Torrance Choates: With everyone on same page, success will be reality

Published 12:00 pm Monday, February 20, 2017

In this week’s column, I will discuss with you the culture we are creating in the Sumter County Schools. I call it “Unified Goal Congruence.”  It begins by everyone understanding that everyone in the system has a purpose and that we all have to recognize what each person contributes. Everybody needs to feel satisfied knowing they are essential to the educational process and that they are helping to make a difference. Breaking down the concept, “unified” means “together.”  “Goal” means “seeing the vision.” “Congruence” means “equal.”  Therefore, if all employees share “A Unified Goal Congruence,” it means that all employees have a major goal in common and they unite as equal partners to realize that goal. It means that we are all going to come together as the best custodian, the best bus driver, the best paraprofessional, the best teacher, and the best principal that we can possibly be for the best interest of our students. By doing this, we can achieve our shared goal of bringing this system to the forefront in academics and athletics.
Can this be done? Definitely. We have talented and dedicated teachers and administrators and we also have a school board that works together and puts the students first. But as you know, all school systems have many challenges. Here are the things we must overcome in order to be successful:
• Sometimes students bring baggage from the home to the school. This is the case with working adults, too. We ask that you provide a loving and safe environment at home. Protect children from seeing things they don’t need to be exposed to at such a young age. Sometimes this negative exposure can devastate a child and leave scars even through adulthood.
• We desperately need this community to unite behind our school system. If there were differences in the past, let’s leave them in the past and focus on the here and now. This is our school system and these are ¬ALL of our students who will eventually be the adults who contribute to the betterment of our community. If we can put aside our racial divide and differences for one year, can you imagine what could be accomplished?
• Parents, I would like for you to join us on this “unified goal congruence” to be the best parents that you can be. Again, I want to point out the importance of expectations. Please do not be happy or complacent when your child brings home a “C.” If you accept it and act happy about it, you are laying the groundwork for a “D” to come home. Yes, it is good to pitch a small fit and not accept a “C.” As a rule of thumb, I told my children, that nothing under an “A” comes home. Yes, the expectations were high and it was intentional. I wanted to make sure “C’s” did not come into my household with any of my children.
When it comes to the education of your child, we are all in this together. Together, we will unite for the betterment of all the children in the district.

Torrance Choates, Ed.D., is superintendent, Sumter County Schools.