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School board offers tributes

School board offers tributes
Controversy swirls around the roles and effectiveness of teachers nationwide, but Thursday afternoon the Weakley County School Board chose to focus instead on what has made and continues to make the local school system successful.
Highlighting the agenda was a stirring tribute by Mark Maddox to the educational efforts of the late Gov. Ned Ray McWherter, a man who he said created the foundation of success in local and state education. The  Teachers of the Year were also honored – educators who contribute to the success of Weakley County Schools.
While Weakley County Supervisor of Instruction for Pre-K-5 Charlene Alsup handed out awards to teachers who were honored for going above and beyond their normal duties, Maddox spoke of a man who helped pave the way for all educators.
The “champion” he spoke of, McWherter, helped make it possible for state and local education to receive programs and funding that otherwise would not exist.
Alsup added, “Each year we have the pleasure of recognizing our outstanding teachers who exemplify excellence, dedication and a talent for working with students. Excellent teachers inspire the same motivation in their students, colleagues and school community. It is a great honor to recognize these hard-working professionals,” Alsup noted.
The Tennessee Teacher of the Year program is designed to promote recognition, respect and appreciation for teachers; to stimulate interest in teaching as a career and to encourage public involvement in education.
The Tennessee Department of Education and the Niswonger Foundation sponsor this program annually.Teachers of the Year are selected competitively through five cycles: building system, field service center region, grand division and state and from three categories (levels of teaching) – grades Pre-K-4, 5-8, 9-12.
Teachers selected at each cycle receive local recognition and awards underwritten by local sources. State recognition/awards include a banquet honoring the nine state Teacher of the Year finalists and certificates of appreciation from the governor. In addition, the state finalists and the state Teacher of the Year receive cash awards from the Niswonger Foundation, a foundation  based in East Tennessee that supports education in Tennessee through scholarships, grants and other programs.
 Over the past few years, there have been a few teachers from Weakley County who have gone on to be recognized at the regional and state level.
“Teachers are at the heart of motivating our students’ academic achievement and success. This award represents their commitment to the students in their classrooms,” Alsup concluded.
From the building level for PreK-4, winners included Tara Hughes from Gleason School, Mary Jo Connell from Sharon School, Lisa Whitworth from Dresden Elementary, Trina Walker from Martin Primary, Teresa McCall from Greenfield School and Stephanie Ruszkowski from Martin Elementary. Winners from grades 5-8 included Missy Estes from Sharon School, Brittan Sutherland from Martin Elementary, Lee Ann Usery from Greenfield School, Jon Gardner from Martin Middle and Amy Orr from Gleason School. Winners from grades 9-12 included Doreen Forest from Gleason School, Linda Farmer from Greenfield School, Betsi Foster from Dresden High and Katie Moore from Westview.
Whitworth, Sutherland and Foster were named system level representatives and Sutherland went on to be named a field service region finalist.
In other business, the board addressed the consideration of adopting new math textbooks.
According to Dr. Debbie Doster, the new textbooks for grades K-6 will be based on the system of math used in Singapore – the leading country in the world in teaching the incorporation of  mathematics into daily life.
Training for this system in which visualization is the main key and “every teacher will become a math teacher” will begin this spring and textbooks for seventh and eighth graders will be considered for the next school year.
As introduced and voted on in last week’s Weakley County Commission meeting, the board voted to approve Resolution 2011-29 authorizing an energy efficient schools initiative loan agreement with the Tennessee Energy Efficient Schools Council.
If received, this $1 million grant will combine with other funds to work towards replacing outdated heating and cooling systems at Martin Middle School and Dresden High School with new roof-installed units.
Rounding out the agenda, the school calendar was approved for the 2011-2012 school year. Congratulations were extended to DeShawn Box from Greenfield School for being the Educator of the Week from Channel 7 News and to board member Sarah Ann Pentecost for being named the Iris Festival’s Citizen of the Year.
The next meeting of the Weakley County School Board will take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 5 at the Board of Education.
  wcp 4/12/11

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