Williamson Inc. hosted Williamson County Schools and Franklin Special School District representatives in Franklin on Thursday for the 2022 State of the Schools address where the accomplishments of and challenges for teachers took center stage.
The event kicked off with a presentation of the colors by the Franklin High School ROTC and a performance of the national anthem by the Poplar Grove Middle School choir.
"Public education is our number one economic driver in Williamson County," event host, Williamson Inc. President and CEO Matt Largen said. "Everything rises and falls with our school systems."
Among the sponsors was Tennessee Tech, whose president, Dr. Phil Oldham, spoke to the crowd about Tennessee Tech's programs, which includes some 450 Williamson County Schools graduates.
Franklin Special Schools
"I'm glad to report that the current state of the FFSD is extremely positive due primarily to a group that we talk a lot about, but today we’re going to talk even more about, our teachers,” FSSD Superintendent David Snowden said. "We believe that teachers are our inspiration and our hope; They truly work miracles everyday."
Snowden specifically acknowledged two FSSD employees, Bernard Jones, a physical education teacher and football and track coach at Freedom Middle School who is in his 42nd year of education, and Tammy Lovell, a third grade teacher at Franklin Elementary School who is in her 36th year of education.
Snowden celebrated FSSD's continued achievement of outperforming the state in every grade level and subject area, as well as the naming of three schools, Poplar Grove, Franklin and Moore Elementary schools, as 2021-22 Reward Schools by the Tennessee Department of Education.
"During Covid, we saw more and more students who struggled with mental health issues or just social and emotional issues, so that continues to be something that we have to focus on," Snowden said.
Snowden said that FSSD is continuing to address these issues by the use of in-school therapists in partnership with Mercy Community Healthcare, a pack of therapy dogs, and fostering a "culture of belonging."
"Students are going to perform better — We're all going to perform better — in whatever job we have when we have that feeling of belonging, that we're a part of something, and we work extremely hard to create that culture of belonging."
Snowden also touted the district's newest completed capital projects which include the $15.9 million FSSD Performing Arts Center, which includes the Legacy Gallery that details the history of the district.
Two new baseball fields will also open in November and will be used by both FSSD and the City of Franklin.
Snowden said that the district is applying for $500,000 Innovative School Models Grants for both Freedom and Poplar Grove Middle School to "boost student and workforce readiness in Tennessee."
Williamson County Schools
Golden celebrated WCS' recent successes with the district earning 1st place in achievement in all categories of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, as well as student growth and top overall scores in end-of-course exams, in addition to WCS being named an exemplary district.
"In so many ways, we're better than we've ever been," Golden said.
As previously reported, WCS also saw 76 students named as National Merit semifinalists, 29 Reward Schools and Grassland Elementary was named as a Blue Ribbon School for the 2022-23 school year.
Golden also recognized two WCS employees, Brentwood High School teacher Harriet Medlin ,who is teaching in her 55th year, and Willie Dickerson, who currently serves as WCS' Executive Director of Secondary Schools and is in her 51st year of education.
Golden said that WCS has hired 561 teachers for this school year, as he said that he expects the ongoing nationwide teacher shortage to become an administrator shortage in the future, with staffing in all areas of education continuing to be a "major challenge" for the district.
Golden said that they are working to meet those challenges while maintaining high standards, as well as keeping focused on their mission even as the national spotlight seems to continue to shine on schools and districts like WCS.
View the entire event below: