Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I usually speak my mind; either to close acquaintances or anybody who will listen, depending on the topic. However; there is one topic that I feel I need to speak out about publicly and I’ve waited as long as I can stand to do so.
Let me qualify myself first. I have been employed by the Bryan County School System since 1974. My husband, Gary, joined me the same year as a sub and in l976 as a teacher and coach. He has retired, but still subs over 110 days each year in Bryan and Chatham County schools. Our son, Bradley, attended the Bryan County Schools K-12 and has taught school and coached in Bryan County for 6 years. His wife, Alina, is a Kindergarten teacher at RHPS. I feel that this makes me well-qualified for what follows.
My husband and I moved to Richmond Hill in l976 and rented the only available house for rent in the entire town. I had been teaching for Bryan County for 2 years, but in Pembroke at Bryan County High. Bobby and Dahlia Rahn Davis convinced us to move here to be close to them and Roger Jessup was nice enough to hire both of us, Gary for 5th grade and me for high school. I taught five different subjects per day at Richmond Hill School, a K-12 school on one campus with 400 students. People in Pembroke laughed hysterically when they found out that I was moving to Richmond Hill because "there’s nothing there." It didn’t take long for me to see how wrong they were. There was something very unique about Richmond Hill and that was the "care" that everyone showed for each other.
It wasn’t long before things started to change; some for the good and some for the bad. One of the things that changed that I’m most proud of is the Bryan County School System. In l974 we were at the bottom of the list of school systems in Georgia. Through the vision of June Baylor, Frances Meeks, Sallie Brewer and many other dedicated employees, we worked to change this status. Needless to say, we were successful and since that time 1,000s of students have moved to this area for the school system.
It now appears that a certain group of parents, who moved here for the school system, want to take over control and make a lot of changes and/or keep other changes from happening. The main ones that come to mind are the school calendar and the uniform dress code.
I was on the very first school council at RHMS and we asked to be a pilot school for uniforms. We sent home surveys with the students and asked that their parents complete these and return them to the school. There was no consequence for not returning these. The results were amazing. Keep in mind that the middle school students took them home and returned them. This is a rare occurrence. Around 80 percent of the ballots were returned and of those over 70 percent were in favor of a uniform policy. If the students did not want this, they would have thrown the surveys in the trash. They just do not want to admit this in front of some of their peers.
The requirement of uniforms has always been a faculty, parent, and student request. All of the letters to the editor and the postings on the various websites appear to blame it on Dr. Brewer and/or the BoE, but they are only following through on what the majority of us have asked them to do.
Our schools are wonderful and we want to keep them this way. We have a very dedicated faculty and staff and 73 percent of the certified staff in the entire county voted for uniforms in the survey taken a few weeks ago. The newspaper mentioned this in a previous article. If all of the energy that has been spent "fighting" the system could have been put in supporting the system, there’s no limit to what we could do for our children.