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Crockett Intermediate School and Paris Junior High School show the highest need, Jones said. He recommended going with Learning Keys from the Flippen Group, which said a districtwide assessment would cost about $9,000. Since the district is only looking at two campuses, that cost should go down, he said.
“If we are pleased with their service, I would suggest we look at the rest of the campuses next year,” he told the PISD school board Monday.
The Texas Association of School Administrators also sent a proposal, but Jones said TASA is usually very expensive.
The process includes at least two visits per classroom; an analysis of the STAAR test results; teacher questionnaires based on curriculum, instruction, culture and climate; an analysis of professional development conducted for the last two years; and interviews with administrators based on curriculum, instruction, culture and climate.
A report is given that offers findings and recommendations in curriculum and planning, instruction and assessment, professional development, culture and climate, and an analysis of STAAR test scores.
Trustee Jenny Wilson asked how the principals felt about the idea. Jones said there hasn’t been much input from campus administrators; it is more of a district-level decision. The study isn’t designed to be a “gotcha,” he said, but to offer an honest, outside assessment of what the district needs.
“I’d like to know what happens after they leave,” Wilson said. “I’d like to know it will actually benefit the campus.”
Jones said he would arrange from a representative of Learning Keys to make a presentation.
The board also recognized Crockett Intermediate School winners of a UIL middle school/junior high meet in November. Students brought home a total of 40 awards, including 16 ribbons (three fourth place, six fifth place and seven sixth place) and 24 medals (11 gold, six silver and seven bronze). Winners included:
Trustees also heard about Future Problem Solving community service projects, including an expansion of Operation Second Chance; Operation Save Your Skin, a skin cancer awareness program that will hold a screening event from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 12 at Paris Cancer Center; Project Hope, a cancer awareness program; and the anti-tobacco Operation Tobacco Know.
In other business:
“When you have once a year to talk about your campus, it’s hard to get it done in a short amount of time,” Justiss Elementary School Principal Renee Elmore told the Paris Independent School District board of trustees Monday.
That didn’t stop administrators from the elementary schools from showing just where things are going as they presented their campus improvement plans for 2013-2014.
T.G. Givens Early Childhood Center
The theme for Givens Early Childhood Center this year is “T.G. Givens pre-k makes me happy, happy, happy.”
The school has seen a variety of additions and improvements this year, including new enrichment classes in music, art and science; upgraded technology; redesigned report cards; daily work stations; combining training for Head Start and other staff; and bi-weekly team building meetings. They’re also working to improve communication between parents and the school, Director Sheila Ensey said.
“This is their first school experience for many of them, so we wanted to make sure they understand the importance of communicating with us,” she said.
The work stations are designed to help prekindergarten students get a feel for the sort of work and environment they will find in kindergarten.
“We know the demands that have been placed on kindergarten,” Ensey said.
The work seems to be paying off. The school’s number of at-risk students went from 66 at the beginning of last year to 12 at the end of the year.
Like the other administrators, Ensey said the new Department of Safety and Security officer placed at the school this year has been quite beneficial.
“We’ve had two major custody issues, and I think they could have really escalated if he hadn’t been there,” she said.
Justiss Elementary School
Numbers are up at Justiss Elementary School, which now has 530 students.
“We want to stay there,” Elmore said. “We’re busting at the seams.”
That includes a growing number of students for whom English is a second language, which sparked an expanded Hispanic Heritage Day program in place of the traditional Cinco de Mayo program. Where Justiss once had just two classes of bilingual instruction, it now has two in each grade.
The campus on 19th Street Northwest also has a new outdoor classroom where teachers can work with students, and parents can attend workshops and activities, work with students and spend time with their students outside. The area was constructed with federal funds.
Justiss’ theme is “focused on success.”
Fourth-grade instruction has become more departmentalized with teachers focusing on a single subject rather than multiple areas to improve the quality of their teaching.
Justiss saw its first back-to-school bash at the beginning of the year. It was a community project spearheaded by a teacher working on a master’s degree in elementary administration.
