Letter to the editor – Brian Phillips

Grades up and discipline issues down

I write very few letters to the newspaper, but this has been one of those school years that is the best on record in my seven years as high school principal here at Greene County High School. Perhaps Ms. Green put it best at a recent school board meeting when the high school presented its yearly report. She stated, “I meant it when I said our building culture is very positive.”

Some of the primary building culture dynamics are student attendance and student behavior in the building. So far this year, student average daily attendance first trimester was 94.21 percent compared to last year’s 93.86 percent. Second trimester this year was 93.27 percent with last year’s being 92.29 percent.  The more we can keep academic instruction engaging, relevant and connected to the real world in the classroom, the higher student attendance will be.

Academically, we have made some great improvements the past three years.  In 2015, for instance, 14 percent of all grades given for all classes taken by all students were a “D” or “F” from the start of school until the end of second trimester. In 2016, we had 12.25 percent in that category. So far this year, we have 9.5 percent!  Naturally, we want to get that number even lower, but we are headed in the right direction and doing the right work.

Student behavior is, unfortunately, sometimes linked to student fights within the building. There have only been three minor incidents to date this school year. A different viewpoint on discipline in the building is the kindness meter of students. An example occurred recently when Kay Sesker, head cook at the high school told me that every student in B lunch shift told her thank you after she rang up their lunch number. That’s nearly 90 students!

We are reaping the benefits from our lower grade buildings’ work on bullying/harassment prevention, peer mediation, and good character traits. The emphasis on these things really has been showing itself the past several years within our incoming ninth graders. On March 22, we had next year’s crop of 110 eighth graders in the building all day. I was very impressed with this group of students when I talked to them in the auditorium. They were respectful, polite, and had all those quality character traits we like to see in students.

I would like to remind parents and community members that the Jefferson police and Greene County sheriff deputies have permission to bring the drug dogs through any district building whenever they would like and unannounced.  On this topic, the middle school and high school had Ray Lozano, a professional speaker, talk to students about drug and substance abuse on March 29. He was very well received by students and staff. A huge thank you to the Jefferson Elks for paying for this speaker!

Finally, leaders are only as good as the people with whom they surround themselves. I am very fortunate to work with the staff I have at the high school. We will continue to offer the best education, opportunities, and safe environment for our children at Greene County High School. Anyone is welcome to stop in and visit us any time.

Brian Phillips, Greene County High School principal


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