Troup High School Principal Dennis “Chip” Medders spoke about his personal leadership philosophy, a few of the school’s programs and what he sees as the biggest problem in today’s educational environment at the LaGrange Rotary club’s Feb. 13th meeting.
“I try to lead my school just as a football coach would. Every good football coach has a game plan, that’s what we do,” Medders said. “Over the summer we sat down and came up with a game play for this year. Everyone is held accountable and teachers and students must be motivated.”
“If you want to succeed, you have to speak it, nulli secundu, is Latin for ‘second to none,’ that is what we impress upon the students and teachers at Troup High,” Medders said.
Medders earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Columbus State University and his Masters and Specialist in Education degrees from Troy State University.
Before taking the principal position at Troup High School in July 2012, he held positions at Manchester High School. During his career at that school, he was a 9th grade academy adviser, a teacher, an assistant principal and finally, in 2006 he was appointed as the school’s principal.
Medders has direct responsibility of over 100 employees, 83 of them being certified teachers, and a student body of just over 1,000 students. The school offers five different business programs that are nationally accredited programs, which offer students certifications that they can use upon graduation.
“We have 33 pathways that students may choose from. Students in ninth grade start to decide what career they want to pursue,” Medders said. “We also offer nine AP (Advanced Placement) certified classes. If the students do well on the AP exams, they actually can earn college credit while they are still in high school.”
Medders also mentioned that the school offers 33 clubs and organizations that the students are involved in. He thanked the Rotary club members for their sponsorship of the school’s Rotary Interact club.
“The most challenging problem in education that we are faced with today, is not the budget, no matter what happens with that we will tighten things down, no, it’s the missing dads, the missing fathers,” Medders said. “I read a survey and the number one thing that troubled teens turn to is music. They don’t turn to their moms, their dads or even their teachers, they turn to their music.”
Medders said that he has listened to the music that many students listen to today and he doesn’t want his students or even his own son, looking for answers to their problems there. Medders message was clear.
“We have to start listening to our kids, really listening to what they are telling you,” Medders said. “I make a conscious effort to make my son feel like he is part of my team. You have to start making deposits early in their lives so that they will talk to you, especially when they are older.”
To help the students who are attending Troup High School now, Medders has started a one-on-one teacher mentoring program. Every week, time is allotted for students to meet with their assigned mentor. Core values are the focus of these meetings with the mentors listening closely to what the students have to say. Medders said that he, along with the faculty, believe that this program will help the students, especially the ninth graders who will have four years with the same mentor.
At the end of the program, Medders offered the members of the club an open invitation to visit Troup High School and then stayed around to answer individuals’ questions.