Education feature: CHS principal touts program as road toward success

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Clovis High School Principal Wayne Marshall has a display of memorabilia from his 20 years working in schools proudly displayed in his office. He plans to add to it while at CHS.

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

As Wayne Marshall and his wife took their seats high in the stands at Leon Williams Stadium for their first Wildcat football game, Marshall remembers the setting sun shining its last rays on the field.

“In that moment, I had the certain feeling that small town American is still alive,” Marshall said.

Even before that first football game, Marshall had begun work as the new Clovis High School principal.

Before he came on board, Clovis High School was headed toward change.

Because of lacking Adequate Yearly Progess scores, the school was headed for corrective action with a program called High Schools That Work.

“It’s hard not to get caught up in HSTW,” Marshall said. “It’s a driving force for change in our school.”

Coming in to the position, Marshall said his plan was to study and learn the district, staff and students after spending 20 years in the Moriarity school district. CHS has a staff of 150 and student body of 1,500, with another 800 students at the Freshman Academy.

“It’s a vast project. It will take more than a year,” he laughed. “This is a people business and there are a lot of personalities.”

Marshall compared a school with a football team.

“You find out where your talents are, where your strengths are, and you work those to build a strong team,” he said.

Marshall plans on building a closer relationship between the high school and the Freshman Academy.

“We want them (freshmen) to hit the ground running,” he said.

In past years, freshmen didn’t see the high school campus until the first day of school. Marshall plans to change that by bringing the class over to the high school campus a few times through out the school year. This year, freshmen will visit CHS for pre-registration.

Marshall also worked to change the school’s mission statement to Preparing All Students for a Lifetime of Success. Marshall said the 2009-2010 school year was a new beginning for the high school with three new administrators and High Schools That Work.

Marshall said he was amazed when he came to CHS to find out the variety of programs the school offers, from culinary arts to a tech lap to a 181-piece band.

“It’s very exciting. We have some impressive things. HSTW will bring it all together and make it a little better,” he said.

Marshall describes HSTW as a framework and a three-year process.

“When students come to us, they’ll be on a track. They’ll be on a food track or medical or a technical track. If we can get most of our students a certification or on their way to college, than we’ve succeeded,” Marshall said.

Marshall said it’s exciting to be on the ground floor of HSTW.

“It’s a real opportunity for me and my career. I’m learning with the staff on the way,” he said. “In some ways, (HSTW) feels like drinking out of a fire hydrant. You can’t sip it. It’s such a vast amount of information to take in.”

With HSTW, the staff has created nine goal teams. There are parent and community involvement, literacy, numeracy, engagement, morale, school spirit, transition, intervention and project-based learning teams.

Each team works to spread their topic throughout each subject taught at the school. For example, the numeracy team works on how to incorporate math into English or a shop class.

“It’s all about collecting data,” he said. “Each team collects data on their topic, studies it and figures out how to improve on the date they’ve collected.”

Though the school is working with HSTW because of AYP scores, Marshall said AYP is not a system a school can succeed at — he sees HSTW as a way to continuously improve the school.

“Even without a program like HSTW, we should be detecting what’s working and what’s not,” he said. “We’ve seen a trend of upward success and we would like to see it continued.”

At the end of his first semester with CHS, Marshall said he feels more acclimated and knowledgeable of the school and community.

“Success is yet to be seen,” Marshall said. “I do think we’re on the right track for success.”

Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said Marshall is doing a terrific job.

“The thing he’s brought to the district is a different perspective,” Seidenwurm said.

Seidenwurm said Marshall makes solid decisions.

“He really thinks things through. He has a real gift at looking at things from all directions before making a decision,” she said. “I’m really glad to have him in Clovis.”