Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Personally, my thoughts concerning public education in Williamsburg County lived on the gloomy side of pessimism. However, my feelings were that public schools in this county could operate at a level of efficiency with qualified leadership spearheading the effort. The recent history of the county's public schools leadership, was that leadership was incompetent, and therefore, unqualified to implement an improved standard of learning to elevate students' academic achievements. It became obvious to me that before any enhanced teaching and learning could become employed by the school district, reforming the district's underperforming administrative systems had to be dealt with first.
However, after observing over years the unpredictable and erratic method of operation of the Williamsburg County School District, pessimism would set in on my thinking like a mental breakdown. I developed the mental depression that the enormity of the job of educating children in this county had revealed an indifferent nonproductive leadership. It was a leadership with no vision. A leadership scouring around in other school districts educational programs searching for answer to this county's public education woes. The only emotional medicine that gave me an injection of hope for public education was when the school district hired Dr. Yvonne Jefferson-Barnes as superintendent.
However, after her first year on the job, what hope I had for her success was beginning to diminish. There were board members intent on discrediting Dr. Barnes' leadership ability. You could tell from the grumblings in their voices that those particular board members were antagonistic to Dr. Barnes' school reform efforts, and they took every opportunity at board meetings to display their displeasure. My suspicions are that disgruntled school board members came up with the loony idea, at the beginning of the school year, to place numerous campaign signs across the county calling for Dr. Barnes' firing. Trust me, calling for Dr. Barnes' termination had absolutely nothing to do with improving public schools. It was clearly a veiled personal attack upon her character. The leaders of this disrespect took to secrecy. They cowardly concealed their identities, and probably felt they did something dynamic by covertly discrediting Dr. Barnes' efforts to improve the school district.
Of course, I admire Dr. Barnes for what she has managed to accomplish under less than desirable circumstances. She is an example of prudent leadership having a vision of What-Can-Be. Her professional demeanor carries the confidence necessary for holding the position of superintendent. She is the perfect model of leadership for our students to follow. She labors from early morn to pass working hours, because she is devout in her belief that Williamsburg County can have excellent public schools. Dr. Barnes' philosophy is that the goal of raising student learning to new levels of achievement can be accomplished with love, commitment, and hard work.
Because of commitment and hard work, Williamsburg County became one of the winners of "The Race to the Top" education grants awarded by the federal government, totaling thirteen million dollars. It is an enormous achievement for Superintendent Dr. Barnes and her administrative staff. It is also a great achievement for the Williamsburg County School Board of Trustees. Over the years of observance, I have never seen a school board with the focus intent on improving education in Williamsburg County as the present board serving. Most school board members have stepped up to support Dr. Barnes in implementing the school board's vision for improved student learning.
Parents, the school district, more than ever, need your involvement to complete the triad of education. Simply constructed, education is a three-legged table. Atop the table is the crystal of student learning. Holding up the table are the three operational legs of the education system. The first leg is The Administration; the 2nd leg, Teachers; and the 3rd leg, Parents. All are equally important for the efficient operation of public schools. All three operational elements must connect to the table. With one leg missing, the table will not stand upright, and the crystal atop the table will topple over and shatter. Parents, the administration is ready. Schoolteachers are ready. For students to make significant strides in learning, parents must be prepared to connect the third operational leg to the table of learning, to prevent the crystal/students atop the table from falling into unusable pieces.
It is a contradiction to believe that a school system can have a progressive learning experience without full parent participation. Low-parent involvement in public schooling signals low-expectations for student learning. Parents, call the school district. Ask what plans are being developed for parents' participation to help raise the level of student learning, because now is the perfect opportunity for parents to make a difference. With the heavy influx of federal education funds coming into the county to help develop a progressive public school system, it becomes "serious business" for the school district's decision-making team. There is no way around it! For parents to become providers for educating children, they have no other choice but to partnership with the school district's administrators and teachers, and make the system of public education in Williamsburg County fully operational.