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  • John Franco

GREENVILLE ISD: Dr. Demetrus Liggins

Greenville ISD continues to provide a beacon of hope for its community

One year ago, Dr. Demetrus Liggins was asked “what is a quality that is important in good leadership?” His answer—the ability to collaborate— remains the same. What is different now is the urgency behind ensuring that the communication and teamwork and trust in one another is put into practice each and every day in support of student achievement. Especially in light of current circumstances.

As Superintendent of Greenville Independent School District he saw firsthand how the confusion and fear caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc on families as schools closed at the end of the 2019-20 academic year and students, parents and teachers transitioned to distance learning with little to no preparation.

“When our doors open for that first day of school…we will be ready to teach and care for every single student.” —Dr. Demetrus Liggins, Superintendent

However, as superintendent, Dr. Liggins also saw the determination of everyone in his district to ensure that students still had access to healthy meals and the other services they needed to thrive. He has seen district staff, teachers, parents and community partners come together to ensure the 2020-21 school year is nothing short of phenomenal.

“Grit is something that we have in spades here in Greenville. There is a palpable sense of pride in this community,” Dr. Liggins says. “When our doors open for that first day of school, it will be a special day, and we will be ready to teach and care for every single student.”

All of the work that has gone into developing a new virtual curriculum, provide training and ensure the safety of campuses was a team effort, he notes.

Over the summer, the district’s chief technology officer— who has a background as a classroom teacher—and his team created a robust, enhanced virtual learning program that is tailored to Greenville students.

“We didn’t want to just offer a pre-made one-size-fits-all online learning tool,” Dr. Liggin’s explains. “This program was thoughtfully developed by our staff for our teachers who now have the tools they need to provide enriching instruction that provokes critical thinking whether learning happens online or in the classroom.”

Dr. Liggins, once a classroom teacher himself, says there is nothing that can replace a great classroom teacher, and in Greenville ISD, teachers will always rise to the challenge. “We’re prepared because of our talented teachers,” he says.

For the first time, the district is opening up all of its curriculum, its expert teachers and the numerous other services it provides through community and higher education partnerships to homeschooling families within the community.

“This pandemic has upended the usual educational experience for students everywhere, but we want to make sure that the children in Greenville can get some of that back,” Dr. Liggins says. “There are programs in GISD that you’re not going to find anywhere else.”

Any student who enrolls in Greenville ISD—even if they opt to start the school year entirely through online learning—will be able to participate in GISD athletics, fine arts, college preparation, extracurriculars and career technical education, which includes robotics, culinary arts, business, fashion design and auto tech. That also means access to counselors on every campus who provide health services, socio-emotional support and academic guidance for students, as well as social workers who provide community services for families.

Students will also be able to take advantage of the district’s Forever A Lion partnership with Texas A&M Commerce. The higher education pathway program includes admission and tuition benefits for eligible Greenville ISD students, and introduces them to the college experience early, allowing them to establish excellent study habits and find the right balance between academics and life on campus.

“Greenville ISD plays a critical and integral role in the community,” Dr. Liggins says. “We’ve been here for 100 years and we’re not going anywhere. We will get through this pandemic the way we’ve gotten through everything else. Together.”

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