Last year when I composed this letter I concluded with the Latin phrase “Carpe Diem” which means “seize the day.” I believe we as a community and as a school system are doing that. There are many good things happening in our education system. The school system tells us test scores are up in all core academic areas. We are seeing improved reading ability among our youngsters.
The school system says the academic achievement gap is closing between economically disadvantaged children and other students. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I was when I attended a recent dedication for an outdoor school classroom and heard an individual proudly talk about how their school’s students were reading on a thirdgrade level.
One of my goals since the Read 20 initiative began in January of 2006 has been to have 95 percent of Hamilton County school children read on a third-grade level by the year 2010. Chief Reading Officer Shawn Kurrelmeier-Lee tells me it appears we will reach that goal. We are close — 87% of all third graders in the 2006-2007 school year were reading at grade level. It is so important that our children learn to read. As their education continues, then they read to learn. The lessons learned in grade school, the achievements garnered now, will reap success for students in the future. We are doing our part to give today’s students the opportunity to have a good life.
The July 15th announcement of Volkswagen coming to Hamilton County and investing $1 billion in Enterprise South helps fulfill our vision of opportunity and prosperity for the county. The rewards of this incredible economic opportunity go hand in hand with a good school system. We have an improved school system and I believe in years to come we will have the outstanding school system we expect and our children’s future demands.
We have seen a remarkable occurrence this summer as members of our community united to create the Normal Park Upper School. Forty teams of volunteers worked together to transform the old Chattanooga Middle School into a remarkable building for students to learn in this school year. But the lesson to us may not be what will be learned in the classroom. The lesson may be when you and I join hands together like those volunteers did this past June to craft a $1.5 million dollar facelift to a 78-year-old building, that spirit and commitment to our children and their education can overcome any obstacle.
I would like to thank those volunteers not only for what they did, but for the lesson they showed us with their effort. Anything can be achieved if we are willing to commit to a goal and work hard to do it. I remain committed to an outstanding school system, and I encourage you to join me in this commitment to our children and their future as we kick off this school year.
— Claude Ramsey
Hamilton County Mayor