Kelley offers schools update at MBA

Kelley offers schools update at MBA
Jeff Kelley, assistant superintendent of Weakley County Schools recently spoke to the Martin Business Association on July 13 about news and upcoming events in the Weakley County School System.
Kelley explained that there were new immunization requirements for students entering kindergarten and 7th grade.
Required shots are Tdap and varicella boosters for 7th grade students. Students entering kindergarten are required to present verification of an episode of Chicken Pox or verification for a second dose of varicella vaccine for kindergarten students.
Anyone with questions should visit their doctor or the health department to ensure shots are up to date.
Kelley also spoke about the Race to the Top funds received by Tennessee.
He explained that Tennessee received the funds because of the work of Tim Webb, Commissioner of Education, and Gov. Bredesen. Kelley said that the $1.2 million awarded to the Weakley County School System would benefit school children during the next four years.
He said that the Weakley County School System administration believes that the classroom teacher is the most important factor in the education of a child, and quality classroom instruction is essential.
He also explained that some school systems are using the funds to hire additional teachers with the understanding that they may not be able to continue the employment of the additional teachers once the money is spent.
However, the Weakley County School System has elected to use their funds to “empower” existing teachers in the schools. Kelley praised this approach as a good use of money, because the program provides long-lasting benefits even after the money has been spent.
Kelley said that one example of how Weakley County School System plans to use the money is in the creation of Pacing Guides. Teachers can use Pacing Guides in their classroom to help with consistency in teaching methods and standards across the county. Funding will also help teachers to create the Pacing Guides at times where it will not interfere with classroom instruction.
Weakley County will also begin the system’s new Mentoring Program, In the past, two mentors were assigned to every new teacher to help with basic building orientation.
Kelley said that in addition to this assistance, 50 Master Teachers throughout the system will mentor new and struggling teachers. These Master Teachers have completed a two-day training program to equip them with mentoring skills.
The mentors will work with new and struggling teachers on instruction-based programs, including classroom management and differentiated instruction.
The grant money was also used to purchase the PD360-Professional Development program that gives teachers access to an unlimited number of professional developmental activities.
Next, Kelley discussed the new dress policy that will be implemented beginning this school year. He states that the board of education has received several calls about the policy.
While the new dress code is not an outright uniform policy, the system is moving toward a more standardized dress code. The entire policy can be read online at www.weakleycountyschools.com.
Kelley said the dress policy is a positive move for the Weakley County School System and is designed to help provide a more orderly and positive learning environment.
After Kelley’s presentation, Barbara Virgin, of the Weakley County Chamber of Commerce, asked about the Smart Board technology and the distance learning offered in the county.
Kelley explained that more than 50 Promethium Boards have been added to classrooms throughout the county. Promethium Boards are an interactive white board with camera and computer connectivity and touch pad technology. Kelley said that teachers are excited to incorporate the boards into their classroom.
Kelley added that the Distance Learning Program in Weakley County offers virtual field trips to places all over the world. The program provides opportunities to teach additional classes that may not be offered in Weakley County Schools. All high schools in the county have the capability. Kelley said that one administrator wants to offer an advanced Spanish course through distance learning if he is not able to hire a certified Spanish teacher.
Westview High School uses the system with Greenfield and Gleason high schools to conduct physics classes. All four high schools have partnered with the University of Tennessee at Martin or Jackson State Community College to offer college credit courses thought the distance learning technology.
Kelley also discussed enrollment numbers and cited that overall enrollment for schools are slightly down from last year. Almost 4,700 students were enrolled in Weakley County Schools last year. This year’s numbers do not include 140 pre-school students served by the school system.
WCP 7.20.10

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