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Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate discusses goals for school system

Troup County School System employees gathered Friday at Troup High School to hear Superintendent Dr. Brian Shumate discuss how staff will play a major role in the success of the students.

Shumate discussed the recent Georgia Milestone Assessment System scores and how TCSS has room to improve.

“Test scores came out and you all are smart and can read the data. We’ve got work to do,” Shumate said. “We made improvements this past spring, but so did the state, so did all the districts in our region and some of our comparison districts around the state of Georgia.”

Shumate said the only way to close the gap was to work harder in the coming year.

Shumate did not spend long on the GMAS scores and transitioned to a more goal-oriented presentation.

“I’m not going to beat you up with test scores and numbers,” Shumate said. “We are going to talk about relationships and vision.”

When he first took the position in June, Shumate said his first order of business was to meet with each city official, board member and principal individually and as a group to discuss how TCSS can form a relationship and become personable.

He said before he came to Troup County, Shumate studied the county and school system in depth.

“I looked at all the assets of this community and the size of the district, facilities, funding,” Shumate said. “You are sitting on something special; do you know that? Sometimes it takes someone from outside to tell you that.”

When it came down to the future of the schools, he said there is a possibility to be great and one of the best, but it will be a process.

“There are some great things here, and there are some things that need improvement,” Shumate said. “We have to confront it and deal with it.”

Parents of students count on the school system to help guide their children and to lead them to a successful graduation. Shumate said that is not possible if there is a divide in the school system.

“You have got to care about each other and all of these kids,” he said. “We’ve got to quit this divide between central office and the schools. We’ve got to break down barriers within central office. I want us to serve schools, not vice versa.”

Coherence across the board will also be a focus for Shumate this year.

“Create district instructional coherence,” Shumate told the crowd of teachers that TCSS needs to do. “Third grade reading needs to be third grade reading in whichever 11 of our elementary schools you are going to. We have to have common curriculum across the board, and it has got to be paced in a similar way. There is a science to it all of it.”

Shumate said he does not want to take the creativity away from teachers when it comes to the way they teach but wants a commonality across all schools.

Shumate said the GMAS scores were “all over the place” due to an incoherence in teaching in the school system.

According to Shumate, the 19 principals will be the key to having great schools.

“Empower your principals,” Shumate said. “We have got to have great building leaders, or we are not going anywhere. It takes courage to confront issues.”

Shumate said change is going to start in the school system at the core with the teachers and getting the students excited to be at school.

“Kids have to consume us,” Shumate said. “We need to make sure kids engage and do well. The worst day of a parent’s life is when a kid says they hate school and are not going back. We have to find a place where every kid goes home talking about something, they are fired up about.”