On Monday, August 12th, Mayor Ronnie had the privilege of being invited to the Change of Command ceremony held at 0900 hrs at Redstone Arsenal. Lt General Richard P. Formica, who assumed command in December of 2010 is retiring, and moving to Virginia with his wife, Diane. His success is legendary, in that he started out in ROTC, and worked his way all the up to being a 3 star. “That is rare,” Mayor Ronnie told me.
General Formica has spoken at the Vets’ Museum, has ridden in Athens parades, has spoken at the Limestone County Event Center, has made no apologies for how much he loves our town, and we are all sorry to see him go. He is going to be working with non-profit organizations, and Diane is going to be returning to the classroom after a significant hiatus. The General honored his wife and all teachers by telling them that as far as he is concerned, they are the ones “with boots on the ground” when it comes to scrapping for our culture by fighting for our kids’ education. General Formica also talked about how our children and grandchildren are standing on our shoulders, teachers and parents alike. We must ask ourselves, what are we doing as “the adults in the room” to strengthen our shoulders, figuratively speaking? Please see Jackie Warner’s article on Homework for some ideas on how to be “boots on the ground” as a parent, and assist our dedicated teachers in their mission regarding our children’s successful school year.
After the COC ceremony, Mayor Ronnie visited our teachers who were having an in service day, preparing for the start of school on August 19th. “They were fired up,” he told me, and it was clear that the morning had been most energizing for all. Our local school system has some new faces, with some changes in the “org (organizational) chart.” Trey Holiday is the new Athens Public Schools Superintendant, and, according to the Mayor, has managed to “roll three jobs into one.” Terry Roller is the New Public Relations director for our city schools, and Mayor Ronnie, who is a former teacher himself, is excited about what they will bring to our city and its students.
He went on to tell me about the “Power Up” program, which is a program approved by the City Council that will utilize a total of $800K from the 1 cent tax increase passed last year to purchase computers for schools and tablets for teachers to use to better prepare their students to be competitive in the 21st Century.
Before we prayed, as we always do at the end of each interview, we talked about the fact that we owe our teachers and vets, big time. It is incontrovertible that if we can read, we need to thank our vets who have fought for us to have the freedom to do so, and we need to thank our teachers who have been “boots on” while slugging it out in the Field of Phonics. May the school year be a blessing for all, and may we all “roll” with Ronnie in supporting our vets, our teachers and our kids. Athens depends on it.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner