By 8:00 a.m. at least half of the QHS auditorium is covered in a sea of blue. Today is the first day of the 2019 – 2020 school year for Quitman School District’s faculty and staff. With only five more days remaining until those students registered for school arrive ready to learn, Superintendent Toriano Holloway has planned a convocation and left no room for doubt about the upcoming year.
All the people in this room have what 27-year teaching veteran Michelle Davis describes as, “That anxiety about the first day of school. Is my room going to be ready? Do I have everything? I still feel that after all these years.”
Whether it’s their first year to teach or they, like Tonicka Carter, have called local schools and this district their home for generations, these instructors, coaches, administrators, nurses, secretaries, and staff are feeling the synergy of a common focus.
“You are educators. You are all a part of the education of our students,” Holloway reminds them.
“Kids want a voice, engagement, and relationships. Our focus for engaging our students will be in two areas: quality, engaging instruction and integrating technology,” he says and then describes how inspired he is hearing from teachers this morning.
Tana Causey, Renee Buckley, Tonicka Carter, Michelle Davis, and Jason Miller each stand in front of their peers and describe what it is like to be part of a group of people who nurture by nature and see service as a duty.
The large room fills with music and dancing and introductions and laughter. When Sister Sledge sings “We Are Family,” Quitman Upper Elementary sings it with them.
Then Pat Ross from Bailey Education Group, LLC is introduced. He understands this group. He began his teaching career at Quitman Junior High and sees this invitation as another first he has received from a place he had never known until a job was offered by Charles McClure. All these years later, he smiles when he says, “You have a special place here. I can feel it in this room. Quitman is a special place.”
Ross encourages the group to understand the lens they look through and then get uncomfortable enough to look through the lens of their students.
In what seems like hardly any time at all the group hears from Curriculum & Testing Coordinator Shevonda Truman, Ph.D., Nikki Reeves, and Michelle Davis about how summer planning has already established pacing guides for the year.
“That work is now done for you,” Reeves tells her fellow teachers.
A huge smile expands across Dr. Holloway’s face as he urges everyone to celebrate the success they achieved during the 2018 – 2019 school year. With Quitman Lower Elementary’s Pre-K program ranked 4th out of 14 Early Learning Collaboratives and 11th out of 62 schools in the state, the school’s Kindergarten ranked 16th in the state and 2nd Grade as the highest scoring school in ELA and Math on Case 21 Benchmark Assessments, it is not surprising to see what Holloway is able to show on the screen for QUE, QJH, QHS, and CCCTC.
Celebrating both past and future success is what is happening in the Quitman High School auditorium.
It’s the same synergy which will be opening the doors and greeting the students to their schools on Tuesday morning.