“It was wonderful,” Elmore said. “We’re going to have one every year now.”
After hearing motivational speaker Riney Jordan before the start of the school year, Justiss Elementary School implemented his daily pledge: “Today, I will do more than I have to. I will treat others as I want to be treated. And I will try to become a better person.”
The students hear a song each day after announcements. On Monday, it’s “Keep Your Head Up” by Andy Grammer. Tuesday’s tune is “I Love School” by Nelda Washington. Then it’s “Brave” by Sara Bareilles on Wednesday, “I’d Rather be Happy” by Teresa Jennings on Thursday, and Friday has “Roar” by Katy Perry.
Aikin Elementary School
Aikin has focused a great deal on writing this year. All content areas incorporate writing in their instruction, and regular “vertical team” meetings are held to help all subjects across all grades integrate writing into the classroom.
“If you go to the teachers’ websites, a lot of them have blogs, and the students are blogging,” Aikin Elementary School Principal Pat Gilbert said. “They’re writing.”
The school has established professional learning communities that focus on writing in kindergarten through second grade and English, language arts and reading classes. A “Writing Blitz” fourth-grade boot camp is held before the state test as a review, and the school has developed an enrichment block of time for fourth graders to help with writing and science.
Other changes include incorporating more technology, implementing a curriculum system and morale-building efforts such as the “Sunshine Committee.” The theme for Aikin this year is “Believe, you’re worth more than gold.”
“Great things are happening,” Gilbert said.
Crockett Intermediate School
Crockett Principal Angela Chadwick said she is still trying to figure out “all the twists and turns” of the new accountability system, but she likes that Crockett is being compared to similar schools. The school did well in some areas, although it did fall short in special education reading and mathematics and in science among African-American and economically disadvantaged students.
“That one tore the science teachers up,” Chadwick said.
Many of the school’s changes for 2013-2014 are geared to addressing those areas:
This year saw the first robotics team from Crockett. The team was the youngest in the competition in late October. The contest had no age categories – it was everything from intermediate students all through high school. The team won two awards, one for sportsmanship and one for their enthusiasm and team support.
The science fair is being revamped to be more like the state competition. There is no division by grade; even the judges will not know whether a student’s entry is from fifth or sixth grade.
Crockett held a back-to-school rally this year, complete with a teacher flash mob and a theme of “the ceiling can’t hold us.”
A school-wide Children’s Day celebration called “El Día del Niño,” similar to an event held in Mexico on April 30 is planned in conduction with the Crockett Parent Association spring fundraiser.
The campus improvement plans are an annual requirement for each school.
“It’s a state requirement that every campus has one,” Superintendent Paul Jones said. “The district is responsible for looking at our test scores and our accountability scores. If they’re not passing, we have to show what we’re doing to get them up.”
Music fans have a chance to score some great seats at a couple of big-name concerts and help Lamar County kids at the same time.
The 64th Annual Youth Auction benefiting the Boys and Girls Club of the Red River Valley is set for Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. in the First Baptist Church Family Life Center, 207 South Church Street.
The hottest items are a four-pack of tickets to the Paul Simon and Sting concert Feb. 9 and a four-pack of tickets to the Eagles concert Feb. 19. Seating for both concerts is in the Live Nation suite of the Americans Airlines Center and each includes a VIP parking pass. They were donated by Danny Eaton of Live Nation Entertainment, a Paris High School graduate and alumnus of the Boys and Girls Club.
Other items include:
“We had 250 items last year,” Executive Director Henry Shaw said. “This year, we’re expecting over 300.”
It’s a mixture of live and silent auctions. The live auction goes until all the items are sold – and donations frequently come in the night of the event – while the silent auction runs until about 9 p.m.
A raffle will also be held during the auction for a large doll house built by students from Paris High School.
“Some girl better have a big bedroom,” Tommy Whitten, the auction chairman, said with a laugh.
This year’s fundraiser honors Tommy Duncan and L.V. Morrow, who Whitten said have been involved in the auction for more than 50 years.
