Several Bartow County educators who just said goodbye to the Class of 2020 will be in a graduating class of their own next year.
The Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Bartow Steering Committee announced the Leadership Bartow Class of 2021 last month, and six of the 26 members have some sort of ties to the education field.
Deputy Superintendent Dr. David Chiprany and Chief Leadership and Learning Officer Clint Terza from the Bartow County School System, Cartersville High School Principal Shelley Tierce, Georgia Highlands professor Sharryse Henderson, The Bookmobile Program Director Kim Dennis and Etowah Scholarship Foundation Executive Director Leigh Welch are part of the eight-month program that focuses on developing a diverse pool of leaders for Bartow County and providing opportunities for team-building, mentorship, personal development and community involvement.
“We always like to see good participation from our local schools and school systems,” said Jessica Sewell, community development director for the chamber. “We are pleased to have a couple more than usual for this year’s class.”
She added it’s “wonderful to have so many influential people in the education system in our class,” and she is “especially excited for the joint sessions we will have with our Youth Leadership program as well.”
The program, which requires dedication and a strong commitment from its members, offers numerous benefits to those who complete it, according to Sewell.
“The mission of the program is to build a broad-based network of community leaders who enhance their leadership abilities and skills through continuing education, shared perspectives and community involvement to work towards enriching the quality of life and shaping the future of Bartow County,” she said. “We hope that participants walk away with two key words instilled in their minds: connect and grow. We want them to be able to connect to other leaders in our community as well as grow their personal leadership skills.”
Bartow’s education leaders are looking forward to the networking and skill-building opportunities offered through program.
“Leadership Bartow has a great reputation of providing excellent leadership development experiences while connecting you with other leaders in the county,” Chiprany, who has been with the school system two years, said. “I appreciate the Leadership Bartow selection committee giving me this opportunity.”
“I knew it would be a great opportunity to meet and collaborate with other individuals in leadership positions throughout Bartow County,” Terza said. “I am hoping to broaden my leadership perspective when making decisions that can impact an entire community.”
Dennis, who has been in her current position for three years, said she’s “excited and honored” to be a part of the program, “where I can network with other community leaders to enhance my leadership skills and learn from the successes of others.”
“As a non-native of Bartow County, I also hope to learn more about the community in general,” she said. “As someone who has volunteered, assisted in starting a nonprofit and currently the program director for The Bookmobile Reading to Go Places, I look forward to collaborating with other community leaders in identifying and addressing opportunities, with the leadership of the chamber, in order to continue making Bartow County a great place to work, live and play.”
The Cartersville resident said this year’s class is a “diverse group, and I am excited about hearing others’ ideas and best practices.”
“I will be immersed with a talented group of leaders and look forward to the team-building and community engagement,” she said.
Tierce, who’s beginning her third year as the leader of CHS, said she wanted to join this year’s class because it’s a “great opportunity for me to build relationships within our community.”
“I have heard nothing but good things about Leadership Bartow, and I am excited about this opportunity,” she said.
Members of each Leadership Bartow class must be nominated by members of the graduating class or the board, Sewell said.
“We have an application process for each participant as well as an interview,” she said.
The program kicks off with a two-day retreat Friday and Saturday, Aug. 21-22, at Camp Pine Acres in Acworth, which Chiprany is eagerly anticipating.
“This event will provide the initial time needed to build positive relationships with other county leaders as well as the opportunity to participate in leadership development activities,” the Dallas resident said.
Through February, the class will attend — as of right now — one in-person session a month in the chamber’s “large” Anheuser-Busch Community Room, Sewell said.
“Under the leadership of our curriculum facilitator, Steve Dennis of Motivation Unlimited, we will dive into five core leadership modules, one each session,” she said. “We will then explore the community to show the participants how the leadership tool they learned in the morning is implemented throughout our community.”
Terza, who’s been employed by BCSS for one year, said he’s “looking forward to each session.”
“They will provide unique experiences filled with personal and professional growth,” the Marietta resident said.
In the past, the program has concluded with commencement, but Sewell said changes have been made this year, and there won’t be a “separate, formal graduation.”
Once he gets started in the program, Chiprany said he’s “hoping to gain a greater understanding of the Bartow community and expand my connections with county leaders that will benefit both the Bartow County School System and county.”
Tierce, who lives in the Burnt Hickory community in north Paulding County, said she wants to “learn more about our local businesses and their workforce needs to better instruct and prepare students who plan to join our community's workforce.”
Besides the educators, other members of the Class of 2021 are Jana Allen with The McCoy Law Firm, William Anderson from the U.S. House of Representatives, Kevin Barnes from Hickory Log Home, Shyla Crenshaw from the Northwest Health District, Emily Earp from Harbin Clinic, Justin Gentles from Shaw Industries, Tom Gilliam from Cartersville Parks and Recreation, Kenny Kendall from United Community Bank, Patrick Latham from Tabernacle Baptist Church, Adam Longino from Toyo Tire North America Manufacturing, Chastity Maney from Cartersville-Bartow Chamber, Jody Matthews from the city of Euharlee, Jacob O'Bryant from the Cartersville Gas Department, Lisa Ponder from Cartersville Medical Center, Charles E. Reese Jr. from the city of Euharlee, Jayce Stepp from The Benefit Consulting Group, Amanda Tant from Advocates for Children, Kim Thompson from LakePoint Realty Group, Jessie Weaver from Weaver Heating & Air Inc. and Justin Whitener from the Cartersville Electric System.