NA school board honors teachers of the year

New Albany School District Teachers of the Year were presented with plaques of appreciation at the last New Albany School Board meeting.

New Albany Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year was Tameri Dunnam. She said, “Education is a long line in my family and it comes very natural for me. I knew at a very young age I wanted to be a teacher. This means a lot to me because I know that my parents and my grandparents were role models to me and stressed the importance of education and I hope that in my classroom my students get the same perspective. It’s important to me and I want it to be important to them.”
Florinda Atkinson received the Teacher of the Year award for NASTUC. She said, “I would like to thank my principal, Mrs. Graham and I would also like to thank the school board members for giving me a chance to show myself worthy to this district. I appreciate the opportunity and thank you.”
Maia Miller received the New Albany Middle School Teacher of the Year award and the New Albany School District Teacher of the Year award. She said, “I want to thank everybody. You are only as good as the people you work with. I am fortunate. I not only have a great sixth grade team, but the math department, the whole school, our administration is wonderful, so it is a tremendous honor. I appreciate this so much and the support of the school board and the central office is great, they ask for input and I appreciate that.”
New Albany School Assistant Superintendent Jackie Ford, said, “We knew very quickly that we wanted to hire this lady. She is an outstanding addition to our staff and we are glad to have her as our District Teacher of the Year.”
At February’s board meeting, Ford presented Jennifer Mansfield, daughter of the late Paula Windham, a plaque that honors Mrs. Windham for being chosen as New Albany High School Teacher of the Year.
In the Superintendent’s Report, there were many items that Superintendent Dr. Charles Garrett discussed with the board.
He discussed the issue of using Google Docs in the future for paper communication purposes. He said, “Currently, the New Albany School District spends approximately $8,000 a year for forms. We would like to see at what degree we can replace most of our daily forms. As we run out of forms, we will work to utilize Google Docs for our forms.”
A few months ago, the board authorized $1,000 for the high school to begin a tutoring program. So far, $715 has been spent and 71 ½ hours has been logged in tutoring time. Garrett said, “I think the tutors have gotten a lot from it and I think the students have gotten a lot from it and I anticipate that this will grow as we get accustomed to it.”
One area of concern that was discussed last year was the inception of the Summer Reading Program. Garrett discussed the program with the board and ideas on how to change some of the ways the district approached the program, based on what teachers, students, and parents said about the program.
He said,  “I thought we did a good job in K-2 teaching students how to say the letters, to sound things out, build words, etc. I didn’t think in grades 3-12 we did a good of job in the second half. In K-2, you learn to read and in 3-12, you read to learn. I thought that in many cases, instead of reading to learn, we were spoon-feeding children too much, so we are really working in 3-12 to emphasize reading to learn.”
He said that maybe more assignments can be given every week where a student has to read something and then be able to be accountable for what they read in some kind of testing scenario or with a few questions to answer.
Concerning summer reading, Garrett said, “I thought it was a success. This year we are beginning the summer reading in the fourth quarter. One of the problems people had last year was not understanding the instructions or had difficulty with the assignment. What’s happening now is that in the fourth quarter we are doing a reading to learn exercise with a book and they are given the same assignment that they will have over the summer, just with a different book. Personally, I would love to see summer reading every nine weeks. It’s out of class, it’s separate, and the only time it takes is when the teacher holds them accountable for whatever the reading assignment was. It’s minimal time to have outside reading time.”
Another item on the agenda was the idea of Board Listening Sessions. School Board member Dr. Jason Dees came up with this idea on the basis that teachers and citizens from the community would have time allotted to be able to ask questions to various school board members.
The faculty-focused sessions would tentatively be held at NAES, NAMS, and NAHS around 3:30 p.m. and the community-focused sessions would tentatively be held at the Magnolia Civic Center and the Union County Library at 5:30 p.m.
“This will be a chance for questions to be asked and issues or concerns to be addressed,” said Dees.
There would be a series of six hour-long sessions and will be two school board members present at each session as well as either the superintendent or assistant superintendent as well. These sessions would be available to any teacher or any community member. Dates will be discussed at a later time.
The board decided to amend the cell phone policy that is in the student handbook. The policy states that cell phone usage by instructional staff is prohibited during instructional time and when students are present. Any exceptions must be cleared with the school administration.
Garrett said, “It pretty much reflects what we have already been doing administratively. With data-usage cell phones, some cell phones can be used as a tool in the classroom.”
He said that some exceptions might be when the phone is used for instructional purposes or in an emergency circumstance.
The board amended the dress code policy to allow students to wear dress denim.
The board gave Garrett the approval to begin the process of establishing a New Albany School District Hall of Fame.
In the personnel agenda, the following was approved: resignation of Bonnie Isaac, cafeteria, NAHS, effective Feb. 18, 2011; resignation of Joan Carr, teacher, NAES, effective May 31, 2011, due to retirement; resignation of Linda Wade, teacher assistant, NAES, effective May 27, 2011, due to retirement; hire Paulette Coltharp, cafeteria-cashier, NAHS, replacing Bonnie Isaac; amend Jennifer )JJ) Harris resignation date from March 12, 2011 to April 15, 2011.
The New Albany School Board will reconvene April 4, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. at the Central Administrative Office.