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Washington County School District’s Superintendent Receives GSSA President’s Award

Dr. Rickey Edmond was recently awarded the President’s Award by the Georgia School Superintendent’s Association. This award is given to Superintendents that demonstrate exceptional leadership in their schools and communities. Dr. Rickey Edmond hit the ground running when he joined the Washington County School District as Superintendent. He took the first 100 days in his position to observe and create relationships. He didn’t just do this with the school system, he also did this with the community. His first step was to visit each municipality in the district and hold “Study Hall with the Superintendent” sessions. These sessions were scheduled with the intention of introducing himself and the goals of the district.

Under his leadership, the district formed SMART teams. These teams are dedicated to working towards improving and keeping the district on track with certain goals. The teams have representatives from every level in the district. They aren’t a requirement, and they are open for people that want to join. There is a SMART team for each objective the district has, as well as short term SMART Teams that help solve short term problems.

He introduced ‘Systems Thinking’ to the district. This process puts the right people, in the right place, to do the right work through communication, collaboration, and collecting and leveraging data. It is important to understand that actions taken in one area impact another area causing a ripple effect. Communicating effectively is essential to these processes. The District has intentionally narrowed their focus to what they refer to as the Big 6. This encompasses the 6 areas that they are dedicated to improving and/or expanding. These areas are: Public Relations and Marketing (telling our story), STEAM initiatives (becoming STEAM certified, Cyber Ready Seal, Robotics, Specialized Programming), Work Force Development, Leadership (building capacity), RTI/MTSS & SEL (Student Services & Parent Engagement), and Literacy.

When the pandemic impacted Washington County in March of 2020, the District relied on digital platforms to communicate. Dr. Edmond began conducting weekly call outs. Each Friday afternoon he calls parents and staff to inform them about the week. He also implemented a weekly update. Other forms of communication include a weekly radio show titled “Hawk Talk”, social media platforms, monthly Fireside Chats held via Zoom for parents, students, and staff, speaking with local civic groups, and more.

With his guidance, the District also spearheaded an afterschool program for their virtual/remote students. These students are served Monday- Thursday from 4:00 PM- 6:00 PM. This is in an effort to help close the learning gaps that the pandemic has caused. The District also provided another way for remote students with connectivity issues to learn. Utilizing community partnerships, Dr. Edmond was able to start a satellite classroom at the Boys & Girls Club. This helped provide students with a classroom experience while still allowing numbers in the buildings to remain low. Community partnerships also assisted the District with the opening of a “Wi-Fi Hotspot Academy” through a local church.

When asked about the award, Dr. Rickey Edmond credited the hard work and dedication of his leadership team and staff members. “I am shocked and humbled by this recognition. This award is a testament to the great work that is being done across the school district by all of our leaders and staff members. We do not work in silos, we work as a system. We are all working towards the same purpose—Developing The Whole Child,” stated Dr. Rickey Edmond.

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