Principal goes airborne to fulfill promise to students

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

How do you reward nearly 700 students at New Hope Elementary who raised $22,500 last year and met a huge goal?

If you are principal Dr. Tim Tilley, you jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

Dr. Tim Tilley (front) and an instructor on a skydive last Sunday in Rockmart. Special photo

Tilley traveled Sunday to Skydive Spaceland in Rockmart and took the first skydive of his life, keeping a promise he made to the students last year and setting the bar pretty high for this year.

“I thought it would be something that would excite the kids, and although I wasn't overly anxious I didn't mind doing it,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a bucket-list I might have done eventually anyway, but as far as the students are concerned, they got me to jump out of an airplane.”

They did that through last year’s Knights on the Run fundraiser, which the PTO and others operated without using an outside company like some organizations do. That meant some extra work for those involved, but the payoff was worth it, Tilley said.

With the funds raised, every classroom teacher got two iPads to use for instruction, and classrooms across the campus were improved technologically via LCD projectors and smartboards or similar devices.

“It wasn’t about just giving them something cool,” said Tilley. “It’s about using something that can help instruct the kids.”

New Hope, which achieved the highest average CCRPI score in the county last year, is on the way to becoming one of the first elementary schools in the county that is part of a new personalized learning initiative. It is a district-wide redesign which looks at making adjustments to how schools serve an ever-changing student body, each student with their own learning style.

New Hope Elementary is one of nine schools now in the planning phase with plans to open as a personalized learning school in August of 2016.

“This [new technology] just ties in with some other things we’ve been doing the last few years,” said Tilley, who is in his tenth year at the helm after opening New Hope in the fall of 2006.

Within a few days he will kick off this year’s fundraising campaign, and now he has some pretty impressive pictures to show the students and motivate them.

When asked if he was nervous about the jump, he replied that there really wasn’t time to think about whether he was making a huge mistake.

“Once you’re in that airplane they get you off pretty quick,” he said. “It was exciting and it’s something I can always say I did. The students reached a goal so I did what I said I’d do.”