This is the fifth post in a six-part series recognizing the winners of the Tennessee’s Best and Alabama’s Best Contests. Our previous post featured the following runners up: Indian Valley Elementary (AL), Maury County (TN), Crestline Elementary (AL), and Lauderdale County (TN)
Does everyone at your school panic when you hear the words “Central Office is coming”? Unfortunately, some in education view Central Office as a non-human entity, a pervasive, bureaucratic force that only creates problems. Central Office is the mysterious place where important information gets held up or delayed. It is the place that sends down decisions from above that wreak havoc on those “in the trenches” at the schools. Central Office personnel are the bogeymen that come to the school to catch you doing something wrong.
Kingsport City Schools in Kingsport, Tennessee is a bright example of a central office that works for and with its schools. Kingsport’s Central Office and their Administrative Support Center (ASC) were recognized by LEAN Frog and the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) as the Grand Prize Winner of the Inaugural Tennessee’s Best Contest. Their entry exemplifies their tagline Student Focused . . . World Class.
The Purpose of ASC Teams
Superintendent Lyle Ailshie and the Kingsport City Central Office developed an effective response to the question that is thoughtfully pondered by all public-school systems — “What should be the role of the Central Office in supporting schools?” Their solution involved the transformation of its central office into an Administrative Support Center (ASC)! ASC Teams employ volunteerism, servant leadership and lean practices to allow each Central Office employee, as a member of an ASC Team, to support one or two schools through a myriad of volunteer opportunities. The ASC teams meet monthly with liaisons from each school to review ways to assist. This assures that central office supports schools in the way the schools need.
The ASC Teams were developed for the following objectives:
a. to develop a learning-focused partnership with each school
b. to deepen relationships between the ASC and the schools
c. to reorganize and re-culture the ASC to become a support center for each school
d. to support the teaching and learning process
e. to develop a culture of stewardship
f. to support continual improvement
Benefits of the ASC
Having a service-minded Administrative Support Center has benefitted Kingsport City Schools in many ways.
1. The ASC Teams allow Central Office volunteers to contribute service to their selected schools so that teaching assistants can remain in classrooms, working directly with students. This supports the KPS philosophy of placing instructional assistants in classrooms and subsequently has saved thousands of hours of instructional time with students. ASC volunteers have helped with individual student tutoring, student-led data conferences, read to student groups, and provide other support for students.
2. ACS Teams provide an opportunity to reach-out and support families and the community. Projects such as “Stuff the Bus” school supply distribution, the “Family Food Box” distribution, the “Pre-K Community Thanksgiving Luncheon”, and the “Pancakes for Parents Breakfast” provide chances for community engagement as well as community support.
3. The ASC teams volunteer effort provide a cost savings for the school system. An average of 1,300 volunteer hours are logged annually. This saves KCS an average of $15,600 every year.
4. The volunteer spirit models servant leadership for those at the school level, including students.
Why We Like This Entry
We appreciate practices that strengthen the relationship between central office and the schools. Too often an “us” versus “them” mentality exits and we applaud KSC for transforming the central office role. Additionally, we like the focus on process and performance management.
· KSC has developed a detailed process for creating and sustaining ASC Teams. This process is shared with all stakeholders
· Performance is tracked and measured. It’s not just central office monitoring productivity of the schools, they are also holding themselves accountable. Their volunteer hours ae shared with principals during the summer and the hours are share with faculty and staff at the beginning of each school year.
· Finally, we love this practice because it has as its end goal, support for the student in the classroom. Our work at LEAN Frog is about efficiency and effectiveness in non-instructional areas and support services all of which lead to and promote student achievement. This practice frees up instructional assistants so they can be in the classroom and focus on instruction. As Michael Hubbard, Director of Performance Excellence at KCS stated, “Kingsport City Schools works diligently to develop processes that will support efficient operations that prioritize student achievement.” Or as Superintendent Ailshie said “This award helps to validate the importance of having processes in place that assure our administrative work always remains focused on our students and schools.” We couldn’t agree more.
Congratulations Kingsport City schools for your GRAND-PRIZE WINNING entry. We applaud the work your school system is doing to promote servant leadership and continuous improvement at the central office level and throughout the school system.