The common theme in the accolades for Phenix City Schools Superintendent Larry DiChiara, from local colleagues as well as peers around the state, is that the young people whose education he oversees are always his first concern.
That assessment surely has a lot to do with why the School Superintendents of Alabama named DiChiara state Superintendent of the Year from a field of 132 at the SSA fall conference in Florence.
DiChiara characteristically deflected the credit to his fellow Phenix City educators: A coach is only as good as his players I have a lot of quality people who make me look good every day.
Others say theres more to DiChiaras leadership than just a good staff. Eric Mackey, the organizations executive director, called DiChiara an outstanding educator who is very well read and stays ahead of the trends. Closer to home, Phenix City School Board member Paul Stamp called DiChiara a very good educator and just a great guy.
Even a sometime political foe, Phenix City Councilman Jimmy Wetzel, paid DiChiara dutiful tribute: Although we have had some controversy, that doesnt take away from the job hed been doing, Wetzel said, adding that the superintendents statewide recognition is very big for the Phenix City community.
It is indeed. Congratulations to Larry DiChiara on this deserved recognition of a very tough job very well done.
Those most affected
People who set policy for public schools get input from taxpayers, politicians, educators, administrators, unions and professional associations. The people most affected -- the students -- are often the people least heard from.
Georgia School Superintendent John Barge decided that such a core constituency needed at least a nominal voice. So the Georgia Department of Education has created a Student Advisory Council.
This group will provide a unique perspective on how state policies are working in the classroom, Barge said, and allow me the opportunity to communicate directly with students in schools throughout Georgia.
More than 700 students reportedly applied for the 50 seats on the panel, and two from Columbus were chosen Cassie Cooper from Northside and Amber Hart from Hardaway. The councils first meeting will be Nov. 1 in Atlanta.
Despite the inevitable inmates running the asylum wisecracks this idea of student advisers to state-level officials will no doubt elicit, getting the perspectives of the very people public education is supposed to be about makes perfect sense.
In fact, not listening to what students have to say about the real-life effects of policies set by educators and administrators makes no sense at all.