By Sarrah Peters
Over a dozen people attended the Gadsden Civitan Club’s meeting on Wednesday, September 5 at Gadsden State Community College. After attending to club business, Tony Reddick, Gadsden City School System’s new superintendent addressed the crowd.
Reddick used the opportunity to let the club member’s know more about him and what he hopes to accomplish in his new position.
Reddick was born in Georgia but moved to Boston as a child. He received a scholarship to attend St. Sebastian’s School, which is the top Catholic school in Massachusetts. He attended Boston University on a football scholarship, before transferring to Talladega College on a basketball scholarship.
Reddick said that he initially wanted to be an astronaut in Huntsville and majored in math, but upon discovering the increasingly difficult requirements to be an astronaut began to teach. He started teaching art to elementary students and French to high school students in the Gadsden City School system. He returned to academia to get his teaching credentials to teach math. Reddick has worked in the Gadsden City School system for 32 years.
Reddick has a lot of ideas about how to improve the Gadsden schools, but he said that his primary focus is the kids and guiding them to be active, responsible citizens. He uses a hands-on approach where he talks to students and then makes sure he meets with those students again.
“It’s important to keep the promises I make,” said Reddick. “Especially to the kids.”
Reddick said that these kids may have experienced broken promises and he doesn’t want to be another adult that lets them down.
Reddick discussed the work he has been doing during the first six weeks of school. Reddick proclaimed that it has been “a good start to the school year.” He has “moved pieces around” to make sure that employees are in the best positions “to work in their gift.” Reddick has been slowly but progressively making changes, stating that evaluation is key to making positive changes.
As part of his position, Reddick has traveled to meet with other superintendents, and learning the successes and challenges of being superintendent from them, as well as sharing ideas..
“The best from of communication is listening,” said Reddick.
Reddick discussed his vision for the school system, which includes increasing access and participation of career technical programs, by introducing students to making things at a younger age and combating the stigma attached to participating in the programs.
Reddick also wants to provide more foreign language classes, like Japanese and German that might give students in technical fields a better chance at “moving up the ladder.”
Civitan members were able to ask questions, and one member asked about standardized test scores being lower at Gadsden City Schools than other school systems in the area. Reddick said that the students are not always getting what they need to “reinforce instruction at home” and discussed plans to increase parent engagement.
One new measure Reddick has enacted is to have students stay at designated schools instead of being allowed to move to schools in the system that have better scores. Moving students with good scores makes it difficult to improve schools with bad scores, and Reddick said that the student’s scores may not benefit the school with better scores either.