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GMCS Superintendent talks goals for new school year

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Main focus on student performance, staff retention, funding

A new school year is about to begin for Gallup-McKinley County Schools. Students report for the first day of class Aug. 5, and many teachers reported for orientation July 31.

The orientation was held at John F. Kennedy Middle School, where new teachers could meet and talk about the upcoming year and get information about the services and locations around Gallup that could help them transition into a year of teaching.

GMCS Superintendent Mike Hyatt spoke about the event July 31, as well as what the district hopes to achieve in the coming months.

 

STAFF GOALS

“The teachers feel really good,” Hyatt said. “They feel valued, welcome. We are putting them in touch with other people in the community to help them become a part of it.”

Hyatt said one of the district’s goals is to do a better job of retaining staff and he thinks creating a professional, welcoming environment is a step toward achieving that goal.

He added GMCS has seen the largest gains in teacher and staff salaries in New Mexico in the past several years, as well as in benefits.

“A lot of the teachers who are taking the [open] jobs are returning,” Hyatt said. “They hear good things are happening here, so they’re coming back.”

The retention of staff also demonstrates the positive relationships the staff and teachers have with GMCS students, he added.

 

GOALS FOR EXCELLENCE

Hyatt spoke about the goals the district has set as part of Elevate 2022. The strategic plan includes student and teacher success statistics the district aims to reach over the next four years.

The first goal is to increase student success, which includes identifying and addressing key drivers and then investing in them, according to information provided by Hyatt.

“The district has had a lot of growth, academically, in math and reading over four years,” Hyatt said. “We want to keep increasing that growth rate.”

Hyatt referenced the data presented during the previous GMCS Board of Education regular meeting, which showed students at GMCS are quickly catching up to the rest of the state with their performance on state tests.

“The data proves what we’re doing is working for students across the county,” he added.

This goal also includes building positive relationships between the students and teachers, Hyatt said.

“We are implementing new things for a better learning environment,” he said. “We want to do a better job working with individual student needs.”

These efforts will also aim to make matters of discipline more effective and prevent serious issues with student behavior.

To that end, the district aims to incorporate mentoring programs in secondary schools, Hyatt continued.

“We want to make sure every student has at least one adult to turn to for help,” he said. “One of the most important factors is making sure they have positive relationships with the adults.”

Another goal Hyatt discussed was the implementation of career pathways, which is a system of career awareness and preparation for all GMCS students. They will have opportunities to learn about careers, build workplace skills, and pursue a career pathway before they graduate.

“[Career pathways] will tie what the students are learning in to what they want to do in life,” Hyatt said. “They will help students think of future work they want to do, how to be a good employee, and be a part of the workforce wherever they are.”

The pathways will help students be better prepared for work once they graduate, and the program will be offered for students in grades 6 through 12, according to Hyatt.

 

FIGHT FOR FUNDING

Hyatt said another major goal for the district is to make sure students are treated equitably in comparison with the rest of the students across New Mexico, whether it is through federal impact aid or capital funds.

“We are tired of waiting for the state to create equity,” he said. “We want to work to change policies and practices [with funding], so we can make sure GMCS gets the same facilities and services other schools get.”

To achieve this, Hyatt said GMCS will collaborate both with local legislators and other local school districts who are property poor.

Among other things, the funding will be used to provide school supplies, Hyatt added.

“Our responsibility is to make sure our students get the best education they can,” he said. “We are pumping millions into making sure we’re giving students everything they need. Whether it is learning materials, tools, or anything else, it should be our responsibility as an entity paying with taxpayer dollars to provide for students,” Hyatt said.

By Cody Begaye
Sun Correspondent

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