August 22, 2023
Dear Wilkes County Schools Family and Community Member,
As our thoughts turn to a new school year, my hope is that you have had an enjoyable summer and that you are excited about the return to school. Students and staff in our system accomplished great things in 2022-2023 and my goal is for that momentum to continue into 2023-2024. Our graduation rate for 2022-2023 was the highest we have had in almost a decade and across our district, students showed growth and academic success. Incredible things take place in our classrooms on a daily basis. Those who work for our students, whether teaching, preparing classrooms, driving our students to school, fixing our facilities, or making sure all are fed, are accomplishing phenomenal things as well. Students in Wilkes County Schools deserve our best and they are fortunate to have the adults working with them that they do. We should never forget how exciting this time of year is for students, parents, and our entire community! I look forward to working closely with you to ensure that this enthusiasm continues and grows. For those that are new to Wilkes County Schools, I think you will see very shortly why we consider it to be a great place for students and for adults as well.
In order to maintain this excitement, our top priority remains ensuring the safety of our students, staff, and all who visit our campuses. I will never forget the way I felt when I heard the report of the school shooting in December of 2022, and while we were so fortunate that this was a hoax, we can never lose the laser-like focus on school safety that followed. I believe our system has made a true commitment to student and staff safety and this will only continue with the implementation of practices and protocols from the i love u guys training that our administrators have taken part in. Our hope is to simplify communication and responsibilities for all and to help students and employees feel better prepared for any challenge which may arise. While we were successful in our efforts last year, we can never become complacent in terms of safety. Your efforts in assisting with this are highly appreciated.
We must also continue the focus on the culture of our schools. While I took great pride in how our students and staff addressed the challenges of a pandemic, I am even more proud of the fact that our expectations have not declined during this time. While many seem to focus on what we can't do following this challenge, that has not been accepted in Wilkes County Schools. Our students and staff are statewide leaders, and we expect their success to continue. Our students and staff have shown that a culture of high expectations and genuine caring leads to long-term success. Great things will continue to take place in Wilkes County Schools because of the efforts of people like you!
I was very proud to be named superintendent of Wilkes County Schools in January of 2016, but because of the efforts of many, I am prouder to serve in that role today than at any time before. Thank you for all that you do, and I look forward to working closely with you to make 2023-2024 a great year for us all!
D. Mark Byrd
Wilkes County Schools