TOP PHOTO: Director of Campbell County Schools Jennifer Fields guest spoke at the South Campbell County Rotary Club luncheon on Tuesday.

By Charlotte Underwood 

LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Campbell County School Director Jennifer Fields guest spoke at the South Campbell County Rotary Club luncheon on Tuesday. 

She spoke on the state of the school district and improvements implemented over the last five years, as well as continuing goals for the district’s future.  

Some improvements she discussed was the academic performance of students, as well as in attendance ratings. In 2018 several of Campbell County’s schools were listed as targeted support schools and the district was “determined to be a school district in need of improvement.”

“We responded; we looked at the areas where we knew we could have the greatest impact on our students and educators. We wanted to enable our administrators to be leaders… teachers had to dig down to their standards and intensify the rigors of the lessons they were teaching,” Fields said.

Fields was introduced by Campbell County Mayor and Rotarian Jack Lynch.

According to Fields, part of the plan was to focus on student achievement, but first chronic absenteeism had to be addressed.

“You can’t educate a child if they are not in school. We were able to improve attendance at all schools until COVID hit. This year, now that things are going back to normal, the attendance rate is improving again,” Fields said. 

She also said Campbell County’s school district was fortunate that its students didn’t see the amount of learning loss during Covid as other schools in the state. 

Other improvements as part of the school district’s five year plan include student support and intervention. 

“If students were not performing at grade level,  we put interventions in place to help them achieve grade level status. It was our commitment that we would be one of the fastest improving districts in Tennessee,” Fields said. 

The district improved so fast, they achieved goals for its five year strategic plan in one year, so they created a new five year plan.

“It has learning targets in place that are specific,  measurable and time based….We looked at the technology in our schools and our facilities and what we needed to do to accommodate our students,” Fields said.

Other improvements include multiple technology upgrades, with laptops in every school. The district also added fiber in all schools and partnered with Highland Communications to provide internet access to most of the fifth district. Schools were equipped with hotspots so students could have access to internet. 

The five year strategic plan also focuses on working with the community and looking at the social wellbeing of students. 

The school district works with organizations like Community Health of East Tennessee to bring about drug awareness, hold wellness checks for all students and provide access to physicals and eye exams. 

“We have community outreach programs where we partner with other organizations, church ministries and more; there is power in outreach,” Fields said.

After putting the district’s five year plan together and making adjustments as they went, the result was “significant improvements,” according to Fields. 

Campbell County rose above a district in need of improvement and became a district that was advancing, it missed exemplary by a tenth of a point due to absenteeism, which was to Covid.

“We want to do what we can to invest in people, children and adults, students and teachers,” Fields said.  She also said she wanted to invest in the infrastructure of the county’s schools. 

Some of  these investments included new roofs, new HVAC systems, upgrades on buildings, replaced guttering in schools and updating playgrounds at schools, added multiple technology and software programs, as well as a new website and upgraded security cameras in schools. 

“We have an improvement plan where this will rotate so the structures of our schools stay up to date. We want our students to be future ready and this takes investments for the future, ” First said.

Investments and improvements will continue with summer school, tutoring, new text books and supplemental materials to go along with that. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 11/23/2022-6AM)