Cullman City Schools leaders hopeful for new year as 2021 kicks off

West Elementary Principal Dr. Jay Page (August 2020 Cullman Tribune file photo)

CULLMAN, Ala. – There’s no denying 2020 was one of the most challenging years in recent history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Cullman City Schools leaders are looking ahead to what’s next in 2021 — and they have a few goals, hopes and plans for the back half of the current school year.

Superintendent Dr. Susan Patterson noted 2020 was unusual and difficult but said she has hope that 2021 can be a great opportunity for a comeback for students, staff and the community at large.

“We are blessed to live in a community that truly supports one another,” she said. “I want to do everything possible to see our children return to the many things they have missed. We have a chance to ensure they have all we can give them in academics, extracurriculars and emotional well-being. I am honored to serve with our board of education and amazing staff and wish everyone all the best in 2021.”

Cullman Primary School Principal Tricia Culpepper said despite the challenges of the pandemic, her school had a solid start to the year last semester and plans to keep that momentum rolling into 2021.

“In the first semester, our teachers continued to provide a high-quality educational foundation for our students in a warm, loving environment,” she said. “We are looking forward to having a strong second semester filled with memorable events for our students.”

At West Elementary School, Principal Dr. Jay Page said he’s looking to the school’s social media campaign — #westway — as an inspiration for the attitude they hope to adapt in 2021.

“The ‘West Way’ means to ‘Be Smart,’ ‘Be Kind,’ ‘Be Respectful’ and ‘Have Fun,’” he said. “I think that this semester we want to emphasize ‘Be Kind.’”

Cullman Middle School Principal Jake Johnson said he’s excited about some new advancements at his school in 2021, as the staff will also be turning its attention to helping students prepare for the ACAP, a new statewide standardized test. Johnson said it will be interesting to see how CMS students compare to their peers across the state on the inaugural assessment.

“We’re excited to complete the installment of SMART boards in all of our classrooms and library this month, and we are getting 60 additional Chromebooks so each teacher will have extras in their classrooms for students to use if they do not have a working device,” he added.

With multiple COVID-19 vaccines developed and vaccinations underway across the state and country, East Elementary School Principal David Wiggins focused on the little things he missed with students in 2020, and he said he hopes they might begin to return by the end of the second semester.

“While I typically choose a resolution that is personal, like to read more or get in better shape, my 2021 resolution is more of a hope,” he said. “I hope that it won’t be much longer until I can high-five my students, until we can sit together at the lunch table and visit with friends, until we can gather around a good book in the library.”

Cullman High School Principal Kim Hall said she’ll be turning to her faith to guide her through the new year, as we all face fresh uncertainties and challenges.

“I pray daily for the wisdom and understanding needed to lead, guide and protect the young people of our community. My prayer is that we learn to celebrate our uniqueness and relish in the small victories while respecting and protecting one another,” she said. “If 2020 taught us anything, I hope we have learned to recognize and cherish the small moments in life which invoke grand emotion — and the small victories worth celebrating.”