Superintendent Dr. Brad Rice admitted on Thursday he was nervous speaking at last year’s annual Back to School Convocation to teachers and staff members of Stokes County Schools.
“I had been a superintendent for 47 days and I don’t believe I had ever addressed an audience of around 1,000 people before. I did not know what the year would bring. I did not know you, I barely knew the board of education, and I certainly didn’t know the county. I had not even had a bowl of chicken stew,” he said.
This year’s convocation proved to be different. As superintendent, he’s settled into his role and become a staple in the community, actively involved in a number of organizations and a staunch proponent of marketing Stokes County Schools in a positive light. At the podium he spoke with ease about the school district’s recent accomplishments.
“I am fully aware of the greatness of the teachers I stand before today. The class of 2017 had 535 seniors and 492 of them graduated. That is over 92 percent. They received over $10.5 million dollars in scholarships. That is important because 82 percent of the class were accepted into colleges and universities to continue their education. Fifteen of them have gone on to serve our country in the military,” Rice said.
The superintendent also praised the board of education.
“During the past year, the school board advocated for you, our students, and our facilities. Despite funding cuts from many sources, the board of education received increased funding from our county commissioners,” Rice said. “North and South Stokes were built in 1964. In 2017, in a few weeks, construction crews will be installing air conditioning in those gymnasiums. In addition, in a few weeks, art teachers will be returning to the elementary schools for the first time in about 16 years.”
Rice added, “Please take the time to thank the board of education and county commissioners for these historic accomplishments.”
After reflecting on the success of last year, Rice encouraged teachers to look ahead and hone in on the 2017/18 school year.
“We need to simplify education. We need to quit looking for the latest fad. We need to teach the standards and cover the content. We need to make sure we protect core instructional time.”
Rice posed the question, “I wonder how many teachers at King Elementary, King Intermediate (now Mount Olive), Chestnut Grove Jr. High, or South Stokes High School knew that Chad Tucker would be on Fox 8 delivering the news? Or I wonder how many teachers at Pinnacle Elementary, Chestnut Grove Middle, and West Stokes High School knew that Kyle Hall would represent them as one of the 120 members of the House of Representatives?”
Due to being 6’10”, many teachers at North Stokes probably knew Bobby Beecher would be successful in basketball, Rice said.
“I don’t know how many would have known that in 2017 he would be named as an ACC Men’s Basketball Legend.”
The superintendent said teachers at Francisco, Lawsonville, Piney Grove, and North Stokes had no idea they were teaching what would become 80 percent of the Stokes County Schools Finance Department and would be responsible for delivering paychecks on time and correctly.
Rice highlighted past Stokes County achievers such as alumni Alexa Moorefield who earned a full ride to Wake Forest to pursue a medical career, Ashley Lawson who received a Park Scholarship and decided against a career in engineering and is now going to teach, and Nicole Rodgers who won both the Morehead Cain and Reynolds Scholarships.
“Many of you are responsible for these outcomes,” he said. “You see, we don’t know who will be sitting in front of you this year. You should teach everyone as if they will be your child or grandchild’s teacher, accountant, contractor, doctor, chef, mechanic, newscaster, state representative, or handle your payroll because chances are, they will be.”
On a personal note, Rice said he’s a parent sending three of his own children to Stokes County Schools this year.
“I would like to think that I speak for all parents when I say, please take care of our children this year. Please be careful with my children. Please be good role models for them. Please care about them as people. Please love them when they are unlovable. When I call with a concern, please listen. We know our children are flawed. They hurt. They are stubborn. They lie. We know they are not perfect, but they are the only children we have. Each day we send you our hearts and entrust you to mold them into greatness.”
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.n