The Clarke County School District held a 2017-18 school year kick-off for employees for the first time in nearly a decade on Aug. 1. Various speakers, including district teacher of the year Dana Siegmund, Superintendent Demond Means and inspirational speaker Manny Scott, took the stage at the Classic Center between 8:30 a.m. and noon. “I think it is is just designed to get everyone excited to get back to school and get fired up to start teaching again,” Oglethorpe Elementary School teacher Macy Russell said.
By MACKENZIE CAUDILL – Staff Writer
The Clarke County School District’s entire staff for all 21 schools came together at the Classic Center on Aug. 1 to kick-off the 2017-18 school year.
The Clarke County School District (CCSD) 2017-18 school year will begin for students on Aug. 9. However every teacher, bus driver, custodian and cafeteria worker employed at a CCSD school gathered at the Classic Center on Aug. 1 to kick-off the school year, along with CCSD support personnel from the district office.
“(The employee kick-off) was a coming together and a rejuvenation of the school year just to get everybody fired up,” J.J. Harris Elementary School teacher Terri Landers said. “Also to introduce our new superintendent (Dr. Demond Means).”
This is the first employee kick-off for the CCSD in several years, and Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary school teacher Macy Russell believes Means is to thank for its return.
“I think that this is something he’s bringing in. He’s new to the district, so he’s incorporating this new fun kick-off for us,” Russell said.
The event began with a performance by Athens musician Kishi Bashi followed by a list of speakers including CCSD award-winning faculty Dana Siegmund and Dr. Stacie Carson, Manny Scott, Mayor Nancy Denson, Cedar Shoals rising senior Willie Craddick Jr. and Means. Clarke Central High School’s Jazz Quartet performed at intermission. The line up impressed Russell.
“I think they did a good job of making it look fun and interesting. It’s hard to get back from summer and be excited, but it’s fun so far,” Russell said.
They keynote speech of the event was given by Scott, an original Freedom Writer, whose story along with other classmates was featured in the 2007 film “Freedom Writers”. He gave a speech reflecting on his past and how school employees have impacted his life.
“Having someone lecture and give a phenomenal speech that’s inspirational I think is good for the soul,” Hilsman Middle School math department teacher Ty Scott, no relation, said. “I feel empowered and inspired. It’s making me think about how every moment counts.”
Ty believes continuing this event will be beneficial to the CCSD.
“I think it’s a great event. I think we need more of this,” Ty Scott said. “These days that we can reinspire ourselves to keep from getting frustrated.”
Means closed the event with a speech addressing his visions for the CCSD as superintendent.
“Dr. Means’ vision for Clarke Central seems very focused on 3 elements: literacy, numeracy and emotional well-being of students,” CCHS math department teacher Heather Julian said. “He seems to understand the uniqueness of Clarke County, the dedication of its teachers and is ready to listen to all stake-holders. I am looking to moving “Forward Together” with him in leadership.”