RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Rain and storms aren’t stopping the Russellville City Schools (RCS) system from getting excited for the first day back from summer break! RCS welcomes its students back to the classroom on Tuesday, August 8.

RCS Superintendent Dr. Heath Grimes says, “For 25 years, I’ve woken up giddy about the beginning of school because we have an opportunity to do something that’s different than any other profession. We have a chance to impact the lives of kids.”

About eight years ago, the district embarked on a strategic plan – detailing the district’s goals and priorities. After getting input from parents, students, teachers and the community, Dr. Grimes says this year they’re focused on building students’ character.

“We’ll do that through teachable moments… When we see a student drop their books in the hallway… How do we respond to that? What do the students around them do? My focus, and what I’ve asked our teachers to do is – make sure that we don’t just get on to somebody for not helping… We show them what that looks like! Here’s an opportunity to be kind… Here’s an opportunity to make somebody’s day better…” stated Dr. Grimes.

Along with building students’ character, RCS is looking to continue making an impact on its English language learners. Dr. Grimes tells News 19 that 54% of their students are Latino and 31% of their students don’t speak English as their primary language.

“We had to learn to get better professional development, more personnel (bilingual aides and teacher aides), and we’ve done that. We’re always looking for more. Currently, budget-wise, we’re kind of in the holding pattern but we need to increase as the budget allows for sure,” added Dr. Grimes.

Dr. Grimes says with help from RCS Career and Technical Education Director Shelley Montgomery, new course offerings are also available this year for high school students.

Students can take a firefighter and CPR course, which will be taught by the Russellville Fire Department. Students will also have an opportunity to take an athletic trainer course, which will be taught by the district’s athletic trainer.