A Day in the Life

Students Get Rare, Behind-the-Scenes Access to Interim Superintendent

If needed, it’s where the buck stops with DeKalb County Schools: The Superintendent’s Office.

However, with 92,000 students and 14,200 teachers and staff spread across 138 schools and centers, it’s unlikely t the superintendent or the office staff becomes directly involved in day-to-day issues. That’s something school and regional-level supervisors routinely handle.

That’s why having an audience to shadow and interact with DeKalb County School District (DCSD) Interim Superintendent Dr. Vasanne S. Tinsley is such a rare opportunity. But it’s exactly what high school seniors Nyla Baxter and Ma’Kya Strange had the chance to participate in recently.

Nyla, a student at Arabia Mountain High, and Ma’Kya of Stephenson High are school representatives on this year’s Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, which is comprised of student leaders who meet throughout the year to discuss a wide range of issues affecting public education, in general, and more specifically, DCSD schools.

“I think I made a wonderful choice in agreeing to do this because I get to be in the know,” said Nyla, her class valedictorian and Student Government Association President. “I see the district values the student’s voice as well, and I’m grateful to have this experience to represent the students of DeKalb.”

Beyond the unique experience of shadowing Dr. Tinsley at her weekly Superintendent’s Cabinet Meeting and visiting various District departments, the students sat down with her and earnestly provided candid feedback and expressed concerns about day-to-day educational experiences for themselves and their peers. More specifically, they inquired about how schools address student mental health and wellness.

“Every student isn’t aware of the resources available to them, and that needs to change,” Ma’Kya said.

For her part, Dr. Tinsley said shadowing opportunities are near and dear to her because she can hear directly from student leaders while letting them see a little of how the District operates.

“We want them to know that their voice matters, their voice is important, and we know that their future is bright,” said D. Tinsley. “We may be interacting with a future superintendent, a future leader, a future businessperson, a future curriculum developer, a staffing individual—all crucial in ensuring that school districts, businesses, and communities are successful.”

Nyla said shadowing Dr. Tinsley had been a fantastic experience.

“Knowing what’s going on in DeKalb County has been very insightful, and I’m grateful for the experience. I will be a proud alumna of the DeKalb County School District in a few months, and I want to pour back into the district that has poured so much into me and my academic career.”