Guest Commentary: As the 2020-21 school year comes to a close
The School District of Lee County community is closing the door on an incredibly challenging year. As we celebrate this year’s graduates with in-person commencement ceremonies, we are already preparing our classrooms for the teaching and learning of those returning in August.
The 2020-21 school year demanded so much more of students, families, and employees than previously imaginable–unprecedented obstacles to teaching and learning; fragile social, emotional, and financial networks stretched to breaking; and the upheaval of traditional public education foundations and structures. Yet, because the SDLC community embraces change and is embarked already on a sustainable path of shedding precedents in favor of supporting constructive innovation, our COVID “fall off the cliff” was small and proved the School District could handle sudden change. School and District cultures embraced each member of our learning community and found strength in common purpose and shared challenges. Staying true to our mission and vision, we changed our way of work to remain effective as a learning institution providing safe and healthy learning environments. From schools, district staff, students, and families, I hear enormous gratitude for the commitment of the school community to staying the course for our kids. Nothing speaks more powerfully to the strength of an organization than surviving a crisis of unheard-of proportions.
Families–for supporting your children, their teachers and schools; mask-wearing and social distancing were difficult asks of you, as were virtual learning and quarantines.
Food Service employees–you fed children and the community non-stop, accommodating constant new demands for your services.
Maintenance–for keeping our schools and buildings impeccably clean and rapidly updating materials as needed to meet health and safety standards.
Transportation–despite changes in routes and staffing, students regularly were delivered to school and returned home safely.
ITS– for leading the county, state, and nation with state-of-the-art technology resources.
District employees–for developing new tools and responsive professional development and curriculum support; for moving financial resources to areas of greatest need and impact; for supporting schools in managing quarantines and providing health and safety materials and education.
School employees–for leaning on and lifting one another with each changing day, taking on unaccustomed duties and responsibilities
Leadership–for keeping the focus on student learning the Lee County way.
Superintendent Greg Adkins retires June 30, 2021. After 33 years in public education, he departs as the most effective and admired SDLC Superintendent in local and state memory. He leaves a dynamic District, transformed by a strategically focused and ambitious District strategic plan–Envision 2030.
Leadership is about inspiring people to do things they never thought they could and about hiring, training and supporting like-minded leaders. As Superintendent, Dr. Adkins brought great leadership, a collaborative culture of continuous improvement and a commitment to change. A vision without a plan is a dream. Our plan is embedded in our educational culture and we have the leadership in place to sustain and improve it. Thank you, Dr. Adkins.
— Cathleen O’Daniel Morgan is the School Board Member for District 7.