Now in our third week of school at GHS, I hear about the opening of school yesterday in Chesterfield County.  It comes in the form of a tweet… “A perfectly smooth opening in Chesterfield!  And, yes, the sun is shining! It’s going to be a GREAT year… we’re designed for excellence!”

I reflect on OUR opening.  One of the differences this year at GHS is the new principal, Mr. Newman,  and the ideas he brings.  As he listened to teachers and students before the doors were opened this year, he identified a couple of problems that he heard about and made some changes.  He wanted to correct the congestion in the halls first thing every morning and he wanted to assure a safe building from the start of the day. In addition, he wanted to know the students because relationships are important to him.  Building relationships is one of the themes for our division this year.

So, from the first day, students could move beyond the downstairs halls, they were encouraged by frequently “stationed” staff to go upstairs and to enter classrooms from the moment they walked in the school.  Access to the building was restricted to two doors, the front door and the back cafeteria door used as the entrance for basketball games from the student parking lot. At 8:25 a.m. this door is locked and anyone entering must come through the main office restricting access to those with permission to be there.  Two goals accomplished.

In addition, Mr. Newman appeared on the public address system, the first day and every day since, to greet students with his voice to say the pledge of allegiance, to have a moment of silent reflection and to give a positive message for the day.  The News 2 message he delivered the first day, the class meetings he held the second week and the past three weeks of frequent visits to classrooms and wide visibility in the halls have produced another result he sought . . . building relationships.  Mr. Newman is getting to know the students at GHS and greets them all, many now by name.

So, three weeks in, I invite you to take the challenge.  Come visit GHS.  I have seen for myself what teaching and learning looks like from the moment the bell rings in the morning until the last bulldog yell takes place late in the afternoon of the first Friday Pep Rally. Proof is in the witnessing . . .  I can tweet “A perfectly smooth opening in Goochland.   Rain or shine, it is going to be a GREAT year… we’re designed for excellence!”

Mike Newman on the right, new GHS Principal, pictured here getting the keys to the school from his two assistant principals, Karen Scott and Matt Covington