Auburn City School system graduates can be found all across the country, from West Point to Yale to Harvard to Stanford, and their alma mater is now ranked number five on a list of best school districts in Alabama.
The success of these students can be attributed to a number of factors within the ACS system, from the educators to the opportunities presented.
Daniel Chesser, ACS system public relations’ specialist, said that this is the first time they have made the top five.
“The success of Auburn City Schools is easy to celebrate,” said ACS system superintendent Dr. Cristen Herring. “This ranking represents a level of confidence that the community and stakeholders have in our school system. It is with genuine respect for that terrific partnership and shared commitment to students that we take great pride in the Niche ranking.”
Mountain Brook City Schools was the top rated, followed by Madison City Schools, Homewood City Schools and Hoover City Schools. The news was released by the ACS system on August 8.
Since the ACS system shared the news, Chesser said they have seen an engagement of over 19,000 on social media.
In order to determine the rankings, not only is the performance of students within the district considered, but also feedback of the students, of educators and of parents, he said.
“As our community continues to grow and the needs of our students change over time, Auburn City Schools has maintained a level of success and performance that we can all be proud of,” Herring said. "Our school system is recognized as a model of educational excellence and I’m incredibly proud of each school, every department, and our school system.”
Over the last year, since the ACS system moved from number six to number five, Chesser said there could have been a number of influencing factors.
“This is a school system that thinks outside the box,” he said. “We learn from people all over the country, not just people in the state, so when we’re implementing new practices or new procedures, we’ve really placed a lot of emphasis on safety and security over the past two years.”
Many of these ACS system graduates are heading into college or their careers with their ‘life plan’ already figured out, unlike many others their age.
“When you look at the students that graduate from Auburn City Schools and the things that they go on to do, you know, we currently have five cadets at West Point right now, which is the most prestigious military academy in the world,” Chesser said. “We have a set of sisters, one’s at Yale, one’s at Harvard. We've got a football player that just committed to Stanford.”
In addition, the school system has 16 career tech programs that allow students to gain hands-on experience in fields that they are interested in, such as television production or aquaculture.
“We’re really putting our kids ahead of the curve when it comes to competition in the job world and college,” Chesser said. “Because if a kid can get certified in an area of their interest, they’re that much further ahead of their counterparts when they go off to college or they go into the workforce.”
Another aspect of the ACS system growth and success is the educators. The ratio within the schools, of teachers and students, is about 15/1 and 71% of ACS system teachers have advanced degrees.
“Our teachers are very supportive because I think it directly reflects on the job that they’re doing and it’s just affirmation,” Chesser said. “To be a teacher, it has to be your passion.”
In terms of next year’s rankings, he said that the ACS system will continue to chug along with the goal of either keeping their ranking at number five or moving up.
“Putting students first, we will maintain our priority of meeting the individual needs of each student and provide the highest quality education possible,” Herring said. “The commitment of our teachers is second to none; with extra effort invested every day we will continue striving for improvement and success.
The school system is working toward moving faculty into bigger positions, looking toward new schools and continuing to hire quality educators, Chesser said.
“When you’re always trying to be better and everybody’s on the same page, working towards that goal, good things come,” he said.
In addition, Chesser said that they want to point to Opelika City Schools as well, which ranked in the top 25 Alabama school districts.
“I think that just speaks to this community as a whole,” he said. “The value of education that a young person can get.”
Right now, the ACS system is growing at a rate of close to 200 new students a year, Chesser said.
“We’re just a short two, three years away from having a graduating class of over 700, and that’s why you see the growth that you’re seeing in the school system as far as facilities,” he said. “Because we’re just staying ahead of the curve on that growth.”