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Encourage creativity, develop interpersonal skills in young people

The county’s team of high school interns gave their presentations at our Aug. 14 Board of Commissioners meeting. There was a large audience in attendance and everyone was very impressed by the quality of the presentations.

John Hlas, Haider Khan, Vanessa Johnson, Kyra Parks, Tessa Strickland and Khalil Coleman worked throughout the month of July researching their issues and preparing presentations. They interviewed experts in various fields, worked in conjunction with our professional staff members and reviewed numerous studies.

We were all very proud of the students’ superior displays of knowledge on each subject. Likewise, the students were forced to get outside of their comfort zones, expanding their interpersonal skills and thought processes.

You can view their presentations on the county government web site, www.fayettecountyga.gov, by clicking on the “county commission meetings” button on the upper left portion of the home page.

Our high school interns also worked on the plan for the proposed Justice Center Park, giving an informal presentation to the Justice Center Park Committee.

The county also has a new college art intern assigned to the Public Art Committee. Small art projects are underway and we are desperately trying to get the larger projects established before her internship concludes.

I have always considered it a privilege to work with our students. I can instantly see the vast amount of potential in each one of them.

I do worry that we have become satisfied with our young people being relegated to simple rote learning, devoid of expression and creativity.

Generally, we suppress creativity at the youngest elementary school ages. This is not a rebuke of the school system, although they would certainly tell you there is always room for improvement in the classroom. Instead, we do not create circumstances in our homes and in our community that excite and build our young children’s creativity.

We squelch expression at an early age. Regimentation within our hectic lifestyle has become more of a priority.

Science is incredibly creative. Our lives have been revolutionized by scientists who constantly think of creative ways solve problems and invent new technologies. But the sad truth is the average teenage student has lost most of his or her fire for discovery. Science is regarded a chore.

I have noticed that many of our young people have a difficult time making decisions, formulating opinions and aspiring to lofty goals. Reaching adulthood with these drawbacks is a burden.

Through years of observation, I am confident many students can utilize resources to find answers to questions. However, when I ask, “What do you think?” a blank stare normally follows.

Without a set program of prescribed rules, many of our young people have difficulty making decisions. In some cases, they have no predetermined set of values or principles to use as a reference for decision making. I see this a lot with adults as well.

When I ask a young person, sometimes a top honor student, to develop a plan for handling a particular situation with which they are unfamiliar, hours can go by with a lot of mental gridlock trapped behind a creative roadblock and apprehension related to risk. Having this type of comprehension when they become adults will make them viable leaders in their professions.

Getting our children to aspire to greater things, especially in our current setting with high unemployment among young adults, gives them a creative boost to secure their futures.

Ask a student beyond the elementary school years what they aspire to and you get doubt and uncertainty from many of them.

Employers in the metro Atlanta area have told me that many young adults, including those from well-educated families, appear totally lost in job interviews. Many come unprepared, some dressed in shorts and sneakers.

Building interpersonal skills at a young age with adults gives a child an advantage. Many older students in our high schools cannot give you a decent handshake, do not know how to give a formal introduction and cannot engage in adult conversation. Picking up these skills is something I really stress with our high school interns and their schoolmates.

All of my high school interns will tell you that I forced them into interacting with adults at the highest levels of their professions. Within a matter of weeks, their adult interaction skills improved dramatically, their confidence increased and they impressed every adult they encountered.

Look for a way to build your child’s sense of self-expression. Arts programs are an excellent resource. Many engineering universities, including Georgia Tech, are beginning to covet the math and science students who are also engaged in the arts.

Competitive science programs like Science Olympiad are also great ways to improve creative learning skills.

I pray that we can all work together to give our students an edge in creative leadership skills; a goal we should all be striving to reach in Fayette County.

Steve Brown
Peachtree City, Ga.

[Brown is chairman of the Fayette County Board of Commissioners.]



Education today is too regimented and stifles creativity. We as parents must expose our kids at an early age in the proper ways to greet an adult or employer and how to properly interact. This can be done in many ways. Scouts, sports, dance, music, theater, part time jobs all help teach the youths of today.

I thank you for the time you spent on the intern program. It's a good way for kids to learn not only how governments are run but to also experience how to solve real problems. I like the way that you challenged these kids. If the county is not already doing so, please consider an intern program throughout the year. I would bet that this could become highly successful.

PTC Observer's picture

courses are available online, if you can get the kids off their cellphones, video games and IPads surfing the "social networks".

NUK_1's picture

Great letter, your best work.

Commissioner Brown:

You have made some great points here and I urge you to check out some of the great things going on in our excellent Fayette County Schools.

At Sandy Creek you will find the social studies teachers using tools such as Socratic Seminars where the class is divided into groups and work together to build presentations to explore and support a given view. Then the groups present and debtate their points in class. Its no longer just names and dates but why and how.

At Spring Hill ES you will find the adoption of the leader in me program.

At 4 of our 5 HS you will see an expansion of the arts programs with the adoption of 7 period day hopefully leading to more opportunities for creativity and growth.

These are some good examples of individual teacher/department initiative. However I think your point should be a "pillar" of our strategic plan going forward. We need to produce complete people out of our schools no matter their next step in life.

The adoption of this pillar we require that we integrate these values into our teaching methods to continue to evolve to best equip our students for the world. While we have had great test score results, I often wonder if we haven't given our students the best education.

Take Care,


ginga1414's picture

Thank you so very much for finding the time to start the high school internship program.

And, thank you for your hands-on leadership with our young people in Fayette County.

Perhaps, just perhaps, if our children were encouraged to develop their individual creativity we wouldn't have so many young folks participating in destructive behavior. A square peg can't be pushed into a round hole without pushing back.

It is so sad when bright kids are at a loss for words when asked, What do you think?"

Keep up the good work, Mr. Commissioner, and please keep interacting with our young folks.

By the way, Steve, thanks for being our commissioner.

I just watched those children on the county website video. Just wonderful!!!

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