News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
SUNDAY, MAY 6, 2007


Personalized education a blessing in Lawrence

To The Daily: Re: “Why is Lawrence losing residents?” It may be unintentional, but much of Lawrence County’s leadership gives the impression our schools are one notch above some Third World backwater.

At the risk of sounding arrogant, I will explain my family’s situation, which is important to my point. I was a respected veteran teacher in Atlanta and my wife an equally respected medical professional. My “gifted” children attended a large “elite” science magnet high school and former National School of Excellence. We left a beautiful home to move to Lawrence County — temporarily living in a mobile home while building a house — simply so our children could attend Mount Hope School.

Mount Hope — enrollment 320 — does not offer a curriculum as varied or advanced as our former school; still, every student can pursue an advanced degree. What Mount Hope offers that larger schools cannot match is a small enrollment, where every teacher holds a deeply personal stake in every student’s success, where scores are good and many students go on to excel in college. Every morning, we send our children to a school family, not a school building.

To a person, our Atlanta friends envy our children’s Lawrence County education. Now, some are considering moving here.

Our county’s community-based system of schools meets its students’ needs in the most fundamental sense. Some people will always define a school’s greatness by the thickness of its course catalog, but there are many parents whose children have been lost and forgotten in their big schools and are longing for the truly personal education that is rare and which we are so fortunate to have found in Lawrence County.

Those are the things that community and educational leaders should emphasize in presenting our school system to those who might call Lawrence County home some day.

Chris Laster

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