Schools chief creates blog for division

Shenandoah County Public Schools Superintendent Mark Johnston has created a blog to inform the public about what is happening in the school division and in public education.

Johnston said that since becoming superintendent this year, he has looked for ways to improve communication and transparency about items of importance to students, staff, parents and the community pertaining to the school division.

His first entry was posted on Sept. 15.

“For example, my first entry describes efforts we are engaging in to ensure a smooth transition to our new calendar next year,” he said. “I want the community to understand the rationale for initiatives and to know that we are planful about initiatives and what those plans entail.

“I also wanted a way to more broadly communicate issues that have an impact on our teachers and students that are more than just soundbites,” he said. “For example, a second entry is about students of poverty and how they need greater support for learning soft skills, now a required component of our instructional program and which include such things as communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. With nearly one of every two students in SCPS qualifying for free and/or reduced lunch, it is important that our community understand the additional challenges we will face in meeting the new mandates.”

He added that a future entry will likely be on recent research on the increasing teacher shortages, which are shown to be a particular consequence in small, rural communities.

“All of this provides background and information to better understand our approaches to challenges and resource needs for our community and schools,” he said.

He added that limited feedback on the blog’s creation has been positive.

Johnston’s blog can be viewed at http://drmajohnston.blogspot.com.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com