“Education is the process of creating sound mind in a sound body.” –Aristotle
In a frank discussion, Dr. LaDonna McFall shared some of her philosophy of education and her approach as she takes over as the new Director of Schools for Coffee County.
Dr. McFall focuses on individual students, teachers, parents, and people in the community. All community shareholders are welcome to contact her to discuss concerns or to ask questions about the direction of the school system, but here’s a small insight into her approach.
Specifically, we discussed the rumors that Dr. McFall may have a negative opinion of school athletics.
A school director needs to be a financial analyst, curriculum evaluator, personnel manager, logistics coordinator and student advocate, to name a few of the duties.
As a new director, McFall felt the need to assess all academic and sports programs. It is the responsibility of the director of schools to be knowledgeable of all school programs.
“I met with all principals about academic programs, as well as coaches about athletic programs,” McFall said.
It would be irresponsible for someone to enter a leadership position without first finding out all of the details of every aspect involved. And it is pointless to chastise McFall for doing just that.
“I in no way, shape or form want to control a booster club or tell parents how to raise money,” she said.
McFall understands and stresses the knowledge that schools, academically and athletics, could not achieve the excellence they have without parents.
“My whole life I have been a part of athletics-professionally, personally – in all aspects.” Dr. McFall has been a coach, an athletic director, a principal and a booster parent.
As an educator and a parent of five children, all of whom participated in various sports, McFall expresses an understanding of the importance of athletics in school.
“I want students to have the resources they need,” she says, “while keeping athletics in the proper perspective. We have to understand they are student athletes.”
For McFall, academics are first and foremost, but athletics certainly have a proper role in students’ school careers.
It has been the concern of some people in the community that the new director wants to control sports groups, and possibly even end some of the sports programs in Coffee County.
A simple evaluation to assess the status of the district’s programs has apparently touched a sore spot. Instead of relying on reports or rumors, McFall chose to have a hands-on approach. She has taken the time to personally speak with principals, teachers and coaches before making decisions.
For centuries, the standard approach to education has been to focus on a balance between academics and physical training. The same culture that started the Olympics also produced some of the greatest philosophers.
Plato, Aristotle and Socrates were all great athletes before their teachings were written.
In the past few decades there has been a split: schools that focus on academics and schools that focus on athletics. It is when schools pull the two facets together, find the balance, and as McFall says, “keep perspective” that they excel and produce well rounded graduates who are ready to be active, productive members of society.
Dr. McFall is more than willing to meet with anyone with questions about the school district, whether it is academic or athletic. She, and all of the educators in Coffee County, welcome parental involvement.
“We could not do what we do without parents. We want parents involved, in athletics and academics.”