In the Fall, 2023 edition of True Blue, Principal David Clark told us about some significant changes in the organization of administrative resources at CNHS.  Most notably, beginning with the 2023-24 school year, classes would be called “Cohorts” – so the senior class, which just graduated, became “Cohort 2024”.

The name change, however, was much more than a cosmetic change.  Each Cohort was assigned a dedicated coaching/counseling team consisting of an assistant principal, a counselor, 1 or 2 academic coaches, and an administrative assistant.  These administrative teams, focused on the academic achievement and experience of their own Cohort, replaced the previous functions of Assistant Principals, Deans, and Counselors.  Each Cohort leadership team meets every Monday morning to review data/feedback and prioritize actions for the coming week.

We recently sat down with Mr. Clark to get his input on the reasons for the restructuring and how it worked during its first school year.

Why Change?

As Bob Dylan put it in his 1964 classic: “…and you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone/ for the times, they are a-changin’…”  For the past 20 years academic standards and requirements have been increasing, while resources have been tight and the needs of an increasingly diverse student body (diverse in background and in educational objectives) have been growing.

Especially since the pandemic, high schools have seen high and climbing rates of absenteeism and falling graduation rates.  According to Mr. Clark, these were the two most glaring problems that the new structure sought to address.

What Happened?

CNHS saw positive changes – some significant and some massive – in several areas during the 2023-24 school year:

  • The number of entries in the “Info Log” (which measures all communications between students/parents and teachers/counselors/academic coaches) increased from 1049 in the ’22-’23 school year to 9529 in the ’23-‘24 school year – an 800% increase!
  • The number of entries in the “Discipline Log” (which measures potential issues or problems) decreased from 1103 last year to 836 this year – a 24% decrease.
  • Graduation rates increased significantly. Final numbers for 2024 grads are still being tabulated, but it appears that the Cohort 24 graduation rate may be up as much as 5% from previous years.
  • Stories and other anecdotal evidence indicate that students and parents are overwhelmingly pleased with increased communication about academic performance and early warnings about potential issues or problems.

What Caused the Improvement?

It’s not possible (or fair) to attribute all of the positive change to the new organization structure, but Mr. Clark thinks that it was a major factor.  Other contributing factors could include:

  • The 2024 Cohort was an extraordinary group of students with very engaged parents, taught by great teachers – who love to teach.
  • As part of the new organization structure, new and better communication and early intervention processes were implemented. As an example, a new program called “Grad Lab” is being introduced for students who fell just short of graduation requirements.  This intensive 2-week summer program gives students a second chance to prove their proficiency in the subject area they fell short in.
  • Improving pay and appreciation for teachers reduced teacher attrition and attracted a great team of educators and administrators.

Challenges Ahead?

We expect and support an increasingly diverse student population with a great variety of educational and cultural backgrounds.  We also expect our students will need a growing range of curricula – from traditional college prep to technical and career-oriented programs. New curriculum requirements and new diploma categories will complicate the job of teachers and administrators.

Maintaining the momentum begun in the 2023-24 school year will be a daunting challenge.  Continued emphasis on communication, involvement, and early intervention will be critical.

How Can Alumni Help?

Mr. Clark has these suggestions for Bull Dog Alumni:

  • If you are a teacher: Thank You! Please keep doing what you are doing and loving what you do.
  • If you are a parent: Please stay engaged in your student’s progress and know that CNHS teachers and administrators are well-trained professionals who care about your student’s future.
  • Be engaged in the community and help support and recognize the difficult job that our educators perform.
  • Support your Bull Dog Alumni Association. Their goal is to continue to increase the resources we provide for scholarships, grants for teacher and student aid, and the Teacher Appreciation Program – aimed at attracting and retaining the best teachers at CNHS.