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Education

Education

Tuscaloosa County is served by two public school systems, the Tuscaloosa City System and the Tuscaloosa County System.

Tuscaloosa City Schools The Tuscaloosa City School System is home to 10,206 students, from pre-K to high school. The system’s facilities include 24 schools: 13 elementary, six middle schools, three high schools, a unique secondary program for students with special needs and a new facility for career and technical education.

In the 2012-2013 school year, students received more than $11 million in scholarships to institutions across the country. Students are consistently recognized by national scholar programs. Preparing students for college starts early: the system has historically supported pre-K education, and a partnership with the City of Tuscaloosa and higher education has helped to expand the program to include more than 300 children.

The system provides specialized programs with unique curricula such as the pre-kindergarten program for “at-risk” students, the American Studies Program, a College Board Advanced Placement Program, an International Baccalaureate Diploma Program, and a Workforce Development Academy in cooperation with Mercedes-Benz U.S. International in addition to the standard and advanced curriculum. Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools-Elementary received International Baccalaureate status in spring 2013. Meanwhile Tuscaloosa Magnet Schools-Middle is an International Baccalaureate Candidate Schools. Both schools feature a rigorous academic program for students motivated to excel in the core curriculum through the integration of technology, foreign language, humanities, service learning and leadership.

schools

The collaborative efforts of parents, schools and community have created one of the most outstanding systems in the state. That collaboration has ensured, for the 17th consecutive year, the system being awarded “What Parents Want Most” by the research firm, SchoolMatch.

Tuscaloosa County Schools Since 1871, the Tuscaloosa County School System has provided educational opportunities for students that currently number about 18,000. The system’s facilities include 34 schools: two primary schools, 17 elementary schools, eight middle schools, six high schools, and one center for special needs students.

The mission of the Tuscaloosa County School System is to educate and empower all students to be college and career ready graduates — prepared to make positive contributions to our global society. Our beliefs are:

• High expectations are necessary to achieve goals and expand opportunities for all.

• Education is a shared responsibility that positively impacts the quality of life.

• Equity, fairness, accountability and fiscal responsibility are foundations of our decision-making.

• Safe, well-equipped, student-centered schools support student success.

• Diversity and individual learning needs are respected, included and valued.

During its most recent district accreditation process, AdvancEd commended the system for having a laser-like focus on the instructional program. The review noted that the system makes effective analysis and use of data, is committed to curriculum alignment, revision and works to recruit and develop a high-quality professional staff.

Part of that commitment to the instructional program includes the school system’s active participation in the Alabama Reading Initiative as well as the State’s Math, Science and Technology initiative. In addition, the system received an A+ College Ready Grant, which is designed to increase Advanced Placement courses in key subject areas of math and English and to increase the number of students who earn qualifying scores on AP exams. Elementary schools are implementing the Leader in Me program to develop strong character traits, interpersonal skills and for leadership development.

The Tuscaloosa County School System also has an active Adopt-A-School program, participates in the Parent Leadership Academy, and enjoys a host of partnerships with post-secondary, business and community organizations. Adopt-A-School

Through a variety of partnerships, both public school systems receive strong support from the business community. The flagship effort in this regard is the Adopt-A-School (AAS) program. Celebrating the completion of 27 years, it has been an integral part of the public school systems since 1985. Managed and directed by the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, over 100 organizations of all sizes, often singly, sometimes in pairs or trios, work with 57 individual schools in the County System and the City System through the AAS program. These partners include retail businesses, manufacturers, civic organizations, utility companies, small businesses, restaurants, real estate companies and financial institutions. The business partners initiate activities that encourage students, enrich their educational experiences and connect the world of work to the educational arena.

Hosting students for job shadow experiences; describing career options and correlating school and workforce preparation; granting

“wishes” to classroom teachers; providing cultural and art activities; mentoring at-risk students; recognizing students who improve their grades; working to enhance technology in school classrooms; improving the school environment; demonstrating the importance of community service through joint projects…these are just a few examples of the many activities through which the business community positively impacts our public schools in the AAS program. Additionally, through the Sustainer program, businesses and organizations actively support the AAS program without the commitment of actually adopting a school. Sustainers provide the financial and moral support necessary for the coordination and administrative of the program.

The Chamber is also involved in other efforts to prepare young people for life after formal education. The annual School Counselors Tour and Forum, organized and sponsored by the AAS program, provides an opportunity for school counselors and career technical teachers to spend the day in local industries and businesses to learn firsthand about the skills needed for our future workforce.

The Chamber has helped to create awareness and provide support for the internationally recognized The Leader in Me program in local elementary schools. Increased efforts in supporting this program will allow elementary school students to develop leadership skills necessary to be successful not only in school, but also in the workforce.

Young entrepreneurs academy (YEA!)

YEA Initiated in the fall of 2012, the Chamber provides program management, coordination and instruction for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!). The nine-month program transforms local middle

and high school students into real, entrepreneurial success stories through an exciting, proven projects-based approach. Students meet weekly with local business professionals, educators, community leaders and entrepreneurs, develop business plans, and ultimately learn to operate a functioning business or social movement.

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