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Mooresville Graded School District: A strategic plan to bring the North Carolina Portrait of a Graduate to life

August 9, 2023

This spotlight was originally published in the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s “Durable Skills Rubrics: Suggestions for Use” document in August 2023.

In 2022-2023, Superintendent Dr. Jason Gardner collaborated with stakeholders to develop the district’s 2023-2028 Strategic Plan. While engaging in ongoing conversations about durable skills and student readiness for the future, the Strategic Planning Steering Committee asked, “What is important for our students? What do we value? What do we want to produce in our graduates?”

“At the end of the day, we want to produce a graduate who has a clear plan for the future as well as the skills needed to execute the plan,” said Dr. Gardner. 

Mooresville’s Strategic Plan includes the following goal and strategy to bring the North Carolina Portrait of a Graduate to life across the system:

  • Goal: Develop skills, K-12, aligned to the NC Portrait of a Graduate.
  • Strategy: Develop a plan to ensure that NC Portrait of a Graduate durable skills (ability to adapt, to collaborate, to communicate, to think critically, to show empathy, to learn, and to take personal responsibility) are embedded into content area instruction K-12.

The District will administer a student perception survey to gather feedback about learning experiences and opportunities to practice durable skills. The survey will enable district leadership to capture baseline data that they will use to create a SMART goal connected to the Strategic Plan.

Dr. Gardner is using a “move slow to go fast” approach to the work that centers on helping educators develop deep understanding about durable skills and promotes reflection about ways in which they are currently being fostered in learning experiences. Teams of educators will next analyze lessons and units to look for opportunities for more intentional integration of durable skills.

In 2014, MGSD launched “Gateway Projects” in four grade bands. Projects include an investigation, creation of a high-quality written product, a multimedia product, and a presentation to an authentic audience. As a next step, Mooresville educators will refine the Gateway Projects to more strategically integrate durable skills and incorporate opportunities for self-reflection.

When describing his initial steps and messaging around bringing the Portrait to practice, Dr. Gardner said, “This should fit inside existing work. It isn’t a totally new initiative. Teachers are already facilitating opportunities to develop durable skills. We’re being more intentional and getting better at this. We’re identifying opportunities to integrate and practice the skills in a more robust way.”

About the District
The Mooresville Graded School District is located in the town of Mooresville approximately 30 miles north of Charlotte in the Southern Piedmont region of North Carolina. A district of approximately 5,900 students, MGSD consists of three elementary schools, two intermediate schools, two middle schools, and one high school which includes an alternative learning academy. Mooresville’s vision is to create a better community by empowering every individual to grow, thrive, and succeed.