Dyersburg State Gazette
July 26, 2011

As students throughout the area took advantage of the last lazy days of summer vacation, employees of the Dyersburg City School System kicked off the new school year with a Back-to-School Luncheon.
Held in the commons at Dyersburg High School on Monday, the annual event offered newly appointed Director of Schools Neel Durbin a chance to highlight the many changes in the city school system.
The first change came with the time of the event. Traditionally held in the past as a breakfast, lunch began at 11 a.m. and allowed educators the chance to catch up with each other before Durbin welcomed educators, faculty and staff back for a new academic year.
Another significant change is Durbin himself. Appointed as incoming director of schools in January, the event was one of the first official acts of Durbin’s administration.
During his presentation, Durbin was quick to recognize the attendance of newly retired Lloyd Ramer, who served the system as superintendent from 1994 through June 30 of this year.
“If you don’t think this year is different, you should be me,” said Durbin. “Last year, I was out there. This year, I am up here. I would like to extend a special welcome to Mr. Ramer, who is here without his green jacket. For the first time since the mid-1990s, he’s not behind the podium at this event speaking to you, green jacket and all.
“I don’t own a green jacket,” continued Durbin. “Thank God.”

Durbin commended the many members of the community attending the event, each supporting education in the Dyersburg City School System in their own unique way.
“Providing a safe, positive environment where all children can reach their full potential is a community effort,” said Durbin, who took time to recognize the many different groups who play a part in the education of each student in the system. “No one group can achieve our goal, but together we can.”
Among those recognized for attending were state elected officials State Sen. Mark Norris and State Reps. Craig Fitzhugh and Bill Sanderson; local elected officials Dyer County Mayor Richard Hill, Dyersburg Mayor John Holden, County Commissioners and members of the Dyersburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen – including the school system’s own Terry Glover and Bart Williams; Allen Hester and Jeff Agee of the Dyersburg/Dyer County Chamber of Commerce; and members of the Dyersburg City School Board.

“To provide a safe environment, we have members of the police and fire departments, SROs, the local health department and community works,” said Durbin, who also recognized each member of the school system’s administration for weathering the many changes of the 2011-2012 academic year. “How much change can one group of people endure at one time? Think of the changes and imagine the challenges that these people have had. I would like to personally thank you for all that you have done.”

 Durbin also recognized business leaders; members of the cafeteria, maintenance and custodial staff; secretaries, bookkeepers, IT personnel and teachers’ aides; and the special contributions and inspiration of the system’s retired educators.
He ended his presentation by asking educators within the city system to stand.

“When the students come in and the doors shut, you make the difference,” said Durbin. “I’ve always said, ‘If you give our best teachers a rock and a cave, they can out-teach anyone in the state. You have challenging students every year, yet you love them, challenge them and nurture them. You are the ones who make a difference. … It is your future you prepare, as well as the future of our community.”
Durbin also requested teachers refrain from being “teacher’s lounge terrorists” throughout the school year, but instead be the action hero who offers positive counterattacks to residents touting the gloom and doom of current education issues.
“Be prepared to counterpunch with positive (news of what is happening in our system),” said Durbin. “(And) for our guests here today, it is with your help – and only with your help – that we will have a successful year.”

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