Hamilton County Schools Superintendent marks first 100 days by looking ahead to the future
Dr. Justin Robertson announces plans to address challenges that begin as early as this upcoming August
CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Not counting weekends, Dr. Justin Robertson has been in the superintendent’s office for 20 weeks. 100 days.
But he isn’t touting any of the successes Hamilton County Schools has seen in his short tenure. Robertson is looking at the challenges he’s seen in school board meetings, and taking that head-on.
Robertson: “One change, and something we’re talking about internally, is how do we better balance that academic press with a culture of care? We probably need to rebalance and pay attention to a culture of care and makiing sure that we’re valuing students, and making sure that they feel a sense of belonging. That we’re paying attention to teachers, and we’re supporting them in a way that we can help them feel better about coming to work.”
News 12 attended several school board meetings, including one Thursday night, where many reports of bullying were addressed in Roberston’s first hundred days. Before the next hundred days end, Hamilton County Schools will implement plans to attack the problem.
“One thing that we’re going to start next year that we’re going to launch is A Million Acts of Kindness campaign. There’s a school district in California that did this a couple years ago, and it reduced bullying since by 50%. So, there’s a proactive approach to address it. I also think that we’ve heard clearly from parents we’ve got to do better of when harm is done of restoring students back to school and walking side-by-side with parents and students during that process.”
Teachers are getting a 3% raise this upcoming year. Robertson says that’s only a first step, but still too low. There’s only so much money within the district’s budget, so Robertson wants to help create a better work/life balance for those in charge of educating our children.
“What we haven’t done a great job of is looking at other ways that we can support teachers. Obviously, we can’t pay them enough, but we can do other things that show that we value them, to provide extra time to them, to make sure their planning time is uninterrupted, and to put supports in place that don’t cost money to show that we value teachers.”
Doctor Robertson grew up in the area, and started his journey in education as a teacher in a Hamilton County School.
While he’s only been the superintendent for a hundred days, Robertson leans into his 13 years of experience to help right some of the challenges of previous administrations.
He’d like to continue making strides to better the schools as long as Hamilton County will let him.