By Emily Banks Wooten
Dr. Aubrey Vaughan, the pre-kindergarten through 12th grade principal at Goodrich ISD, recently presented a program to the Rotary Club of Livingston. Vaughan has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education-interdisciplinary studies, a master’s degree in teaching and learning and a doctorate in curriculum and instruction. He was the guest of GISD Superintendent Dr. Daniel Barton, a Rotarian.
“He has a very interesting background. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, then he owned a construction business, then he ran a kids summer camp, then he became an English teacher and now he’s a principal,” Barton said.
Vaughan referred to the time period in which he and his wife built a summer camp in Tarkington Prairie prior to his getting his degree, saying “Young people are near and dear to our hearts.”
Vaughan said some of the issues he faces today are safety, apathy in students and learning loss due to the pandemic.
“The legislature is sending money down very slowly to help secure schools,” he said, referring to safety concerns. “The pandemic turned schools on their heads. It caused a lot of problems with the students’ learning – transitioning from in-person learning to online learning.”
He said that both the Texas Tribune and the Dallas Morning News reported on schools having lower scores following the pandemic than they did the previous year and that high-poverty schools actually lost the equivalent of 22 weeks of study.
“After a learning loss, we have to close these gaps. Absenteeism has increased because students are learning online and going to work to help their parents. There are health concerns. That’s a valid concern but parents didn’t want to send their kids to school,” Vaughan said.
“We had a 98% attendance rate pre-COVID. Right now, we’re at almost 95%. We’ve been working quite a bit on that. We’ve started a volunteer program. The younger grade levels love to be read to. Popcorn Friday has helped increase attendance in the elementary school. That’s something they really enjoy and like,” Vaughan said.
“Unfortunately, in lower-income-type schools, they just don’t see a future. What we’ve begun doing and are trying to do is to invite people to come once a month and talk to the students about jobs out there. We have a CNA (certified nurse’s aide) program now and we’re moving toward an RN (registered nurse) program. We want productive members of society,” Vaughan said.
Commenting that the district is “instruction-centered,” he said they have recently implemented “social/emotional learning.”
Addressing teacher incentives, Vaughan said, “I love our teachers. They are so hard-working. We had some things donated by local businesses that we gave to the teachers as gifts at Christmas.
“We’re always looking for ideas for teachers and students. Give us a call and let us know you’re coming. My door is always open.”