Westerfield and Petrie meet with Russellville school administrators
By Penni Nugent

Posted on January 10, 2017 9:13 PM

On Monday, Jan. 9, Russellville Independent Schools had the privilege of hosting Sen. Whitney Westerfield and Rep. Jason Petrie, in the data room at Stevenson Elementary School. This setting alone spoke volumes in regard to the work that is taking place in our district.

Because of limited time, an agenda provided our two principals, Kim McDaniel of RJSHS and Robin Cornelius of Stevenson, a few minutes to highlight some of the outstanding work that is taking place in our district such as FRC, Autism Room, READ 180/System 44, etc.

Family Resource Coordinator Carol Kees, Chief Academic Officer Dr. Steven A. Moats, and District Instructional Coach Cassie Reding also had the opportunity to provide insight. Time was allotted for Sen. Westerfield and Rep. Petrie to share their thoughts about charter schools, common core, and other related items that impact education.

Superintendent Leon Smith stated, “Our focus is to work together to close the opportunity gap for all students. We are always working to close achievement gaps, but with charter schools looming on the horizon, we are trying to communicate how hard we are working in public schools to provide ALL students the opportunity to learn. As I have tried to process and select some highlighted areas to discuss, the amazing part of all this is the realization that we are doing some amazing work this year.

There was no way in our allotted time that we could communicate everything, so we were very intentional in our preparation. We are fortunate to have had them come to join with us. It was also very encouraging to hear that both gentlemen appreciated this time as much as we did. They were the first to suggest additional meetings to keep all informed and up-to-date.

After the meeting, Superintendent Smith told his staff, “I want to thank each of you for your attendance, preparation, and input in our meeting today with Sen. Westerfield and Rep. Petrie. While we had limited time, I believe you all were pretty awesome in the time allotment given to share just a small fraction of the outstanding work you are doing in your building. It was also good for us, as a district, to reflect on the good things that are taking place, as well as remind ourselves how hard each one is working every day.

“Mrs. Cornelius, thanks for allowing us to use your ‘Data Room’ for this meeting. In just a few weeks, you have transformed that area into an incredible work room as well as a ‘visual’ to the work you are doing to address the needs of Every Child, Every Day! The room itself made a huge statement to both Sen. Westerfield and Rep. Petrie.”

Thanks to each of you in attendance for your positive dialogue. You created a non-threatening and comfortable setting for Sen. Westerfield and Rep. Petrie to listen and share their ideas. There is no doubt that we have created an open line of communication for the future. I think they were also surprised of the knowledge and awareness from our staff of some of the bills that are currently on the table this session.”

The wonderful food and presentation was prepared by Patsy Hendrick, and made a statement that we value our guests and staff.” RIS School Board Member Davonna Page stated, I just want to echo Mr. Smith's remarks! Thank you for your time, your dedication, and your professionalism. We have started an important dialogue that we need to continue in February when the legislature reconvenes. Great job!


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