Shelby County School Leaders are already hard at work preparing for the upcoming school year. About 150 Shelby County school principals, assistant principals and Central Office leaders attended two days of leadership training to learn about the school district’s priorities for the upcoming year.
Superintendent Randy Fuller told school leaders that he wants them to focus on building a positive school culture by building relationships within their communities and within their schools. He also wants them to ask this question, “What is your story?”
In asking that question, he wants school leaders to make it a priority to develop relationships with community stakeholders, parents, staff, and students. He also wants school leaders to be strategic with their marketing efforts in order to share positive news about their schools and programs.
Finding out the story of individual students through student advocacy is another main priority for the school year. Dr. Lynn Cook, Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, used the saying “no one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care,” to describe the importance of every student having an adult advocate in their lives.
“We know that our strength is that we have very caring teachers and staff,” Dr. Cook said. “We need to make sure that every student in the building knows that there is an adult in the building that will be there for them no matter what.”
Recognizing and meeting the underlying mental health needs of some students was another area of discussion dealing with student advocacy. School leaders heard from Shelby County Probate Judge Jim Fuhrmeister, who oversees Shelby County Mental Health Court, a program that is designed to get mentally ill offenders treatment instead of a possible jail sentence. School leaders were told that while some of the most recognizable acts of school violence have been perpetrated by individuals with mental illness, not everyone with a mental illness is violent. And in most cases, they just need someone to recognize their problem and offer assistance.
Some students have obvious academic or behavioral needs that make it easy for school leaders to recognize. With students suffering from mental illness, those needs are not always as obvious and educators must work harder to recognize the symptoms and get them help.