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DALTON, Ga. -- A group of Whitfield County educators wants to see schools hold the course set over the past five years by system leaders and outgoing Superintendent Katie Brochu as a search begins for her replacement.

"We're focusing on students and designing work that is meaningful to them, not to me as a teacher," said LeighAnn Noll, social studies teacher at Southeast Whitfield High School and member of the "System Design Team" that briefed school board members at the Whitfield Career Academy. "Our students are taking responsibility for their learning."

Team members said they feel collaborating and sharing knowledge across the system has made leaders out of all the personnel.

"We have an urgency to keep moving forward and not to go back," Mrs. Noll said. "We're in the middle of a transformation."

Schools spokesman Eric Beavers said the team was formed about four years ago to "look at the bigger picture" for Whitfield County education.

School board members scheduled Tuesday's meeting to hear from teachers how they see the system's past and present and gather their views on a new superintendent for the future.

Ms. Brochu was picked last week to head Richland (County) School District Two, one of two county districts outside of Columbia, S.C. She will take over at the end of the school year.

Whitfield board members have met once to discuss legal steps related to hiring a replacement. At Tuesday's meeting, the design team told the board what teachers "think about the direction of the system, things they'd like to see change," board Chairman Tim Trew said.

Mr. Beavers said one of the design team's first efforts created the district's vision, mission and beliefs. Team members spent about 18 months developing five-year goals, he said, which included unifying the district's philosophy, improving student achievement and relations and promoting good relations with the community.

"For a lot of those, we've arrived," he said.

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