Monday, June 15, 2015

Closing Out the School Year - Guest Post by Dr. Dixie Abernathy

Guest post by Dr. Dixie Abernathy, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary and Secondary Education, Gaston County Schools
June 13, 2015
Good evening, Gaston County Principals and Assistant Principals-

When next I see all of you, we will be gathered for our Summer Administrators' Conference and already busy planning for and anticipating the 2015-2016 school year. Before leaving this current year behind, I wished to share a few reflections regarding the school year we have just concluded together.

First, allow me to share with you what an impressive, compassionate, and focused group of school administrators you are. There were more than a few people this year who asked me how my year was progressing, how the transition to 56 schools had been, and how the "Gary Henry" job was going. Be assured - my answer to these questions was always the same...

"How blessed I am to work with the 56 principals and 60 assistant principals that I work with every day".

In other words, all of you make my job a joy. Thank you.

Secondly, I want to thank you - each of you - for the many times throughout the year, but most especially during these final weeks, that you gave people second chances (and third, and fourth, and fifth), bent over backwards to help a child, and demonstrated high levels of compassion and empathy for parents and families. I think we can all honestly say that we treated all with whom we interacted exactly as we would wish to be treated ourselves. While this applies to all of our administrators, allow me in particular to spotlight our high school principals for a moment. I was involved in quite a few "last minute" graduation crises this week. As I stated to many of you on the phone, you would be completely justified and fully supported to "hold the line" on the important, difficult, and often unpopular decisions being made regarding graduation. But what I also found in 99% of these situations is that you were erring on the side of the student and willing to give every concession, compromise, and ground possible while being fair, consistent, and maintaining the credibility of the school and the diploma. To put it simply - high school principals - you were absolutely amazing. 

Finally, I thank each and every one of you for the many times this year you gave a 110% effort for a student. Assistant principals, at times you may think that your hard work and tireless efforts go unnoticed. Be assured, they do not. We could not have the successful schools we have without you. You connect with our students, you communicate with our families, and you make the managerial components run efficiently, in addition to a million other things. Thank you. Principals, thank you for working with me, for allowing me to give you advice, to ask you questions, and to work with you to probe a little deeper. Thank you for welcoming me to your schools, for sharing my love for outstanding classroom instruction, and for confiding your deepest concerns, troubles, and challenges to me. Just like you, I am always working to be better and to improve my own service to you and to our system. I value any input you may like to share in this regard.

As I stood on the stage today in the beautiful Hunter Huss stadium with a sea of light blue before me, and shook the hands of 230 excited, smiling graduates, I couldn't help but feel so much pride. My administrative colleagues were standing close by on both sides. To my left were the stellar principal and assistant principals of Hunter Huss. To my right were the outstanding administrators from all of the schools who had invested so much over the years into this graduating class. As each senior walked by and I looked into their faces, I had an uncanny feeling that I was meeting someone that I would meet again in the future. Perhaps ten, fifteen, or twenty years down the road......

I was meeting the doctor who would operate on my loved one. I was meeting the police officer who would come to my aid in time of need. I was meeting the soldier who would put his life on the line for my freedom. I was meeting the mechanic who would fix my car and make it safe for me to drive. I was meeting the construction worker who would build my son's new home. I was meeting the airline pilot who would deliver me safely to my travel destination. I was meeting the nurse who would care for me in my old age. 

And you were meeting them as well, on your own stages and in your own stadiums - the faces of our future. 

Because all of you have made today possible, I did not want this day to end without sharing my personal gratitude. As our 32,000 students start their summers, either with a diploma in hand or in anticipation of the next grade to come, they all have one thing in common. For each of them, your leadership made the difference. Consider your's a job well done, and thank you so very, very much.

Dixie Abernathy

Thanks for reading,


The opinions in this blog belong to Craig Smith and do not represent the school or district in which he works.

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