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We welcome to our community the new principal at Shelby County High School.
Eddie Oakley arrives from Lexington Dunbar with a broad base of experience on his resume, a reputation for being a good guy and a self-proclaimed focus on how data informs a school’s culture.
He won’t take over until July 1, but we suspect Mr. Oakley already is being sought by those with advice to extend, parents who take very personally the environment and productivity of the leaders of their children’s education.
And that’s as it should be. Parents need to be involved, and those in charge need to embrace that involvement as part of the natural process of their roles.
Therein lies the point we would ask Mr. Oakley to place high on his checklist of things to do.
We know you want to improve the culture, the core test scores and the curriculum at the high school, but we also suggest you improve another “c word:” communication.
This school year at SCHS was marred by some glaring examples of insufficient communication between the schools’ administration and parents.
First there was the planned change to the trimester system, a plan we’re told Mr. Oakley embraces, and then there was the graduation seating issue, in which honor graduates no longer would be honored with preferential seating (this later was reconsidered).
The point here is neither a decision nor its validity -- that water has moved downstream – but to use each as, well, a teaching tool.
Parents were blindsided by both concepts and received scant information about them, mostly from the students’ rumor mill. And though that sometimes can be frighteningly accurate, it does not represent a lesson in proper communications for our students.
The only bigger PR nightmare for local schools was the idea to outsource after-school programs to the Frankfort YMCA without giving the parents a heads-up. And that’s still not resolved.
So, Mr. Oakley, we know that you will be overseeing a period of significant change at SCHS. In the next year you will send half your students to a brand new school and introduce a wide-eyed bunch of eighth-graders to the high school environment.
Those changes will require you to hire new staffers and deal with new dynamics. Nothing you do will be simple, and you can be sure we will be monitoring your decisions and processes and helping you keep your eye on the ball.
But, please, before you do anything: Let the parents know what you’re going to do and why. Tell them early and often. You can’t convey too much information.
Because if you can improve communication, your chances of a good grade in the job are much better.