By Kaitlin Fleming
Gadsden City schools are excited for 2019 and superintendent Tony Reddick said there is a lot to look forward to.
“There is always something exciting going on,” said Reddick.
Reddick, who was elected as the Gadsden City School Superintendent on June 12, 2018, outlined a broad plan for 2019 and beyond. His focus is on maintaining a good relationship with parents, students, teachers and administrators. He believes people are warming up to the idea of him being superintendent and hopes parents will continue to do their part and help him get the “absolute best” out of every student in the school system.
Reddick is also focused on improving academics and making changes to curriculums.
“There has always been a focus on athletics,” said Reddick. “It is easy for academics to get lost. Some people think that I don’t support athletics, which is incorrect, I just want our academics to thrive as well.”
A major change that Reddick wants to introduce is an adjustment in the course of study that could affect math grades. The change is not so much a switch in math courses as it is a change in reading courses. Something that Reddick refers to as “Numeracy Versus Literacy.”
“Most students that struggle in math are struggling because of their reading abilities,” said Reddick. “Students are unable to read a word problem and identify what needs to be solved.”
To help counter this issue, the City of Gadsden and Mayor Sherman Guyton partnered with the city school system in August of 2018 to bring myOn Reading Program to the students.
MyOn Reading Program is a supplementary reading program that can pair with Accelerated Reading programs already in place. The myOn Reading Program allows students to access a digital library, containing thousands of enhanced and age-appropriate titles for PreK-12, and adjusts to individual learner’s interests, grade and reading level.
Staff evaluation of the new reading program has been positive thus far, Reddick said that in a recent visit to Eura Brown Elementary School, students seemed to be enjoying it.
When the state released the report cards for the schools, Gadsden City Schools did improve. Gadsden City Schools remained at a C but rose two points from 73 to 75 overall, and some schools in the system rose whole letter grades.
When asked his opinion on the improving scores, Reddick said he was excited by the improvement but he’s even more excited to see the results at the end of the current school year. He anticipates the scores will be even higher.
Apart from academic changes, Reddick has said that he wants administrators to change their mindsets and the mindsets of students. Part of that change comes from identifying the gifts of students and administrators as well as putting in place strong leadership.
“I am aware that discipline is an issue in some schools,” said Reddick. “Some of those discipline problems come from a lack of stimulation in classrooms. Not every student responds well to a straight row lecture.”
Reddick hopes that the schools will embrace the Maker’s Movement, a unique combination of artistry, circuitry and old-fashioned craftsmanship. He hopes to continue a push for hands on learning.
The old Gadsden High School could also see some changes soon. The building, which became obsolete in 2006 when the consolidated Gadsden City High School opened, currently houses the alternative school program for Gadsden City Schools. Reddick hopes to see building improvements there but did not specify what those plans involved.
Gadsden City High School will see some changes as well. The Titan marching band is in desperate need of new uniforms. The band director informed the school board at a recent meeting that the uniforms were in disarray and some were even held together by tape. Reddick said the board would help financially and help arrange fundraisers for the school. He would not disclose the exact amount that the board would donate. He said they would have to see how much money the school could raise before the board could decide how much to give. He did, however, state that resources are there and that help will be given.
“If we are good stewards with our resources, we can make this the school system of our dreams,” said Reddick.