Monday, March 21, 2016

Great Day at #MOETown: Superintendent's Office Hours!

Meeting with SGA Reps in New Collaboration Space
I had a great day at Mt. Olivet (#MOETown) as a part of my Superintendent's Office Hours a couple of weeks ago.  During the day, I had an opportunity to see high-quality instruction taking place in several classrooms.  In addition, I had the awesome opportunity to meet with student leaders to learn about strengths and challenges for their school.  The schedule below provides a list of some of the day's activities:

  • Walked the building to speak to students and staff as the school day got started.
  • Visited several classrooms to observe instruction and assist as needed (Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Mitchell, Mrs. Lankford, Ms. Wood, and Mrs. Cassell).
  • Met with Mrs. Minter, principal, and Mrs. Sandy Strayer, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, to review data and discuss progress toward meeting established goals.
  • Reviewed student writing throughout the building with QR codes that linked to a recording of students reading their work!
  • Met with a parent to obtain feedback related to the school.
  • Joined the first grade at the YMCA to watch them participate in their swimming lesson (What a great partnership we have with the YMCA!).  
Overall, it was a great day at Mt. Olivet!  I was impressed with the students' writing K-5.  I was also impressed with the powerful instructional strategies I saw during the day (focus on writing, nonfiction reading, and differentiation).  I was also impressed with the positive attitudes observed throughout the day and the opportunities provided to develop student leadership.  I look forward to future visits to #MOETown!

Hanging out with first grade at the YMCA after their swimming lesson

Friday, March 18, 2016

Great day at John Redd Smith Elementary--Superintendent's Office Hours

Learning to play the recorder in students during music class
I had an exciting and busy day at John Redd Smith Elementary as a part of my Superintendent's Office Hours a couple of weeks ago.  During my visit, I had an opportunity to participate in various activities with students.  In addition,  I was scheduled to assist in several classrooms.  I was very impressed with how engaged the students were throughout the day.  I was also happy to see the teachers at JRS working hard to implement innovative strategies in an effort to maximize student learning.  The list below includes some of my activities during my exciting and productive day at John Redd Smith Elementary:

  • Walked the building and visited several classrooms as the school day got started.
  • Visited Mrs. Garrett's room to observe her students as they started an engaging, hands-on learning activity.
  • Participated in Mrs. Joyce's music class as students learned to play the recorder.  I'm happy to report that I'm ready to test for my "orange" belt as a part of Mrs. Joyce's "recorder karate" system.  What a great way to motivate students to learn more!
  • Met with a grandmother to discuss a safety concern related to a nearby road that feeds into John Redd Smith Elementary.  
  • Met with Mrs. Whitlow and Mrs. Sandy Strayer, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, to discuss student data and the school's progress toward meeting established goals.
  • Observed and assisted in Mrs. Campbell's 4th grade class.  
  • Enjoyed school lunch in the cafeteria with Mrs. Whitlow and several 5th grade students who are excited about going to middle school next year!
  • Visited several additional classrooms during the afternoon to observe students and teachers in action.
  • Assisted with dismissal at the end of the school day.  It was extremely busy during this time, but the staff at JRS do an excellent job of ensuring that students are dismissed in an orderly and safe manner.
Overall, it was a great day at JRS.  The students were highly engaged in the instruction and the teachers are clearly working hard to implement research-based strategies in the classroom.  In addition, the teachers and students are excited about plans for the new school, Meadow View Elementary.  Even though the current building has many challenges, the teachers and staff have created a powerfully effective learning environment for students.  Keep up the great work, JRS!  I look forward to future visits.  
Talking with some very bright students in Mrs. Campbell's Class

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Congratulations to our Teachers of the Year!

Teachers of the Year for HCPS

It was a great honor to recognize the HCPS Teachers of the Year this week.  In HCPS, we are fortunate to have so many phenomenal teachers who serve our students each and every day.  This evening provides an opportunity to celebrate this great profession!  I was proud to recognize each of the teachers of the year and thank them for their hard work and dedication to the children of our community.  I've included my comments from the TOY ceremony below.  Thanks for all you do and congratulations!

"2013’s National Teacher of the Year, Jeff Charbonneau, is known for best describing what it means to be an educator. He says, “Education is not about the subjects in the books, web-pages or wiki-spaces. It is about the subjects in the seats. Our most important job is to develop positive relationships with students that foster an increase in their self-confidence and self-awareness.” It is our great pleasure tonight to honor fifteen Henry County Public Schools teachers who foster those relationships every day in our classrooms. You dedicate countless hours to your students, ensuring that they are fully prepared for what lies ahead – both academically and socially. You spend evenings and weekends planning for your students and serving our community in a variety of ways. You exemplify leadership for your students and your colleagues.

Albert Einstein reminds us that it is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. To accomplish this monumental task each day, you work to individualize instruction and meet the needs of a very diverse group of learners. Collaboration and creativity are infused in even the smallest of moments. Though it may not always feel like it, they notice and their families notice.