With a goal of $70,000, the auction is the club’s biggest fundraiser of the year. All the funds raised stay in Lamar County.
“We’re fortunate that the majority of businesses in Paris support us, from the mom and pops all the way up to big industry,” Whitten said. “Bottom line – this is the best bang for the buck for the kids.”
Boys and Girls Club was founded in Paris in 1939. It has been at its current location since 1956.
“There are very few in Paris who have not been part of the Boys and Girls Club,” Shaw said. “It’s touched so many lives.”
Membership is $15 a year, and kids get a safe place to go after school. Homework comes first, followed by a snack and then a program for the evening. The club also offers indoor soccer, football, basketball and junior volleyball programs.
“It’s a great deal,” Shaw said. “It’s been a great organization for me. I grew up there. I was what they called a ‘club kid.’”
Donations are being sought to help keep the elderly warm in the Wrap the Elderly with Warmth for Christmas project, including blankets, socks, gloves, scarves and hats.
The donated items will be given to elderly patients at nursing homes for Christmas. They should be turned in by Dec. 15 at Servants Heart Outreach, 2021 NW Loop 286; or Creative Candy Designs, 115 S. Main St.
For more information, contact Polly Shirley at 903-249-5759.
Christians in Action has provided a Thanksgiving meal to hundreds of needy and homeless for years. A lack of funds threatened to derail that tradition this year, but local volunteers and businesses are stepping up to make sure it happens.
The lunch is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 27 at Christians in Action on First Street Southwest near the farmers market. There will be a Toys for Tots drop-off, as well.
The effort is being spearheaded by Melissa Wickersham, who has worked CIA’s Thanksgiving off and on since she was 15 years old. She said CIA Director Don Walker came into came into Creative Candy Designs one day. Wickersham asked how volunteer recruitment was going.
“He said, ‘We can’t do it this year,’” she said.
“Me and my big mouth said, ‘That’s not going to happen.’”
She started making plans and spoke with friend Tara Lamendola, who called her husband Doug. Wickersham said he was having lunch with Paris Regional Medical Center CEO Stephen Grubbs.
“Doug looked at Steve and said, ‘Terra and Melissa are going to be feeding the homeless. We need to help or we’re never going to hear the end of it,’” she said.
“Steve didn’t bat an eyelash. He said, ‘Let’s have the hospital help.’”
PRMC picked up the cost of most of the food, including turkeys, dressing, corn, green beans, the makings for salad, sweet potatoes and pies.
Others have gotten in on the act, as well. Coca-Cola is providing tea. An anonymous entrepreneur has picked up the cost of the paper goods.
CIA only has two small buildings, and the effort feeds 350 to 400 a year. To keep people from having to eat outside, First Federal Community Bank and other local businesses and individuals plan to provide tents. Eric and Melody Clifford are donating tables and chairs.
“The schools are doing place mats with Thanksgiving messages on them,” Wickersham said. “The extra ones we have, we’re going to send home with some fresh fruit.”
Dollins Bail Bonds, Susan Turner and Gaylon Maddox plan to provide the fruit.
Christians in Action still needs:
“If people are interested in volunteering, I’m pretty full, but I will do the best I can,” Wickersham said. “If someone would like to volunteer to do trashcan duty or provide some trashcans and liners, I totally need those.”
People are also needed to serve drinks, make salads, tea and coffee, cut pies and place mats on tables. Starting at 8 a.m. the day of the meal, volunteers are needed to help put up tables, chairs, tents and food stations. More are needed to shuttle food from PRMC to Holy Cross Episcopal Church, which has large ovens that can be used to keep food warm. When it’s over, volunteers will be needed to take everything down.
On Nov. 26, volunteers are needed to clean the tables and chairs and move them from the airport to Christians in Action.
Those who want to help but can’t make the actual event can drop off canned goods and toys for Toys for Tots at Creative Candy Designs, 115 S. Main.
For more information or to volunteer, contact Melissa Wickersham at Creative Candy Designs at 903-785-0432.