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Principal helps shape state education

A McDuffie County Schools principal has been selected to serve on an advisory council with Georgia Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox.

Norris Elementary Principal Nancy Lovelady received a letter at the end of September with the notice.

"I went week before last, and it was a really good session," Mrs. Lovelady said Monday. "It was a very positive meeting."

The council was created to provide an opportunity for elementary principals across the state to collaborate and share "what works and what doesn't," according to the letter. Mrs. Lovelady said approximately 25 principals were at the first meeting.

The principals met with Ms. Cox at the state Department of Education building, where she asked them to discuss their biggest challenges in light of the economic cutbacks.

"It was just interesting to see that something that I think is a big challenge for my school is also a big challenge across the state," Mrs. Lovelady said. "It was a real comfortable, small group, and everybody had the opportunity to speak."

The problem areas discussed included meeting Annual Yearly Progress, cutbacks in funding, furlough days and being shorthanded, Mrs. Lovelady said. But the discussion wasn't all about the obstacles educators face in educating Georgia's children.

Superintendent Cox also asked the principals to share different or innovative things that are working for them. Mrs. Lovelady said she shared how McDuffie County eliminated summer school this past school year, and the schools held special enrichment classes the last three weeks of school instead. The plan allowed students who needed remediation to work in small groups with "the best of our best teachers who might not have wanted to teach school."

"And our whole faculty wasn't bored or burned out. It was like a rebirth, and that had to rub off on our students," Mrs. Lovelady said.

Listening to the other principals share their ideas, Mrs. Lovelady said she learned some things she plans to try at Norris Elementary. The experience also gave Mrs. Lovelady a greater appreciation for McDuffie County.

"I learned a lot," she said. "There are so many other schools that have the same problems I do, and at the same time, that we are so much better off than many of them. That was a big eye opener."

The local principal said she learned that McDuffie County has a big advantage over other school systems in the area of technology.

"We have lots of technology support and our technology is fantastic here in McDuffie County," she said. "So many others have problems with it, or don't even have resources and equipment available."

Mrs. Lovelady said she has no idea how she got the position on the council, which will meet again in February and May.

"It was an honor, very exciting," she said. "And Kathy Cox, to me, shoots straight from the hip. She's honest and forthright. She said things are not going to be any better, so we will support each other and find out ways to do it and we will get there."

Web posted on Thursday, November 05, 2009

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