HUNT COLUMN: Vision 2025 Part 2

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, August 3, 2022

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By Cathy Hunt
Troup County Schools Chairwoman

In my last column, I announced the publication of the Troup County School System’s new strategic plan, Vision 2025, which has been in the works for many months, and I discussed the six core values that we have adopted as our guiding principles for student success: connection, equity, achievement, resilience, integrity, and compassion.

In this column, I’d like to focus on the five strategic goals around which we’ll center our planning and programs.

Goal 1: Focus on student success and well-being. Of paramount importance is our commitment throughout the district to support the comprehensive needs of students — academically, emotionally, and physically. At the most basic level, students must be proficient in reading and math skills, of course. But we must provide plentiful options and opportunities so that they can determine their pathways and be prepared to succeed in future endeavors. In addition, schools have become increasingly responsible for the mental and physical health needs of kids. We are making great strides in those arenas with social workers, psychologists, nurses, school resource officers and food programs.

Goal 2: Ensure Equitable Opportunities for All. For an easy analogy of what equity means, consider two students of the same age approaching a wall, on the other side of which is a beautiful view of what the world has to offer. The first student has “tall genes” and an expensive pair of boots that give him the altitude to see over the wall.

The second student has “short genes” and is barefoot. Even on tiptoe he can’t quite see over the wall.

Someone brings him a box to stand on. Problem solved. The box is a resource that the second student needs for a boost that will help him conquer the barrier.

Goal 3: Focus on Recruiting, Inducting, and Retaining Quality Staff.

All over the country, teachers are leaving the profession in droves. The stresses of the last two years of Covid have caused a large group of baby boomers to finally bow out. Younger teachers are finding they can make a lot more money in another field.

We are strengthening our human resources/recruiting office with new, full-time talent and are in the process of beefing up mentoring, professional learning and leadership development.

Goal 4: Cultivate the Capacity of the School System to Function as a Flexible and Adaptable Organization.

One positive outcome of the pandemic is that TCSS was forced to get into high gear when it comes to alternate learning platforms and modern technology. We rolled with the punches very well and, with the exception of a couple of days here and there at individual schools, stayed open from fall 2020 on. We plan to stay current with technology solutions, such as the one-to-one Chromebook initiative.

Goal 5: Lead in the Cultivation of Relationships and Strategic Partnerships between the School System and Parents, and Among Agencies and Organizations which Provide Services to Children.

A school system that is insulated from the community will never thrive. We have numerous agencies in this county that are fabulous partners. We have a superintendent who is doing a marvelous job of making connections. Stakeholders, including parents and students, are participating in planning and in interviewing principals. We look forward to opening more avenues of involvement as Covid lessens its hold.

Currently, teachers are well into pre-planning. Students return to schools this Friday. Please say a prayer and/or send positive vibes for a safe and productive school year, and one in which we make great headway in implementing and furthering our strategic goals.