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TCSS scholarship builds homegrown talent

During a Troup County School System Board of Education meeting filled with anticipation about senior property taxes, two young women were presented to the board with a scholarship that will start them off on the right foot in their teaching careers.

Tika Russell and Sharonza Jones were selected as the recipients of the TCSS “Grow Your Own Scholarship” Program.

Basically, the two women — both  already work for the school system — will have their college tuition reimbursed by the district once they graduate from college.

Russell is currently a paraprofessional at Ethel Kight Elementary School and is also the director of the Ace Program, which is an after-class enrichment program. Russell graduated from LaGrange High School and is attending Brenau University in Norcross.

Jones is a pre-K paraprofessional at Long Cane Elementary School, and she is the Greenpower coach at the school.

He said she’s been with the school system since 2015 and will finish her degree at LaGrange College in the summer.

Program Specialist Jim McMickin said these two candidates stood out from the field of 12 applicants vying for the scholarship.

McMickin said the candidates had to get several recommendations, write a few essays about why teaching is important to them and how education has impacted their lives. Once the field was cut down to six people, they sat through an interview process, similar to what a teacher would go through when applying for a job.

Chief Human Resources Officer Chip Medders said the Grow Your Own Scholarship program was created to keep talent from the area in the school system.

He said when looking at national data, 50 percent of teachers leave the profession in the first five years, and 20 percent of principals leave the profession every year.

“Growing your own teachers and growing your own administrators is very, very important,” Medders said. “I think it is a vital step in the process we are going through right now.”

We agree that maintaining the talent educated and trained right here in Troup County is vital to the region’s growth.

When we have educators who know the school system, are invested in the region and care about the future of the area as a whole, we are more likely to have teachers who want to be in school.

Teaching is a hard enough job when fully motivated. However, we are confident that when a teacher knows the school system believes in them and has their best interest in mind, the sky is the limit for the teacher and the students in that person’s classroom.