The Baldwin County School District had reason to celebrate Tuesday.
The local public school system was officially named Charter System of the Year by the Charter System Foundation of Georgia for its implementation of innovative teaching practices and programs.
The foundation’s annual fall conference and awards luncheon was held virtually Tuesday in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Charter System of the Year title comes both with the recognition and $10,000 provided by the Charter System Foundation. Baldwin County School Superintendent Dr. Noris Price accepted the award on behalf of the local public school system, and gave out a few thanks over the Zoom video conference.
“I do want to begin by thanking the Charter System Foundation for recognizing the Baldwin County School District with this award, and for honoring all the hard work our school district has put forth over the years to make sure all of our students achieve at high levels,” Price said.
The Charter System Foundation was incorporated in 2013, and it currently supports the 48 charter school systems across the state by providing collaborative opportunities, training and advocacy with state lawmakers.
Charter school systems got their start in Georgia in 2007 once the Charter System Act was written and later passed. Its creation allowed school systems to choose system-wide flexibility from state mandates based on needs at the local level. School systems could enter into a contract, or charter, with the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) to allow for more flexibility in exchange for increased accountability from the state.
Baldwin County Schools has been a charter system since 2016 when its status was unanimously approved by GaDOE. Price thanked those who were serving on the Baldwin County Board of Education back in 2016 for choosing the charter path. Four of the five are still serving as BOE members.
“They had the foresight to move forward with becoming a charter system in 2016,” she said.
“As a charter system we have been able to innovate how we teach our children by having the flexibility to tailor instructional methods to each child and prepare them to compete in the 21st century.”
Some of the practices and programs put into place thanks to Baldwin County Schools’ charter system status include the high school’s transition to a wall-to-wall career academy. Students are allowed to choose a pathway that closely ties to the career they desire, and subjects are taught through that lens to better prepare them to join that field’s workforce. Baldwin High is still undergoing that transition as it is a multi-year process.
The school district’s Montessori Academy partnership with Georgia College and Bee Well School Clinic at the Early Learning Center were also mentioned during Tuesday’s awards ceremony.
“We came together to set the highest expectations for our students and each other, and the results have been amazing,” Price said. “This award is only possible because of the willingness by the amazing team that we have in our school district and the support of our community to ensure that our students get the very best possible education.”