Columbus schools begin work on 'new vision'

 

Columbus Middle School teacher Christina Beddies looks over a list of core values while Stokes-Beard pre-kindergarten teacher Marie Burgess, Columbus Middle School gifted education teacher Sylvia Collins and Stokes-Beard third grade teacher Gwen Latham discuss their lists during a professional development seminar Saturday morning at the Columbus Municipal School District's Brandon Central Services.

Columbus Middle School teacher Christina Beddies looks over a list of core values while Stokes-Beard pre-kindergarten teacher Marie Burgess, Columbus Middle School gifted education teacher Sylvia Collins and Stokes-Beard third grade teacher Gwen Latham discuss their lists during a professional development seminar Saturday morning at the Columbus Municipal School District's Brandon Central Services. Photo by: Carmen K. Sisson/Dispatch Staff

 

Carmen K. Sisson

 

 

More than 65 teachers, administrators and community members gathered at the Columbus Municipal School District's Brandon Central Services on Saturday to begin drafting a new vision plan for the district.

 

The meeting was led by CMSD Superintendent Dr. Martha Liddell, former state superintendent Dr. Tom Burnham and representatives from the Institute on Education and Workforce Development, a partnership between the University of Mississippi and the National Center on Education and the Economy.

 

Attendees gathered in small groups to develop a rough draft of the core values the district needs to focus upon in the years ahead. This will form the foundation for the district's vision statement.

 

 

Suggestions included putting students first and educating them to their full potential, having a commitment to excellence, developing a rigorous curriculum to encourage lifelong learners, partnering with the community for a "boots-on-the-ground approach" and using the Whole Child concept to develop children consciously and emotionally.

 

Burnham encouraged the district to write a vision statement that is focused on results and is achievable, measurable, simple and clear.

 

"Your vision statement should be something you believe is worth fighting for," Burnham said. "You should wake up every single day knowing, 'This is what I'm doing, and this is why I'm doing it.'"

 

The message inspired Columbus High School guidance counselor Gloria Gunter, who said it served as a good reinforcement to the "out-of-the-box" thinking Liddell encourages them to employ.

 

Gunter has been with the district eight years, and she believes Saturday's professional development seminar will raise the morale of district employees.

 

"I feel real good about where we're going," Gunter said. "When you've got a passion for making a difference in the life of a child and that determination is evident in the work you do, not only do the students win but everybody wins."

 

The district hasn't had a new vision plan in years, Liddell said after the meeting, and the process they are now undergoing is more involved -- and more inclusive -- than previous efforts.

 

In the past, decisions have been made in isolation, but the new method will bring all stakeholders together as a team, with leaders empowering other leaders, she said.

 

That aspect appealed to Christina Beddies, who teaches English at Columbus Middle School. She said she likes being part of the planning process, and she feels consistency and better communication will help morale and allow teachers, administrators and the community to take ownership in the district, working together for its success.

 

"I like the fact we're looking at it with a more global perspective," Beddies said. "Everyone plays an integral part in what's going on."

 

The group will meet again Sept. 29 and Oct. 20 to craft and hone the new vision statement.

 

 

Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.

 

 

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