Retreat brings school administrators together

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Alongside Natchez Lake, at red-checkered covered picnic tables, sat many of the administrators of the Natchez-Adams School District.

But only the appearance of the scene was leisurely.

The lunch was only a break from the many meet-and-greets, talks and sessions principals were engaged in during their third annual retreat Tuesday and Wednesday at Natchez State Park.

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&uot;You can’t beat a day at the lake,&uot; Karen Tutor, new principal of McLaurin Elementary School, said. &uot;The setting makes it very relaxed. (Teaching) is a serious business.&uot;

The principals and assistant principals spent much of

Tuesday getting to know one another and new Superintendent Dr. Anthony Morris. Each person stood up and told the group about himself or herself, sharing things like educational experience, hobbies and any works he or she has published.

Morris said he could see the excitement in the administrators after the introductions.

Two new principals formed a quick alliance throughout the retreat &045; Tutor from McLaurin Elementary and Fred Marsalis, principal of Morgantown Elementary and retired principal of Vidalia Junior High.

The two oversee the same grades and said they plan to work together to bring cohesiveness for the age groups.

&uot;Mrs. Tutor and I have been collectively working together to get the two schools together,&uot; Marsalis began. &uot;And (to boost) student achievement,&uot; Tutor added. Many times, one finished the other’s sentences.

Morris said the room exploded in applause when the two announced they wanted to work together to stop the division between the two schools.

Morris said the middle school principal, Cynthia Smith, said when the children arrive in middle school, there is a bit of a visible division between students from the two elementary schools, but nothing that is a problem.

Morris and the other administrators said they were were excited about their collaboration.

After introductions and meet-and-greet time, the administrators got a closer look at their new superintendent.

Morris told the faculty what he expected from them and this school year. He used the book &uot;Nothing’s Impossible,&uot; by Lorraine Monroe, to spur principals to think of ideas for their upcoming year.

&uot;I tried not to dictate to them exactly what I wanted them to do in their building but (to give them) ideas they could use in their building,&uot; Morris said.

Robert Lewis Middle School Assistant Principal Edward Reed agreed Morris is giving the administrators the latitude they need to perform effectively.

The administrators said they are enthusiastic about his tenure and the school year.

&uot;I think he’s going to move our district where it needs to be,&uot; Cleveland Moore, assistant principal at Natchez High School, said.

Finishing Tuesday’s part of the retreat, the administrators met with JBHM Educational Consulting Group to hear the group’s assessment of last semester and the plans for the upcoming school year.

On Wednesday, the principals heard from the heads of departments ranging from personnel to security to federal programs.

Not only did the principals find it useful, the presenters knew their presentations will get everyone on an even keel, school officials said.

Thelma Newsome, director of federal programs, said she knows everyone will not remember everything &045; or understand the No Child Left Behind Act fully.

Still, she said getting to tell them about such programs Wednesday helped her share new information and scratch the surface of what the district will do this year.

&uot;As a district, we want to do things together,&uot; Newsome said. &uot;(It) helps us to put some cohesiveness together.&uot;

And after the sessions ended and it was time to leave, Morris said the administrators hung around to talk beyond the day’s work.

Central Alternative School Principal Betty Cade said she is excited about the school year and the &uot;positive energy&uot; and bonding of the new leaders.

And so was Morris after the two-day retreat. &uot;It reinforced all my positive feelings about starting this year,&uot; he said.