I watched each of the four director interviews by Warren County School Board members. As expected, each candidate had their strengths and weaknesses. Since Grant Swallows was given the initial nod, let’s talk about him.
He gained my favor with positive comments about the Southern Standard. I’ll admit to being a bit biased. Bringing those out was a question on how he’d work with the media.
“Guys, we cannot function these days without the media’s help,” said Swallows. “We have to make decisions that aren’t always popular, but we need to use the media to get out the good. We are so bad in school systems about not tooting our own horn. We’ve got to ask the media to help us. There is going to be a headline that says some bad things every once in a while, but you know what, if we saturate that with the good things that are happening in our school system then it’s not as bad when we get those bad things.”
He later added, “You’ve got a great newspaper in the Southern Standard. You can see all the things that they are doing to help schools by being here on a Saturday, nonetheless, to be a part of this.”
Swallows spoke strongly about the need to shine a light on students who are achieving academically and in other areas -- a desire that mirrors my own.
You have my permission to “use” me. I want that good news. We do our share of glowing stories about our schools and our students, but I’m confident there’s good news in the school system that we aren’t hearing.
Call me when a student wins a gold medal for their school’s club. Share with me that student who won a math, spelling or art competition. Let me know when a student receives a perfect score on the ACT or receives a full scholarship to a university. Give me those superlative pictures. I want to see that shadow art.
Let’s shine a light on the student from each school with the highest GPA at the end of each school year. You know these students will likely be in the top 10 percent at the end of their senior year. Why wait until then?
While some schools and some club sponsors work well in sharing their students' accomplishments with me, I can't help but feel that there is so much more that I’m not being given. If Swallows can improve that, I’m joining the #TeamSwallows fan club, which was mentioned by a School Board member.
Also very important, Swallows seems knowledgeable and passionate about education. He was also very engaging, positive and personable -- three characteristics that will serve him well, if the contract negotiations end favorably and he’s our new school director.
Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.