Monday night, December 10, marked the conclusion of service for two outstanding members of the Oconee County Board of Education. Vice Chairman Mike Hunter finished a four-year term and Chairman David Weeks closed out eight years of service. These two gentlemen have put in countless hours to positively support Oconee County Schools and I hope you will join me in personally thanking them for their efforts on behalf of our students.
It has been said that excellence in the classroom begins with excellence in the boardroom. This relational comparison puts the defining work of local school boards front and center. That work, as stated in the nationally-recognized book, The Key Work of School Boards, is to “improve student achievement and increase community engagement.” These efforts continue in Oconee County, but have seen significant advancement under the direction of David Weeks and Mike Hunter.
Oconee County Schools is consistently recognized throughout the state as a leader in student achievement. It is the only school system in Georgia to be recognized three years in a row by The College Board on the AP Honor Roll. Recently, OCS received the news that our students achieved the third highest writing scores in the state on the Georgia High School Writing Exam. These accomplishments obviously belong to the students and the outstanding teachers that facilitate their learning daily. Yet, the focus of an outstanding board of education on student achievement cannot be underestimated.
David Weeks, Mike Hunter, and the other members of the Oconee County Board of Education have kept student achievement as their number one priority and that focus is paying off. As OCS continues to grow in student numbers and mature in educational advancement, the role of a supportive, student-achievement-focused school board is paramount to the success of the district. The good news is that the past leadership of David Weeks and Mike Hunter has laid a wonderful foundation, and existing and incoming board members recognize that student achievement and student learning is where the rubber meets the road.
Elected officials serve for the greater good. While I am certainly biased, it is my belief that there is no greater service than that of a local school board member. Oconee County Schools has nearly 7,000 students and 1,000 employees, and sustains a yearly budget of over $50 million. Our school board members vote on that budget each year and all other recommendations made by the superintendent. The job is a big one and the responsibilities are great. Yet, the reward is vast as the individuals that collectively make up the board get to share in the success and life-changing impact that education can bring.
Together, Mike Hunter and David Weeks represent 12 years of school board service, nearly 300 board of education meetings attended, and over 600 hours of service (in board meeting time alone) to the young people of Oconee County. Please join me once again in thanking these men for their time, commitment, and service.