New school chief takes the bus with students - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New school chief takes the bus with students

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  Destiny Shamblin is a fourth grader at Sherwood Acres Elementary School. She's like many students in the Dougherty County Schools, she rides the bus every day.

And this day is a special day. "This is my best day ever on the bus," she said.

Because there's a special passenger on her bus. New Dougherty County School Superintendent Dr. Joshua Murfree.

While it seems like an unusual way for a superintendent to get around, it was Murfree's idea to come along for the ride with Destiny and her schoolmates. "He came to me when he first came on board the school system and said he wanted to ride buses," said Kenneth Williams of the Dougherty County Schools.

He was on this bus to see the new methods being used by the drivers to become part of the educational process.

"The bus driver, if need be, can decide to have a mentoring program. Allowing students to read their books, do some homework, whatever the case may be," said Williams.

In order to do that, the buses have to be quiet places. That idea doesn't thrill Destiny, but she's managing. "I do make a lot of friends, it's just that we can't talk and stuff."

And like the students on this bus, the person in charge of the system is still finding his way around too.

Dr. Murfree's visit to Sherwood Acres Elementary School to ride the bus is not the only thing that he's been doing to get acclimated to the school system.

Since taking over, he's been making his way to schools throughout the county. "I've been to all of the schools, except four," Murfree said.

And while he's not ready to make immediate changes, he's seen that there are some real challenges being faced by the Dougherty County School System.

"We definitely want to lower any dropout rates. We want to increase the graduation rate," Murfree said.

Even bigger problems for the system have involved the CRCT and meeting Adequate Yearly Progress goals. Dr. Murfree believes that test scores can be improved with a combination of new curriculum and better classroom technology.

But according to him there's one even more important factor for student success. His goal in the coming years is a simple one. "Parental involvement and parental support. We want to make sure that 100% of our graduates, when they cross the stage at the Civic Center, or wherever we decide to have commencement, that they are actually placed somewhere."

And as Destiny shows off her knowledge of rocks to the new superintendent, he's hoping to help the system make solid progress in the coming years.

Dr. Murfree says that he plans to continue to visit schools throughout the, and to ride the buses, on a regular basis. He says that he makes two or three random unannounced visits per day.

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