After reviewing data on past student performance, the Mooresville Graded School District School Board heard school improvement plans from each of the district’s nine schools and approved all but Mooresville Middle, which will return to the board for a second reading in November.

Secondary Curriculum & Instruction Coordinator Tracy Waid noted that the district’s strengths included improvements in proficiency in most areas of reading and math, and grades 3 through 8 also demonstrated significant improvement in reading and math growth. Grade 6 English Language Arts and Math and HS Math I also had significant improvement.

Waid also noted opportunities for improvement, including in science proficiency and growth for grade 8 and Biology as well as middle grades’ overall academic performance. She also pointed out lower rates of improvement in reading compared to math.

As the schools constructed their school improvement plans, staff members gathered baseline data in reading and math either through a beginning-of-the-year assessment or through students’ state test scores from the end of last school year to better measure improvement this year.

Each school focused on creating one goal in each of four areas: maximizing opportunity and achievement for students; creating safe, happy, and healthy environments; recruiting, growing, and retaining staff; and developing a culture of relationships within the school and community.

After constructing each goal, the staff then developed a strategy to achieve it, identified indicators and action steps, and created a lead measure and lag measure for each goal to ensure progress was occurring.

A lead measure is key, consistent action the staff predicts will make a difference in reaching the goal. A lag measure is the data being tracked throughout the year to ensure the key action is making a difference toward reaching the goal.

Here are each school’s goals:

♦ Mooresville High’s goals include raising ACT scores and improving students’ sense of belonging at school, retention of EC staff, and parents’ sense of feeling welcome at the school.

♦ N.F. Woods’s goals include increasing the number of graduates with a post-secondary plan in major clarity to 90 percent, decreasing the percent of students scoring “Developing” on the “Getting Along with Others” portion of the ACT Tessera, increasing the average favorable score on professional development post-surveys, and increasing the percent of students with 10 or less absences per semester.

♦ Mooresville Middle’s goals include increasing reading proficiency, decreasing office referrals through Capturing Kids Hearts strategies, increasing staff retention, and creating a comprehensive, ongoing, parent communication framework that includes conveying information and two-way interactions with 100 percent of parents.

♦ Selma Burke Middle’s goals are increasing reading proficiency, reducing repeat student office referrals for behavior issues, increasing staff retention, and having 95 percent of families volunteer, visit, or attend a school or school-sponsored community event.

♦ East Mooresville Intermediate’s goals are increasing fourth-grade language arts EOG proficiency, reducing the number of referrals for aggressive behavior, creating more staff connectedness, and increasing the percentage of families who feel that the school provides resources to help parents and guardians support students’ learning at home.

♦ Mooresville Intermediate’s goals include increasing fourth-graders math EOG proficiency, decreasing the number of instructional days lost to suspensions, fostering staff connection, and increasing the percentage of families that feel they have a choice and voice in determining school-wide events to increase the partnership between home and school.

♦ Parkview Elementary’s goals are to increase first-grade students’ proficiency of Nonsense Word Fluency-Correct Letter Sound, decrease office referrals for the second grade by 20 percent, expand differentiated professional development to meet teachers’ individual needs, and increase the percentage of Park View families who feel a sense of connection and belonging to the school.

♦ Rocky River Elementary’s goals include increasing first-graders proficiency on the Nonsense Word Fluency-Words Recoded Correctly, kindergarten students’ scores in for managing emotions, K-2 inclusion general education teachers feelings of confidence in their ability to meet students’ individual needs, and participation of our new families attending a school event to 100 percent by May 2024.

♦ South Elementary’s goals are to increase second-graders’ DIBELS subtest scores for Nonsense Word Fluency-Words Recoded Correctly, reduce the percentage of students with an office referral from 15 percent to 10 percent, increase teachers’ time to collaborate with colleagues, and create a Friends of South Advisory Team to spearhead community engagement initiatives.


Capturing Kids Hearts (CKH) creator Flip Flippen believes educators and staff must capture kids’ hearts before they can reach their minds to learn. Students who feel more connected to school are more likely to have positive outcomes.

If implemented fully, the program promises increased achievement, increased teacher satisfaction, increased graduation rates, decreased discipline referrals, and increased attendance rates, said MMS Principal Patrick Kosal.

