From the Desk of the Superintendent
The Week of August 22, 2008
In my last letter, I wrote that this week would be “a time for new beginnings,” and indeed it was, as teachers, principals and students— many returning and many brand-new to our system— kicked off the 2008-2009 school year in grand fashion. On Tuesday, we started school with 1,000 more students in our classrooms than last year, and we had the lowest number of absences— by nearly a third— than we’ve had in five years. Although I spent time this week speaking to the Rotary Club, hosting the Literacy Summit Roundtable, and meeting with business and community members, it was really all about the schools getting started!
On the first day of school, four groups of central office staff— one led by me, the others by our three Chiefs— visited 23 schools throughout the county. Everywhere we went, we were inspired by teachers already working their craft, principals in mid-year mode, students eagerly and respectfully answering questions, and clean and bright schools. A few highlights:
New principals— like Lynn Owings at James Simons, Anthony Dixon at Memminger, and Elizabeth McCraw at Burns— already learning students’ names, smiling as they walked quiet hallways, and proudly overseeing smooth operations all across their campuses.
At Military Magnet Academy, future leaders were being molded on the parade grounds. The campus looked magnificent, students were very motivated after summer camp, and staff members were already making a difference.
Paul Padron and his faculty have transformed Haut Gap Middle School, which is now decorated with the pennants of all of the SEC and ACC colleges. The school is sending a clear message: it is not “if” you are going to college, but “where.” Teacher leadership was evident in the hallways during the changing of classes to provide a safe and orderly environment.
There are ten great examples for every one of our 82 schools— too many to name here— but everywhere we turned, we saw students excitedly greeting their friends and former teachers; receiving “core values” training; and being taught about hallway and classroom behavior expectations. Teachers were going above and beyond to create amazing classroom environments, working together to make the first week a success for all. Academic support teams assisted schools all day, and were thrilled to see additions like “college bulletin boards” and hallways named “Loyalty St,” “Brainiac Blvd,” and “Einstein Way.”
One group of our employees that deserves singular praise in week one is our facilities staff— Marc Cobb, Mike Johnson and their entire team who did a fantastic job getting our school campuses ready for the school year.
Finally, these are our schools— our students, teachers and principals. They are well on their way to making this the best year ever for CCSD. To every family we serve— and every community, business and faith-based partner we have— I thank you for entrusting us, and send best wishes for a successful year!
Nancy J. McGinley, Ed.D.