Lunch with Malcolm

Tying community-involvement with students to their success in school—and life— Escambia County School District Superintendent Malcolm Thomas challenged people to become actively involved with youth.

Speaking to a United Way Emerging Leaders lunch crowd today, the Superintendent laid out a bit of his educational philosophy.

“You see, it’s not ‘mine,’ but ‘your’ school system,” Thomas said.

The Superintendent noted that the District is continually dealing with progressively smaller budgets. He invited attendees to take more of an active role in helping the school system churn out better-educated citizens by volunteering in a local school.

“Get behind your public school,” he said. “I’ve got lots of them, so you can choose.”

Dr. Sheree Cagle, principal of the District’s new Global Learning Academy, also spoke at the luncheon. She thanked the group for a $100,000 grant that the school has been using to conduct its own tutoring program—she boasted that 75-percent of her kindergarten through second grade students were reading on their grade level.

“Everybody’s knocking on my door saying, ‘What’cha doing?’” she laughed. “When we did our own thing we made huge gains.”

Cagle told the group that she was hoping to get similar grants in order to continue the program. The grant has been used to pay teachers to stay after school to tutor, as well as for transportation home for students after their session is over.

Thomas said that the tutoring was necessary because many students come to the District already behind. In order to jump them up to their appropriate grade-level, more time must be spent with the student.

“You’ve lost time, you’ve got to make it up,” the Superintendent said. “The Next Right Thing is about time.”

The Next Right Thing is also a program the District is doing with United Way. Members are being asked to donate their time to help area students. Specifically, the group’s Emerging Leaders contingent will be helping out with the GLA’s tutoring program.

Thomas also asked that anyone with political connections reach out to officials and ask them to think about students—and the country’s future—when slashing education budgets.

“If you sit on the sidelines we’re going to have to deal with what happens,” Thomas said.