Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Congrats to the HCPS 2018 Teachers of the Year!

I was so proud to participate in last night's Teacher of the Year Celebration!  We have such great teachers in HCPS, and last night we were able to recognize a talented group of educators who represent each of your 15 schools and centers.  This is one of my favorite events of the year.  It is a reminder for all of us to remember why we entered this great field of education.  Thanks to all of our teachers of the year for the great work they do for our students each and every day!  It is our teachers who make HCPS a great place for our students to learn and grow!  I've included my remarks from the TOY Ceremony below:

HCPS 2018 Teachers of the Year
"The 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Jahana Hayes, is known for encouraging others to carry out the important work of educating our students. She says teaching is a privilege and an opportunity to transform lives and foster a sense of social responsibility in the next generation.” It is our great pleasure tonight to honor fifteen Henry County Public Schools teachers who change lives every day in our classrooms. Each of you dedicate countless hours to your students, ensuring that students 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.
George Bernard Shaw reminds us that “what we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.” 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, our students 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 honor our teachers of the year by sharing some commendations that they have earned from students, parents, and their colleagues:

Axton Elementary’s Sheryl Keck: “Mrs. Keck is at all times students focused and is always interested in supporting and uplifting her students and team members within the school. Her positive attitude and the mindset that all of her students will be successful is infectious among her students and peers.” –Ben Boone, principal

Bassett High School’s Kim Craig: “As I taught alongside Kim, it quickly became apparent that she works hard for students – not just her own, but ALL students. She willingly collaborates with other teachers to make that “better product” for students. It has never been about making something easy for her…it has always been about making a better lesson for her students.” –Hope Perry, former colleague

Campbell Court Elementary’s Sheri Harris: “Teachers like Sheri focus on more than just test results; they focus on developing well-rounded young people that will possess the skills necessary to be future leaders in our society.” –DeWitt House, The Harvest Foundation

Center for Community Learning’s Angela Beckett: “She was there for me when I needed her and even when I didn’t. No matter what the situation, she never judged me, she never looked at me differently – instead, she supported me, encouraged me, and made a huge impact on my life.” – Mary Ann Tucker, former student

Collinsville Primary’s Jessica Powell:As a parent, I knew from the day we met Mrs. Powell that she was different from the teachers my children had been assigned in the past. She engaged my daughter immediately by giving her options for educational delivery. The level of involvement and her attention to detail are superb.” – Amanda Wagoner, parent

Drewry Mason’s Elizabeth Joyce: “Elizabeth is one of the most supportive colleagues I have encountered in the profession. She is consistently willing to sacrifice her time to help and support her colleagues when needed.” –Ruth Clay, colleague

Fieldale-Collinsville’s Allison Saul: “Mrs. Saul is an exemplary math teacher; however, she is even more skillful at building relationships with her students. Each student in her classroom comes away at the end of the day knowing that they are truly cared for by their teacher.” – Shonna Pilson, Assistant Principal

GW Carver’s Janice Hodges: “As a fellow teacher, I learned through her example, how important the relationship is between teacher and parents. She makes such an effort to include parents in the everyday experiences of her students and provides a welcoming and supportive environment for her classroom.” – Genell Brown, colleague

John Redd Smith’s Darlene McNeill:Darlene McNeill not only thinks outside the box, she teaches outside the box.  To help her students remember concepts beyond the classroom, she has been known to bring her electric keyboard to class, playing and singing along with her students as they practice math and reading skills.  Mrs. McNeill is unassuming and does not seek accolades for her work with her students.  She encourages them to do more than they think they can.   She is an inspiration to both students and staff.” – Judy Edmonds, principal

Laurel Park’s Brandon Johnson: “Because of Coach Johnson, I walk a straight line, meaning I am on the path to being a positive contributor to our society. I not only speak for myself, but I speak for every student or athlete that Coach Johnson has touched when I say we will never lose contact. He found a way to make us all feel like a family.” – Jalen Hairston, former student

