Some people find a job while others fulfill their purpose. Dr. Rotonya Rhodes feels as if she falls under the latter category.
As the assistant superintendent of the Greene County School System, Rhodes firmly believes since she graduated high school that it was her purpose to be an educator.
“I believe that education is a field that I was called to,” Rhodes said. “So, I followed my calling and my passion. I love learning and helping people, especially young people.”
Be that as it may, her career journey hasn’t gone as planned. Sometimes one’s best laid plans don’t come to fruition. There are often times when circumstances and situations pop up that take people down a path they did not see themselves taking.
That is certainly the case with Rhodes.
Before becoming the GCSS assistant superintendent, Rhodes served in various roles throughout the district. She’s been a high school teacher, a middle school principal and a dropout prevention coordinator.
But, when she graduated from Georgia College and State University in 2004, she never intended on leaving the classroom. Rhodes highlighted that as something most people didn’t know about her.
“I always planned to be a classroom teacher in K-12 education and eventually college,” Rhodes said. “Then school leadership seemed to find me. It’s not something I initially thought of.”
Though being in her current position wasn’t in her original plan, Rhodes still enjoys her job. After all, the GCSS is where everything got started for her.
Rhodes is from Greensboro and graduated from Greene County High School in 2000. Her first, fulltime job came in the district after she served as a substitute teacher at another school.
Now, in her current position, Rhodes helps oversee the daily operations of the GCSS. She provides leadership in some areas which include curriculum, instruction and school safety.
For the 2021-22 school year that begins Aug. 2, Rhodes will have an added responsibility. This year, she’ll be tasked with leading programs to enhance parent engagement.
Rhodes sees everything she does for the school district as a way to give back to the community. Because, as she said, this is her home, too.
“The students and families that I get to serve, they’re people I get to see everyday,” Rhodes said. “I see them at the grocery store, at church, the hair salon and they’re my neighbor’s kids. There’s just something special about knowing the people that you serve.”
Serving those students and families will be a little bit more personal this school year compared to the past year and a half.
The school system plans to return to in-person teaching and learning with fewer COVID-19 restrictions. Since that is the case, Rhodes is hopeful to have a more normal school year.
“There’ll be a sense of normalcy from the very beginning,” Rhodes said. “That’ll be combined with some new things that the pandemic taught us.”
Virtual options will not be available for Pre-K through eighth grade students and there’ll be limited virtual options available for high school students.
Nevertheless, the majority of the curriculum will be planned to be taught inside the classroom. That way, teachers, parents and students can interact with each other on a more personal, face-to-face basis.
It’ll all begin with each school’s open house. On July 29, schools will be opened to parents and students to meet teachers and receive schedules and such. Each school will have their open house from 2-6 p.m. Then, there’ll be a back to school bash on July 31 at the GCHS Gymnasium from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
With the school year less than a month away from starting, Rhodes is excited to see what the next year holds. She can’t wait to see how teachers and students return to the school and implement programs to increase parent involvement.
Above all, Rhodes stressed that she is eager to get back to why she went into education in the first place. Which, as a result, is a sign of her fulfilling her calling.
“I’m definitely looking forward to having [students] back every day and seeing them do the things they love,” Rhodes said. “And I’m looking forward to seeing them learning in person and helping them fall in love with school again.”