Friday, April 12, 2013

Spivey's retirement message

Myers Park High Principal Tom Spivey told families Friday he will retire from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools this summer. Here's his message:
Letter from Principal Tom Spivey

MPHS Family,

It is with mixed emotions that I announce my retirement effective July 1, 2013. This has been an extremely difficult decision preceded by much soul-searching. It is extremely hard to leave a school system that has been so much of my life the past 47 years - 34 years as an educator. Selfishly, I would love to remain at MPHS on a year to year basis but ultimately must address what is in the best interest of the school.

A number of circumstances, both personal and job related, have changed over the past few weeks which impacted my decision. Until recently, we had anticipated all new construction to be completed next year and I was more than willing to lead the school during that challenging process. The new two year timetable makes the project much easier to supervise and more beneficial for new leadership to manage. The new principal will also be able to coordinate the development of the new 3 year School Improvement Plan which is to be developed and implemented this fall.

I can't express the joy and satisfaction experienced at MPHS and will always have such fond memories of my time here. While extremely proud of all our accomplishments the past 8 years, I am equally proud of how we approached the challenges.

Our focus on the success of all students led to many new programs, a more child centered campus and a four year graduation rate that recently surpassed 90%. Budget reductions which cut 20% of our teachers, 40% of our administrative team, and 50% of the security force were met as an opportunity for change and school improvement. Despite larger class sizes and more expectations of staff, test scores continued to excel, student safety improved and not one student program was lost. The unexpected decision to move our IB feeder program was a major setback at the time. Losing 400 top students would devastate many schools and academic programs. Instead, parents and staff worked together to revisit our program and we currently have more students in our IB program than before the board change. Students that would not have participated in AP/IB level classes before the change accepted the challenge of more rigorous coursework and are finding success. AP/IB numbers will only increase as we add a variety of new academic options over the next two years.

It would take pages to list all the accomplishments of our students and teachers. Test scores are strong, retention rates have dropped, graduation rates have increased, and student participation in clubs and activities continues to rise. Athletics are consistently rated among the best in North Carolina. Academic teams continue to win state, national, and world competitions and have dominated the NC Scholastic Cup since inception. The Arts excel and our Debate and CTE programs continue to bring accolades to the school. The school is well respected locally and nationally but more importantly, students are well-prepared for life after Myers Park.  

We are now at a good point of transition. The budget is gradually improving with new projections adding teachers and an administrator, IB and AP numbers are growing, construction is proceeding with clear transition plans in place- including a new proposal for a 50 classroom building behind the LA Building, resources (including CIS) for our most at-risk students/neighborhoods are growing and parent/community support for MPHS is strong. An excellent nucleus of teachers and support staff is in place and we have the privilege to work with a wonderful group of students each day.

I don't know what the next step in life holds but know that another door will open. I have not looked beyond Myers Park and can assure you that my focus remains strong as there is a lot to accomplish over the next three months.  I can assure you that everything will be in order when I depart. There is also a lot of work at home that I have neglected the past 25 years that will keep me, a decorator, an architect, and a contractor busy for several months. After that, I am open to wherever led although MPHS will always be home.

Over the next quarter, I will be developing transition plans to address where we have been, our present course as a school and the challenges/opportunities that lie ahead.

Thanks for your continued support.

Thomas L. Spivey
Myers Park High School