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Accreditation provides reason to celebrate at BC

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By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Getting your papers graded is tough, whether you are a student or whether you belong to an entire school.

But the nervousness of going through a grading process can often be followed by a sense of joy and satisfaction once the marks are recorded.

For the Bullitt Central High community, it is truly a time to celebrate.

The school was recently put under the microscope of a team with AdvancEd, an accreditation program that examines public and private schools throughout the world.

The end result was very positive for the local educators.

“We are not the school you may remember,” principal Christy Coulter said of Bullitt Central. “We are a different place.”

Of the seven categories evaluated, Bullitt Central finished with the top marks in three of the areas and the other four areas were above average.

“They cheered. They cried. They celebrated,” Coulter said of her staff when learning of the accreditation report. “This staff is the hardest working staff in the region. They so deserved this report.”

Since returning to Bullitt Central as principal three years ago, Coulter said there was a certain mindset that had to be changed.

“We were working hard but what we were doing wasn’t working,” admitted Coulter.

With a firm direction from central office to base everything on student learning, Coulter said change was not easy. 

One of the first things that had to be changed was the culture of the school. Coulter said success meant the students had to believe and be willing to work hard in class and on the tests.

 

 

Building a culture where teachers and students felt they were in the battle together included letting them know that it is OK to have fun in school, said Coulter. Athletics and extracurricular activities are important.

Winning the Bullitt Cup and seeing the football program rebound played a key role in the culture change.

Over the past three years, Coulter said there have been impressive changes. While test scores have improved, she admitted they haven’t grown as quickly as she would like.

She just received information on the juniors taking the ACT exam. In the area of math, 80 of 290 scored at least a 22, which makes them ready for college. This is a 20 percent jump in one year.

“This validates that what we are doing is working,” said Coulter.

No longer are students slipping through high school. With the assessment numbers available for every student, Coulter said each is receiving an individualized approach to improve learning.

In going through the accreditation process, Bullitt Central received a highly functional rating in the areas of vision and purpose; governance and leadership; and documenting and using results.

In the areas of teaching and learning, resources and support systems, stakeholder communications and relationships and commitment to continuous improvement, Bullitt Central received an operational ranking.

“We’ve spent a lot of time changing the culture and it is showing,” said Coulter. “This is validation that the changes imposed are working and that the staff is working to make things happen. Also, it shows that the students are working hard.”

As principal of the county’s oldest high school and located in the county seat, Coulter said there is some pride in making sure Bullitt Central is not the weak link in attracting businesses to the community.

She also wants the educational system, as a whole, to be a benefit for the county, not a detriment.

“Our scores are beginning to show our improvement,” said Coulter. “The accreditation is huge. It came at a perfect time. Our school is excited.”

Pushing that excitement out into the community is something Coulter strives to continue. She is seeing the parent participation grow at all school functions.

“People know we are changing and we are making positive strides,” said Coulter.

The evaluation team, which was made up of individuals from outside the community, spent a couple of days at the school and interviewing 100 stakeholders, including Davis.

“I was fortunate enough to be interviewed by the accreditation panel and I had the impression that they were there to get excellent ideas and strategies from the great staff and leadership at Bullitt Central,” said Davis. “The report is more validation of the great things happening at that school.”

A written report will be presented to the school within the next month and Bullitt Central will do follow-up. The improvement plan and execution will be monitored by AdvancEd.