NAACP Presentation in Mt. Vernon 10/2017

Entering the Elementary Building

From the Superintendent July 27, 2017

I wanted to thank Dr. Bradford for joining us for lunch today and visiting our campus!  She was very impressed with our new ELE building and all of the activity going on this summer. She is very interested in strengthening the Fast Start program and creating more opportunities for our students at SCC. 
Also, we are very proud of her as a former Meridian graduate and now the President of Shawnee Community College.  Go Bobcats!
Thank you Dr. Bradford!

From the Superintendent - July 19, 2017

I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the renovation of the MC.  It has come a long way in two years.  We have a strong vision for what we want this space to be. Some, but not all of it includes.....
  • A space where students want to be, welcoming, inviting
  • Where students can get help
  • Where students will have access to books and technology
  • Where READING is the focus
  • Where we can offer credit recovery
  • Where teachers can take a class and have room to meet, work, and explore
  • Where we can offer students online learning opportunities
  • Where a qualified English teacher will be housed to help students to read and write
To name but a few....
If you want to hear all of it, stop in and check it out yourself.  I am sure Heather would be more than happy to share more with you and take your suggestions!

PS-Here are some pics of the new carpet going in TODAY!

Hope for Tomorrow: Meridian Focuses on Climate and Culture to Improve Education Delivery for Students

Hope for Tomorrow: Meridian Focuses on Climate and Culture to Improve Education Delivery for Students

Spencer Byrd, Superintendent, Meridian School District 101

When I was hired last year as superintendent of Meridian School District 101, Illinois CSI already was in place and lending a helping hand. I immediately recognized that Illinois CSI was here to help in any way possible, and we quickly joined forces to improve the culture and climate of the Meridian School District.

Meridian is a small school district in southern Illinois with very limited resources. It is extremely valuable to me to have access to Illinois CSI and all the services that they can provide to us. In particular, District Liaison Joy Baker-Battagliotti, with support from Kevin Junk, are in our district weekly, and I feel as if they are a part of my administrative leadership team. To have them sit in on our meetings, lead some of our professional development, and be at our table to suggest ideas and alternatives is crucial for our success. To have another set of eyes and ears, and to bring another perspective to our discussions, raises the professional level for all. 

In collaboration with our Illinois CSI colleagues, we were invited to present on our successful restorative justice practices at the 2017 Every Student Succeeds Act Conference in Chicago. Since the conference, we have received many calls and e-mails asking questions about our practices and requesting copies of our presentation. We are very humbled by the overwhelmingly positive response that we received after this experience.

Most recently, I asked Illinois CSI whether they could help us dive deeper into our student achievement data. Understanding our STAR360 data has been identified as a need for our ILTs. I had heard Instructional Support Specialist Dan Frederking speak on the topic at a District Leadership Team Learning Network (DLTLN) event, and it was very apparent to me that he was extremely knowledgeable and passionate about data and the understanding and use of it. I specifically requested Dan's help, realizing that it might be difficult to secure some of his valuable time; but without hesitation, he has been here to help us begin this process. This semester, he has already led professional development activities twice for our teachers, and we are trying to schedule him for a third professional development workshop soon.

With the help of Illinois CSI, our small school district has a solid plan for the future. We talk optimistically about tomorrow and how the future is bright for our students. I would like to personally thank Illinois CSI and the countless individuals who have assisted us and joined our team on the pathway to success! I appreciate the effort, time, and support!

 Go Bobcats!

To read more of the Illinois CSI e-newsletter follow this link.

News..... 10/5/16

Believe it or not, we are quickly coming to the end of the first marking period, or 9 weeks, of school!  Report cards will be coming out soon, after the 14th.  Parents, please look over your sons and daughters reports cards closely.  Sit down with them and discuss their report cards, good or bad.  If you see that your child is doing well, this is a great time to reward them with verbal praise.  It is amazing how far simple words can take your child, how simple words can build self-esteem for your child.  Children crave attention and approval from their parents.  If your child is doing well and has received good grades, I would encourage you to tell them how proud of them you are.  You may be surprised at the response you get.  Who knows, good report cards could become a habit with a little positive reinforcement!

