The Tallapoosa County school system is less than 3,000 students and only six schools in the east central part of Alabama. Like most rural systems, their cup doth not runeth over. Still, Superintendent Joe Windle is proud of the system and goes out of his way to let local folks know what is going on.
Which is why he and his staff just hosted another “Meet Me at the School” day. “It’s important that stakeholders get a first-hand look at students, teachers and classes so they can see with their own eyes what we are doing,” says Windle. So a few days ago a group of business folks were invited to spend the morning at a school. (Last year local elected officials were invited, parents will be invited in the spring.)
I joined in and spent a period in Kim Shelton’s geometry class at Dadeville High. Kim is in her 24th year of teaching, all at Dadeville High, where her husband also teaches. When I had geometry, desks were lined up in rows and the teacher spent all of the class period at the blackboard lecturing. Not so with Kim’s class. Desks were in groups of four and there was a great deal of interaction in the groups as students worked together to solve problems. Kim was constantly on the move going from group to group.
The visitors re-assembled later in the morning to discuss what they saw and give their impressions, which were consistently positive.
One participant visited a class studying To Kill A Mockingbird. She was impressed at how engaged the students were and how skilled the teacher was in praising her students and leading them to think critically. Another said, “Things were much more interactive than when I was in school.”
Still another who works for the Department of Human Resources made the observation that “While some students come to learn, others come to be loved.”
I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, this is one part of today’s education equation that too many do not comprehend.
But Joe Windle is working to change this. His idea is one that other systems should put into practice.