WILLIAMSON COUNTY, TN (WSMV) - In Williamson County, students go back to school a week from Friday under brand-new leadership.

After more than a decade with Williamson county schools, Jason Golden begins this year in the superintendent seat. “We need to keep our foot on the gas,” he said Friday, in a sit-down interview with News4.

First on his list to tackle are the issues he said always come with a new year: transportation, classroom distractions. The rest, he said, will be met with some familiarity, and some change.

“We're going to continue to make team decisions,” Golden explained. “There will be changes as we progress. We have to change every year. We have to continue to improve if we're going to continue to succeed.”

He said he feels a responsibility to uphold that success, and to keep parents a part of the conversation. “We're going to find way to make sure parents know what's going on and what opportunities they have in our school.”

The school district launched an app this year, with access to everything from lunch options, school zones, to a full calendar of events. It’s called ‘WCS’ and is free to download.

“We know that parents sacrifice to find way to live here, and we're going to make sure that we make that sacrifice worth it to them,” Golden said.

The district is also taking proactive steps around mental health. Golden said he wants schools to be at the forefront of prevention. “As a child progresses though their lives, we've all experienced this,” he said, “you have different times where you talk to your parents about things, and other times when you seek out someone else.”

If and when a child seeks that help at school, Williamson County will know. Newly installed software called ‘Gaggle’ on school devices will alert them. “When somebody mentions words such as suicide, or threat, or those key words,” Golden explained, “then those mentions are checked. And if it's a threat, law enforcement's going to find out about it. If it's cry for help then were going to intervene as well.” Even if the signs are elsewhere, the Golden urged parents to look for them, and involve the school. “If your child's facing a crisis, if you're the just the least little bit concerned about them,” he said, “even just a little bit, let's talk about it. Let's see if we can get some interventions in place.”

Williamson County also equips families with social workers on a case-by-case basis, and has added counselors at the elementary level.

“Success is measured by things you may never know,” Golden said. “That you were able to intervene or make a difference in a child's life. But that's part of education.”

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Rebecca Cardenas is a Murrow-award winning journalist who joined News4 as a reporter in September 2017. She currently covers the court systems in Middle Tennessee.

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