By Jamal Thomas
Montgomery, AL (8/22/18)- On yesterday Leadership Montgomery kicked off their 35th year anniversary by hosting a Leadership Summit on Education at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. The summit served as a community action initiative for Montgomery’s Public Schools.
Air University Commander Lt. Gen. Anthony Cotton, Air University Commander shared how the school system can impact a military family’s decision to move to Montgomery. “This is important business because our kids deserve it” he said. “I am happy to work with Montgomery.”
There was a panel discussion moderated by Barbara Larson, Founder of Barbara Larson Consulting. The panelist were Todd Strange, Mayor of Montgomery; Sam Munnerlyn, President, Trenholm State Community College; Dr. Antonio Williams, Principal, Lanier High School; Dr. Ann Roy Moore, Superintendent, MPS; Terry Roller, State Intervention Director, MPS; Krystal Allen, K. Allen Consulting; Neonta Williams, Founder, Black Alabamians for Education; Elton Dean, Chairman, Montgomery County Commission; and Dave Borden, CPA and Former MPS Board Member.
Mayor Todd Strange began the discussion with explaining how millenials, military, and corporations look into our school system before they make the decision to relocate. “It’s to the point now we have to come together to do something.”
Panelist shared some of the challenges they face when it comes to education. Sam Munnerlyn shared how remedial education can be expensive for college students. He said that most of their financial aid will be used for it and it will take longer for them to graduate. Oftentimes the aid runs out before they take courses that are in the curriculum. Munnerlyn also mentioned how their dual enrollment program is helping to alleviate this challenge. “Dual enrollment is the wave of the future.”
Dr. Antonio Williams shared similar challenges. He said that many students arrive to high school lacking the essential skills to excel. There are many socio-economic barriers that they face as well. “We don’t have challenges, we have opportunities. We have to shift the mindsets of adults and students.”
There were many shared views on partnerships and working with community. Some panelist even shared their personal concerns. Krystal Allen said that we need coaching and development for principals and teachers. “We need changes in our school system on the microlevel and macrolevel. We need a unified school system that includes public, charter, and private.”
Neonta Williams expressed similar concerns. She said that we need multiple options for education to move forward. “We need to believe as a community that all children can learn. They are not at risk, but at promise.”
The lunch keynote speaker was Dr. joyce gillie gossom. She talked about leadership and the value of education. She also explained how there is a direct correlation between education quality and economic development.
After the keynote speaker a roundtable discussion took place. Attendees had the opportunity to brainstorm and come up with short-term and long-term goals for MPS. One suggestion was for the Superintendent to give a “State of the Schools” address.
The summit ended with a call to action given by Whitney Griswold Califf, Central Alabama Community Foundation. She challenged the audience to give their time, talent, treasure, and trust.
The mission of Leadership Montgomery is to develop and engage diverse leaders to effect positive community transformation. For more information visit www.leadershipmontgomery.org
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