Posted: Monday, July 7th 2014 at 8:49pm
Gainesville Schools 'turn a page'
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – It’s a new era at Gainesville City Schools; change has come.
Administrators and staff are accustomed to seeing change with each new school year: last year’s senior class is gone, last spring’s middle school eighth-graders are now at the high school, and the elementary school welcomes a new crop of five year-olds, leaving their homes for the first time and entering a whole new – and sometimes intimidating - world.
Change is a constant for the student body; just ask any high school coach trying to replace an all-star quarterback!
One place, however, where change is much less frequent is at the highest levels of a school’s structure: the Board of Education. Yet that was exactly the case at Monday night’s Gainesville City School Board meeting…even the furniture in the meeting room had been re-arranged.
Board Vice-Chairman Dr. Delores Diaz gaveled the work session to order and said, “This is going to be an adventure for all of us because we are introducing a new format for our work sessions, (and) we have new toys to play with,” Diaz said referring to the Board’s decision to go paperless and use iPads.
“Some of us have not yet learned how to use them,” Diaz added. “Bear with us…we will get it, eventually.”
Change was also evidenced by those seated at the head table. The new faces belonged to Brett Mercer who has filled the seat of longtime board member David Syfan, and Dr. Wanda Creel who has taken the Superintendent’s chair, replacing recently retired Dr. Merrianne Dyer.
“First of all I’d like to introduce myself to those I’ve not met: my name is Wanda Creel,” said the new Superintendent smiling broadly. Dr. Creel had previously served as Superintendent of Barrow County Schools and was already well known in academic circles.
“As we are learning new procedures this evening and new formats and trying new toys (iPads), we also have a new Superintendent,” Creel said. “There’s a lot of new things going on this evening.”
“You’ll also see that our Central Office staff and our Directors are sitting around the table so that they are a part of the discussion as well as our Principals,” Creel said, explaining the new seating arrangement.
“We had an opportunity this morning to talk through the agenda items and that will be our format from now on,” Creel added. “We will meet on the Monday mornings when we have our work session time so that we are prepared and know about what we will be sharing with the Board in the evening.”
Creel then announced that the voting meetings would be moved to the Gainesville Public Service Complex on Queen City Parkway.
“We will meet there beginning…on July 21st,” Creel said.
Creel admitted to “hitting the ground running”. Her zeal was evident, saying that once some of the short term changes she introduced had been implemented, her focus would then turn from implementing new strategies to reaching out to those around her.
“This year my focus is going to be on getting to know our community and getting to understand our schools and what makes them unique…and looking at how we are communicating our story.”
“It has become very evident to me that Gainesville City School System is a great place to be and we just need to tout that so that other people know what’s going on.”
HIGH SCHOOL CLASSES FOR MIDDLE SCHOOLERS
The available classes will include:
~ Coordinate Algebra
~ French I & II
~ Spanish I & II
~ Native Spanish Speakers I & II
~ Family and Consumer Services
~ Intro Healthcare Science
~ Personal Fitness
~ Theatre Arts I
~ Visual Arts I
Dr. Creel did caution those interested in the advanced classes, “These are high school courses. It does become a part of their transcript. And it’s critical for parents and the student to understand that the grade that they earn will have an impact on their GPA as they continue to move forward.”
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