By Julie Washburn Souza
Since it first opened its doors to students last year, Howard High School has become one of Bibb County’s newest and most promising public schools. With all of their special programs and daily learning activities, administrators and teachers at Howard High strive to uphold the school’s mission statement: “Inspiring learners to grow in knowledge and integrity to meet the challenges of a changing world.”
Howard High serves students in northern Bibb County. The school, which opened its doors in August of 2008, is physically connected to Howard Middle School. The high school offers grades nine through 12, and has a current enrollment of almost 1100 students.
Even though the school is just in its second year of operation and has not had SAT scores reported yet, it did recently gain widespread attention due to other high test scores of its students. Each year, Georgia high school students are required to take and pass the Georgia High School Graduation Test (GHSGT). The exam tests students’ knowledge in four content areas and also includes a writing assessment.
Last year, the average scores for eleventh grade students taking the GHSGT at Howard High ranked in as the highest scores among all the other Bibb County public schools. Its scores also surpassed the state averages in the areas of language arts, social studies, and science. In math, the school just missed the state average by one percent. On the writing assessment which takes place in mid-September, approximately one month after the first school year began, Howard scored five percentage points under the state average. Although 86 percent of the students were successful on the Fall 2008 administration of the writing test, the school hopes to see an increase in this number when the Fall 2009 writing results come out in mid-November.
One of the new school’s programs called DEAL—Drop Everything and Learn—may have helped boost test scores for its students. DEAL is a 20 minute advisement program Howard educators began last year. As part of the special program, students in grades nine and ten get extra instruction in character development education, reading comprehension, and pre-SAT preparation. Last year, the focus for the eleventh grade was preparation for the GHSGT in which students received two weeks of direct specialized instruction from teachers in each of the four subject areas covered by the GHSGT.
This year, Howard administrators plan to fine-tune the DEAL program and add advisement help for its first-time twelfth grade students who will most probably be working on college preparation including GA College 411 and completing college applications. The seniors in DEAL will also be working on resume writing and will be learning about the opportunities available for high school graduates.
As Howard staff and administrators improve their successful advisement program, they may rename it and have it run year round. They would like for the advisement program to be different for each grade level and to offer students the extra instruction they need to succeed.
Howard administrators plan to present their program to the local board of education in an effort to secure elective credit for students who complete a whole year of the program. The goal the school staff envisions is for students to be able to not only benefit educationally from the advisement program, but to be able to earn a total of two elective credits toward graduation by participating in DEAL during their four years there.
In addition to DEAL, the school is in the process of implementing other helpful programs, such as “Graduate First,” a program with the primary goal of helping special education students and students at risk meet the graduation requirements for a high school diploma.
Along with special educational programs, Howard staff places a great deal of emphasis on the school media center with the goal of empowering students with information literacy skills for the 21st century. The school media center is staffed with two media specialists with advanced media and technology degrees.
Howard High principal, Karen Yarbrough, plans to continue innovative new programs like DEAL as the new school continues to grow. Yarbrough is a graduate of Mercer University where she received a B.A. in elementary education and a master’s degree in middle grades education. She graduated from Georgia College & State University in 1984 with an Ed.S. degree in early childhood education. Later, she attended Georgia College & State University and the University of Georgia to add educational leadership to her master’s and Ed.S. degrees.
Yarbrough has been an educator with the Bibb County Public Schools for 29 years. One of her favorite quotes is one by Peter F. Drucker, “Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.” Her belief, “Building positive relationships is the cornerstone of a successful school,” is evidenced by the impressive academic success of Howard High School students in its inaugural year. #
Howard High School
6400 Forsyth Road
Macon, GA 31210