Mike Ewton: One Whitfield

Mike Ewton

What does a logo say about an organization? What does it represent? Many organizations have logos, slogans and mantras that may or may not have much to do with what they really believe in as an organization. By now, you have probably seen our One Whitfield logo on signs, our website, service vehicles or school buses. The logo has three stylized people standing side by side all wearing graduation regalia. Each of the three individuals is a different color (maroon, orange and navy blue) specifically representing the students and future graduates of our three conventional high schools and their associated middle and elementary schools.

In addition to symbolizing our unified school system, the different colors represent the broad diversity of people in our school system. As a dynamic and responsive public school system, we proudly and equitably serve the educational needs of students of all backgrounds, races, creeds, disability statuses and socio-economic situations.

Another element represented by our school system logo is the unity of purpose that it represents. Successfully educating tomorrow’s leaders and workforce requires community involvement. Classroom instruction is the bedrock that education is built upon and we have some of the finest teachers anywhere. Beyond classroom instruction, teachers are constantly called upon to meet the social and emotional needs of students. Research has shown that students who have the support of their teachers, parents and a community that values education have better educational outcomes than those who are lacking in one of these areas.

The school community includes teachers and every other adult who works in a school building or in the school system, as well as parents, volunteers and school support partners. No matter what job employees perform within the school system, they are first and foremost in the education business. Without school bus drivers, for example, many of our students would not be able to attend school. Without our school nutrition professionals, many of our students would not receive proper nutrition. A clean and well maintained learning environment is the essential mission of our maintenance and custodial teams. Beyond their primary job functions, each adult in the school district serves as an example of responsible adult behavior and a source of support for those students who are in need.

Community support outside the school building is just as important as what happens inside. Community collaboration and partnerships help our schools stay in tune with the needs and expectations of the community and help us to fulfill our mission. Open and frequent communication between governmental, business and nonprofit organizations helps guide our strategic priorities. This type of community collaboration benefits both schools and the community at large by ensuring that each understands the needs, intentions and plans of the other.

Individual schools enjoy this type of community collaboration by partnering with local businesses and nonprofit organizations to provide resources that would not otherwise be available. Examples range from business donations for student recognitions and learning materials to volunteer mentorship programs aimed at helping students hone their literacy skills in our elementary schools. Other examples include innovative teaching grants and volunteer resources provided through our literacy partnerships with civic organizations and higher education institutions.

I believe the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child is true, but it requires more than the random acts of isolated villagers to successfully educate a child. It takes highly qualified teachers and the type of intentional collaborative support that we enjoy here in our community. It requires a unified purpose of ensuring that all of our community’s students are afforded the learning opportunities necessary to succeed in the 21st century.

We are fortunate to enjoy this type of unified support for education in our community. Students, teachers, parents, support staff, volunteers, business partners, community members, other educational entities and nonprofit organizations all have an important part to play in public education. Our mission is to maximize student learning by providing challenging and engaging educational experiences in a safe and supportive environment.

Together, we are committed to student success. Together, we are dedicated to the future of our community and our nation. Together, we are One Whitfield!

Mike Ewton is superintendent of Whitfield County Schools.

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