UNION COUNTY — Five philosophies that will help the Union County School District to build a “traditional of excellence” and “put students first” was the subject of Superintendent Dr. William Roach’s “chat” with teachers at Tuesday’s “Back To School Celebration.”
For most students, the 2016-2017 school year will get under way next Monday when classes resume at county schools. For teachers, however, the school year began this past Monday when they returned to their schools to get their classrooms ready for the arrival of students.
The return of the district’s teachers was celebrated Tuesday with a Back To School Celebration at Union County High School. The event featured opportunities for teachers, administrators, and other staff to network; the recognition of the 2016-2017 Teachers of the Year and the recognition of the district’s newest teachers; light refreshments; door prizes; and a comedy skit starring a number of teachers and administrative staff.
Among those addressing the celebration was Superintendent Dr. William Roach who shared with those present his beliefs and philosophies regarding education.
“As I shared in my welcome back letter I believe education is a calling and one that makes our county, state, and nation a better place to live and work,” Roach said. “I firmly believe that education impacts more people than any other profession. One concern with education is that one source revealed that the number of teachers satisfied with public education in America has decreased from 65 percent in 2008 to 38 percent in 2014. This trend is alarming for not only educators, but also for all citizens.
“Teaching is a calling and is one of the best professions in America today,” he said. “With all of the complexity, confusion, and challenges in public education today, it is our duty to provide organizational leadership for everyone in our district. Teamwork is one of the most underutilized concepts in our society today. We should all be striving to build a team that allows students to learn and teachers to teach. All of our work should occur within a system that promotes excellence in a culture that seeks to build people.”
Roach said that the vision of the Union County School District is to “’build a tradition of excellence,’ and our mission is that ‘Union County Schools and its stakeholders will commit to students first in building community excellence and life-long learning.’ Our goals this year should be to build a tradition of excellence and put students first.”
Roach then proceeded to share with those present five philosophies that he believes will help the district achieve its goals.
1. Create a Winsome Culture!
“Culture trumps strategy!!! You can have the best strategy in the world and if the culture is wrong it will never be successful!
“The relationships that are built in our schools create the framework for schools to be able to monitor and adjust with the constant barrage of mandates that come. Our culture is determined by the relationships we build.
“A “B” grade execution is better than an “A” grade strategy. Execution comes from clear expectations, passion, believing in each other, and a precise focus on student achievement.”
2. Speak the Truth in Love without an Attitude!
“Communication is very important, but we must love each other. We have to love each other enough to be open and honest and to say the truth in a spirit of love.
“There are times that I don’t like my family (home, church, and work), but I always love them. Love is one of the greatest motivators in the world.
“If you are hanging over a cliff, who do you want holding the other end of the rope? The world’s strongest man or someone who loves you. If the world’s strongest man gets a cramp, he will let go of the rope. Someone who loves with you will die trying to save you.”
3. Treat People Right.
“Be the example you want to see in others. Build relationships and invest in people. Abraham Lincoln said that ‘nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.’
“Educators have a great deal of power and as we have all heard students don’t care what we know until they know that we care about them. Truly care about them. The degrees on the walls or the letters in front or behind our names, mean very little to students. Give grace and restore people.
“I don’t know about you, but I need grace daily. I only know of one perfect person and they crucified Him, so grace is something I need daily. Be gracious and restore people when they mess up. Tell story of teacher and grace.
“Are you a builder or someone who tears down? Read The Builder! Let your students know that you love them too much to allow them to fail.”
4. The Why is Important.
“In education too many times mandates come down and no one ever knows the why of what we are being told to do. As I shared in my welcome back letter, at the district level our goal is to be a support service for schools, teachers, parents, and students.
“A district that swings too far on the pendulum and has no structure is just as ineffective as a district that is too controlling. Our goal is to find the happy medium and create a structure that promotes excellence in all that we do.
“We expect excellence in the classroom, on the field, and in the community! Why — because we love you too much to allow you to fail.”
5. Hard Work Pays Off!
“This is a philosophy I live my life by on a daily basis. I loved what the actor Will Smith said in an interview and I want to read you his quote:
“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple. You’re not going to out-work me. It’s such a simple, basic concept. The guy who is willing to hustle the most is going to be the guy that just gets that loose ball. The majority of people who aren’t getting the places they want or aren’t achieving the things that they want in this business is strictly based on hustle. It’s strictly based on being out-worked; it’s strictly based on missing crucial opportunities. I say all the time if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready.”
Roach concluded his address by discussing the meaning of union and its importance to the district achieving its goals.
“Webster’s dictionary defines Union as, ‘an act or instance of uniting or joining two or more things into one; a unified condition; something that is made one; something formed by a combining or coalition of parts or members; a confederation of independent individuals (as nations or persons) for some common purpose,’” Roach said. “Ancient Greek story teller Aesop stated, ‘United we stand, but divided we fall.’
“Another famous history book said it this way, ‘A divided kingdom ends in ruin. A city or house divided against itself cannot stand,’ he said. “One Union! We have to be united and work together as a team for the students of Union County.”
Roach then thanked the teachers, administrators, and other staff “for all that you do. Let me tell you today while I have all of you here. I love you and I am dedicated to working side-by-side with you to put Union County Schools exactly where it belongs — at the top!”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.