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Superintendent meets with recent Newton grads

COVINGTON -- Even recent high school graduates can teach the superintendent of Newton County Schools some things.

Recently, NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews met with some recent Newton County high school graduates to gather information to help future graduates.

"We will continue to learn from our graduates, which will inform our thinking and actions going forward," Mathews said.

He, along with Samantha Fuhrey, executive director of Secondary Education at NCSS, and Sherri Davis-Viniard, director of Public Relations, met with five recent graduates to learn more about their high school experience in Newton County and now their time in college.

They met with three college freshmen and two college seniors. One of the graduates is majoring in early childhood education, one in computer engineering, one in business management, one in accounting and one in biomedical engineering and premed. Two of them are attending the University of Georgia, two the Georgia Institute of Technology and one Georgia College & State University.

The students praised their time in high school for allowing them to take Advanced Placement courses, which helped prepare them for college, and to be in a dual enrollment program, which helped them with time management and more effort required in college.

"Some of these students are graduating early from college due to their dual enrollment credits earned while in NCSS," Mathews said.

The students also praised extracurricular activities like the Youth Leadership Institute and the Youth Apprenticeship program at NCSS, as well as SAT/ACT prep classes.

But they know all students aren't like them.

"I'm worried for our future," one student said. "Kids are too involved in the problems of other people and not working on what needs to be worked on in school."

The students suggested more technology in the classrooms, and they also agreed that the state's idea to have students select career pathways is a good one.

Additionally, "all five of our students encouraged us to increase the level of academic rigor, in general, throughout the school system, suggesting that some course work was not challenging enough," Mathews said.

He said the system is making more investments in classroom technology, as recent graduates would agree that the system needed. Additionally, he said the curriculum increasingly pushed the notion that students have to be more than "select-the-right-answer" students in order for them to be truly educated.

"Rigor and the kind of lessons we offer is a work-in-progress, as is the case in other systems," Mathews said.

Mathews said he hopes to talk to more students in the future, either in a formal setting or in cases where he and other system officials come in contact with them in the community.