Schools are at crossroads

Published 1:13 am Saturday, May 29, 2010

Editor’s note: This is the full text of the speech Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson gave at city hall Friday regarding the change in leadership in Andalusia City Schools.

I am very happy to report that the Board of Education of Andalusia City Schools has chosen Ted Watson to become interim superintendent of the Andalusia City School System. Ted is a seasoned educator w ho has worked as a teacher, coach and administrator for many years. He has taught social studies, coached a variety of sports, taught adult education classes, administered transportation and after-school programs and served as assistant principal, interim principal and principal.

Ted is a man of great strength, impeccable character, and boundless energy. He is a devoted husband and father and is active in his church. Ted Watson will serve as a driving force to unify our community behind our students, teachers and administrators. He will serve our students well by building coalitions with community leaders, businesses and city hall.

For over 100 years Andalusia has maintained a reputation for excellence in education. We have produced unprecedented numbers of highly successful members of society. Andalusia has had great success in athletics and extracurricular activities that must remain a vital part of our curriculum. During these many years we relied on steady leadership, especially during uncertain times.

Today, we stand at a cross road in our history. We have before us an opportunity to come together to make Andalusia City Schools great. We must seize the moment. I encourage everyone in Andalusia to get behind Superintendent Watson. Winston Churchill said that, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees t he opportunity in every difficulty.” As Churchill’s optimist, we must seize the opportunity, give Ted Watson our full support and restore pride and integrity in our schools.

A wise man once said, “The future is not the result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but rather a place that is created – created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating.”

Almost one hundred years ago, our forefathers made a commitment to Andalusia’s future w hen they constructed this building in which to education their children. Many of you here today, including me, are products of that commitment. In 1914, at the dawn of World War I, the citizens of Andalusia came together and created their future. They committed themselves to that future. They committed themselves to us!

As the years and decades came and went, the citizens of Andalusia continued to make great improvements to our schools, to the point that Andalusia City Schools was recognized as one of the very finest systems in the state. We benefited from that system and this city benefited greatly from that reputation. I’m not sure that we have made that same level of commitment in the recent past.

Now it is our turn to ask ourselves, “What will we commit to our future. What place will we create?” As we ask ourselves these questions, I encourage everyone to support this new leader. Rally around him and let him know that we are united in our efforts to rebuild. We will come together and make a commitment that will honor the past and t hat will create a future that will ensure that our children get the best education possible.

The days and months ahead will require that we make tough choices. We cannot sit back and wait on the federal or state government to fix our problems. We must stand together and commit our resources to our children. They will stand on our shoulders as they prepare to take the reins of leadership. We stood upon strong shoulders. Now it is our responsibility to provide that same foundation to secure the future of our sons and daughters.

That sacred responsibility requires us to examine every aspect of our commitment to our schools, including our financial support. We demand excellence from our schools, we can do no less than demand excellence from ourselves, including our personal financial support. It is time for us to stop looking elsewhere for solutions to our school funding problems and look to ourselves to solve our problems and support our own children!

Ted, on behalf of the Andalusia City Council and all of the citizens of Andalusia, I extend to you our full support and stand ready to help you as you lead us united into our future!