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Can’t mask our excitement

FRANKLIN LIVING—This has certainly been an unprecedented semester thus far for Russellville City Schools, navigating school life in an ongoing pandemic.

We’ve implemented new protocols, cleaned and sanitized more than ever before, worn masks even though it wasn’t fun, socially distanced from our friends and coworkers when we’d rather be giving hugs and high fives, altered or canceled events and gatherings, utilized virtual learning and worked harder than we ever have to preserve our sense of normalcy.

With so many factors to consider, the potential has been there all along for things to go wrong this semester – but for the most part, we have been unbelievably fortunate in how this semester has played out so far, and that’s in large part due to the cooperation and dedication present in our system.

I’m a firm believer that a system is only as good as its leadership, and for RCS, that begins with our school board. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to help our system navigate these trying times than our current board. At every turn, they have been supportive of the decisions I and others have made, all while keeping the students’ and teachers’ best interests in the forefront of their minds. They’ve looked at the whole picture and have taken very seriously their role in making our schools a safe place in the midst of an unsafe world. I have appreciated their forward thinking and their willingness to do what is necessary, even if it wasn’t popular, to keep our schools open. Their dedication has been as unwavering as this pandemic has been unpredictable, and their unique perspectives and life experiences have been just what we’ve needed to lead during a difficult time.

I am also extremely proud of our school administrators, faculty and staff. These people have gone above and beyond, taking on extra responsibilities and extra work just to make sure our students adjusted as well as possible to their “new normal” for this school year. They’ve made learning fun and interactive, even while social distancing and wearing masks. They’ve helped enforce the new protocols so we could preserve our in-person learning format. They’ve supported one another and their students – and they’ve been so dedicated in all they do.

I have been absolutely amazed by our students. Their overall ability to adapt and overcome the challenges they have faced this semester has been nothing short of inspiring. They’ve added a new layer to the Golden Tiger Pride that is so synonymous with our system – a layer that includes never giving up, persevering when it’s hard, and showing up even when it’s not convenient. They’re still achieving, growing and learning, and they’ve embodied our newest hashtag of #CantMaskOurExcitement.

All of these groups of people have made me extra proud these past several months to be their superintendent. And I feel confident that with their continued support and dedication, as well as the support and cooperation from our city and community, we can finish this school year with a strong second semester, too!

As always, it’s GREAT to be a Golden Tiger!

Heath Grimes is the superintendent of Russellville City Schools. He and his wife Amy have three daughters: Leah, Halle and Erin.