Photo: Pictured above, Gadsden City School System’s Superintendent Tony Reddick delivers the keynote speech at the 35th annaul city-wide observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in Gadsden.
By Katie Bohannon, Staff Writer
Gadsden City School System’s mission is “to prepare and inspire all students to become college and career ready through learning, serving and excelling.” While Gadsden City School System Superintendent Tony Reddick agrees with the mission statement, including the suggestion that all students should strive to be college and career ready, he does not agree that one size fits all.
In Reddick’s role as superintendent, he encourages a change within the school system’s mission to reflect on addressing diversity within Gadsden City Schools, a current and prominent need. Reddick’s core values are remaining student centered, emphasizing instruction, motivation and discipline. To ensure Gadsden City Schools system’s mission is protected, Reddick serves inclusively in each facet of its delivery, allowing for all stakeholders to share in the effort by communicating its intent and allowing for thought provoking feedback.
“With the world changing so rapidly, I believe students, through technology, have been allowed to teach themselves,” said Reddick. “It is therefore important for teachers and administrators to change their attitudes about how to approach teaching and learning, and most importantly, to refrain from treating students like they are expendable.”
Reddick’s vision for Gadsden City Schools is to reach each student at his or her area of educational, social and emotional need. By meeting students where they are presently, Reddick strives to empower teachers, students and parents to engage in the use of educational resources that impact student learning in order to promote higher achievement.
Reddick achieves his vision through determination and action and developing plans for Gadsden City Schools that he works to perform. His short-term goals include facilitating improvement in the areas of student attendance, reducing student disciplinary infractions and improving parental engagement. Reddick believes each area of the educational system affected by these short-term goals both nurture the progress of his long-term goals and create positive impact on drop-out and graduation rates, reading skills and uplifted student attitudes toward learning. Positive student attitudes toward learning signifies greater student achievement through a perspective change in students who do not dread attending school but view educational as a vital and important influence in their lives as they grow in a safe, pleasant environment.
Reddick’s long-term goals focus on facility and student improvements, including completing the Gadsden City High School campus according to its original plan, establishing a means to address students who may suffer from mental health issues and possibly considering future construction of new schools for further consolidation.
“Student achievement is a constant concern of which a great deal of effort has already been expended,” said Reddick. “In as much as we have enjoyed some recent improvements, I intend to empower my administrative staff to seek additional resources to increase in those areas of improvement.”
Gadsden City School’s most noted recent improvements include the system earning a B on the state report card via the Alabama Department of Education accountability system section of the Alabama Unified Report. With a new state test on the horizon, Reddick prepares to at least improve Gadsden City Schools comparative standing with the outcome. While Reddick does not mislead others concerning other improvements within the school system, he strives to promote excellence in all facets of the educational system. Though improvements develop through a process, Reddick feels a sense of support from students, staff and administrators, based on their accessibility to him.
“I believe Gadsden City has an excellent corps of teachers, however, it would be naïve of me to suggest they are all equal in their commitment,” said Reddick. “That would be an anomaly. Despite that, I strive to be equally supportive of all, with the expectation they will reciprocate. In doing so, we can enhance our chances of improving our system as a whole, regardless of who gets credit for it.”
For a system the size of Gadsden City, community involvement proves challenging. While unfortunately community involvement tends to imply monetary requirements (admission to sporting events, sponsorships, fundraisers, etc.), Gadsden City is fortunate to establish partnerships with community members who facilitate longstanding relationships. Programs like The Beautiful Rainbow, United Way’s Day of Action, after school and summer tutoring and everything associated with Booster programs, would be impossible without supportive community involvement, encouraging students to succeed.
“Since its creation, Gadsden City Schools has produced some of the finest graduates in the state,” said Reddick. “It has boasted of having one of the most challenging academic programs, and quite possibly the best fine arts program. Perhaps one of its greatest qualities is its diverse population compared to other schools in the area, and the tremendous opportunities for future improvement. We have yet to see the best of Gadsden City Schools!”
To the students in Gadsden City Schools, Reddick offers insight that they can carry with them beyond graduation. Reddick emphasizes that the students will explore the world, either voluntarily or by necessity, but whatever the circumstance, he remains confident in the fact that Gadsden City Schools will prepare these students for whatever they may discover—academically, socially or perhaps emotionally.
Serving as superintendent confirmed Reddick’s prior beliefs. As an educator for 33 years, Reddick served his entire career in the Gadsden area, dedicating himself to students in the community. Though he overcame suspicions about the challenges of the superintendent’s role, during his time as superintendent, Reddick finds the position less difficult than he imagined. Serving as Gadsden City Schools Superintendent, Reddick’s patient, tolerant and creative abilities are enhanced.
Reddick did not enter his role as superintendent to gain anything for himself. He became superintendent because of his heart for students, and his desire to work diligently to improve the educational system and promote excellence. Reddick enjoys serving as a leader, because it allows him to act as an example for everyone who works or learns under his supervision. He holds fast to a mindset where he never asks anything of anyone that he would not do himself. If Reddick happens to do something out of the oridinary, he in essence invites others to follow suit.
As superintendent, Reddick represents Gadsden City School System’s best qualities. While he never seeks personal attention or rewards, he enjoys knowing that when people speak well of him, they speak well of Gadsden City Schools.
“I believe the only thing one can truly keep in life is that which he or she gives away,” said Reddick. “Our upcoming promotional campaign recognizes today as yesterday’s tomorrow. When I wrote it, what I had in mind was that yesterday is nothing more than a memory, albeit one that can encourage something great to happen presently or in the future. Each day is a day of action, and though some often lament that tomorrow can’t come quickly enough, I’m never in a hurry to put aside what can be done today. My father has often said, ‘The best part of plenty of time is the first part.’ Like a championship caliber athlete, I hope to leave everything I’ve got on the playing field when I’m done, and move on to the next phase of my life with no regrets.”