Most children in Smithfield and Johnston County attend schools in the Johnston County Schools system.
The district is comprised of 44 schools, including 22 elementary schools, 13 middle schools, 10 high schools and 2 alternative schools (for grades 6-12). There are more than 33,340 students in grades K-12 throughout JCS, and the district’s 4,000 employees (2,283 of which are full-time teachers) make it the county’s largest employer. The Board of Education follows a strategic planning process which includes input from school personnel, student leaders, town mayors, law enforcement, church members and other community leaders.
The district is now accredited by AdvancED, a global leader in advancing education excellence through accreditation and school improvement.
“There are seven criteria a district needs to meet in order to become accredited by AdvancED, and Johnston County scored highly on all seven,” says Terri Sessoms, public information officer for Johnston County Schools. “In fact, JCS achieved the highest possible score. Our system was ranked ‘highly functional,’ which is the best ranking a district can get.”
One of the criteria involves having a good relationship and communicating well with parents and community members, making sure they are involved in the district’s decision making.
“When our high school graduates apply for various colleges, being accredited by AdvancED gives them an edge in the application process,” Sessoms says.
The district has students from 47 different countries. More than 40 languages are spoken by students in Johnston County, so it is one of the first school systems across the state to become an inaugural member of the Global Schools Network. As a result, Johnston County Schools are hosting 30 visiting international faculty members from around the world, and many local schools are partnering with schools in Australia, China, Denmark and South America.
“When people talk about a global environment, it is happening here in our school system,” Sessoms says.
Other news in the district include an application being accepted for Smithfield-Selma High School to offer International Baccalaureate courses beginning in the 2012-13 school year, plus Sessoms says a few middle schools are now mixing English-speaking and Spanish-speaking students together in classrooms to learn all subjects side by side.
“Overall, the student population of Johnston County Schools has doubled in the past 15 years, due to the excellent education that is provided,” she says. “We have 292 nationally board-certified teachers, which places JCS within the top 50 school districts in the nation. Everything we do is aimed at empowering all of our students to become successful in a global society.”
Read more on education around Smithfield, NC.