UC schools director lauds students, teachers

UC schools director lauds students, teachers

Gateway test scores were excellent for students at Union City High School who took the exams in December.
Director of Schools Gary Houston congratulated the students and their teachers who were involved — students who had not attained proficiency on their first tests and students who had transferred to the school system and had not previously taken the exams — and told members of the Union City School Board Monday night he was extremely pleased with the students’ success.
Of 18 students taking Algebra Gateway, 15 scored proficient or advanced; of seven in the Language Arts test group, six made the mark and above. Five of the six students testing in science also have a clearer path to graduation now.
Passing Gateway tests is a necessary component of the work students must do to earn a degree from UCHS.
He added that the three students who did not quite make the grade in Algebra are now enrolled in a new on-line Algebra course through Virtual Pilot 500 and a teacher from the school works with them in the afternoons after regular classes.
In housekeeping matters before the board at the monthly session, Craig Atwill, representing the accounting firm of Alexander Thompson Arnold, told members of the board they were being issued a “clean report,” meaning there was no misuse of funds, either in the annual report on school system activity funds or on board of education finances.
The former showed a total fund balance of $342,740 for all schools, with total assets of $381,815. The latter showed total net assets of $15,187,056.
Atwill said the issue of segregation of duties was noted in the reports, as it has been consistently in accordance with the guidelines established, but he added that it was clear the size of the school system made it impossible to employ the number of people recommended to handle the record-keeping and custodial functions of the system’s internal control. He said it was a problem that plagued almost all their clients and, in answer to a query from board chairman Janice Faulk, said it would require four or five additional central office employees to meet the ideal.
READ 180 teachers Sherri Sisco from Union City Middle School and Annette Payne from UCHS reported on the success of their classes to the board. The classes are in their first year of operation for older students and have been extremely helpful. In addition to hearing how the daily 1 1/2 hour classes operate, board members met the mother of one of the students enrolled in the program and heard her say READ 180 has changed her son’s attitude, improved his ability to read dramatically and helped him improve his self-image. She added that she has even benefited from reviewing the material he brings home and becoming involved in his efforts.
Ms. Sisco said many of her students have “done a 180” and are moving in a new direction now, thanks to their new-found success in reading. “We’re taking students who were going downhill and turning them around,” she said.
Mrs. Payne noted that part of the success of the program is attributable to the fact that the students are being exposed to material that has relevance and interest for them. She added that the presence of an educational assistant in the classroom makes it possible to give students more individualized attention.
Houston said he was confident students could make great strides in reading with the program and was delighted with the success already evident.
READ 180 will be featured at a later date in The Messenger.
In a personnel update, Hous-ton noted that UCHS will have a new head football coach and teacher and a new assistant coach and math teacher. Head coach Darren Bowling and assistant Wes Kennedy are already working with members of the football team in after-school sessions and will take on a full plate of classroom responsibilities when the 2008-09 school year begins in August. Both coaches are coming to Union City from posts at Dyersburg High School. Prior to that, Bowling had been head football coach at Obion County Central High School and at Silliman High School in Louisiana and Indianola Academy and Greenville Christian School, both in Mississippi. Kennedy had been a teacher and coach at Fayette Academy in Somerville and at Millington Central High School.
In the director’s report Houston said the system’s Leadership Class, which was organized to offer employees interested in administrative positions within the school system a more informed view of responsibilities, guidelines and laws related to managing Tennessee schools, would be meeting later in the week and Mrs. Faulk would be discussing with them the role of the school board.
Union City schools, according to Houston, will dismiss classes Monday in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.
He also noted that School Board Appreciation Week will begin Sunday and continue through Jan. 26. School board members received special gifts of appreciation from employees to mark the occasion.
It was noted that Union City Elementary School physical education teacher Tammy Harris had recently been the subject of an article in a national magazine for P.E. teachers. Her “Running to Iraq” program that incorporates physical activity, support for the troops and social studies claimed the attention of the editors, who shared the details with other teachers and commended Mrs. Harris on her innovative program.
Houston congratulated the UCHS boys basketball team on their excellent season. The team is ranked first in Class A and is undefeated. He also praised the UCHS girls team, including student school board member Doreal Strayhorn, and the UCMS boys and girls teams.
Published in The Messenger 1.17.08

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