However, if you find your child is struggling in a class or two, I would suggest that you reach out to the teacher directly.  Parent-Teacher conferences are coming up on the 20th and the 25th of this month;4:30 to 8:00.  That would be great time to meet and talk with the teacher directly.  If the PT conference dates and times do not work for you, I would suggest that try to schedule a meeting with that teacher for an alternate time.  Whenever you do eventually meet with the teacher, do your best to find out specifically what your child is struggling with and how you, as a parent, can help your child at home.  After some time, if you and the teacher find that you child is still struggling and you have tried some simple interventions at home and within the classroom, it may be time to call in the building principal.  I would hope between the three of you, principal, teacher, and parent, that you could come up with a solid academic plan for your child to be successful.  It may take some time, but it will happen if we work together.  
Lastly, as you may already know, we have received the last payment from the state to complete our new elementary building.  The activity has now picked up on the construction site.  We hope that the new building will be completed in the spring.  As soon as school ends, we will begin our summer work by preparing the inside of the building, moving desks, setting up computers, etc.  I do believe that next school year, our new school will be ready to go.  It will house Pre-K through 6th grade.  Our current building will house 7th grade through 12th grade.  We may keep a modular or two for additional classroom and office space, but the majority of the modular classrooms will be removed this summer as transition into the new building.  Next year Meridian will have a different look.  Our buildings, new and old, will benefit our children and teachers by creating a more conducive environment for teaching and learning!
It is an exciting time to be a Bobcat!

We need to believe in Education……

I wanted to take some time to talk about public education with the Meridian community today.  I have always had a passion for learning and I knew at a young age that I wanted to go to college.  However, I was the youngest of eight children and none of my older siblings had a desire to go to college, I was the first and only.  In my family we did not talk much about the topic at the dinner table.  It wasn’t until a high school teacher asked me if I wanted to go college or not, did it really sink in.  At that moment, the dream started to become real.  I was going to be a first generation college student.


After college, I aspired to be the very best teacher that I could be.  I taught for fifteen years at the high school level and coached football, basketball, and baseball.  I then began to climb the administrative ladder.  My first administrative job was as an athletic director, then assistant principal, building principal, and now, finally, superintendent.  I still enjoy learning.  I continue to learn from my colleagues, my teachers, and sometimes even my students!  After completing my bachelor’s degree, I have since added two more and I am working on a fourth degree now. 


What I have learned from twenty five years as an educator is that I believe in public education and that education can change lives.  I am now motivated intrinsically as an educational leader to provide every child with the opportunity for a quality public education.  Every child deserves that opportunity and an education that can open doors for them, doors that would otherwise remain closed.  I personally have seen the value and power of education.  It has enriched my life and expanded my horizons.  Education changed my life and I hope for the same type of change for our children that attend Meridian School District #101.                 


Some people ask me why I keep going to school, especially at my age.  I always respond that if you are not learning, if you are not getting better, than what are you doing?  No one stays the same, we all evolve and grow whether we like it or not.  Time waits for no one.  I choose to get better every day and I try to learn from the past.  What excites me most is the possibility of learning something new today and what tomorrow may bring.   


I would like to share with you one of my favorite quotes that captures the point, “It is understandable to be disappointed if you try and fail, however, you are truly doomed if you do not try at all”.  I think we learn as much from our failures as we do from our successes in life.  The toughest part in life is to never give up, stay positive, stay the course, continuing to grow and learn from our experiences, good and bad, and keep pushing forward.   


Go Bobcats!


Spencer Byrd, M.Ed., Ed.S


Meridian School District #101 


PS - For my next post I will discuss the topic of parent involvement in a child’s education and how powerful the parent is in the educational process.  I will also be talking with you soon about our new FAST Start program.  We are the only school in the area that is offering this unique program to our senior students.  I will give you the details of that program in my next post.    

Fast Start Program

 I am extremely excited about our students attending the Fast Start program.  As you know, we are partnering with SCC to provide these students with their first year of college education.  When they graduate in May, they will have one year of college completed.  

We will be working with these students closely, monitoring their progress, and cheering them to the finish line in May.  This opportunity is extremely rare, one of kind, and only offered to our Meridian students.  No other school in the southern Illinois is offering there students this type of opportunity!  We are the leader in this field and I believe it will not be long before others schools begin to emulate our program.  

Our challenge now, as educators, is to prepare future seniors to take advantage of this rare opportunity.  Currently, we have approximately 50% of our senior class attending Fast Star this year.  Next year, our goal is to send 75% of our senior class.  In order to reach this goal of 75%, we need to prepare them for freshmen college Math and freshmen college English now, as Juniors.  

Our goal for our current sophomore class is 85% of them will be prepared for Fast Start in two years, as seniors.  And, finally, our goal is 90% for our freshmen class. I understand we have some lofty goals but I truly believe our teachers can prepare them to meet this challenge!

Great job everyone, I appreciate your passion for our preparing our children for success.  I have attached a picture of day one for our Fast Start students for your enjoyment.