Everyone deserves a chance, at least one

Published 10:33 am Saturday, June 25, 2016

It seems to us that every person deserves a chance, at least one, especially when they are coming to a new place for a job. After our paper published an article announcing that a new superintendent for Southampton County Public Schools had been named, several comments appeared that made it seem like many residents aren’t going to give Dr. Gwendolyn Page Shannon a chance.

We, however, have decided to keep an open mind about Dr. Shannon and have hopes that she will not lead an opaque school system, as the current leader has done.

Parents, as well as the public, have every right to know what is going on within the school system —good or bad. Teachers and students are doing so many interesting projects these days that the public would love to know about, but seldom get the chance to because of the wall that has been often put up between the schools and the media.

Upon announcing Dr. Shannon’s position, school board chair Dr. Deborah Goodwyn said they [the school board] believe “her leadership style, vision and experience will be an asset to the division and community.”

Our hope is that the school board meant every word of that. That board knows the community needs a leader in the schools who the parents can not only trust with their children, but also someone who will set them up for a bright future and someone who will bring the community together.

We have faith that when searching for a new superintendent, they looked for someone with those qualities.

Several of the comments that appeared on our website referenced the rating of Dr. Shannon’s last district. However, most of you are aware a lot goes into those ratings and they should not be solely based off of the principal or the superintendent. The community, teachers, parents and financial support all make up a big part of what helps a school have a better rating. Test scores are not everything, and it is hard for students to succeed without the support of those around them.

Although many of the comments put Dr. Shannon in a negative light, others highlighted things people love about her.

One comment in particular stated, “I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Shannon for more than a year. She is one of the most accomplished educators I’ve ever had the privilege of working with … Given how Dr. Shannon inherited the district and how she’s leaving it shows the increased student achievement at all levels. Taking into consideration the lack of resources that Mississippi has gives to their schools, what she’s done in nothing shy of a miracle. I’m confident that Southampton made the right choice and their students, staff and community will all be better with Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon as your new Superintendent.”

So we ask you to give Dr. Shannon a chance. None of us know what she is capable of or how the schools will look in a year. But, just like everyone else, she deserves the benefit of the doubt.