WINONA – The Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School Board of Trustees voted last week to make a change in the leadership at Winona Secondary School. Donna Bishop, former assistant principal, was promoted to interim principal of the school, and Michael Guttuso, former principal, will assume the role of assistant principal.
Veronica Helms will remain as assistant principal and assistant athletic director.
According to Dr. Teresa Jackson, Superintendent of Education for WMCSD, the change took effect Wednesday. She said the reassignment was made in an effort to raise student achievement.
“We have to increase student achievement according to the model provided by the state,” Jackson said. “Student achievement is important to our board, and they have put money behind it.”
She added that this year’s accountability ratings do not reflect “who we are” as a school district.
In her first year with the WMCSD, Bishop worked 17 years in the Rankin County School District, and five years at Brandon Middle School as a seventh and eighth grade teacher. She taught eighth grade science in Pelahatchie, High School Botany, Microbiology, Psychology, Sociology, Chemistry, Biology II and Dual Enrollment Biology I and II for Hinds Community College. She then taught at Puckett Attendance Center, where she served as a curriculum specialist, elementary principal and an assistant principal. She also taught one year in the Vicksburg-Warren School District as a lead teacher at Redwood Elementary and two years in the Hinds County School District as an assistant principal at Gary Road Elementary.
“She has past experience growing schools,” Jackson said.
In an address to the Winona Secondary School’s faculty and staff, Jackson said, “[Bishop] has experience at the district level in K-12 curriculum and the building level as a principal. She has taught seventh grade through college courses, served as a K-6 principal, and led a school to move to the highest level of performance on the statewide accountability system. In her first semester at [Winona Secondary School], Ms. Bishop has demonstrated her dedication to our students, parents, faculty, and staff.”
This school year, the Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School Board of Trustees allocated $185,000 to go toward a plan to improve student proficiency. The board’s decision to increase its tax millage request from county to fund the plan as well as the district’s school resource officer program was met with mixed reaction from the public.
However, the board felt investing in improving student achievement, especially on third grade reading scores, was paramount for the district.
According to Jackson, the board set four goals for the future of the district:
1. Raising student achievement.
2. Maintaining a safe and orderly school climate.
3. Positive K-12 educational experience.
4. Maintain a yearly financial fund balance of 12 percent of revenue.
Jackson said part of the plan to raise student achievement included hiring an instructional leader at Winona Secondary School, hiring an additional assistant principal at Winona Elementary School, and “making sure some of these are instructional leaders.”
In addition, the district has focused on teacher development.
“The number one thing impacting students is classroom teachers,” Jackson said. “We are making our teachers strong. Our teachers are some of the hardest working folks there are.”