School, business leaders look at cooperative efforts

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BELOIT - Beloit Memorial High School is undergoing full-scale curriculum changes to inundate literacy and writing proficiencies in all classes, and on Wednesday, members of Beloit's business community bought into the plan.

Business leaders were officially introduced to the School District of Beloit's new administration, Interim Superintendent Don Childs and BMHS Principal Orlando Ramos, at the Greater Beloit Economic Development Corporation's board of directors meeting.

Ramos said this school year more reading and writing activities in all classes will be stressed and there will be opportunities to review and revise failed test scores. The school also will stress increased teacher engagement with parents and a school-wide committee has been formed to brainstorm future ways to boost student achievement.

Ramos, a veteran educator in districts from Milwaukee to New York and California, says so far, Beloit's faculty has the largest committee presence.

"Everything we do is backed by research," Ramos said. "We need to let the students know as an administration that we got your back. We must embrace failure because that is how we all learn. We are going to support them."

At BMHS, 101 students have received professional skills certificates through various programs with 30 classes offered where students can earn college class credit.

The changes to curriculum won't come easy, and student achievement won't spike overnight.

"Any time there is change, there is resistance to that," Ramos said. "It's how you respond to that."

Childs said the new literacy-focused model will be molded across all schools.

Homes Thru Financial Freedom owner Matt Finnegan said the high school plan will make a difference in what opportunities students have after graduation.

"It's emotional to hear the importance of literacy and I think these principles are just awesome," Finnegan said.

Finley Buick GMC owner Tom Finley said Beloit's business leaders needed to step up to help the district move forward in creating a strong workforce.

"There is a lot of angst about the school system in Beloit," Finley said. "The district needs to challenge the business community to make sure we are helping the district. We have people that want to help."

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