Tucker’s schools are enjoying a renaissance. Several of the Tucker Cluster schools have gained STEM and/or IB certification, CCRPI scores are routinely meeting or exceeding state averages and Tucker High School’s graduation rate is now routinely among the highest in DeKalb County.
While that’s all good news, parents, educators and others with a stake in the schools are faced with a question: how do you build upon these gains and keep Tucker schools on a trajectory to be one of the best clusters in Metro Atlanta?
Enter the Tucker Cluster Council (TCC). Comprised of administrators, teachers, faculty specialists, parents and support staff from DeKalb County Schools, the TCC began monthly meetings at the start of the 2017-18 school year.
“The mission of the Tucker Cluster Council is to create a unified voice to efficiently and effectively communicate the needs of every school in our cluster to the Dekalb County School District,” says co-president Anne Thomas. “We have been very pleased with the willingness of the Tucker community to meet together to discuss best practices and brainstorm ideas for the betterment of our Tucker Cluster students.”
The Council discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the seven Cluster schools and looks at what opportunities may exist for improvement. Additional support comes from DeKalb’s District II Superintendent Trenton Arnold, as well as the Cluster’s outgoing and incoming representatives on the DeKalb School Board.
“It’s a cohesive and collaborative approach,” explains School Board Member Jim McMahan. “School administration would rather hear from 20 clusters, rather than 130 individual schools. Tucker should be proud of taking this step.”
As the TCC prepares for the upcoming school year, they are exploring the formation of a Tucker Education Foundation, which would afford them the opportunity to raise money to further support teachers and students in the classrooms. There is also a strong focus on how to keep the Cluster at the forefront of the STEM revolution.
“The value of STEM is that it works really well for bringing people together around education,” says Tucker Middle School STEM/IB coordinator and Tucker Cluster Council member Eric Knapp. “Through problem-based learning, kids are engaging with problems in the community and that’s why STEM is important: it’s bringing together those parties. Most of what we call STEM is just good teaching and what we’d like school to be.”
With this type of leadership and investment from schools, county leaders and other stakeholders, the Tucker Cluster is poised to continue its recent gains; and that will only serve to better prepare teachers to teach and students to achieve.