Our Local Schools: Kevin Bell, Trotwood-Madison superintendent

Many people attempt to define success in varying ways, but ultimately it is very simple. Webster’s II New College Dictionary defines success as gaining something desired, planned, or attempted. That simplistic definition gets to the heart of what achieving success is for our school system.

While acknowledging every student has a different starting point based on past academic and home life experiences, the district’s staff works to guarantee the success of our community’s greatest asset, its children. Trotwood-Madison City Schools strives to achieve success on multiple benchmarks of progress. Whether the goal is aligning our academic program to new learning standards, identifying the best assessment practices to measure the level of learning, creating student support services for at-risk learners, or designing programs for family outreach and engagement, we always seek to attain success. In other words, we want to hit the mark on what we plan or attempt to achieve.

This happens by working with community partners to accomplish what is important and putting strategies in place to realize success. The importance of reading on level by the end of third grade has been widely publicized in Ohio and across the country as a defining benchmark of future academic success. Given this fact, the district has established its Reading Promise initiative and works with elected officials and volunteers from within and outside of the city to listen to students read and assist with strengthening their literacy development skills. Looking at data regarding the progress in reading our students are making lets us know that we’re on the right road leading to success.

As one measure of success in the early years is based on making sure students can read, at the other end of the spectrum, schools must ensure every student has a post-graduation plan. Success at this stage is making sure students and families have been equipped with information about available options and connected to resources to attain their goals. Continuing to value local partnership initiatives, the school district is working with the Trotwood branch of the Dayton Metro Library system to support graduating seniors with FAFSA completion events, one on Feb. 11 and the next on March 11. Measuring success for this initiative is simple, as all we need to ask ourselves is did we help bridge the way to post-secondary education for families and their upcoming graduate.

Success cannot always be determined by letter grades on a report card based on once-a-year testing of young people from varying backgrounds and experiences. Success can be measured by evaluating whether you gained what you desired … a productive citizen with a life plan.