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Chambers County School District Host Welcome Back Appreciation Breakfast And Staff Institute Program

Story by Chambers County School District Assistant Superintenent David Owen


On Tuesday, August 2nd, the staff across the Chambers County School District came together for the annual staff institute program. The program was hosted at the City of Valley Community Sportsplex. The institute was well attended with bus drivers, bookkeepers, custodians, child nutrition workers, nurses, para-professionals, secretaries, teachers, and administrators returning from summer vacations to prepare for school.

The 470-plus CCSD staff was greeted with a “Welcome Back Appreciation Breakfast” thanks to the support of numerous Institute sponsors.

Superintendent, Casey Chambley greeted staff and recognized board members in attendance for the program. Assistant Superintendent, David Owen followed recognizing several new teachers that had joined the district highlighting their assignments and schools where they would be teaching. Chambers County DHR representative, Mrs. Julia Ann Hyde updated staff on mandatory reporting procedures for school employees. AEA representative, Mr. Izaak Standridge shared news and initiatives with CCSD staff prior to Mr. Chambley introducing Central Office staff.

Superintendent Chambley delivers his address to the CCSD Staff at Institute for a great school year in 2022-23

The second session of the morning began with summer literacy camp awards recognizing staff for outstanding attendance working with children throughout the literacy camp this past June. Representatives for Valley Haven School then highlighted special accomplishments by area schools supporting Valley Haven School this past spring. Superintendent Chambley then had Ms. Cari Oliver present the Operation Wipeout initiative to the staff as part of UAB Medicines' plan to eliminate cervical cancer here in Chambers County.

Mr. Chambley then provided an informational session on the school district to all staff noting that the CCSD would be launching the 2022-23 school year without locally funding any units for the first time in several years.

The projected savings for the district will exceed $1.4 million annually without locally funding for additional teaching units. The Superintendent noted that these savings were made possible as a result of the recent school mergers in the district that will promote greater efficiency with funding utilization.

Finally, the institute’s keynote speaker, Mr. Derrick Tennant was introduced to provide some inspiration for the upcoming school year for the staff. Tennant is a native of Syracuse, New York who flew into Atlanta to present his motivational message. His powerful story is outlined on his website link which is: Derrick is an internationally known speaker, comedian, and magician who travels the world sharing his story of how he overcame overwhelming obstacles to become the person he is today. He outlined how a personal tragedy in his life became an opportunity to make a career sharing his story with others as motivation. Derrick was a 14-year-old teenager with dreams for a career in sports having been recruited to play quarterback at a large high school. The night before the practice was to begin he went to sleep without waking up for three days.

Derrick had suffered a random bleeding from point “X” in his brain for unknown reasons leaving him paralyzed and in a coma.

Derrick Tennant delivers from the heart to CCSD staff urging them “to look on the right side.

After multiple surgeries, he became unable to move his left side leaving him confined to a wheelchair. However, after years of therapy and rehabilitation, Derrick ultimately re-learned the basics of walking, talking, and simple daily tasks. Although he can now walk with only a limp, he still is unable to use his left arm, but despite the challenges, he professes his love for life and “looks on the RIGHT side” of things.

Derrick told the CCSD Staff he even progressed to the point of playing basketball again competitively overseas in the Philippines in 1993. He credited “LOVE” for his ability to make it through these obstacles not only alive, but with great support from family, friends, and faith. He stressed the importance of shifting obstacles in life whether personal, business, or work into opportunities. He uses his experience to help others overcome their own challenges sharing his personal message to motivate others. Derrick noted that a negative mind will never give you a positive life. He challenged the staff to embrace possibilities having himself even worked as an accomplished actor in the 2013 Jeff Foxworthy movie “Crackerjack.”

Tennant has addressed corporate speaking engagements for Subway, AFLAC, Chick-Fil-A, and the Southern Company as well as performed at famous venues such as the ATLANTIS in the Bahamas. He closed his address by showing the staff how he had now learned to tie his own shoe with just the use of one arm showing them it was an obstacle that he had learned to overcome as an opportunity.

His philosophy is described on his site, entitled 14 Sleeves to which he is committed to. Derrick donated all of his possessions and reduced his personal belongings to include everything he owns into one carry-on bag. He has no house, no apartment, and travels 100% of the time. He simply aspires to love completely and hopes to inspire others to do the same.

Pictured below is Guest Speaker Derrick Tennant with the W.F. Burns Rambassadors who served as servers and hostesses for staff at the Welcome Back Appreciation Breakfast. Tennant entertained the WF Burns students with magic tricks using his version of the Rubric’s Cube

Following a moving presentation, Derrick interacted with CCSD staff and then traveled over to visit with the wonderful people at Valley Haven School. His program was relatable to all that heard him speak with Superintendent Casey Chambly praising him for his message to the district.

The CCSD Institute and Welcome Back Breakfast were made possible thanks to the support of partnerships of sponsors for the district which included the following: (Silver Sponsors) AJIN, UNITE, Inc., Debbie Wood Reality, and Wooshin, USA. (Bronze Sponsors) included Knox Pest Control, Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, Heart of America, Jeff Nelson for Sheriff, SOLV Energy, Terri’s Mill Village Café, Four Star Freightliner, Johnstone Supply, Bi-City Produce (Mason’s), and Southern Uniforms. (Copper Sponsors) included Kenny Knox Tire Center, Dunkin Donuts, Coca-Cola, Quality Inn Hotel & Suites, McDonald’s, Tasty Donuts, Farmer’s & Merchants Bank, Piggly Wiggly, and Dairy Queen.

Mr. Chambley recognized the sponsors for their support and urged the district staff to shop local to support area partners for the school system.

Pictured are Superintendent Chambley, Guest Speaker Derrick Tennant, and Assistant Superintendent David Owen on a visit Derrick made to Valley Haven School.

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