The start of another great era

Published 5:27 pm Tuesday, June 7, 2016

They say that first impressions mean the most. I am not sure who “they” are, but I have long believed that first impressions are a very good indicator of what is to come. In that case, I have a good feeling about Bainbridge State College moving forward.

I met Dr. Stuart Rayfield last night at a reception held at the Kirbo Center. I found her to be straightforward, engaging and confident. She seems like a leader and that is just what the college needs at this time.

I often show sales graphs of some of our most successful restaurants at our annual management retreat each year. Without fail there are two or three locations where the sales make a dramatic turn north. You can almost point to the week when everything started to click in those restaurants.

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The answer to the question about what caused the positive change is always the same; a new manager arrived on the scene. I like to think of it more as a new leader took charge. Nothing we do as a company more directly impacts our success than putting the right person in the right place at the right time.

Sometimes it just seems like luck. The manager might not have been particularly successful in their previous assignment. However, things start to click. Morale starts to build. The synergy of people working together results in momentum that becomes self-sustaining.

Bainbridge State College is in that place where it is looking for inspired leadership. All of the local stakeholders, the students, the faculty and the community want to look to someone and know they are the leader. They want to know that this is the right person arriving at the right time.

Nothing stops positive momentum more than uncertainty. Who is our next President? What does the talk of consolidation mean? Will our name change? The questions drift down into what will the school colors be and will we have a new mascot.

It is important that we take a step back as supporters of this institution and remember that the purpose of BSC has not changed. It is a vehicle for providing educational opportunities so that people can become more productive, more successful, and more fulfilled.

In our rural corner of the state, there is absolutely nothing more important than education in lifting our citizens out of chronic poverty. The world is changing faster than ever and education is becoming just the entry price for even getting to play in the game.

If you think this is someone else’s problem, then you are wrong. Poverty and the lack of education impact every single person that lives in southwest Georgia, no matter what their income, educational level or social status. If you pay even a dollar in taxes, then you have a stake in the educational future of our children.

It is our job to support Dr. Rayfield in many different ways. We should be honest in our concerns and we should expect the same honesty back from the administration. We should support the faculty and staff in their calling to help educate others. We should support, financially and otherwise, those students whose only goal is to improve their lives and provide better opportunities for their children.

I hope that in a year or so, we can look at a graph that measures the significant progress at Bainbridge State College and the improvement in the area’s perception of the college’s future. If so, I expect that it will be the result of a new leader coming to town. With everyone doing their part, perhaps it will be the beginning of another great era in the storied history of Bainbridge State College.