MIDDLEBURG - Midd-West School District is moving forward under the direction of new Superintendent Richard Musselman.
Musselman joins the district less than one year after former Superintendent Dr. Wesley Knapp unexpectedly resigned from the position. Months of seemingly sudden and unexplained administrative changes shook the district, dividing the school board and sparking distrust among the community. However, Musselman said the district is moving forward and has much of which to be proud.
"At the core, it's a good school district," he said. "I don't shy away from coming into some place with issues. I like the challenge of coming in and trying to help out a school district to improve."
Musselman said he always has viewed Midd-West as a progressive district, leading the way locally in academics, technology and infrastructure.
During the next school year, the district will institute enVisionMATH, a pilot program intended to improve instruction in mathematics. Musselman said two teachers per grade, from elementary school through grade 6, will integrate the program into their classrooms. Benchmark evaluations will be conducted throughout the year to measure students' progress.
If administration sees positive results, the program may be implemented district-wide for the 2015-2016 school year.
The math program is one example of a larger effort to improve instruction throughout the district.
"Everyone talks about data-driven decision-making," Musselman said.
In order to make those decisions, he said teachers and administration must learn how to collect and interpret quality data.
Statewide school performance profiles show excellent academic progress at Midd-West Middle School, Musselman said, explaining that it's somewhat of an anomaly for middle schools to outperform elementary or high schools.
Moving forward, he said the district will focus on areas of growth, analyze those programs and integrate the same methods into other buildings.
Most importantly, Musselman said, the coming year will be about building relationships and teamwork among district administration and staff, school board members and the community.
"We're a good school district ... we have three beautiful, beautiful buildings here, we've got that infrastructure in place," Musselman explained. "What we need to do is get this community excited about their school and come up with ways to promote that."
That growth will start from within, as Musselman begins a process he described as "building our people" - encouraging them and lifting them up; motivating them in the workplace.
"There's been a lot of reflection into the past. We need to start looking into the future," he said.
The opening day of classes for students in the district is Wednesday.