How to make the “four Cs” — critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity — a more intentional focus of instruction was a theme at the community convocation, launching the new school year, on Tuesday.
Doing so will better prepare students for jobs of today and beyond, officials said.
Also, a new initiative — pronounced “I Innovate” but written “Innovate” — was announced at the convocation.
The event was for teachers and staffs from the Henry County and Martinsville school divisions and some administrators from Carlisle School. Classes begin Monday in the county and city school divisions and Aug. 19 at Carlisle.
Keynote speaker was Ken Kay, CEO of EdLeader21, a national network of school and district leaders focused on integrating the four Cs into education, according to its website.
The traditional education model focusing on rote memorization of math, science, English and social studies principles and facts and multiple-choice tests that check fact knowledge no longer are adequate to educate students to meet the needs of employers and be good citizens, according to Kay.
A superior education model requires students to master subject content; be critical thinkers, effective communicators and effective collaborators; be creative and innovative; be self-directed; and be financially literate, Kay said.
“This is a paradigm (model) shift we need to make,” said MCPS Superintendent Pam Heath.
Seven steps for 21st century education for education leaders are, he said: “adopt your vision; create a community consensus; align your system; build professional capacity; focus your curriculum and assessment; support your teachers; improve and innovate.”
Kay and Valerie Greenhill authored “The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education: 7 Steps for Schools and Districts.”
The steps involve, among other things, having guidelines (called rubrics) by grade level for specific abilities students need for each of the four Cs and assessing those things, providing professional development, encouraging teachers to meet in teams or groups to share ideas, and always looking for how to improve.
In a survey of more than 700 business officials by the American Management Association, large percentages indicated they assess critical thinking, communication and collaboration of candidates in hiring and of employees in annual evaluations. More than half assess creativity and innovation in hiring and annual evaluations, Kay said.
Seventy-four percent of survey respondents indicated they think those skills will become even more important in the future, he added.
MCPS and HCPS have rubrics for four Cs, officials with those divisions said. Local school officials also have been meeting with leaders of business and higher education about the needs of business. They also provide professional development and use project-based learning or problem-based learning.
Kay praised HCPS and MCPS and some others in the community for embracing the four Cs. “Count your blessings,” he said, adding that only a small fraction of school districts in the United States have done so.
The convocation, which was sponsored by The Harvest Foundation, was at the auditorium at Martinsville High School, and Heath commented on “the brainpower” in the room. “The future of this community is in our hands,” she said.
Businesses will go globally wherever the work force meets their needs, Heath said. “If we create the work force, they will come here.”
“Never underestimate the power you have to make a difference in the life of a child,” said HCPS Superintendent Jared Cotton.
Patrick Henry Community College President Angeline Godwin said this area was founded on innovation. She led the audience of nearly 2,000 in a cheer, “My name is .... I innovate.”
Allyson Rothrock, president of The Harvest Foundation, announced the launch of the Innovate initiative. She said during the convocation and in an interview that it will feature a new video each month of mostly local people who were educated here and who are innovators and/or entrepreneurs. The videos will be shown in local schools and on the websites of Harvest, the school divisions and Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp.
Also, activities will be scheduled where students and business officials can exchange ideas, she said. Posters and activities to involve parents also are planned.
After the community convocation, MCPS and HCPS held separate events.
At the end of the convocation, Martinsville teachers, staff and administrators stayed in the auditorium for more remarks, Jennifer A. Martin, MCPS community outreach and communications coordinator, wrote in an email. New teachers and staff members were introduced.
HCPS’ event was at Laurel Park Middle School.
Members of the county board of supervisors, city council, city and county government administrations and Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry attended the joint convocation.