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Eagleton Middle Aims for Loftier Goals

posted Oct 3, 2016, 6:51 AM by Chris Whitehorne   [ updated Oct 3, 2016, 6:51 AM ]

After six years of concentrated efforts, Eagleton Middle School has set its sights on loftier goals under a new administrative team.

"(Former Principal) Becky (Stone) left us in great shape," said Principal Charles "Tony" Shultz. "Our culture and school climate is in great shape, and it's a tribute to her."

In February, Stone was named Alcoa High School's principal. In May, Shultz was named Eagleton Middle's principal and Kim Sullivan was named assistant principal.
"Kim is a huge part of what we're doing and what we will be doing," Shultz said. "She's extremely purposeful in her approach to improvement and focused on meeting those goals. We've already identified two major areas of focus: student proficiency and professional development.

"We'll be looking at value-added data, then creating professional portfolios and revisiting those portfolios," he said. "Information related to classroom observations, professional development and student projections will be included in it." Shultz said that both he and Sullivan are intensely invested in improving instruction this school year. "(Director of Schools Rob) Britt was purposeful in his selection, because Kim and I complement each other well. She's data-driven and has a great mind for curriculum and programming. My greatest strengths are related to organizational and structural concerns, such as discipline, facilities, management, safety and scheduling. Both of us will interact directly with teachers and work with them to further strengthen their instructional practices."

Educators are also being encouraged to improve their pedagogy (the practice and method of teaching), he said. One teacher has decided to implement Singapore Math, which is a teaching method designed to get students to learn and master fewer math concepts at greater detail. Shultz has additionally hired a retired teacher to serve as a part-time RTI2 (Response to Instruction and Intervention) coordinator. RTI2 is a three-tiered system that helps educators differentiate instruction for students who need extra help. 

In addition to instruction, employees plan to emphasize community outreach and relationship building. They will also embrace multiculturalism.

"Eagleton Middle School is part of this community," Shultz said. "It's the central cultural hub of our community, and it's not uncommon for parents to look to us for guidance and leadership. We take that position seriously."We plan to do more community outreach this year," he said. "We'll be contacting businesses and hosting community events, such as car shows and community dinners."

Holly Burns received a grant last year to serve community dinners, Shultz said. To date, educators have fed more than 600 people. "Car shows and community dinners have helped us to build more relationships and strengthen the ones we already have," Shultz said. "However, we're always looking how to include more community members. One recent success was our boy's soccer team, which helped us last year to better serve our Hispanic community.

"Today, we have 30 families who are involved in this school due to soccer," he said. "It's instilled a sense of pride in the boys and their families. They're the only middle school team in Blount County. They've also hosted the best local teams: Farragut Middle School, Oak Ridge Middle School and Soddy Daisy Middle School. It's done so much for our school, and we're currently looking into creating a girls' team." Eagleton Middle also hosted a benefit rodeo last year, Shultz said. "We're the only school in this area to host a professional rodeo, and it was a great thing for our community. We welcomed 2,000 people onto our campus. That's huge for us. We are changing some things this year based upon family input. We heard that it was too expensive for some families, so we will reduce the cost per family from $50 to $20. It's the right thing to do."

Eagleton Middle has implemented several changes this year to support its technology efforts, he said. He has two technology teachers who will "ensure year round that computers are up to date," advising that "students should be able to step into a computer lab and take an online test at any moment."

Every teacher has an interactive whiteboard and is outfitted with adequate technology, Shultz said. "I'd stack our technology against anyone. We're pleased to have adequate technology. However, I've told our staff that we need to fight for more. It's not going to come to us if we don't fight. Not to mention, we need it. If you don't emphasize technology, you're falling behind these days. We've got to be willing to claw and scratch to get everything we need. That's what our students and our community needs and deserves."

By Matthew Stewart- The Daily Times