Superintendent’s Spotlight: Michael Ford, Russell County

Michael Ford
Michael Ford

The success of Russell County schools is founded in the belief that it takes all programs and program managers, all educators, the community, business and industry, and all families collaborating and coordinating services and resources to reduce barriers to learning for students to achieve at high levels.

It is the goal of the district for every child to become college- or career-ready and that success begins in preschool and is contingent on success of each content and grade level until graduation. Last year, Russell County was recognized for achieving top 10 percent status in the state for college and career readiness attainment.

The district participates in the Green River Regional Educational Cooperative (GRREC) Race To The Top (RTTT) initiative focusing on personalized learning. In three years, additional gifted and talented staff has been added and the number of high school AP course offerings has increased from zero to five. Russell County maintains a strong relationship with area colleges and universities to offer dual credit classes.

Students also have the choice of 32 career pathways. Russell County offers seven industry certificates while all seniors take the Work Keys assessment and can attain a work ready certificate as part of the district’s Work Ready Community “in progress” status. Middle school students also can earn five high school credits in English, math, history and arts while in middle school.

Russell County Schools has a 21st Century Learning Community program that partners with extended school services, family resource and youth services centers and community agencies to provide remarkable enriching services for primary through 8th-grade students. Intervention and support classes at all levels are offered and integrated into student schedules based on student need.

In a strategic effort to reduce barriers to learning, the district participates in the Community Eligibility Provision where all students eat breakfast and lunch free of charge. Additionally, Russell County now offers a “3rd Meal” where children can participate in afterschool learning and activities and have a full meal prior to going home.

The district also is proud of a partnership with Cumberland Family Medical to provide health care and access to mental and behavioral health services for students and families. The board of education also has implemented a districtwide tobacco-free policy.

Russell County’s next focus will be the state’s novice reduction initiative in an effort to increase the graduation rate and reduce achievement gaps.