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franklin county times

RCS receives recognition as finalist for national award

Russellville City Schools has once again been recognized nationally for the work being done in its school system to make sure each student is receiving a quality education, regardless of background, economic status or language barriers.

In December 2023, RCS Superintendent Dr. Heath Grimes attended the District Administration Leadership Institute Superintendent Summit in Naples, Fla., where RCS was recognized as one of three finalists in the nation for the District Administration Districts of Distinction Equity and Inclusion Award.

This awards program aims to recognize and celebrate innovative initiatives that have delivered measurable results, revolutionizing education within school districts. RCS was recognized as a finalist in the equity and inclusion category because of the work being done with the Latino population at RCS, which represents 54 percent of the total student body. This especially includes the district’s English Language Learner population, which represents about 31 percent of the district overall.

“In 2017, we launched an informal initiative to change the way we teach and serve this population of students,” Grimes said. “I issued the challenge first to embrace our students and to learn, accept and celebrate them. We then began learning how to support our students and our teachers. We increased our human resources devoted to supporting our EL population, increased the diversity in hiring and improved the professional development opportunities. In the beginning, much of that professional development was centered around first learning the culture of the students.”

Grimes said those early initiatives have led to improvement in overall testing scores, official data and the culture around campus.

“We now celebrate our diversity and all of our success. The loving and supportive culture in our community is quite amazing,” he added. “The support of our students and teachers has allowed us to show gains in our academic data and standings. We’ve also had an impact on state funding and accountability due to our advocacy on behalf of our students and teachers.”

The system’s standing has continued to improve over time.

“We were recently recognized in both the Hechinger Report and Education Week as well as several statewide articles,” Grimes continued. “Russellville High School and Russellville City Schools both obtained their first ‘A’ letter grade from the Alabama State Department in the Letter Grade Accountability Law in 2021 and 2022 respectively. We also immediately began our first boys and girls soccer teams, which have been tremendously successful in the state and very popular in our community.”

RCS’ most recent district score for the ALSDE State Report Card, announced in December 2023, is 90 (A).

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