My name is Julie Pecenka, and I am a former Bryan County school teacher. I married into a family that has been in South Bryan County since 1946. Three generations of our family have been enrolled in Bryan County Schools. Several women in our family have been teachers or paraprofessionals, and my husband and our uncle proudly served on the Bryan County School Board. We are committed stakeholders in our local school system.
In this time of politicizing education and calling for “transparency” and parental control, I’d like to share some truth about our education system. Simply put, our schools are more transparent than ever. With the increase in technology, parents can see what their students are learning at any time. Google Classroom is an open window into what our students are learning every day. Teachers send information weekly to parents about the lessons and upcoming assignments via their class websites, email or weekly newsletters or using programs like Class Dojo, Remind and Thrillshare to communicate with parents and students. Each school has an incredibly informative website. Each principal sends out an email & /or voicemail to Power School family contacts through the Smore program each week.
Some schools and teachers in our county maintain a social media presence, so stakeholders can see the skills being taught and pictures of the students as they learn. There are school-based events like Future Wildcat night, Parent Enrichment Night, and Meet the Teacher events. Because not all families are the same, if a family does not have access to technology, or if parents don’t understand how to log in to Google Classroom or Power School, each school has dedicated staff who can help them. If you are a parent, and you are not receiving this information, please contact your child’s school.
At any time, parents can call schools and leave a message for their child’s teacher or send them an email. Parents can schedule a conference, in person or virtual. Parent involvement is always welcome, and there are plenty of volunteer opportunities available.
As I spoke to teachers, I heard repeatedly, “If parents want to know something, just ask.
PLEASE reach out.” None of these amazing teachers is hiding anything from parents. No one has time for a political agenda in their classroom.
These teachers spend their school time educating our precious children using the curriculum the State of Georgia provides.
Many years ago, I was chaperoning a Pre-K field trip and lamenting about having to wake my infant up to get my 4 year old from school.
The bus driver asked me where I lived, and she told me she was the driver for our neighborhood. That dear lady drove my sons to and from school for years. In those days, we encouraged each other to trust our helpers. You can trust our helpers now, too. Our superintendent, principals and school board members are our neighbors and friends. They have kids who go to school, play ball, cheer and play in the band with our kids. They attend our churches and civic organizations. They are not “them.”
They are “us,” and while they are not perfect, they can be trusted to make good, well-informed decisions about our school system. They are serving to help our community.
Yes, things have changed in Bryan County. There aren’t many textbooks, but given the level of depth and rigor our schools maintain, no expensive, obsolete textbook can keep up with them. There aren’t as many paper and pencil assignments once students get into upper elementary, but paper and pencil assignments aren’t given in college either.
Our libraries offer students books with protagonists that look and act like they do. Out of the box thinking, teaching students HOW to think, not WHAT to think, is encouraged because that sort of reasoning allows people to get better, higher paying jobs to provide for their families.
While no school system is without flaw, our schools remain very good. If you ask 10 people why they moved here in the last 20 years, nine of them will say because of Bryan County Schools.
In closing, it is not ok to make our community afraid or suspicious of our school system. It is abhorrent for any group to allude to pedophiles in the leadership of our schools or to accuse our schools of teaching outside the assigned curriculum. It is unconscionable for former teachers to stand behind blatant lies targeting the very schools that employed them for political gain. Primary election day is Tuesday, May 24, 2022. There has never been a more important local election. Please inform yourself and vote.
Julie Pecenka, Richmond Hill