Using CHK principles, teachers greet students at the door each period, and the class shares “Good Things.” Students practice giving affirmations to each other to build trust and relationships, and the students and teacher create a social contract, which is continually consulted, to self-manage behavior, work ethic, interactions, and listening skills in the classroom.

The CKH’s EXCEL teaching model includes engaging students at the door, exploring each student’s unique personal and academic needs, communicating content through a dialogue with students, empowering students to “use and do” the things they have learned, and “launching” students at the end of class on a powerful note.

Kosal said 87 percent of his staff has completed the level one CKH training and is committing to the program.

The improvements as a result of CKH are already appearing: attendance is up 2.6 percent over last year at this time, and office referrals are down 60 percent, with minor incidents down 69 percent.

MMS Panorama student surveys show a 4 percent increase in perception of classroom rigor and 2 percent improvement in student-teacher relationships. Seventy percent gave high ratings to classroom climate and safety this year, as opposed to 68 percent for climate and a 33 percent for safety last year.

Eighty-eight percent report a sense of belonging at school, up from 23 percent last year.

Teacher Michael Fulton said student affirmations have been powerful in building relationships. One student had never been called “smart” before. Another thanked a classmate for including him in a group when the student lacked a partner. Another praised an acquaintance’s kindness to others; now the students are best friends.


On August 15, the N.C. General Assembly passed Senate Bill 49, known as the Parents’ Bill of Rights. District staff consulted with the N.C. School Board Association to review and revise several board policies to align with this new legislation. The policy revisions were presented as a first reading at the September board meeting and were presented for approval on Thursday night by Chief Communications Officer Tanae McLean.

These revisions included policies on parental involvement, student surveys, criminal behavior, health education programs, staff responsibilities, student health services, and parental inspection of and objection to instructional materials.

ALL MGSD Board Policies can be viewed at


Superintendent Jason Gardner, Imani Sturgis and MGSD member Kerry Pennell

Superintendent Dr. Jason Gardner, Imani Sturgis and MGSD member Kerry Pennell.

The MGSD Student of the Month, eighth-grader Imani Sturgis, is an exemplary student at Mooresville Middle School, according to math teacher Mrs. Fulton. “Every morning she enters MMS with a bright smile and a good morning to everyone she encounters. She is the epitome of our heart of the Red Imp model and always makes a positive impact on staff and students.”

Fulton said that Imani is honorable, leading all by “the example she sets when making sure she presents her most genuine self and demonstrates high moral and ethical standards.” Imani is also engaged and sets high expectations for herself and others while providing support when she can.

Amani is accountable, added Fulton, making the best decisions she can in all situations for herself and others, and she is respectful of the learning environment as she encourages others to make the most of their opportunities.


Superintendent Jason Gardner, Mia Zinaty, and MGSD member Kerry Pennell

Mooresville Middle School eighth-grader Mia Zinaty was nominated for Artist of the Month by Mrs. Young, her chorus teacher, and Ms. Davis, her art teacher.

Mia has been a standout in chorus, singing second soprano, and is now a leader in first soprano. She reads music well, works hard to learn her music, and has a sweet spirit and a great attitude, according to Ms. Young.

“She is always a pleasure to teach. She was in theater last year, and was ‘all in’ on her part, working to find ways to make it better and support her fellow actors.”

Her art teacher, Ms. Davis, also recommended Mia because of the time and effort she put puts into perfecting her craft. “She is creative, open-minded, and is willing to explore any medium or technique that is thrown her way. She has proven that she is a talented artist that is always wanting to learn and progress.”

Both teachers feel Mia is a “jewel” in the Arts Department.


Superintendent Jason Gardner, Jacquie McGrath, and MGSD member Kerry Pennell

Mooresville Middle School front office receptionist Jacquie McGrath received the October “Above And Beyond the Call of Duty” award because she is an embodiment of MMS, staff, togetherness, sacrifice for children, and our motto, ‘All heart,’” said Principal Kosal.

“She welcomes parents and students alike when they enter or call the MMS office, helping to answer their questions or promptly getting them connected with staff that can help them.”

She also took on a leadership role this past summer on the MMS campus beautification project, doing landscaping tasks such as pruning trees, weeding sidewalks, spreading mulch, and repainting outdoor railings.

During the year, she assists with testing, helping assistant principals and teachers with the information and supplies they need. “Throughout all of that, she is kind and generous with everyone and bends over backwards to help a fellow Red Imp,” added Kosal.

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