Tuesday, August 09, 2016

TOP STORY >> Kickoff for new district

Leader staff writer

“If we can build children now, we won’t have to repair them as adults,” motivational speaker Keith Brown told teachers, staff and administrators of the new Jacksonville school district in a two-hour high-energy pump-you-up session Monday morning to kick off the birth of the district.

“Here at JNPSD we want to set high standards. We want young people to come in as students and leave as scholars. We don’t want them to shout ‘Pig Sooie’ as a fan, we want them to shout it because they are attending that university,” a pumped up Brown declared.

The dancing, singing, standing, cheering event ended with Brown getting 10 district members, including deputy superintendents Jeremy Owohand Bryan Duffie lifting Superintendent Tony Wood high in the sky as a metaphor for how the district will rise above all the other districts in the area and state.

Brown, from Atlanta, Ga., was a special education student growing up and now calls himself a specialty speaker and one who believes you can move from the impossible to the possible. Brown told the audience that 30, 20, 10 years ago that many thought the day of a new district was impossible “but here we are showing how it is possible.”

Brown told the crowd that all students are at various levels of at-risk and that every one of them are also gifted and talented in their own way.

He said the district team was there at McArthur Assembly of God Church to celebrate their independence after more than 30 years of effort. “Moses carried a staff — you are a team, not a staff, remember that.”

“We want our scholars to keep their face in books and not on Facebook, we want them to choose reading over ringtones, textbooks over texting and instead of bling, bring focus on that graduation ring.”

Each school was introduced to cheers, as was central office and all other departments such as transportation, nutrition, security, maintenance, technology and nurses.

Teachers were told that Jacksonville will be one of about 70 school districts in the state to offer free breakfast and lunch to every student.

“Kids are going to benefit like never before,” Brown exclaimed, “We are going to be so good that parents are going to want to be with their kids to be in your classroom.”

“We will no longer have students looking at a sentence before they can write one. We are going to cultivate, motivate and nurture,” Brown shouted out as one of his many upbeat phrases.

“We will go from remedial to remarkable.”

Admitting that he might be stepping on a few toes, he made some strong points. First he said that poverty was not a disability. “If you are in poverty you have two options: Either make it better or make it better.”

Brown also said teachers needed to look at color. “I’m not a proud man who is black, I’m a proud black man,” and pointing to a female teacher, “and you are a proud white woman.”

“Seeing color is not racist,” Brown said. “Love the skin you are in.” He added that teachers needed to see students as they are. Brown also emphasized there was no such thing as black English or white English only standard American English, which everyone needed to know to communicate effectively.”

Before having the district members lift the superintendent, he told the teachers to “laugh with math, have an alliance with science, be a buddy with social studies and have a heart.”

School board member Jim Moore said this is the first time a gathering like this has been held for all teachers in Jacksonville.