LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - As 2019 comes to a close, so does the first half of the school year. One Limestone County School system official said they've seen lots of highs and a few lows.
"We do everything in public, we do nothing in the dark," explained Limestone County Schools Interim Superintendent Mike Owens. "We hang our dirty laundry, our clean laundry, out for everybody to see."
In September, a student in Elkmont was charged with shooting and killing his parents and three siblings. Grief counselors helped the student body in Elkmont cope with the horrific tragedy.
Shortly after, Limestone County Superintendent Tom Sisk announced his departure. Owens then took over as interim superintendent, and he said all of the schools support one another through it all.
"I've seen so many positive things. I've seen so many that are excited about the direction of the things we're doing for children and things we're doing to support staff members," said Owens.
He said there's been an increase in attendance since the school year began.
"Our rate of absenteeism has dropped significantly in the past year. So we're excited about that, the incentives," said Owens.
Owens explained some schools exempt students from final exams if they maintain a certain grade average. He believes that it also encourages students to be present.
Younger Limestone County students are experiencing change as well thanks to adjustments made to grade promotion standards earlier in the school year.
"We don't want a person, or a student held back because they're not reading at the required state level," said Owens. "So we're doing everything to enhance our reading program. Teachers are excited about the things that are being offered."
The interim superintendent said the system has revamped curriculum for the year and summer programs in order to ensure every child reaches new literacy heights.
The curriculum could also see additional changes in the future with the anticipation of Mazda Toyota, the FBI, and other jobs coming to North Alabama.
Owens is anxious to see how the system can incorporate those job skills into education in 2020.