Principal sets goals for Shiloh

Published 12:30 am Wednesday, August 12, 2009

When Shiloh Elementary tabbed Aaron McKinley to be its new principal, it was a move that just seemed to fit.

Although the Dallas County native has only nine years experience in education, he assumes his new role with confidence and believes he has a lot to offer.

“I bring energy, creativeness, positive ways of getting the job done as well as having a passion for education and calmness about myself,” said McKinley. “The reason I’ve made it is because of hard work. Hard work plus determination.”

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McKinley graduated from Keith High School in 1994. He worked as an intern at Keith before earning an associate’s degree from Wallace Community College Selma in 1998.

McKinley earned a bachelor’s in 2000 and his master’s in education from the University of West Alabama in 2002.

After college, he returned to Keith as a health teacher and “very valuable coach,” before serving as vice principal at Tipton Elementary-Middle School

Shiloh is one of Tipton’s feeder schools.

“I’ve known him through whole education career,” said Don Willingham, administrative assistant for Dallas County Schools. “He is a good candidate and match. He’s going to do a good job and will do well with community.”

McKinley said the goals he has set for the school include making Adequate Yearly Progress. Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, is a measurement defined by the U.S. federal No Child Left Behind Act representing the annual academic performance targets in reading and math the state and school system must reach to be considered on track for 100 percent proficiency by school year 2013-14. In Alabama, proficient is defined as Level III Meets Academic Content Standards.

Shiloh made its goal for the year in the AYP scores released last week, but overall, the elementary schools in the county did not meet their goals in reading or mathematics.

McKinley also wants to transform Shiloh into a Torchbearer school. The Torchbearer Schools Program was created to recognize high-poverty, high-performing public schools in Alabama. To receive a monetary reward, the Torchbearer School must make Adequate Yearly Progress for two consecutive years and meet other criteria.

“The first thing we look at is the data,” said McKinley. “We find out through testing assessments where our kids are weak and want to build upon strengths. We want to prepare our kids to meet curriculum expectations.”

McKinley is not a stickler for just the books and rulers. He wants to bring art into the curriculum, blending education and art. He wants to use small and large group settings in which dance, music and art become part of learning reading, writing and mathematics.

But first things first for the new principal.

“The main thing is getting morale higher,” said McKinley. “We want to increase community involvement and parental involvement.”