Dr. Ledbetter speaks at The State of our Schools

Published 4:24 pm Wednesday, August 30, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM –The Pelham Civic Complex was packed to the brim with educators from all over Shelby County on Wednesday, Aug. 30, at the State of our Schools Community Luncheon hosted by The Shelby County Chamber.

Several speakers addressed the luncheon, including Pelham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Chuck Ledbetter.

Ledbetter discussed several topics in his address, including the importance of caring for students’ mental health.

“That mental health piece, that taking care of people is critical,” Ledbetter said. “Our mission in Pelham is to inspire and empower students to achieve personal success. Our goal is for every single student to be successful, no matter where they start from when they first come to us.”

Ledbetter went on to talk about the different groups of people who attend PCS of different social and economic backgrounds and how there is an inherent disparity in where they begin their careers as students.

Ledbetter argued that the gap between these groups needs to be closed, and students must be pushed to achieve their fullest potential regardless of where they started.

“We want everybody to achieve more as we move forward,” Ledbetter said. “And as we do that, we’re focusing on the things that we think are really important traits for every student to have.”

Ledbetter outlined those traits as curiosity, empathy and creativity. He noted that it is vital to instill these values in people from a very early age and that it is a school’s role to help teach its students character.

“Too often in education, we have moved away from teaching values because we said, ‘Well, you know, we can’t teach that stuff,’” Ledbetter said. “Yes, we can. We have shared values as a community.”

The community values Ledbetter referred to were a person’s willingness to show up to work on time, be easy to get along with and be willing to learn.

Those are all traits Ledbetter believes can be taught to students at school and what helps them be successful in life.

Part of teaching these values comes from being able to differentiate students’ different learning needs and reach them where they are academically and socially.

“We have a broad array of students,” he said. “We have students who come from fairly high-end families, as I would say, as far as economics go, and we have some who come from absolutely nothing. One thing I’ll tell you is that everybody loves their kids. It doesn’t matter who you are and how much money you have in your pocket. And we have the opportunity to help every child. One of our strengths in Pelham is that we’re a big enough school system to offer everything that every one of our kids need. But we’re also small enough to be a family and to meet those needs individually as we go forward.”

Ledbetter joined Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks, Alabaster City Schools Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers and Hoover City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler at the luncheon, as each raved about education in Shelby County and the positive future ahead.