STILES SIMMONS: The promise of tomorrow

By Stiles Simmons

Baldwin Community Schools Superintendent

The Baldwin Community School District mission statement appears as  a simple phrase, but contains many layers that requires "unpacking."

Most people familiar with the Baldwin Promise will understand the mission of the district is to prepare students to take advantage of the Promise scholarship, so that they can attend college with little financial expense. Practically speaking, their interpretation is accurate. However, some people might notice a deeper meaning of the mission.

The district is aiming to prepare students for a brighter tomorrow and a future full of promise. From a esoteric perspective, their interpretation is accurate as well. At BCSD, we combine these two interpretations. We understand the mission as preparing students for meaningful post-secondary opportunities whether it be college, vocational school or the military. We work to provide students with the knowledge and skills required to be successful in any endeavor they choose after high school.

As you read this article, you might wonder why the district places such great emphasis on college readiness. I am sure you have read and heard about our ongoing efforts to build a college-going culture within the district. The emphasis on improving college readiness is easily explainable.

The skills required of students in pursuit of vocational training and the military are similar to the skills necessary to be successful in college. Just like college, vocational training and the military demand that students be able to read highly technical material and immediately apply what is read. Additionally, the math involved demand that students have a firm understanding of algebra and other forms of advanced mathematics. Moreover, students in vocational and military programs must be able to communicate effectively and demonstrate high levels of discipline to be successful. Again, these are all skills required of students planning to attend college.

We understand by focusing on college readiness we are preparing students for multiple opportunities beyond high school. This is why we have incorporated Advanced Placement courses into the academic program, increased the number of students taking classes at West Shore Community College, Ferris State University and the Tech Prep Center as well as added a SAT Prep course. Furthermore, to sustain our efforts in building a college-going culture, we are building a coherent curriculum designed to prepare our students for college-level courses and programs. These efforts, along with the college readiness activities provided through the Rick Simonson College Access Center, have placed the district on a path towards preparing our students for the promise of tomorrow.