You are here this evening because your colleagues notice your tireless dedication as well.  At this time, I would like to share some commendations that our teachers of the year have earned from students, parents, community members, and their colleagues:

Axton Elementary’s Debra Easley: “Mrs. Easley has an engaging teaching style. She readily tries new teaching strategies, which accommodate students’ learning needs. Her effective classroom management techniques create a safe environment where students try new things, take risks, and progress academically.” –Crystal Dixon, colleague

From Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell on Bassett’s Hope Perry: “Obviously, we take the guest experience seriously. It was comforting to know Hope Perry was one of our “first impressions.” Mrs. Perry did a wonderful job for me. It was obvious, though, her heart and passion was ultimately to be an educator and I knew that is where she would eventually go. What I lost Henry County gained and the real beneficiaries are the students in this community.”

Campbell Court Elementary’s Tammy Doss: “Although Tammy has a large number of students in her classroom, she is keenly aware of her students’ needs and promptly addresses those needs as they arise. She tirelessly remediates individual students as well as student groups in order to ensure their success.” – Kim Belcher, colleague

Center for Community Learning’s Yvonne Elgin: “If I had to describe Yvonne Elgin in a short phrase, I would say she is consistently seeking to serve those around her by helping them go further than they thought possible. Yvonne expects great things out of her students and of those she works with. She is always well prepared and seeks ways to make a difference in the lives of those entrusted to her care.” – Michael Harrison, pastor

Collinsville Primary’s Elizabeth Green:Collinsville Primary had named Mrs. Libby Green as their teacher of the year. She is a very deserving candidate! She was an inspiration to me as she was my first grade teacher a few years back and now I'm teaching first grade! I want her to know that because of teachers like her I'm doing what I love to do.” – Kim Draper, colleague and fellow Teacher of the Year

Drewry Mason’s Ashley Cox: “My favorite thing about Mrs. Cox is that she loves me and I can tell. She is always so nice and kind to me but also comes to see me outside of school. This year and last year she has come to watch me play basketball, soccer and baseball. She will sit out in the freezing cold or 100 degree heat just to watch me and my classmates.” –Hayley DeShazo, student

Fieldale-Collinsville’s Daniel McKinney: “Mr. McKinney is a teacher of extraordinary talent, enthusiasm, and innovation. Despite being relatively new to education, he has the confidence, knowledge, and skills that impressively surpass many ‘seasoned’ teachers. He maintains high standards and expectations for every student and provides them with the tools needed for success.” – Hope France, colleague

GW Carver’s Amy Agee: “Mrs. Agee goes above and beyond to help students in need. She often uses her planning time to remediate students throughout the year, teaches summer school each June, and is currently instructing students in the after-school tutuoring program. She wants to give every student with whom she works the opportunity to shine.” – Judy Edmonds, principal

John Redd Smith’s Susan Hatfield: “Mrs. Hatfield is fun. She describes everything. She teaches things in more than one way so that if students can’t get it the first way, they do in another way.” – Zoie Pace, student

Laurel Park’s Celena Hairston: “Passionate and committed to the success of her students, Mrs. Hairston seeks to maximize each student’s learning potential by focusing on individual strengths and fostering unwavering, positive relationships. She works diligently to deliver meaningful, quality instruction and strives to improve student confidence in reading through real-life application and encouragement.” – Emily Roop, Assistant Principal

Magna Vista’s Brook Hankins: “Brook’s devotion to her students, profession and school makes her stand out as a positive example among her peers. She has earned the respect of teachers who work with her and has become a leader among the staff of Warrior Tech. The students adore her because of the way she can push them to be greater, yet do so in a caring way.” -Josh Bocock, colleague

Mt. Olivet’s Teressa Fridley: “Mrs. Fridley is someone who understands the importance of building relationships – in the classroom and beyond. It is obvious that she loves and respects her students and that those feelings are returned.” –Natalie Coleman, colleague

Rich Acres’ Ashley Adams: “When I think of Ashley’s classroom management style, I think firm but fair. Ms. Adams has great relationships with students throughout our building but they also know she has high expectations and they rise to her standards.” – Rebecca Allen, colleague

Sanville’s Cindy Anderson: “Mrs. Anderson has high expectations for all students regardless of their background. She is a learner and pushes her students to explore and learn as well. Her classes have always had top pass rates and academic growth because of the academic and behavioral expectations she sets forth for the students – and the students meet them.” – Dr. Sally Rodgers, principal

Stanleytown’s Kimberly Draper: “We cannot think of a teacher more deserving of being named Teacher of the Year than Mrs. Draper. Her passion for her students is awe-inspiring. We feel very lucky and blessed that Addison is spending her first grade year with this incredible teacher. She has impacted Addison’s life in a special way and we are eternally grateful for her passion and persistence.” –Trey and Sheri Harris, parents

Renowned newscaster Dan Rather once said, "The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth." Thank you for encouraging the dreams of our students and for prodding them to stretch themselves beyond what they believe they are capable of being and doing. Thank you for your commitment to education and to the students of Henry County." 

Finalists for HCPS Teacher of the Year