By Rupert Howell
Mississippi’s state Superintendent of Education Hank Bounds and newly appointed North Panola Schools Conservator Bob Strebeck told a crowd of approximately 200 teachers and school supporters that the school’s governance may be re-built from the ground up and high expectations would be the norm for both faculty and students at a public meeting held Tuesday at the high school auditorium in Sardis.
Bounds said the state may abolish the district and rebuild it but also noted that a lot of community meetings would be held with objectives and strategies and time lines in place to keep the community informed.
Strebeck encouraged teachers to remain in their positions for the coming year and said, “You are going to be in an environment where you can teach and where students can learn…(you will) be a part of making a difference,” he said and added, “This is a fantastic opportunity to change a school district by changing lives.”
The conservator also wanted teachers to know that he had been in their shoes noting that he was a classroom teacher, assistant principal and principal and has acted as conservator prior to coming to North Panola.
“I have been where you are,” Strebeck emphasized.
Strebeck said that not only did he have high expectations, he demanded high expectations from staff.
During the meeting Strebeck mentioned friction among students from the three different communities and said, “We have got to get past petty issues, get on board and understand that this is a process that’s going to take some time.”
Strebeck also mentioned attitude of students, teachers and the community as a whole saying, “We are not going to allow students to disrupt classroom activity.”
He stressed performance, attendance, timeliness (tardiness), and doing what the teacher ask the first time as standard procedure.
Bounds also encouraged community attitude and explained that committment was needed by everyone while noting that expectations of an illiterate single mother may be different to help her child succeed than those expectations of a traditional setting.
The meeting was moved to 5:30 p.m. instead of the advertised 6 p.m. meeting due to scheduling conflicts of the state superintendent.