Admin Targets Low School Morale

Every year, Montgomery County students and teachers take the Gallup Poll to let the district know how they feel about the school atmosphere. At RHS, administrators are taking action to make that atmosphere better.

Last year’s results were similar to the previous year. For students across MCPS, 54 percent were deemed hopeful, 52 percent engaged and 66 percent thriving.

The answer to the question “Have you been recognized in the last seven days for the work you’ve done?” received the lowest of all scores at a 3.31 out of 5 countywide for employees. Staff Development Teacher Debra Plaisance went to work on changing this response.

Plaisance is part of the Leadership Team that takes the results of the Gallup Poll for students and teachers and makes strategic improvements. “We wanted to come up with a way to recognize teachers and to make this big building a little bit smaller,” Plaisance said.

She did this by creating the blog “Rockville Raves,” a private website for teachers that highlights exceptional teaching methods and teacher achievements. It is intended to recognize teachers for the work that they do. When the blog is updated, Plaisance sends an email to teachers letting them know to check it out.

Staff is getting more into the idea as the year goes on. At first, Plaisance had to search for teachers to feature. Now, she receives emails telling her about interesting lessons going on in the school in hopes she will post them in the blog.

The leadership team also instituted monthly breakfasts and weekly highlights on Rockville Private, a website used for staff communication.

“We have consciously tried to do some of those things so people can get together and people can see each other, and people feel connected to their work,” Principal Billie-Jean Bensen said.

Student achievement is being highlighted as well in order to boost student morale. The counseling office started a display near the main office called “Spotlight on Students” to recognize students for their high achievement and hard work.

The leadership team is also hoping that the high increase in technology, like Chromebooks given by the county, will increase student engagement. “I love using the technology in class. I feel more interested when I am using an interactive app rather than just taking notes,” senior Nicole Goldstein said.

Overall, the poll results of students and staff did mirror each other. “You know when your teacher is unhappy,” Plaisance said. If the teacher does not like the school environment, it is difficult for the students to like the environment and vice versa.