What a way to start the school year! Tropical storms, hurricanes, solar eclipses. I’m glad we don’t have a volcano near Mountain Brook!

Even with all the non-school events transpiring around us, it has been an excellent start to the 2017-2018 school year. Many in the community think about the start of a school year as the day students return to school. In our school system, we believe the start of a new school year begins about two weeks into the summer break. We begin our year with a focus on professional development for all our teachers. You can read more about our professional development below. I think you will be amazed at how much we have going on during the summer.

The week before school starts we gather for “Institute Day.” This event is held in the high school Fine Arts Center and is attended by everyone who works at Mountain Brook Schools, including all teachers and all support staff. Also present are members of our Board of Education and guests, including city officials, PTO leadership, Mountain Brook City Schools Foundation leadership, and former school board members. In spite of its rather uninspiring name, Institute Day is a time for us to celebrate all the many great things happening in our school system, all the fine people who work here, and members of the community who do so much to support us. On that day, we recognize performance award winners, service award winners (employees who have been with us for 10, 15, 20, 25 years of service and up), and our top three awards: the “Promise of Excellence” Teacher, the Margaret Spencer Ragland Award, and the Ann Pritchard Award for Excellence in Teaching. It isn’t your typical staff recognition event. We have a lot of fun, and we end the day by reflecting on our accomplishments and focusing on our next steps as a school system. It is a special day that helps us prepare for the new academic year.

Why write about this to you? I have the privilege of being able to see all of the work that goes on in the school system—not just just during the academic year, but during the summer. I know how proud it makes me of the people I work with. I want to share some of that with you in the hope that it reinforces the appreciation your family and this community have for our dedicated staff.

We are well into the year now and have much to accomplish in a short time. It is my hope that this is the best year yet for you, your children, and Mountain Brook Schools. Enjoy your fall and the entire school year!

Dicky Barlow