State School Superintendent Richard Woods has appointed sixteen new parents to serve on his 2016-2017 Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC). Allen Thornhill, a Hand-In-Hand Primary School representative on the Thomas County School District’s Parent Advisory Council, was chosen as one of the members.
Thornhill, who is one of only 24 parents serving on the State PAC, was nominated by the Thomas County School District at the beginning of this school year. New members are selected each year by representatives of the Georgia Department of Education based on the applicants’ responses to questions on engaging parents to ensure their children’s success at school and the local school superintendent’s recommendation. Thornhill will serve a two-year term on the council.
Thornhill has two children in the Thomas County School System. He decided to apply for this position because of the opportunity to offer input that ultimately could improve the education that children in this community receive.
As members of the council, parents will meet two times during the school year with Superintendent Woods to give input on the development of Georgia’s state plan in implementing the new federal law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
“Feedback received through the Parent Advisory Council is an essential part of our decision-making process here at the GaDOE,” Superintendent Woods said. “Parents are their children’s first teachers, and we must partner with them to ensure we’re providing the best possible education for every child.”
“I jumped at the opportunity to make sure our area, where my children attend school, is being represented as our new state education plan is being formulated,” Thornhill said. “Georgia is more than just Atlanta, and the needs of all parts of the state should be addressed in any statewide plan.”
Because this year’s PAC is charged with giving input and feedback into Georgia’s plan to implement the new federal law, ESSA, Thornhill had the opportunity to attend three breakout sessions on what the new education plan should contain. He chose to attend sessions on Assessments, Accountability, and Teacher/Leader Development.
Thornhill said, “I would love to see assessments used more to maximize a child’s educational growth. Assessments are necessary, but they can get out-of-hand if the focus shifts from students and their needs to school and teacher accountability. The implementation of ESSA appears to be a perfect time to steer Georgia’s educational ship back on course.”
During the first meeting on September 12, Thornhill met with representatives from other school districts and the various challenges they face.
“While I would’ve liked to have heard more about solutions than challenges, I left feeling blessed to have my children in the Thomas County School System,” Thornhill said. “While I know that our school system isn’t perfect, I feel my children are provided a quality education and have so many opportunities to succeed.”
The next meeting is January 30, 2017. Superintendent's PAC will share the information they learn with community members, other families and schools. They will also serve as advisors and ambassadors in their respective communities. For more information about ESSA, visit http://gadoe.org/essa.