Thursday, August 7, 2014

Time for school!

Welcome to the start of the 2014-15 school year!  This week marks the return of nearly 7,000 students to classrooms throughout our great county.  Entering our hallways and classrooms will be over 100 new students who have moved from locations all across America to receive a world-class education with a small-town feel—the hallmark of Oconee County Schools.

In addition to these new students, we also welcome 55 new teachers to our 10 schools.  Many of these teachers have been hired to meet the demands of a growing student population.  In fact, in the last month alone additional teachers have been allotted to five of our schools.  The interesting point about this growth is that it is spread from one side of the county to the other; outperforming our student growth projections to this point are OCPS, OCHS, NOHS, MBES, and MBMS.  This growth is not targeted to one specific area or subdivision, but clearly demonstrates what those of us who live in Oconee County already know, find your dream home and your dream school will be just down the road. 

But great schools, just like great homes, take vision, planning, and hard work.  In the last year our community and schools have worked to craft a strategic plan to guide our path to success. This plan will streamline all of the work of the district and ensure that our goals are true and our outcomes are measured.   From academics to operations, this important plan touches every area and has already begun being implemented in our schools. You can read more about the strategic plan on the OCS website.

Good plans, however, are worth very little without proper execution.  This summer, our schools have seen tremendous, yet necessary, additions and modifications based on years of planning and preparation.  Portable classrooms were removed from OCPS, OCES, and MBMS.  Oconee County High School had every classroom updated with new lighting, carpet, paint, and white boards to create a more conducive learning environment for our outstanding students. In addition to these classroom modifications, air conditioning was installed in the main gym at OCHS and stadium renovations were completed, creating a first-class complex for our students and community. The Butler’s Crossing area, which houses Oconee primary, elementary, and middle schools, also saw extensive work on all parking lots and connector roads.  These modifications are just a few of the outstanding building enhancements that occurred this summer. 

Simply stated, schools are nothing without our students.  Thus, as excited as I am to share with you the outstanding work that has taken place this summer on our physical resources, I am even more excited to welcome back the reason our organization exists—our students!  So when you wake up this week and see thousands of students being transported by hundreds of iconic yellow buses to our world-class schools, please join me in smiling and waving at the future of Oconee County.  Share your thoughts, photos, and stories of the first day and week with me at jbranch@oconeeschools.org


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