Having every resident of Bradley County become an advocate for education is a new working vision for the Bradley County Board of Education.
During a brainstorming work session Saturday with Dr. Allison Pierce of Resource Development Systems, the board discussed development of a vision, mission statement and objectives for moving forward.
“My goal today is for you to see the 30,000-foot view of the system and your role in it, and how best to carry out that role,” Pierce said.
Pierce challenged board members to look beyond their dreams to the vision.
“The vision is like the star out there you never quite get to. You never attain your vision, you are always moving that direction ... Your mission is the how you get there,” Pierce said.
Pierce said many times boards get so caught up in their day-to- day operations, they do not take time to dream.
The board developed the mission statement “to inform and influence our community by ‘telling our story’ and working together” as a plan for working toward its vision.
To develop the mission statement board members brainstormed ways to create advocates for education through partnerships, communication with the community and being unified as a board and a school system.
Board member Troy Weathers said it was important for the board to be a unified voice in the community
“I believe if you’re in your community ... and they believe you are education all the way, I believe what you say makes a difference,” Weathers said.
Weathers said if a board member talks negatively about other members or the school system to community members it hurts the board’s credibility and ability to reach goals.
Board member Vicki Beaty said a key to moving toward the board’s vision was communicating with the public and keeping them informed.
“I think it is extremely important for the school board to have an open line of communication,” Beaty said.
Perception is often a person’s reality, Beaty said.
Beaty said being aware of the community’s perception of the school board would be important to consider as the board works toward the vision of creating advocates for education.
Open forums with the public could also be a part, according to board member Nicholas Lillios.
Pierce said happy employees talking to their friends and family can sometimes do more to promote a positive perception of a company then a marketing campaign.
To develop the vision, the board was divided into two groups. Groups talked about what they would like to accomplish. Some emphasized expanding learning opportunities to meet more educational needs of students and families. Others discussed making the board more effective and efficient.
Board member Chris Turner said he would like to see the board meet the qualifications to be designated a board of distinction by the Tennessee School Boards Association.
After the vision and mission statements were drafted, board members discussed specific objectives.
Objectives ranged from establishing an annual planning meeting and publishing a report about the board’s work and successes to continuing things the board are already doing.
Weathers said it was important for the board to develop a new vision, but it should also consider the obstacles to seeing that happen. He said setting attainable goals was important.
“I do think it’s very important ... that we look at our long-term goals ... and how we want to be perceived and how we want to operate,” Beaty said.
She emphasized prioritizing objectives would be important moving forward.
Pierce said the point of discussing objectives was to determine what the focus should be.
When establishing and prioritizing objectives, the success of many of the proposed objectives would depend on funding, such as capital projects, providing more resources to teachers and providing more support staff.
Bradley County director of schools Johnny McDaniel said he would like to see every student in Bradley County have access to an electronic device such as a computer or iPad throughout the school day. As the cost of technology decreases, McDaniel sees this as being closer to being a reality. He said funding is always a challenge.
Bradley County Schools is funded 119th out of 137 school systems, according to McDaniel. This includes $2.5 million in grants the school system received this year.
Saturday’s meeting began with McDaniel and board members remembering successes the school board had last year.
Key successes of the board were listed as switching to the Project Coach evaluation model and keeping momentum in a year with two new members.
Board member Rodney Dillard said he felt the board’s ability to work together and get things accomplished as a major success.
“We may not always agree, but we can agree to disagree,” Dillard said.
“Seeing the value of each other and having that willingness to participate,” Pierce said. “That’s really the success of a board.”
Chairman Charlie Rose said the fact every board member was present at the work session was an example of their dedication and willingness to serve.
McDaniel said the Bradley County Commission completed a similar workshop a few years ago. At that workshop, the education group developed a vision of “to provide the best education in the country to Bradley County students.”
“Part of the role of the board is to communicate to the Commission what does it takes to be the best,” McDaniel said.