SUMNER COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Several school districts in Middle Tennessee started a new academic year Tuesday, including Sumner County Schools. It’s an especially memorable one for Dr. Scott Langford as it’s his first as director of schools for Sumner County.
“Some days it feels like you’re drinking out of a firehose,” he said while laughing. “But we have wonderful people in Sumner County, I have a great team and we have wonderful principals and teachers and our students, our parents are great. So it’s the greatest joy of my life to be able to lead and serve.”
In a letter to parents Monday, Dr. Langford stated school safety is the district’s highest priority. Each principal takes part in a campus-wide safety audit with their Safe Schools staff and law enforcement over the summer.
“Katie Brown leads our [School Safe] team and she’s worked hard over the summer to do school audits and we’re taking advantage of the the money that the legislature provided,” said Dr. Langford. “We can’t really talk in depth about all the safety plans. But you know, we’ve taken the steps with hardened entrances. We constantly review our plans try to step it up.”
School resource officers are helping to usher in the new school year with a little fun as well.
The district shared photos of Sumner County deputies preparing to welcome students Tuesday morning.
The Sumner County Schools SRO division won the prestigious NASRO Model Agency Award this year, deeming it the best program in the country. Dr. Langford explained that over the past decades they’ve worked with the county commission and sheriff’s office to expand the SRO program, and now there’s an SRO in every school.
“They’re a vibrant part of the community. If you walk into an elementary school, the SRO is like one of the Beatles, they are rockstars in that school, and they really create positive connections with students,” he siad. “They provide a safety aspect that is, you just can’t quantify. They are there. And they love our kids. And they’ll put their lives on the line every day to protect our kids. And that’s the front line of our defense to protect our students.”
According to the district, Dr. Langford has been with Sumner County Schools for 14 years having served as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and district-level administrator.
“In addition to his extensive experience, Dr. Langford has deep roots in Sumner County. He is a third generation Sumner County educator with a deep passion and commitment for Sumner County Schools. Dr. Langford is a proud alum, having graduated from White House High School,” a previous press release stated.
Langford told News 2 that early literacy is one of the big priorities of his tenure. He said less than 15 third grade students were retained due to test scores.
“We saw we saw a 5% increase in their test scores and a big increase in their reading screener score. So you know, we’re really pleased with where we are, but you’re never satisfied as long as there’s a few kids that are still struggling to read,” he said. “That’s where our commitment is going to be.”
New in Sumner County this year, the district will provide iPads for all K-12 certified teachers and implement a one-to-one iPad program for all 6th to 12th-grade students.
Leaders hope the integration of iPads into classrooms will bridge the gap between traditional education and the digital age.
In Tuesday’s letter to parents, Dr. Langford also said Sumner County is also starting the new year with a new district-wide dress code. A group of parents and administrators crafted a policy following more than 5,000 comments from parents and students.
“Every student will have the accessibility to the same technology. We’re very excited about that.”