Alabama Department of Education and CCBOE announce new initiatives

ALSDE Regional Implementation Coach Kevin Connell, ALSDE College and Career Success Cristin Dillard, Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette, Cullman County Schools Federal Programs Director Angie Yarbrough, and ALSDE Regional Implementation Coach Carissa Blair (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman County Schools has been selected to participate in the Alabama State Department of Education’s Alabama (ALSDE) Multi-Tier System of Supports (AL-MTSS) as announced at the Cullman County Board of Education (CCBOE) Tuesday. Based on evidence-based practices, the initiative “creates comprehensive supports to meet the academic, behavioral and foundational wellness needs of the whole child.” 

Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette at the podium (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune) 

Cullman County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shane Barnette said, “We’re here today to announce that Cullman County Schools have been selected for a pilot program through the state department of education. It’s called AL-MTSS. It’s a multi-tiered support services program. It’s going to align perfectly with advisory groups and a lot of the programs that we’re doing already in Cullman County Schools. But even more than that, our Families (First) initiative that we’re really excited about that we’re going to be connecting every student and every adult together in a family. This is going to align perfectly with that and just help us get more organized and more structured and to help kids on a faster pace than we would otherwise.” 

ALSDE College and Career Success Administrator Cristin Dillard shared of the AL-MTSS, “I know here in Cullman County and across the state in other systems that are near and far, we all want to make sure that our children are graduating, college and career ready, workforce ready.” 

ALSDE College and Career Success Cristin Dillard (Amy Leonard for The Cullman Tribune) 

Over 50 school systems across the state applied to be a part of AL-MTSS, and 33 systems were selected to participate in the five-year program. Twelve regionally based coaches were hired by the state department with Carissa Blair being assigned to Cullman County Schools.  

Dillard gave insight into Blair’s new role within Cullman County. 

“Carissa Blair is from the state department of ed coming straight out of a district school system not far from here which is Jefferson County. She was an instructional coach at the district level, so she has that knowledge and skills. What her role is going to be with Cullman County, as part of the selection process, is to guide, facilitate and mentor and be the concierge. It’s going to be a one-stop shop for communication.” 

In summary of the initiative, Dillard said, “Most importantly, it’s looking at the needs of the whole child. One of the things I love and want to know more about is your Families First initiative. I think it’s an awesome idea so that we have to make sure that kids are engaged and have a safe and supportive learning environment. We can’t do it alone. You guys have our commitment to having all of the support that you request. We’re not going to push things upon you, but we are going to be there helping in any way, shape or form that we can.” 

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