WCMS develops academic teams to support both students and teachers

Posted By | November 21, 2019 11:48 am

Last Updated: November 21, 2019 at 11:50 am

Ten White County Middle School School students who have exhibited courage in the classroom were honored at the recent White County Board of Education meeting, nine of whom were in attendance. Back row, L-R: Braxton Daniels, Destiney Johnson, Allie Reece, Sara Mulligan, Katelyn Blakeman, Daniel Maples; front row, L-R: Bailey Sims, Abby Heady, Alex Lollar.

By Aaron Puckett

White County School board convened for its monthly session, on Nov. 14, at White County Middle School, with a School Spotlight segment presented by Principal Farrah Griffith.

Griffith addressed the board about the changes now underway at the school and this year’s spotlight focus on educator support.

“This is my fourth year here at the middle school, and, over the course of the last few years, we’ve been working to try and get to a point where we can support kids the best way that we can and also support our teachers and develop them as much as we can,” said Griffith.

One of the main changes Griffith believes to be paramount in helping both students and teachers reach their full potential is the implementation of academic teams. Each grade has three teams with names from Ancient Greece, given the town’s name of Sparta. This new system of teaching allows students to be with a certain group of teachers throughout the day instead of the old system in which students moved all day and didn’t belong to any single group of teachers. This type of grouping gives four teachers responsibility of approximately 100 students, allowing any academic or behavioral issues to be caught and addressed in a more efficient and timely manner.

In the last part of her presentation, Griffith honored 10 middle school students who have exhibited courage in the classroom. (See photo)

After a short recess, Coordinated School Health Director Marcie Kinnard R.N. updated the board about various efforts to improve the health and nutrition of elementary school students in the county. All elementary schools are teaching a health and nutrition class, and two of the schools are even doing school gardens. Both Doyle and BonDeCroft elementary schools have received eight raised beds for growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, and these garden beds can even be utilized for certain science and math lessons.

“We’re really trying to focus on teaching good nutrition to the children, and we hope by letting them grow their own food, they will start trying more fruits and vegetables,” said Kinnard. “And we can show them a better way of eating.

Director of Schools Kurt Dronebarger commented about White County Schools’ team of nurses.

“Our nurses – they watch the front desk,” he said. “They answer phones. They help any way that they can. They’re not obligated to do those things, they just do it. Mrs. Kinnard has a good team of nurses.”

In other business, Elementary Curriculum Supervisor Angela Fresh appeared before the board to speak about the new teacher support system that has started this year. Fresh and her team have begun doing co-observations with the principals at each school in the county. Teachers who were identified as needing more support are now receiving a coaching meeting with their principal and a supervisor, in hopes of raising teacher effectiveness and overall district scores in Teacher Value-Added Assessment System, which tracks students’ progress year after year.

“We basically just go over a refinement area that we think would help in that classroom with that teacher, and this also gives the teacher an opportunity to say this is what I need,” said Fresh.

Dronebarger praised Fresh’s efforts throughout the county.

“She really works tirelessly and does a great job in a lot of different areas,” said Dronebarger. “I’m proud of the work she’s doing in the effort of raising TVAAS scores.”

In a final matter on the agenda, the board covered renovations and remodeling to various schools in the county. Two of these major projects on the horizon are BonDeCroft Elementary and White County High School. BonDeCroft needs to have the gym connected to the school to eliminate the awkward “short building,” and additional classrooms are needed. WCHS is in need of track and field improvements and accessibility enhancements, along with updates for the academic wing and the front office. Both of these capital projects are multimillion-dollar investments.

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