Johnson City Schools’ Opening Day event for teachers was part education seminar, part xylophone concert and part political rally Wednesday, as educators gathered to kick off the new school year.
Held at Grace Fellowship Church, the event was opened with the Science Hill High School Percussion Ensemble performing its rendition of “Song for America,” by Kansas, followed by Superintendent Steve Barnett, Johnson City Board of Education Vice Chairman Jonathan Kinnick and Johnson City Education Association President Joe Crabtree, who reminded the district’s faculty of the impact they make on students.
Crabtree touched on upcoming local, state and national elections and said the officials elected Aug. 2 will shape future education policy. He specifically noted the problems experienced by districts across the state last year with the TNReady examinations.
Looking ahead to the 2018-19 school year, which officially begins Aug. 6, Crabtree said many changes are likely to come.
“Tomorrow, as you know, is an election day — it’s primary day in Tennessee. In November, another election. In Tennessee this year, we’re getting a new governor, which means a new commissioner of education. We’re getting new legislators in Nashville that will drastically change the face of public education in Tennessee,” he said. “In Johnson City, we are going to elect new city commissioners who will affect our budgets, and we will have at least two new faces on the school board this year.
“If you have not voted yet, we need you to get out and vote.”
To close the event, keynote speaker Dr. Adolph Brown — founder, president and CEO of the Leadership and Learning Institute — emphasized the importance of “not judging a book by its cover,” encouraging marginalized students and detailed the ways he has engaged students to make positive impacts.
With the first day of classes days away, Barnett said he’s looking forward to leading the district during his second year at the helm.
“I’m excited about getting into more classrooms,” he said. “I’m going to try to get into as many classrooms (as possible) at the high school and other schools so I can see firsthand the work teachers are doing and make sure they have what they need to do their jobs.
“A lot of them have already been in their classrooms working, and today’s just a great way to celebrate what they do and to celebrate the hard work they put in.”