Findlay principal discusses how educators have met challenges during pandemic

Winners announced in district-wide art contest for school logo

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March’s meeting of the White County School Board was hosted by Findlay Elementary School and Rebecca Ryan, the county’s principal of the year.

Ryan talked to the board about how her school rose to the challenges that came as a part of the current school year and has been able to provide meaningful experiences for the students.

“This year, we have been faced with many hurdles and challenges,” she stated, saying that educators had to find ways to support students and families whether they were in the classroom or participating virtually as well as restructure almost every aspect of in-person learning. “Findlay Elementary faculty and staff have risen to the challenge. They have worked tirelessly to ensure our students receive the best education possible in a safe environment.”

She said teachers spent numerous hours learning how to use Google Classroom, record videos, and set up Google Meets.

“Even though this year has brought many challenges, we have seen our students excel and are thankful that they have had the opportunity to attend school in person the majority of the year,” Ryan told the board members.

Ryan went on to say that faculty and staff at Findlay Elementary have continued to provide the extra opportunities despite the restrictions and difficulties that have come along with the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Students have participated in a Read-a-Thon, and we are currently participating in the One School One Book initiative where each student, staff and faculty member was provided a copy of the book The Lemonade War,” she said, explaining that students read a designated number of pages from the book each night and answered trivia questions to earn prizes. “We will have a culminating project to wrap things up. We hope this encourages our students to enjoy reading.”

“I am very proud of our students, faculty and staff for the many successes we have seen this year and for their hard work during such a challenging year,” Ryan said. “We hope that we have made you and our community proud as well.”

The board also listened to a presentation from Darla Dunn, the district’s student data manager, who talked about a lot of the behind-the-scenes work that takes place across the district to keep the education systems throughout the county working efficiently and to the benefit of each student.

“As student data manager, it is my responsibility to ensure that all student data is entered and reported correctly to the state,” she said. “Errors are checked, corrected and cleared every day.”

She said the district is now going through a data improvement and cleanup to aid in the transition to TEDS (Tennessee Education Data System). She said that she also ensures student numbers for ADM and ADA are correct and acknowledged for funding and state reporting purposes each reporting period as well as acknowledging transportation for each period along with providing aid for scheduling and other details for each of the district’s eight schools.

“Last year, I set up online registration for each school, saving on costly enrollment paperwork,” she added. “All returning students will complete registration through the online process.”

Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger reported to the board that the number of students who are now testing positive for COVID-19, along with the number of students who are quarantined for direct exposure to the virus, has significantly decreased.

“The system will continue to quarantine and still follow state health department guidelines,” he told the board. “Masks are required as long as the doctors tell us.”

Marcie Kinnard, the district’s coordinated health specialist agreed with Dronebarger and stated White County schools will continue to follow the CDC and state health guidelines for quarantining and testing.

In addition to the reports and updates the board heard, they were informed of the results of the district-wide art contest that had taken place in the search for a district school logo:

Several students submitted art for the District School Logo. It was voted on by the board and the results are:

Elementary

1st Place—Kaylee Allred

Woodland Park

2nd Place--Levi Finch

Findlay

3rd Place—Kaitlyn Reed

Northfield

WCMS

1st Place---Marian Swindell

2nd Place—Josie Williams

3rdPlace---Anita Hartawan

WCHS

1stPlace---Jake Officer

2nd Place---Sydney Young

3rd Place---Lillie Davis

Before being adjourned, the board approved a trip for the White County High School Band to participate in the half-time activities at the Outback Bowl, on New Year’s Day 2022. They also approved the appointment of Jeff Glass as a volunteer football coach for the WCHS Warriors as well as approving travel for the same team to participate in a 7 on 7 drill, in Georgia

Additionally, the board approved to make summer school voluntary for all students. However, it will be required for any student that has been retained for the 2020-2021 school year if they wish to be promoted.

The next meeting of the White County School Board is scheduled for 6 p.m., April 8, at Northfield Elementary School.    

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