, and implementing the comprehensive master plan with fidelity.
The district also seeks to develop a living wage compensation package to strengthen recruitment, hiring, and retention practices and centralize hiring pools for priority roles.
“In short, we are removing the normalization of failure and holding ourselves to a new level of excellence,” Mrs. Watson-Harris said. “The DeKalb County community is rich in our commitment to our youth. We will continue to strengthen our commitment.”
The district is set to start the 2022-2023 school year stronger than ever. Over the next several weeks, DCSD leadership will engage students, staff, families, and the greater DeKalb County community in planning for the new year. DCSD will provide periodic updates on our website and social media to keep everyone informed on how we are living our commitments to equity, excellence, and empowerment.
For more information on the Vision of a DCSD Graduate, please visitwww.dekalbschoolsga.blob.core.windows.net/wpcontent/2021/11/votg-2021-updated.pdf.