‘This system requires a change agent’

Published 10:00 pm Friday, June 24, 2011

The following text is from the speech shared by Dr. Judson C. Edwards at the Troy City Schools Board of Education meeting on Wednesday:

I want to first begin by saying it is my honor to serve on the City of Troy school board. I believe this is a quality school system that has a great history of producing well educated young people through an environment of caring—originating from loving teachers, staff and administrators. This tradition is exemplified by people sitting in this room and with board members that I have the pleasure to share service. Though my wife and I were not products of this system, we have entrusted to this system the greatest treasures that Stacy and I possess, our children — Carter and Maggie. Accordingly, there should be no question to my commitment to offer whatever I can to make this the best school system it can be.

In my profession as Dean of the College of Business, I have two guiding principles that dictate my daily activities: 1) treat others as you would like to be treated; and 2) did I do something today that added to the value of a Troy University degree? The latter is significant because it is universal to the Troy family, not only impacting my current students, but it touches every alumnus and future Troy student yet to be born. It is my attempt to emphasize continuous improvement as the leader of the college and embodies my hope that faculty, staff and students will follow my example. Though I trust that people in this system are working for continuous improvement, it means absolutely nothing if it is not validated by those members of the Troy City Schools family (past and future included) — who must wear it proudly every day for all to see.

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Since I moved to Troy in 2006, but particularly since I began service on the school board, I have felt a since of complacency when it came to our schools, though I hope it is not taken in offense, I would go as far to say even a defeatist attitude from the citizenry about the Troy City System. When you have people talking about how good things “used to be,” there is a problem. When reminiscing begins to eat up more and more time that can be used to create new levels of success, there is a problem. When some of our own teachers feel the need to send their children to private schools, there is a problem. As I have said many times in public meetings, the leader of this system must push this board, but in reality that is only a small portion that needs to be pushed. The next superintendent must push this community — in my mind that is job number one. Where is the community pride in this system? Is it displayed on Friday nights in the stands? Is it in McDonalds every morning over coffee? Though I know it exists, I believe it is fragmented, muffled, or in some holding pattern waiting for a leader who can inspire this system and city with passion, confidence, a readiness to push people that do not want to be pushed, and the willingness to draw a line in the sand in order to advance the interests of Troy City Schools.

As we began this process to hire a new superintendent we were asked to form a list of traits for the next superintendent to possess — I hope you will not laugh, but I will read you my notes: impatient, stubborn, tough, someone who will demand excellence and enforce it, make people uncomfortable, and lead from the front. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the way to define a leader built to initiate change. Change is what we must have — we have lost over 200 students in four years — it is time for a new direction or watch this great system die. We cannot rest on tradition and hope things will get better — this system requires a change agent, someone who can lift us from the feeling of defeat and demand that we reach to levels of greatness both within the system and the community.

This city, board, teachers and staff have just gone through a tumultuous year of uncertainty and difficulty in the name of change. In these difficult times, I seek guidance through prayer and dependence on advice from those who have been through tough times before. Accordingly, I will close with a quote for everyone here that I hope will guide us as we go forward.

“Nations decay and degenerate from continuous prosperity. The best lessons given to us after these days of adversity is that greatness rises from defeat.”

That powerful quote is from Charles Henderson in his first address to the legislature as Governor of this great state.

What would Charles Henderson say to us tonight if he were here? How would he feel about what he left to us by looking at our system today?

I believe that Mr. Lee Hicks embodies the traits we need at this time to initiate needed change in this system. That is why he had my vote.

Dr. Judson Edwards is dean of the Sorrell College of Busienss at Troy University and is vice president of the Troy City Schools Board of Education.