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Carroll teachers dress for success

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Neck ties and sensible shoes are in, while T-shirts, jeans and flip-flops are out at CCHS

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — While critiques of a professional attire standard at Carroll County High haven’t been kind so far, administrators plan to stick to their “dress for success” model for faculty.
CCHS Principal Scott Watson brought the idea up at an Aug. 4 faculty meeting.
While no division-wide policy exists, an interest has been expressed that teachers and administrators should look professional in the work that they do, he said.
“Perception plays a big role in the educational business, and dressing for success has some very positive effects,” Watson told The Gazette.
Though some have balked at the dress code that bans denim and other casual attire, Watson said research indicates that teachers dressing up and looking professional leads to better academic performance for students.
Proper attire helps students accept their teachers as authority figures, he said. It helps the teachers maintain credibility and the respect of their students.
(The Virginia Board of Education does not promote guidelines for faculty dress, but leaves that to the local officials, said Charles Pyle, spokesman for the Department of Education.)
A dress code for teachers is not a new idea, but remains part of a national discussion.
It has come up in recent times since pop stars started pushing the bounds of modesty in order to attract more attention and sell more products. The consensus reached for educators stated that teachers should not emulate Lady Gaga’s fashion sense in some misguided attempt to connect with their students.
“A teeny-bopper persona is not a wise one to cultivate when dealing with parents who hope you are wise and responsible as you guide their young and impressionable children,” wrote Tarleton State University educators, in the “Dress for Success” tips on the Texas institution’s website. “Look for the classic in your closet or head to the mall for the old standards you still need.”
The university published a long list of dos and don’ts.
The dos include staying tastefully stylish, washing and ironing clothes and wearing sensible shoes.
The don’ts say to never show undergarments, avoid cleavage, wear clothes that fit properly and don’t wear anything with holes.
“Dressing for success allows teachers to gain the respect needed to set a positive example for their students,” Tarleton officials advised.  “An important point to remember is that children are very good at modeling the behavior they observe in adults, particularly adults they respect.”  
It’s important that educators take all the steps they can to encourage students to reach their achievement goals, Watson said. That’s important at the high school level as the students prepare for their post-public school pursuits.
The guidelines for the “dress code” at the high school don’t seem that rigorous.
Male teachers must wear neckties, unless it would be dangerous due use of heavy equipment, for example.
Wearing jean-style denim is allowed on Cavalier Spirit days and other special occasions, Watson said.
Teachers also may want to consider what they wear on their feet. “I did suggest wearing shoes you might wear to the beach is not appropriate,” Watson said.
While the school system does not have a dress code per se, administrators expect faculty to dress in professional manner for the workplace, said Carroll Schools Superintendent Greg Smith.
“Appropriate dress by the teachers and staff facilitates better student behavior, better student dress and a better overall climate that’s conducive to learning,” the superintendent said. “Students, as well as other individuals, respond to those in authority who dress appropriately.
“I’m proud of the profession that I’m in and my pride extends to how I present myself,” Smith said. “The community has a right to expect their school employees to dress in a professional and appropriate fashion.”
“The bottom line is use good sense and discretion to look good in what you do,” the principal said. “The primary goal is dressing for success in the classroom and how we welcome and greet our community...”