The Columbia School District is ready to “bring the juice” to the 2019-2020 school year, while the Marion County School District is placing “we before me.”
Both districts held back-to-school convocations this week as classes begin Monday in the city and Tuesday in the county. Columbia Academy starts with a half-day Thursday before the first full day for students Friday.
Columbia Superintendent Jason Harris welcomed everyone back Wednesday morning at Columbia High School.
“I know every year it is exciting, but it seems to be even more excitement this year,” he said.
Mayor Justin McKenzie also addressed the audience in the Crystelle Ford Auditorium. He said the school district is the most vital part of the community. He talked about people leaving other communities to put their children in better schools, but Columbia’s schools are great and there is no need to leave, he said.
“Today is a great day to be Wildcat,” McKenzie concluded.
Marilyn Foxworth of the Columbia Educational Foundation presented checks for about $3,000 in grants to Robert White, Danielle Whittington, Heather Singley, Stephanie Stringer, Nichole Bass, Shelly Putnam, Kimberly Davis, Anna Morris and Harry Green to be used for various projects in the different schools.
Meanwhile at East Marion High School, the Marion County school staff focused on activities featuring team work and working together.
Marion County Superintendent Wendy Bracey also stressed the importance of the teachers setting the example.
“Well done is greater than well said,” Bracey said regarding leading the way.
The county staff did a lot of teambuilding activities, including one called “Skin the Snake.” It involved 15 people from each school holding hands through the legs of the person behind them. The person at the end of the line had to lay down while still holding onto the person in front of them. Each person would move back and continue until the front of the line laid down, and then each one had to get up until the last person was standing.
Another activity involved plastic poly sheeting where 10 people from each school stood inside it and moved like a bulldozer.
One game involved two teams of four from each school, where one team of four would stand inside a hula-hoop and work together to bring the ball to the second group, who in turned had to do the same thing.
At the Columbia convocation Wednesday, the keynote speaker was Brian Cain. The professional motivational speaker said when a person is on stage there is pressure and as educators the stage is the classroom every day.
“If you are trying to achieve educational excellence every day, it starts with you,” he said.
Cain continued with reminding the educators their energy is “caught” not taught. If the educator is excited, the students will be excited. Cain encouraged the educators to be intentional with their energy going into the school year so the students will catch it.
“Don’t count the days; make the days count,” he said. “The most important day of your teaching career is today because you are living it. It doesn’t matter what we know; it is what we put into the hearts and minds of the students.”
“Bring the juice” refers to the energy level Cain said should be brought to the classroom. A low level of energy will not keep the focus of the students.
“If you want to get your students elevated and excited, it has to start with you,” Cain said.
He said competition is with yourself and yesterday. It does not matter if it is 10 percent better or just a .10 percent better, but it is important to compete with yourself to make each day better, Cain said.
“If you want to create the best students you can have, you have to be the best you can be,” he said. “Don’t bring your B game; bring your A game.”
Cain reinforced the importance of the teachers taking care of themselves first. He stressed about being healthy both mentally and physically and by taking care of yourself you feel better and do better.
“The best investment you can take is in yourself,” Cain said.
Pictured Above: Teachers with the Marion County School District toss their hats off in celebration of the new school year Thursday during a convocation at East Marion. Students will return Tuesday in the county district. The city schools begin Monday. | Photos by Susan Amundson