Cold Springs High focusing on academics, positive culture

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Cold Springs High School Principal Eric Dickerson poses for a photo in his office Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. (Maggie Darnell for The Cullman Tribune)

BREMEN, Ala. – This school year is the first in the principal’s seat at Cold Springs High School for Eric Dickerson, who assumed the role July 1, 2019. Dickerson was assistant principal at the school before longtime educator Tim Burleson retired last summer. The Tribune sat down with Dickerson to discuss the positive things happening on campus since his transition.

“It’s been great so far,” he said. “We came in and I met with our teachers and I met with our students on the first day of school and the only thing I asked of them was, “Do something for somebody else; that’s what I want you to do this year. I want you to think of somebody besides you and think what can you do.’ We’ve tried to have a culture set up where we do things for other people. We’ve had a positive culture and we’re going to be great!”

The school, under Burleson’s last and Dickerson’s first years as principal, drastically improved its score on the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) State Report Card, jumping 14 points from its 2017-2018 score of 77 to its 2018-2019 score of 91.

The report card grades are based on:

  • Academic Achievement – 20%
  • Academic Growth – 25%
  • Graduation Rates – 30%
  • College and Career Ready Data – 10%
  • Chronic Absenteeism – 10%
  • Enrollment by Student Subgroup – 5%

 

Cold Springs High School’s 2018-2019 results were 91/A:

  • Academic Achievement 67.08
  • Academic Growth 100
  • Graduation Rate 97.18 (highest)
  • College and Career Readiness 97.18 (highest)
  • Chronic Absenteeism 13.5
  • Progress in English Language Proficiency n/a
  • Proficiencies
    • Reading 54.05
    • Math 44.59
    • Science 45.95
  • Students with Disabilities 12.83
  • Economically Disadvantaged 39.25

 

Dickerson attributes the positive trajectory to the school’s focus on the ACT test. The ACT is a standardized test used by colleges to measure high school achievement and readiness for college-level academics.

“The first thing we did is we tackled the ACT, like everyone else,” said Dickerson. “That’s nothing new, but we took the test to see the breakdown of the data. We tracked it, we worked very hard, we made it, and this year we took it to another level. I read an article in your paper on Dr. Chris Gambrill (principal of Fairview High School), so we’re following a lot of his leads because he was the one that started pushing us a couple years ago and we’ve put an extreme importance on the ACT.”

Dickerson said attendance at Cold Springs High School is at an all-time high. The school’s attendance rate is the highest of all schools in the county system.

“Attendance was almost 97% for last semester,” he said.

On how the proposed 1-cent tax up for a vote March 3 could affect the school, Dickerson said, “We share a lunchroom with the elementary school. They go to lunch at 10 in the morning, we go after 1 in the afternoon. We’d get an expansion in the lunchroom; if they could add seating for 200 or more students, it would consolidate that time to make it better for everyone. There’s a possibility to add an auditorium downstairs. Right now, it’s just an auxiliary gym, but if we had an auditorium with seating and a stage with sound and lighting, now we’d be starting to offer the things that everybody else has. So, will the sales tax help? From an infrastructure perspective, yes. In time, that would certainly help.”

Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette has said the tax would also fund expansion of paved parking, a new agriscience/family and consumer sciences building, a new gym and updated science labs at the school.

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Maggie Darnell

maggie@cullmantribune.com