GREENSBORO, N.C. — As Guilford County Schools Superintendent Dr. Whitney Oakley rounds out her first year, she said there is still work to be done.
“I think the fact that our community is showing up and saying how they feel and what they want to see in our public schools brings me great hope,” Dr. Oakley said.
Over the last several months, Dr. Oakley has hosted more than 200 community conversations. Students, parents, teachers, and business leaders were among those who had their voices heard.
"I think probably what surprised me, was the consistency across groups,” Dr. Oakley said. “We talked a lot about accelerating learning. We heard a lot about the need to support mental health and wellness and safety in our schools. We heard a lot about recruiting, retaining, and rewarding top talent. Then making sure our graduates are ready to thrive in the world."
It was these community conversations; Dr. Oakley said laid the foundation for the launching of the District's Strategic Direction—Better Together. How to accelerate learning is a big part of that plan.
“We've doubled the number of students who are receiving high-dosage tutoring this year,” Dr. Oakley said. “We've completed more than 275,000 tutoring sessions and just because the federal relief funding for programs like tutoring is going to be over next summer, we have to find ways to continue that work."
The district deployed 12 safety strategies this year. Dr. Oakley said her team is working to build upon that.
"Including the security scanners in high schools, the clear bag policies at large athletic events, doing different anti-bullying training,” Dr. Oakley. “We're planning to move those scanners to the middle schools, prior to the start of the next school year."
Dr. Oakley said better buildings and stronger communities will help put students on the path to success.
"The business leaders said we need a talent pipeline,” Dr. Oakley said. “When we talked about things like our partnership with Toyota and exploring a career academy that will go right into Toyota, that makes a whole lot of sense. When businesses and school districts work together we can create high-wage, high-demand jobs and have the students ready to fill them immediately."
WFMY News 2’s Lauren Coleman asked Dr. Oakley what makes her passionate about this work.
"There is so much work to do and we can do it,” Dr. Oakley said. “We have the right people, the right seats to do that, and we have a community that stands behind the school system. We saw it in the pandemic, we've seen it since the pandemic, and I'm just excited to be a part of it."
To advocate, donate, or volunteer with the school district go to: www.gcsnc.com/bettertogether