Submitted by Gayle Lesser, Secretary of the Cliftondale Community Club, Inc.
As a follow-up to the October meeting, at which Fulton County School Superintendent Robert Avossa was the guest speaker, featured speakers in November were Dr. Tony Wilcher of Cliftondale Elementary School and Dr. Grant Rivera of Westlake High School.
Dr. Wilcher has been Principal of Cliftondale Elementary School since its opening in 2009. He explained the Fulton County School System has implemented a five-year Strategic Plan with the goals of increasing County graduation rates from the current 70% to 90%, insuring that 85% of seniors will be eligible for admission to a University System of Georgia college or university, and that 100% of graduates will be work-ready as certified by a standardized test.
As the principal of an elementary school, Dr. Wilcher’s goal is that his students be at grade level in reading, writing, math, social studies, and science. He noted that Cliftondale Elementary has met the benchmarks set by the No Child Left Behind program every year.
Dr. Rivera explained that he is the 14th Principal in 19 years at Westlake High School, a math and science magnet school, hired with the mandate to turn the school around. He noted that Westlake now has the highest AP scores in South Fulton and last year scored the second highest SAT gain for Fulton County schools. Nonetheless, he considers the improvements only a start and pushes for greater academic rigor.
Dr. Rivera’s speech focused on the Strategic Plan’s themes of instruction (academic rigor), people (teachers and personnel), effective school culture (discipline, readiness to learn, and community service), and graduation rates. He gave a candid overview of his school’s greatest strengths, challenges, and problems, emphasizing the many initiatives underway to address the challenges and problems.
The initiatives include a program to improve the transition from middle school to high school by offering accelerated classes for middle school students and more career organizations and “hands-on” opportunities for a variety of occupations.