We each bloom uniquely, but at Sharon School, we grow together
Story by Shannon Taylor Senior Investigative Reporter
The Weakley County School Board met at Sharon school for the March meeting. Principal Michelle Clements spoke on the great things happening at Sharon schools stating that the last time a meeting was had at the school was in March of 2020.
Clements said that Sharon School is truly a unique school. “We have 100% free and reduced lunch; we have a very high number of students with severe trauma, and we also have roughly 30 completely non-verbal students in the building.” Clements said that looking at the communication of students was a big part of Sharon school.
Last week, the entire school attended a field trip to Discovery Park and one student who had not spoken one word since Clements has been at the school, spoke for the first time. He said, “I did it” after coming down off the escalator. Clements said, “And the State doesn’t care because when they measure Sharon School, they only measure a very small portion of our students and when we look at the numbers this year for growth, the state will only be measuring our fifth-grade students here at Sharon School. That’s roughly 16 students and we have just under 200. It’s not fair and we’re mad about it.”
Clements said that they took matters into their own hands this year by incorporating a motto stating, “We each bloom uniquely, but at Sharon School, we grow together.” Clements said that when she started thinking about the vision for Sharon School and what she wanted it to look like post COVID, the number one word that kept coming to her mind was “growth.” “We just want growth, whether the State’s going to measure it for us or not.”
Clements said that her and faculty chose four areas that they wanted to grow in and those were professionally, all students to grow academically, social and emotional growth and mental health learning and lastly, they wanted growth in the community. In August they had a group of stakeholders come in to help them set some goals. To symbolize the growth, they wanted to achieve this year, they made little plants, and everyone got to plant one.
Clements said that their goals were measurable to be able to chart them. Teachers started going to conferences, listening to podcasts, reading books and having discussions surrounding education. All teachers completed 36 extra hours with Get Your Teach On backstage pass. Every teacher in the building also presented professional development this year. Teachers are also doing a lot of writing and two have written articles. 50% of the teachers at Sharon school are also working on another degree in education. “Because that’s how important learning and education is to teachers here at Sharon schools.”
For student growth, one of the main things they discuss is student leadership. Clements said that almost daily they have older students in classrooms with younger students reading to them or teaching them something. They use their students as teacher, “Because when you can teach something, you truly know it.” Students have also been leading the assemblies.
Student ownership has also been a main thing that students participate in. One class taught a lesson they learned themselves to students in classes from 2nd grade through 8th grade. “It’s more meaningful when you own that learning.” Students also help with the Special Education students as well as doing a lot of hands on learning and interactive lessons.
The board recognized S.C.O.P.E. participants: Bella Bone and Keely Mathis from DHS, Kiley Corbin and Sophie Wilson from Gleason, Matt Scates and Addy Usery from Greenfield and Jacob Foltz and Nicholas Sterrett from WHS. The board also recognized teachers that received tenure.
The board approved athletic practice during the school day which Frazier said that by law, practices during school had to be approved by the board for the next school year.
The board approved revising the policy regarding enrollment in advanced and college level courses for the first reading. This policy does not include dual enrollment courses. Frazier said that it would be increasing the requirements to be eligible for the classes. Those requirements now include meeting expectations for TCAP scores and only A students.
The board approved the ESSAR 3.0 Addenda which Frazier said that every six month the board is required to approve which says that they are still following the guidance of the grant received.
The board approved the math textbook adoptions for the 23/24 school year. Each grade was represented. Frazier said he was stunned with the bill for the textbooks which was $933,000, but after negotiations he got that price down by $100,000. “It will be an expensive endeavor.” It’s also a six-year contract agreement.
The Director’s search was discussed, and the board tabled a motion to hire firm which they are having a special-called board meeting to discuss on March 7 at 4 pm at the Board of Education.
Frazier provided an update on the HVAC project and said that the cost for just the equipment would be $1,412,000 and that he would be getting the full numbers before the County Commission meeting on March 16.
Absent from the agenda or any discussions were the recent actions of former School Resource Officer Kristen Childress who was fired from her job after she was charged with Aggravated Statutory Rape of a Dresden High School student. Nor did the board address the recent dismissal of DHS secretary Ashleigh Greer.
It isn’t uncommon for pending court cases and staff dismissals to go undiscussed by legislative bodies.