Hamm Presents 4-Square Plan

The new head of the Richland 2 School District made her public debut Monday night at the Board’s regular meeting at Spring Valley High School. The bulk of the meeting was executive session behind closed doors, and after appearing an hour later than originally planned, the Board moved to address the two public agenda items.

First was the presentation by Interim Superintendent Dr. Debbie Hamm on highlighting the District’s priorities for the coming school year. The brief outline of her vision for the District was discussed in past weeks in meetings with teachers and school principals in a similar format. Hamm’s four square plan was enthusiastically embraced by the Board. She said it involves Learning, Community, Character and Joy.

Learning involves honoring the new Common Core standards, teaching 21st century skills that are needed for our students and having the entire district seek ways to erode the obstacles that prevent student learning.

Community brings the District’s external community into the internal Richland 2 community through partnerships and open communication. Community partnership with honest dialogue will also create the team feeling – a sense of family.

Character. The notion of public education having a focus on educating the public body pre-dates colonial one-room schools. Besides academics, public schools are charged with mentoring character development that promotes the democracy we live in. One of the missions of public education, she said, is to prepare the public to be part of the public. The academic work continues to be the heart of the District’s purpose.

The student must also understand their civic responsibility and recognize how their gifts might contribute. Respect of the law, voting during election and staying abreast of affairs, public behavior, and character development are parts of civic responsibility that can be modeled in the district and practiced by students themselves when in school.

Joy. At recent meetings with teachers she told them teaching with joy and instilling joy of learning are critical. Happy people are best able to teach and learn, she reasoned. The satisfaction of work well done is the goal of both staff and student.

Board member James Manning expressed his thanks for clear and easy to understand objectives. Board member Chip Jackson appreciated that Hamm was a “good listener” in translating the requests of District staff in last year’s Climate Survey to part of a workable plan. Chairman Bill Flemming felt the inclusion of “Joy” as a priority for students and staff was a recognition of the depth and width of the work that can be accomplished in the District when satisfaction for well done work is felt.

The brief presentation of District priorities was followed by an even shorter announcement that the District has formed a committee to promote the Innovation Incubator that will be part of student learning and schools in the coming year. Hamm spoke of the significant number of resources in the community available as a resource. While still in the incubator stage itself, she expects the community to play a pivotal role in the Innovation Incubator. Details are vague with reports expected on a periodic basis.

During Superintendent comments, Hamm thanked members of the community and District staff for their terrific support. She especially appreciated those who brought her up to speed on the nuances of the District’s projects so that she and the community would not be blindsided by issues and obstacles. While the role of Superintendent was not one she says she actively sought, Hamm successfully stamped her first Board meeting as Superintendent with an atmosphere of enthusiasm and collaboration for the coming school year.

The next School Board meeting will be Tuesday, July 23 at 7 p.m. at Longleaf Middle School.

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