BY CURTIS CARDEN, Elizabethton Star
Momentum continues to brew for Elizabethton City Schools.
City Board of Education members were able to hear reports from Director of Schools Dr. Corey Gardenhour, Chairman Rita Booher and student liaison Hannah Roaten about the system’s recent trip to a summer symposium held in San Francisco in regards to the XQ America Super School Program.
Elizabethton High School, which received the nod as a “Super School” through XQ, was represented throughout the event while school officials were able to learn more about the program and present their future plans for development at EHS. After receiving a $200,000 grant from XQ in 2016, the school system was quick to implement various programs as part of the Bartleby School, including two new classes — Community Involvement and Entrepreneurship.
Due to the amount of work performed by the system, future grant opportunities have opened up and XQ commended the work by the system, while not excessively dipping into the grant funds.
Region colleges and employers have also taken note of the program, and with the recent success, plans for growth are in the works — with support from XQ.
“We have had a lot of opportunity thrown our way with this XQ grant,” Gardenhour said. “(Bartleby) will be very promising for our students. We’re grateful to have the support and the help.” The director added that while schools will be shifting to a more hands-on approach for learning, ECS will be able to be one of the firsts to make it happen.
Bartleby is expecting to grow for the coming year, with 400 students expecting to participate in the second year of the program with various project-based learning activities to encourage educational growth for staff and students at the school. Due to the growth, the program has already impacted the 800-plus students at EHS and is starting to trickle down to the middle school and elementary school level for the city system.
And the work is soon to be highlighted at a national level once again. ECS was invited to speak to the U.S. Congress by Congressman Dr. Phil Roe. Gardenhour and Bartleby Director Terry Smith will provide a presentation to the U.S. Committee on Education and Workforce this month as part of the Innovation Forum & Showcase.
Gardenhour thanked Roe for the invitation and stated the trip will allow others to see the work going on at EHS while the system will also be able to hear ideas from other schools from across the country. That ability will allow the school system a chance to possibly implement new ideas in the future.
ECS’ goal to “rethink” high school has also received support locally. City Council recently passed a measure, by a 6-1 margin, to allow the school system to use money from the half-cent sales tax to go toward various projects, including renovations at EHS to handle the influx of students that will be participating in the Bartleby Program. The measure passed through a first reading this month and will go before Council for a second and final reading in August.
While Gardenhour praised the efforts of Council and other local bodies for support, board member Tyler Fleming also expressed his thanks to Gardenhour and other staff members for the growth and success of the Bartlebly Program.
“We should compliment you and your staff for being so innovative … and the students, too,” Fleming said. “We thank you and your staff. We think it’s a fantastic thing.”
“The staff is fantastic … We’re all a team. We’re making this happen together,” responded Gardenhour.