Reader praises city’s education system

10:05 am | November 7, 2012

To the editor:

I am writing not with a political agenda but as a concerned parent who wants the very best for our children. I was outraged after reading Ms. Peters’ letter (10/26/12) and her statement that Elizabethton City Schools “have been known in the past for academic excellence,” implying that they no longer stand for academic excellence.

Currently, two of our schools are on the state’s rewards list (represents the top 5 percent of schools from across the state); also our system met all nine achievement measures identified by the state. These are huge accomplishments!

Ms. Peters’ letter refers to overcrowding in our schools due to the addition of many county students. Yes, we have added students! As well as capital improvements at all three elementary schools that included gymnasiums, which allowed for additional classrooms.

As students are added, so are positions to maintain safety and academic excellence. For example, our system has created over 53 new positions (both certified and classified) over the last five years.

Regarding the proposed additions to T.A. Dugger, Ms. Peters as well as many others, have tried to make it a focus on athletics only. Any responsible voter must be clear on what the TAD project entails. It provides new bathrooms and much needed classroom space for T.A. Dugger, as well as making the entire building more accessible for individuals with disabilities. This capital project will positively affect not only our 550 TAD students but also the members of our soccer teams, football teams and band at both middle and high school levels (approximately 350 additional students). This is an improvement endeavor that stands to benefit 900 students, not to mention the possibilities for community use.

Finally, I am not only writing as a parent who believes that my son is receiving the very best education from the very best, most caring teachers, but I am also writing as the wife of a teacher in Elizabethton.

My husband has taught in other school systems and never before have we seen hands-on involvement from administration as we have from Elizabethton’s school board, principals and superintendent.

Dr. Wandell greets each student daily at Eastside Elementary doors. School board members are present at school musicals, concerts, pep rallies and athletic events. Our current superintendent hand-delivers an apple to every employee on his or her birthday.

Our administration has hired graduation coaches for the high school, reading and math interventionists to work with K-8 students, and a curriculum coach for K-5.

These may seem like small gestures to some but to a struggling senior, a disheartened first grader, a hard-working teacher, these actions speak volumes. From the top of administration down, teachers feel like they matter…..and if our teachers are empowered and valued, our students will benefit, which after all is the heart of the matter!

Speak to your students, teachers and principals in Elizabethton. Ask them if they feel valued and if they do not, thank them for the hard work they give to our fine education system in Elizabethton.

Dayla Hurley, Elizabethton

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