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Change on horizon for county BOE

New was the common theme for the Butler County Board of Education’s June Board meeting held last Thursday at the Central Office Board Meeting Room.

The main focus of the meeting was the discussion of the new alternative school and the new curriculum – “The Leader in Me” program. Superintendent Dr. Strycker began the meeting with a focus on foundations. Using a visual aide of a pictured building under construction, Strycker explained the importance of building a strong foundation for the Butler County school system.

“I’m trying to bring a system in place here in the school system,” he said, referring to the picture.  “They are building a foundation that will go very high like a skyscraper.”

Harping on the amount of time it takes to build a good foundation, Strycker explained his concept.

“It is human nature that if you do not have certain building blocks, you will not make it to the top,” he said. “With the Butler County Commitment, we are trying to put in a foundation, so we can be a consistent A or B school system. But, there is no quick fix for this.”

Leadership programs, new curriculum and a new alternative school are just a few of the changes the upcoming school year will bring. One new particular program the board discussed at the meeting is “The Leader in Me” program.

Lisa Adair along with two guests from the Andalusia City Schools, special education coordinator Lindsey Cross and district administrator Sonja Hines, came forward to discuss the new program. Within the past two years, the school system in Andalusia has implemented and witnessed the positive results of “The Leader in Me” program. The Board requested the attendance of the two representatives to better understand the program.

“This shows us how fortunate we are to have the board we have because they want to make informed decisions,” Adair said.

Hines then emphasized the positive outcomes she has seen in Andalusia.

“I want to commend you all for looking into the ‘Leader in Me program,’” she said. “I will give you a little background on why we have been the great beneficiaries of this program.”

Discussing the small changes in curriculum from student-led parent conferences to “Club Days” where every child attends an organization meeting to build leadership skills, Hines spoke highly of the difference this program has made over the two-year period. She also encouraged the Board not to expect an instant result.

“Any change worth having is slow – you’ve got to build a foundation – that’s what the leader in me did for us,” Hines said.

Lindsey also spoke about the first yearlong process the program entails.

“I like to use the word process not program because it is a process,” she said. “It starts within yourself. In Andalusia it started as a book study.”

Based on the book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Cross-told of the study the teachers first completed together before implementing the program in the school system.

“We focused on relationships and accountability among the staff,” Cross said. “If we couldn’t live the seven habits ourselves, there was no way we could ask our students to do that.”

Overall, accountability, grades, attendance has all improved in the school system in Andalusia through this program.

“People underestimate those simple life skills and the impact they have on the culture,” Strycker concluded.

Joe Eiland, assistant superintendent, then gave a report on the progress of the Alternative School, which was approved by the Board during the May meeting.

“This week, we had what I believe was the very best leadership team meeting,” Eiland said. “There was excitement about where this program is headed.”

Eiland added that there were still many questions and planning ahead of the team.

Board action also included approval of the Financial Report, including the child nutrition program meal price increase.

Before the Board meeting, the Board and Strycker were very proud to recognize the Gear Up Alabama students and the Heavy Hitters Motorcycle Club of Georgiana.