At the end of the first day of school Monday (Aug. 5) in the new Shelby County Schools system, new Supt. Dorsey E. Hopson II Esq. reached out to parents and the community with a special letter.
Here's what he conveyed:
"The first day of our school year is undoubtedly a historic day for our 145,000 Shelby County Schools students and for all of Shelby County. Words cannot express how thankful I am for everyone who has worked so hard over the past several years to ensure we were prepared for this moment.
"As you are well aware, the past several months have been particularly demanding as we have transitioned to a unified school district. Though we have all faced a number of challenges, our students continue to impress me. Despite the merger-related distractions that are ever-present across our community, our students have received numerous national awards, made impressive academic gains, received prestigious scholarships and competed at the highest levels in sports and other extra curricular activities. The families of our students deserve much credit for keeping our students focused, as do our teachers and principals for their continued dedication.
"Although we have reached an incredible milestone by opening school this week, our work is far from finished. Our core mission is to teach and ensure that students are college- or career-ready when they graduate. This mission has always and will continue to require a team effort. Therefore, I ask you to please stand by our principals and our teachers who are so committed to our students and this mission.
"I recognize that the changes we have gone through have been very emotional and that trust and belief in our district leaders has wavered at times. Please know that one of our primary goals remains to continue building a culture of strong community engagement and dependable customer service. Thus, we will be transparent in all of our actions and willingly seek stakeholder input on important issues.
"As the billboards around town say, these are our students, and they need our support. We all want the same for our children and all children in Shelby County – a quality education. There will certainly be more challenges ahead; yet, if we move forward together with a laser-like focus on student achievement, I know we will succeed.
"Our parents and community stakeholders play a vital role in the success of this school district, and we thank you for being our partners in your child's education. I hope your first week of school is a great one, and I wish the best to every student and family throughout the 2013-2014 school year."