Dear editor:

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to the rant and rave from July 6, 2012.  I am clearly stating my belief on the role of teachers in the education of our children.  

I have documented in brochures mailed to my constituents that “the Colquitt County School System has accomplished much” since 1996 which is when I was elected to the Board of Education.  Our teachers are the front line to make this happen.  Teachers are the face the children see and our system depends on teacher’s dedication and professionalism.  It takes us all in a school system for it to be able to accomplish what we have done since 1996 including bus drivers, housekeepers, cafeteria workers, media, mechanics, maintenance, parapro’s, bookkeepers and payroll clerks, volunteers,  and probably more that I may fail to mention.  Everyone has a role in making a school system successful.

Teachers have a role as life-long learners who expect high levels of student achievement so the children can be prepared for post secondary schooling (college or technical or specific training).  It is the teacher who narrows learning gaps in achievement and ensures opportunities are available for all students to be successful.

The facts are that:  Students with teachers who are effective have higher graduation rates and higher scores on standardized tests.  Students with effective teachers have higher earnings after graduation and have higher levels of civic participation.

Superintendents, Principals and Central Office Staff are there to serve the teachers, to ensure the resources they need are available for them to be effective.  Superintendents, Principals and Central Office Staff are held accountable to remove any obstacle preventing a teacher from being effective.   

School Boards are there to set policy.  Policies should be focused on ensuring those obstacles are removed and stay removed.  School Boards are democracy in action in it’s truest form.  We are there to communicate with constituents and ensure the values of the local system are consistent with the values of the community the system serves.

All of this requires communication and collaboration.  Are we communicating and collaborating in every school?  Every classroom?  Throughout all communities?  No.  But, we aren’t where we were; we aren’t where we need to be.  We have to get there.  This is my focus.  Our Principals and Central Staff must see themselves existing only to support teachers so teachers are effective.

The Colquitt County Schools vision and primary policy is “Each Day – Excellence in Every Way”.  This means each student must focus on excellence when doing school work, eating lunch, participating in activities or riding the bus.  Each teacher operating in excellence comes to work on-time with a plan for being effective.  

Principals and Central Office Staff become excellent at seeing how they can serve the teachers.  We all know students who learn in school to live by “Each Day – Excellence in Every Way”  learn to live each day after graduation with the same principal.  

My belief?  Teachers are the cornerstone for students learning and becoming contributing citizens of tomorrow.  Everyone is part of supporting them so we can make this happen.

Thank you again for this opportunity to respond.

Debra Matthews Hampton


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