Magna Vista’s Joel Bunn: “As his student, it was never just a teacher teaching and a student learning; Mr. Bunn truly cares about what happens in each student’s life. He pushed me, made me believe, and took time out of his personal life to make sure I made it to graduation day.” –Nicole Arthur Kitchen, former student

Mt. Olivet’s Deitra Cassell: “Mrs. Cassell is the type of teacher that leaves a legacy. It’s hard to forget the teacher that started it all and put us on the right track. I could not have succeeded in high school and later in college if I had not had the foundation that Mrs. Cassell provided.” –David Bryant, former student

Rich Acres’ Leslie Howell: “Ms. Howell’s ability to show empathy was something I will always remember. Her ability to be relatable and easy to talk to was something I appreciated and was thankful for…going to her class was honestly the reason why I wanted to go to school every day.” – Lauren Nance, former student

Sanville’s Teresa Fisher: “Teresa has always been one to stay up on the latest technology and fun educational things to do with her students. Before I have even had a minute to think about learning something new to do with my students, I can count on learning about it from her first.” – Lori Morse, colleague

Stanleytown’s Tiffany Creech: “Mrs. Creech plans her lessons to promote creativity and critical thinking in her classroom. While she can reach the struggling student by providing the support the student needs to succeed, she can also challenge and promote growth with the advanced student. Her students are not afraid to take risks or make mistakes.” –Paula Davis, colleague

Renowned author John Steinbeck once said, "I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there as as few as there are any other great artists. It might even be the greatest of arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit." 

Thank you for crafting future of our students and leading them to stretch themselves beyond what they believe they are capable of being and doing.  Thank you for your commitment to education and the students of Henry County."

Mr. Brandon Johnson Named HCPS TOY

Friday, March 10, 2017

Computer Science, STEM, and Coding in Elementary Schools in HCPS!

 We had a great work session with our School Board last night.  Students from G. W. Carver joined the meeting to teach the School Board about computer science and coding skills that they are learning in their school.  In HCPS, we are working hard to expose our students to computer science and coding.  In fact, we utilized grant funding to hire a STEM Coordinator who works with all of our elementary students throughout the school year.  This is all a part of our focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  We find that computer science helps our students with problem-solving, mathematical thinking, and agency.  All of these skills are important for their future success.  We are also hopeful that many of our students will consider a future career in technology and computer science.  As I walked around to the different stations last night, several of the students commented that they want to major in computer science when they grow up.  As many of us have heard, jobs are increasing in the STEM fields over the next several years.  In addition, there are currently several STEM jobs open and businesses are having difficulty finding qualified candidates to fill these positions.  We even have many of these jobs in our community!  We are going to continue our focus on STEM and computer science at all levels in HCPS.  We offer electives in robotics and coding in the middle school.  In addition, we have partnered with PHCC to offer a computer science, cyber security program at the high school level.  We are working to encourage more students to take advantage of these great opportunities in HCPS!

I've included additional information below that reinforces the importance of computer science, programming, and coding in our schools (excerpt  from P. Meade Presentation to the School Board, March 9, 2017).

Why should students have the opportunity to learn programming?

  • Creativity- Computer Science is an incubator for innovation and inspiration. Students are encouraged to think beyond their normal parameters and ask themselves, “What if?”
  • Collaboration- Not all work should be done alone. The best technology comes from a series of diverse viewpoints.  We have to use the flow of “give and take” when working with others to bring out the best in everyone.  
  • Communication- Students must be able to express their ideas, understand the requirements being presented to them, and estimate how much  work it will take to complete a job.
  • Critical Thinking- When a student masters problem solving, they master life!
  • Persistence- Never give up! No seriously, don’t do it! A challenge is an opportunity for us to show how dedicated we are to finding a solution.
  • Growth Mindset- Children are taught that a “fail” is a First Attempt In Learning- Answers are not always found on the first try so sometimes we must learn from our mistakes and grow from them.