It was Dave Culpepper’s 10th year attending the annual Forsyth County Schools Leadership Retreat.
And each year brings something different, he said.
"Sometimes we get limited to our own little piece of Forsyth County and our own school," said Culpepper, principal of Chattahoochee Elementary.
"But when you get in this group, you get perspectives from the whole group and it helps you to know that there are better ways and there are some things you worry about that other people worry about too."
The annual event is designed to bring together the school system’s leadership to plan for the upcoming school year.
The two-day event is organized by a group of educators, using feedback from the previous year’s retreat, said Joey Pirkle, head of the planning committee.
It began Monday with a focus on motivation, a request from last year’s participants, Pirkle said.
There was time for motivation and self-improvement, "while also allowing opportunities for collaboration among schools, district departments and board members," Pirkle said.
"Our district leaders look forward to this time of common planning to meet the needs of our students, teachers and parents."
Tuesday’s guest speakers and discussion focused on time management and organization.
The retreat was the first for Bill McKnight, director of facilities, who said the second day was the most helpful.
"I learned some actual skills that I can use … to make my life easier," he said.
McKnight has been with the school system for a decade. His work is motivation enough, he said.
"I’m a very motivated person," he said. "I always love to get up and go to work because I enjoy what I do …
"I’m the luckiest person in Forsyth County Schools because I’ve got the best job here. I get to fix everybody’s problems."
The retreat, held at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center, drew more than 150 officials from all aspects of the system, including principals, board members, transportation personnel and school safety staff.
"This year’s retreat was a great success because it provided us the opportunity to reflect on our past school year while also looking ahead to the promise of a new school year," said Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Buster Evans.
Culpepper said the retreat is a great way to get ahead for next year, which can be a difficult task for the fast-growing district.
"You never get a chance to lean back," he said. "There’s something changing, something new. Everybody is always looking for a better way.
"Everybody you work with is so focused on what’s best for the kids."