Superintendent Spotlight: Rachel Yarbrough, Webster County

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Rachel Yarbrough
Rachel Yarbrough

The Webster County school district has embraced the “1WC” countywide spirit and rallied community partners in support of student learning and success. The district’s commitment to creating great learning opportunities for all students has led it on a path toward amazing improvement in just a short period of time.

During the 2014-15 school year, the district secured $1.7 million dollars in grants which allow for creative and deeper work to be accomplished on behalf of student learning. Webster County also has partnered with the Audubon Area Head Start to create the district’s first infant/toddler classrooms at Sebree Elementary School and Providence Elementary School known as “Alpha Academies.” It’s exciting to see how creating a stronger beginning for students will prepare them for success in school.

From great beginnings to college- and career-readiness, Webster County received its first 21st Century Learning Center grant in the 2014-15 school year. The Capstone Learning Center opened its doors in September 2015 where before- and after-school learning opportunities are being provided for high school students in the areas of academic tutoring and support, ACT preparation, intersessions, and enrichment activities such as music, art, culinary and robotics.

When Superintendent Rachel Yarbrough was appointed prior to the 2014-15 school year, Webster County K-PREP assessment scores were near the bottom and the district was classified as a “Focus District.” Yarbrough set about assembling an experienced leadership team who went to work revising the district’s curriculum into 10-week bundles and incorporating common learning experiences to ensure alignment and congruence. The district also held a three-day Instructional Strategies Institute for certified staff and established a consistent protocol for ongoing T2T (teacher-to-teacher Professional Learning Communities) conversations around student learning. In one school year’s time, the district placed 115th out of 173 districts and received was rated Proficient/Progressing and classified as a High Progress district on the 2015 assessments.

Webster County is encouraged by the direction the district is moving and how staff and the local community have embraced the positive changes that are leading to improved student success.

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