“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt
Find ways to keep a balance and reduce stress. Read the Bible and pray daily. Exercise daily. Get plenty of rest. Practice good nutrition. Read biographies/books on leadership. Spend time with family. Listen to your employees. This is a great list that resulted when I recently asked Dr. Buddy Bibb, superintendent of Tipton County Schools if he had any good advice or tips for new directors. Dr. Bibb has been in the education field for 35 years as a certified employee. He was first employed as a 7th and 8th grade Math teacher and girls' basketball coach in 1979. However, his service to education began even before when he was a student at Munford High School. "During the school year ... another student and I cleaned the cafeteria each day ... I also worked for the school system during the summer painting buildings." Dr. Bibb shared that his "first job in education was the summer prior to integration (1970)," when he was "hired, along with some other teenagers, to haul books from to school to school. I was paid one dollar an hour."
His relationship with education is one that is important to him, a loyal connection that continues today. When asked about some things that he was especially excited to have going on in his school system at this time Dr. Bibb shared that Tipton County students "are performing better every year." Examples of the students’ achievement can be found in their ACT scores which "are above state average (20.1 percent) and Tipton County's graduation rate which is above the state average as well at 97.7 percent." We have focused professional development specific to the needs of our system. Our new teachers are participating in COMP and the New Teacher Cohort. Tipton County is focusing on literacy by using the TN CORE reading professional development. Our goal is to have a great teacher in front of every classroom. We continue to have above average performance at below average cost (per pupil expenditure in $1, 087 below the state average).
Dr. Bibb continues to lead his students in reaching their goals and performing well in the classroom seeming to adhere to an ideal that was palpable when he was in school -- focusing on creating well rounded students. Dr. Bibb shared about the differences in student life between the hallways that students today walk and the ones he did back then. "Technology was not part of my educational experience as a student with the exception of an occasional film strip or microscope [and] there was not a great emphasis on test scores ... the focus was to create well-rounded students." In his quest to produce an education for his students that focuses on their well-being, I asked Dr. Bibb about a time when a student achieved or overcame something that stayed with him in an important way. "In my second year teaching, I taught 7th grade Tennessee History. I required my students to make/keep a Tennessee History notebook. Many of these former students who I have seen over the years have told me that they still have that notebook. They seem to be proud of what they made years ago."
When I asked Dr. Bibb what profession he would like to attempt if he were not a superintendent today, he shared that he would've liked to have tried law, politics, or real estate. He also shared an interesting answer about the oddest job he'd ever had that was balanced in both professionalism and in relationship to his family. "Appointing members of the School Board while I was employed by the School Board (Prior to the Education Improvement Act of 1992, school board members in Tipton county were appointed by the County Commission, of which I was a member (1982-2011) and performing the wedding ceremony of my daughter in June 2010.
Some things about Dr. Bibb that people might not readily know -- At the age of 25, I was elected as a Tipton County Commissioner and re-elected 7 more times (1986, 1990,1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, and 2010). For 25 years fellow commissioners elected me as the Chairman Pro Tem of the County Commission ... During these 29 years I voted for and we passed tax increases five times. Twice we doubled the wheel tax and three times we raised the property tax. The majority of this new revenue went to the school system.
When I asked Dr. Bibb about what a "perfect day" would look like for him, the first thing he mentioned is something that many, if not all, of us in TN would have in our "perfect days." "Plenty of sunshine and warm temperatures," he shared as it was 20 degrees at the time in Tipton County. He added, "Students achieving at high levels, learning new and relevant things from effective and enthusiastic teachers.” Dr. Bibb went on to say, “Parents very interested and engaged in what their children are doing in every aspect of their lives.” His perfect day would also include, “… playing and reading to my grandchildren – watching everything that is being absorbed in their young minds, spending time with my two children (his son, Eric, lives and works in Charlotte, NC and his daughter, Rachel, lives and works in Tipton County), and having a pleasant, uninterrupted, dinner date with my wife Sally.”
It is my hope that “perfect days” for Dr. Bibb do bloom out of this long winter. We here at TOSS are excited to see the continued positive affects as Dr. Bibb continues to sow into the students of Tipton County and the lasting legacy he will leave in Tennessee education.