HALEYVILLE - Haleyville City Schools is greeting a new school year starting today, Wednesday, Aug. 10, with a renewed sense of enthusiasm by raising the bar even higher.
That message and the changes it brings were announced by Superintendent Dr. Holly Sutherland who, along with Haleyville High School Head Football Coach/Athletic Director Bo Culver, were keynote speakers at the Friday, Aug. 5, Haleyville Area Chamber of Commerce meeting.
“We believe that we are a very good school system, but we want to be great,” Sutherland noted as she began her remarks at the courtroom of Haleyville City Hall. “We want to be even better than we were the year before.”
Educators have discussed and planned the key motto for the new school year, “Home of Champions”, going back to their roots, Sutherland explained.
“One of the things we are talking about is truly being a champion in everything we do,” she said. “Not just athletics, not just the things we typically think about with extracurriculars, but truly being a champion in every single thing we do.”
This philosophy starts with a strong mindset which is put into action.
“We talked a lot about the fact that for years, Haleyville has been known as the Home of Champions,” Sutherland noted. “What does that mean? Where did that come from and how do we sustain that as a school system so that we are part of that legacy of excellence that has been here in Haleyville?”
During the recent teacher institute day, Sutherland recalled as a child sitting around the dinner table with long-time Haleyville Lions Coach Bubba Scott and his wife Dot and talking about great teams.
That concept, Sutherland added, reaches into the educational realm as well, recalling great teachers that had tremendous impacts on students’ lives through the years.
“I probably have been a part of that tradition more than some,” Sutherland added. “But that doesn’t make it any more great than it truly is to be in Haleyville City Schools where we have tons of support and we have community support.
Sutherland has given out to staff members the superset, so to speak, of being a champion.
Being a champion is stressed not just in how one dresses, but how they talk and communicate with others, how they act and what they expect from their students, according to Sutherland.
“We have to let people know by our actions that we truly are champions,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland noted that one of her students in a school where she worked previously, went on to play for the National Football League.
When asked how a player considers that, the student simply responded the team on which he plays considers themselves not greater than their opponent, yet the way the students’ team carried themselves made the opposing team think they were.
“They believed we were better. We looked better. We dressed better. We acted in a certain way. We carried ourselves in a certain way,” Sutherland continued.
“We intimidated people by just stepping on the field and that made the difference in the outcomes of many ball games,” she pointed out.
Sutherland considered this conversation she had with that former student and wanted to mold and shape the new school year based off that philosophy.
Another point stressed among personnel was always having the mindset of a champion, Sutherland continued.
“How we come to school every day, our attitude about what we are doing, our attitude about our kids, our attitude about each other... Having a mind set that we control every day. We are in control of those actions and those attitudes and how those impact those around us,” she added.
In these cases, educators should always act in a positive way, no matter how they may feel on the inside based on factors in their families and other factors they cannot control, she explained.
“We can act professionally. We can give our kids every thing we have with a smile. We can be engaging to them,” Sutherland said.
Another point educators are stressing as they begin a new year is that losing is not an option.
“Failure is an option,” she noted. “We will fail at some things, which we call the first attempt at learning. There will be times when we fail, but that cannot be the end,” Sutherland pointed out.
“We have to make sure we do it differently. We keep going. We pick ourselves up. We go to the next level. We try again,” she added.
“We have kids coming in that are not going to be successful the first time. So, if we want them truly to be champions, we can’t accept a loss. We can’t accept the fact they didn’t do it, or they were not ’good enough.’”
This means educators must give students the necessary tools so they will not lose, Sutherland explained to the Chamber.
As a new school year begins, more enthusiasm is being shared that champions are not just born into that role. Being a champion is the result of hard work and dedication, educators stressed.
Some younger teachers, as well as students may have been raised thinking that everyone receives a trophy for just showing up to participate, Sutherland said.
“In the real world, nobody is going to get a scholarship for going to take the ACT. Not everybody is going to get a job because they were interviewed,” Sutherland illustrated.
“Nobody is just going to be given anything in this world,” she noted. “We talked about making sure that we do everything we can to give kids every tool they need to be successful so that they are proud when they leave our school system. They are successful. They can do anything they want to do.”
This goes back to the motto “Home of Champions”, which can be used in working to succeed in school, to get that job, etc.
“Because somebody is waiting for you to fail,” she said. “Someone is waiting to take your job. Somebody is waiting to take your scholarship, and if you don’t have that mind set, they will.”
Sutherland instills this in her sons, telling them to rise above because someone is waiting for them to fail, so they can take what they have because they want to be the team starter or get all As, she said.
Another philosophy Sutherland wants to instill in educators for the new year is to stop counting down days but make every day count.
She noted a teacher in a school system kept a record marking off the days until the end of school.
“As a parent, I would never want my kid in her class,” Sutherland pointed out. “What message does that send that we’re excited to get rid of kids? We should be excited and keep them as long as we can, nurture them and make sure that every day counts.”
The last philosophy discussed for a new school years is focusing on now.
“We have to really plan and be intentional, to focus on what is important now,” Sutherland continued. “Planning and being intentional help us win the day.”
Culver also stresses motivation
Culver then told Chamber members he could not express his excitement about being back at HCS.
“I have been to several different places someone considered really good school systems, and I am telling you, I have been telling teachers. I have been telling coaches, it’s not like this anywhere else. It is truly not,” Culver said.
HCS, Culver continued, was where everyone was “pulling the rope in the same direction” and being very supportive of one another.
“When you are dealing with kids, I truly believe you cannot have a bad day,” Culver continued. “You have to make a proactive, conscious, choice to be the best you can be for those kids.
“There’s great power in fighting complacency, fighting mediocrity and just refusing to lose,” Culver pointed out. “That goes back to being the home of champions.
“We want kids to refuse to lose in the classroom, to refuse to lose in the community, to refuse to lose on the athletic field, in the band, welding,” he continued.
“What we’re trying to get our kids to understand is you’re capable of more than you think you are,” Culver continued. “It’s our job as adults to set those standards, to keep raising the bar and keep allowing kids to achieve it.”
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.