Some rejoice. Some shrug. Some run and hide.
Ready or not, class is back in session for students in Gordon County Schools. Calhoun City Schools will follow on next week on Aug. 16.
“I believe this was one of the smoothest opening days (of school) I’ve ever been involved with,” said Gordon County Schools Superintendent Bill McCown. “Teachers and children seemed glad to be back.”
McCown said he had received feedback from teachers throughout the district who were “enthused” and ready for a new year.
“They were appreciative of having two more days of planning that had been included in the budget and we thank the board for that,” he said. Teachers had the time they needed to plan.”
As for the students, McCown said they seemed thrilled to be back to in class.
“I have been out visiting schools all day and the children are overwhelmed and excited.”
Though Calhoun City Schools still has a few more days of vacation, administrators and teachers are hard at work preparing for a new year.
“We’re excited about a new year,” said Calhoun City Schools Superintendent Dr. Michele Taylor. “Summer (was) a very busy time. There is always a lot of planning and preparing for a new year.”
Ask Taylor if she’s had a lot of free time this summer and she’ll probably just grin.
The answer is neither she nor McCown have spent a whole lot of time on the beach this summer.
The job of planning for a new school year never ends and both have been busy all summer getting their respective districts prepared for the mad rush that is back to school time.
“Summer is really an opportunity to get facilities in order,” McCown said. “The time also allowed a lot of teachers to get ready for Common Core (the new state curriculum standards). I’m so proud of our teachers for working so hard to roll out the curriculum.”
Introducing Common Core is one of the biggest changes taking place in Georgia this school year. In a nutshell, it is designed to create curriculum uniformity throughout the nation.
Also, Georgia is exempt from the rigid standards of the No Child Left Behind Act following a February waiver granted by President Obama.
As a result, schools in Georgia will not be held to the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) measurements of No Child Left Behind, which placed a heavy emphasis on test scores.
“There’s nothing wrong with using tests to measure improvement, but they don’t need to be the only measurements,” McCown said. “They don’t take into account where we have been and where we’re going.”
Schools will still be required to maintain certain standards under the new Reward, Priority, Focus or Alert model, which replaced AYP.
In general, the new model measures the progress of schools in all subject areas. It rewards success and holds schools accountable for progressing yearly.
“Our teachers work hard to prepare our students to meet and exceed standards on benchmark assessments and statewide tests,” Taylor said. “This is just another tool to help us identify areas we can strengthen in our academic programs.”
In addition to these state and national issues, McCown and Taylor have plenty of local projects sure to keep them busy this year.
Taylor will oversee the completion of the new Calhoun High School and get students in by Spring Break if possible.
Taylor will supervise construction of the new middle school, which gets underway early in 2013. She also has to prepare for the district’s 110-year anniversary.
McCown will be busy overseeing the first full year of the G-6 academy, which is designed to serve elementary gifted students. Its focus is on teamwork, creativity, science, technology, engineering and math, he said.
“It came from a real desire to serve gifted students,” he said. “We modeled it after the academy in Dalton. They served as great mentors to us.”
McCown said the district is looking to expand the academy to the middle and high schools down the road.
• Calhoun City Schools saw a slight rise in enrollment this year while Gordon County Schools have stayed approximately the same.
• Calhoun Middle School car-riders should be dropped off on Jacket Drive this year.
• Parents of kindergartners in the Calhoun City Schools system may bring their children to school at 8:45 a.m. on the first day of school.
For more information on Gordon County Schools, visit www.gcbe.org or for Calhoun City Schools, go to www.calhounschools.org.