Shaver: Initiative will boost achievement

TUPELO – Give Tupelo’s new one-to-one computer initiative a little bit of time and student achievement will jump, Tupelo Public School District Superintendent Randy Shaver said Friday.
“The bottom line is achievement is going to go up,” Shaver said in a meeting with the Daily Journal editorial board. “Give us two years after we have a curriculum and the computers, but don’t be surprised if there is a big jump before that.”
The TPSD announced Tuesday that all students in grades six to 12, plus all administrators and teachers in the district, would be provided laptops by the start of next school year.
The district also will provide laptop carts to kindergarten to fifth-grade students and will add interactive classroom technology, such as SMART Boards or Promethium Boards.
But Shaver emphasized his vision goes much farther than technology.
“I don’t want to ever fool anyone into thinking that what I’m proposing is a magic bullet solution,” Shaver said.
Instead, he said, the technology is a part of increasing the rigor and relevance of curriculum and improving the proper relationships between teachers and students in a way that every teacher knows each student’s strengths and weaknesses.
It is part of Shaver’s vision to transform classrooms into 21st-century learning environments. That will include changing the physical design of classrooms to make them “look far more like home than they do an institution.”
It also would include changing instruction styles to encourage more collaborative learning among students.
Shaver stressed that the use of the new technology did not indicate a decreased emphasis on reading or writing. But, while tactile print remains important to many readers, reading and writing also can include digital text.
“That is the world they’re going to live in, not the world we have lived in,” Shaver said.
Shaver also discussed:
- Increasing Advanced Placement offerings districtwide.
- Expanding the district’s emphasis from dropout prevention to dropout recovery. This would mean reaching out to students who have dropped out and inviting them back into school.
- Increasing accountability of teachers and administrators in the district, including himself.
- The importance of pre-kindergarten education and the need to continue to expand that program.
Shaver said he was not hired by the school board to be a caretaker.
“They were very clear they hired me to be a leader with vision and someone who would implement it quickly, and that is my role,” Shaver said. “I believe the role of superintendent in any high-performing district is a change agent.”

Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or at chris.kieffer@djournal.com.

Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal