‘Big Universe’ opens for Union City students

‘Big Universe’ opens for Union City students

Books have taken on a whole new presence in the lives of students at Union City Elementary School and Union City Middle School.
School system technology coordinator Susan Parr, UCMS librarian Jo Kathryn Maddox and UCES librarian Mindy McClanahan reported on the new on-line collection of library books available at the schools through Big Universe at Monday night’s Union City School Board meeting.
Approximately 3,500 books have been purchased for student use through the on-line collection, whose purpose is to instill a love of reading, writing and learning in students.
The program not only encourages students to read using a variety of technological opportunities but also figures in efforts to encourage writing. Students are able to write their own books and to submit reviews of the work of their fellow students utilizing the program.
Mrs. Parr reported one middle-schooler was already authoring a book that might well end up being made available to hundreds of other readers.
The report on the program to encourage reading and offer teachers yet another tool for meeting their students’ needs and encouraging them to learn how to communicate was part of a meeting agenda that also included a report on the system’s recent audit.
Craig Atwill of Alexander Thompson Arnold briefed the board and offered a very positive assessment, beginning with a “clean” or “unqualified opinion” on the Union City Board of Education. He said no problems were encountered with the 2010-11 audit report.
Director of Schools Gary Houston informed the board of the resignation of Union City High School teachers Melissa Rice and Morgan Cruce, effective at the end of the school year. Hilda Ashe, who has been employed in the UCES cafeteria; Sharon Heaslet, a 30-year-plus UCES teacher; and Mary Lynn Cox, who has taught at UCMS for the past 11 years, have all announced their intention to retire.
New hires announced by Houston include Tandye Gentry for a third-grade slot at UCES, John Diehl for U.S. and World History classes and an assistant football coach role at UCHS and Libby Nunnelee for a fourth-grade opening at UCES.
In the director’s report, Houston announced that classes will be dismissed Monday in observance of  Martin Luther King Jr. Day and reminded the board of School Board Appreciation Week Jan. 22-28.
He also invited the community to honor former UCMS and UCES principal, teacher and coach Dan Boykin at the Jan. 24 basketball game at UCHS. The retired educator will be recognized at the game pitting UCHS against the Humboldt team at “Dan Boykin Night.” Boykin grew up in Humboldt and graduated from high school there. He has spent his impressive education career in Union City, calling this place home for the past 40 years.
Houston also congratulated UCES principal George Leake and his wife, Shiloh, on the birth of a son, Chess Leake, on Dec. 12 and expressed sympathy to teacher Kathy Gray in the recent tragic death of her mother and brother. Her father has also died since the board meeting.
All board members were present for the session, which took place in the board’s conference room. The session was opened as student board member Morgan Stone led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Published in The Messenger 1.13.12

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