Parents and members of the community,
Each year, I go back and read my letter to you from the previous year to see what’s changed, what needs to be included and what may need to be left out. I wish we could leave out a couple things, specifically the word COVID.
However, at this time, COVID is still in our communities. What is still included and will always be, is the excitement for a new school year.
Things are “coming at us” every day. There are changes every day. There are new developments every day. We are tired of it but it has to be dealt with and we are going to take those challenges head on. That’s my promise to you.
I took pride in communicating with you every step of the way last year. As the decisions were made, I told you why and what it meant for you. I did that to try to help ease your fears and so you could make educated decisions for you and your family. You will get the exact same transparency this year.
One thing I included in my letter last year that I think is worth another read is this: Please remember WE set the tone for our children. If we are negative about our situation, our children will be too. If we are positive, our children will be, too. I choose positive. Our students need it, we all need it.
As we go forward, we are going to start the school year getting back to the basics where the focus is on school rather than a pandemic. We are keeping a few things we changed due to COVID such as our cleaning and sanitization practices but we are working to make this a more “normal” year for our children.
Our team is aware of the continuing changes of COVID. We watched last year as the numbers after Fourth of July grew only to fall again after Labor Day and then spike again as we moved into the winter holidays. We are seeing the same type of evolution again this year with numbers climbing after Fourth of July as we head into the start of school.
While we expect to have a more normal start to school we are also monitoring the situation. We have plans in place for us to return back to mask, temperature checks or even distance learning if we need to. While I don’t want to overreact I am ready to act if the need arises.
You know who else is eagerly awaiting you and our students? Our staff. I cannot brag on our almost four thousand employees enough. I wish I could take you through a day as a custodian, cafeteria worker, counselor, teacher or principal, building and grounds workers, academics team, HR Department… the list goes on and on. These people are warriors. They are trendsetters, they are who make things happen and we are lucky they are ours.
For the system as a whole, we have continued with business as usual. We just completed the construction of the new 9th Grade Academy at Fairhope High School. A second 9th Grade Academy is under construction at Daphne High School. It is the intention and vision of the Baldwin County Board of Education and Superintendent Eddie Tyler that every high school in the county will have a separate wing for 9th graders as they transition into high school. Some will be freestanding while others will be incorporated within the current high school buildings.
Our newest elementary school, Stonebridge Elementary is also currently under construction and expected to open next school year. It’s going to be a beautiful school and the best part about it, it will be paid for thanks to our Pay As You Go Program where new construction is paid for rather than bringing the costs to our taxpayers.
Remember, we are partners. We have to in order to survive those things “coming at us” every day. We will make it through. We will persevere and we will be successful. I leave you with a saying that continues to be a mantra of my staff:
“Relationships before rigor, grace before grades, patience before programs and love before lessons.” -Dr. Brad Johnson
Maybe next year we can leave a few things out. Until then, I’ll let the old coach come out a little, let’s get ready to roll!
Eddie Tyler, Superintendent