Georgia School Superintendent Dr. John Barge visited Midway Middle School on Wednesday as part of his two-day, statewide tour the Georgia Department of Education is calling “Georgia’s Future, Now.” The tour is meant to promote schools across the state.
“We’re celebrating successes. We’re looking for the good things that (schools) are doing,” Barge said. “We picked out a variety of schools, middle schools, high schools and elementary schools.”
Barge said that if while on the tour he finds a school that needs improvement in certain areas, that would be “a separate conversation.” He called his visit to Midway Middle “very positive.”
Barge walked through several classrooms and observed students as they conducted science experiments, worked math problems and read book reports. He also got a close-up look at how technology is used in Liberty County schools.
“I saw a lot of students engaged in learning, and that’s critical,” Barge said. “And I saw teachers using technology. I saw a lot of iPads, tablets and students making movies about physical science. Technology is a natural engager of students, and they’re really taking advantage of that here.”
Barge noted the challenge Liberty County public schools face educating the children of a large and transient military population.
“That’s one of the advantages for having Common Core State Standards,” he said. “When a student comes to this school from, say, New York, they’re getting the exact same standards. You don’t have that gap or loss in instruction.”
Barge said Common Core is designed to be rigorous in order to prepare students for college and careers “and to help standardize what we do across the country, so they have some consistency in English and math.”
The state superintendent walked through the middle school’s hallways flanked by faculty members, school-board members, school administrators and Midway Mayor Dr. Clementine Washington, who is a retired educator and former assistant principal.
“Dr. Barge has been very supportive of students, teachers and administrators throughout the state,” Liberty County School Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee said. “His presence here today is one example that he likes to be fully engaged at the local school site.”
Midway Middle School Principal Debra Frazier said MMS serves 863 students, most of whom are military dependents.
Frazier said three organizations of students volunteered to meet and dine with Barge. MMS student-council members and members of two mentoring groups, the Girls Club and Boys to Men, dressed in their finest attire and joined Barge; Washington; Lee; Frazier; school-board Chairwoman Lily Baker; Vice Chairwoman Carol Guyett; Assistant Superintendents Mary Alexander, John Lyles and Jason Rogers; MMS Assistant Principal Thomas Willoughby; GDOE excellence-recognition program manager Kiesha Ford-Jenrette; and two of the school’s council members, Reginald Pierce and Willa Lewis, for a meal served by Midway Middle’s food-services department.
The “Georgia’s Future, Now” program consists of initiatives featuring higher standards, better teaching, more pathways and a ready graduate, according to the Georgia Department of Education.