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Prince George's school system recognized for excellence in urban schooling

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Published on: Thursday, November 01, 2012

By Alexis A. Goring

Prince George’s County Public Schools was a finalist for the Urban School Board of Excellence Award given by the National School Board Association’s Council of Urban Boards of Education, otherwise known as the CUBE Award.

Board of Education Member Rosalind Johnson has witnessed the local school system undergo a trans- formation for the better in the last decade “through its school board and leadership.”

“I think the transformation clearly is more from the period of 2006 to the present day,” Johnson said. “In 2006 was the first time that the Board of Education along with the superintendent created a team, really bore down on the systemic

needs of the county and how to have the superintendent and the board to work effectively to target those areas we feel we could improve and how to reallocate the resources in such a way that we could tap each of these areas of need.”

The process of transformation, Johnson said, was “an intense, two- year period along with looking at our county wholly and holding community forums, listening to what parents had to say about how best to deal with the issues of concern that they had.”

“And so turning this system up- side down, looking at every layer of the system and doing it in a strategic way, rebuilding our strategic plan and lastly building a system of ac- countability for the entire system for areas that we need to focus on, not just academics but transportation, all of it,” Johnson continued.” Johnson is passionate about education and has a vision for high stu- dent achievement paired with highly effective teaching — which she thinks are factors that contributed to PGCPS being a finalist for the CUBE Award.

“I think that it is a combination of all of that,” she said. “It is the work of the board. It is the work of the superintendent board team, it is the use of data to make sure that we are monthly looking at incremental changes, looking at the students’ benchmarks and not trying to build the flash in the plan one activity but rather how to systemically change PGCPS to perform continuously across the years with the data that we have, the collection of new data and looking at the demographics of our school district to ensure that we are

gauging the outcome that we have set for the children.”

Johnson assisted in the writing of the application for the school system to compete for the CUBE Award and after learning in mid-September that PGCPS was a finalist, she felt joy and hoped they would win.

“I believe that Prince George’s should win because we deserve it,” she said. “Having Prince George’s identified as a finalist is such validation of the work that we have done, and it was work. It was not just going and sitting, you know, but it was deep, strategic work.”

Apart from PGCPS, the other finalists for the CUBE Award were Baltimore City and Washoe County in Nevada. After much deliberation from the judges, Washoe County won the CUBE Award for 2012. Finalists were selected by the National

School Boards Association.

“It was very difficult,” said Karen Lewis, senior manager of the Council of Urban Boards of Educa- tion at the National Schools Board Association, when speaking on de- ciding which school system would win the award. “We had a panel of judges from national education or- ganizations and they looked at all three of the finalists very closely and Washoe had done a lot working with the superintendent developing an excellent strategic plan, using com- munity involvement and focusing on implementing that brand and continuously improving student achievement.”

While there can only be one winner of the CUBE Award each year, Lewis recognized all three finalists as being “great examples of excellence in education.”

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