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Shelby County Public Schools’ plan to create and implement high-performance academies for its best high school students is a step of great value for all of Shelby County.
This program is an important step in establishing the Shelby County and Collins high schools as magnets for our best students, and educators are excited about it – we chuckle that they were so excited they told school board members before they meant to do so, for whatever reason – because these are creative approaches to enriching the students’ experiences, which are their primary jobs.
But we think the three key plusses of this new educational platform go beyond being creative:
Now perhaps we won’t see the disappointing migration of top students, who travel miles across county lines to attend schools that they feel offer them better opportunities to pursue their college and career choices. We understand that choice, but it’s not the way we want Shelby County’s schools to be perceived.
We as a community now have a new recruitment tool for industry and development, which in turn can help the county grow and prosper with a sturdier tax base that, in turn, can help add revenue for additional educational programs.
We have a new mechanism for preparing students whom we hope will want to return to Shelby County after their educational years have been completed, to want to come back to be our new captains of industry, leaders of people and, yes, educators of students.
And it is in that last item, we believe, that the greatest value lies.
Because the best natural resource of any community is its young people, and methods to mine those veins and find the brightest and richest ore is part of the process of education.
Yes, these new academies only will affect a few dozen students in each class, starting with incoming freshmen in 2011-2012, and, yes, they will be extremely challenging but also provide good pay-offs for students who apply themselves to them and perform well: about a year of college credit.
But, moreover, we think they will elevate our students, our school system and our community to a new standard of success.
We hope these students are as enthusiastic about this as we are.