Blankenship says creativity a key factor in future of Carroll schools

By Michael Howlett

June 25, 2014

Strader Blankenship, superintendent of Carroll County Schools, was awarded a new four-year contract by the Carroll County School Board during its June 9 meeting. Blankenship actually had two years left on his current contract, but that contract was dissolved in order for a new one to be signed.

Looking back on his first two years as superintendent, Blankenship noted he is very proud of several items, including graduation rates.

“First of all, our graduation rates have gone up the last two years,” said Blankenship, who was also very pleased with the transition of moving ninth grade students to Carroll County High School and turning Carroll County Intermediate School into a true middle school.

“We started last year at the middle school with two-thirds of the staff being new to the school and every kid being new to the school. At the high school, we had 300 more students and a fourth of the staff was new to the building,” he said. “It was amazing how well the students and staff came together. There were some SNAFUs, but that is to be expected.”

The high school’s new STEM Lab is also a point of pride.

“As far as we know, it is the only STEM Lab in the country dedicated to agricultural issues,” said Blankenship, who added that there has been “great” cooperation between the school board and the Carroll County Board of Supervisors.

However, Blankenship added that there are always things to be improved on and there are items on his agenda for his next four years.

“We definitely want to continue to work on the security in all our buildings. The buzz-in system has been successful, but you can always do better,” he said. “We want to be an economic development industry for Carroll County. We want people to know that Carroll County Public Schools is a good place to bring your children; that we provide students with the facilities they need.”

“I’m particularly interested in developing creativity in our students,” added Blankenship, who, at times, has entertained students by reading a book or singing a song while playing the guitar. “Whenever I’m having a bad day, I go find me a kindergarten class.”

“I believe we’re very good at teaching particular subjects, but I’d like to see our students have the ability to be creative with those skills. Innovation, creativity, technology and the arts all go together. I want something that brings all that together. When you go out in the real world, you don’t use them by themselves.”

“We have one of the best career and technical departments in the state, but I want students to use those skills not by just working for somebody, but to start their own businesses. We need to talk more and dream more about these kinds of things. We need students’ dreams.”

Blankenship concluded by saying there is nowhere he would rather than be than in Carroll County.

“I’m excited about our future. I’m just really happy to be a part of this school system. We have a great staff, wonderful kids.”

Michael Howlett can be contacted at 276-728-7311 or on Twitter@MikeEHowlett