Principals share schools’ achievements in new year

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A school system that is not perfect, but striving to improve every day: that was the message Butler County Schools Superintendent Mike Looney and four of the system’s principals shared with members of the Kiwanis Club and their guests on Tuesday.

Looney said this year’s school opening across the county was “the smoothest in four years here.”

“I want to commend all the principal students and staff for their hard work,” Looney said.

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Noting the decline in certain AYP scores, the superintendent said, “We did slip a little; our special needs students did not meet the benchmarks. but we are addressing that.”

New leader at GHS

Dr. Charles Farmer, principal at Greenville High, Dr. Tera Simmons, Greenville Elementary School principal, Catherine Sawicki, principal of W.O. Parmer Elementary and Alton Abrams, principal of R.L. Austin Elementary School, each updated their audience on the activities and achievements at their schools.

“First I have to give credit to Dr. Kathy Murphy for our school winning the fourth consecutive Safe School Award. It was her efforts and those of Officer Malcolm Owens who made this possible,” said Farmer, a first-year principal at the county’s largest high school.

Something new to Greenville High this fall: its first-ever volleyball team.

The school’s football team is continuing its winning streak, said Farmer, who applauded the large turnout for the parade, pep rally, bonfire and game.

“Academically, we continue to work on strengthening our reading skills . . . not just in English classes, but in classes like Career Tech and math. We want to broaden reading skills across the school,” Farmer said.

Farmer has also instituted monthly time of “fellowship and food” for the GHS faculty, as well as acknowledgement of four “Students of the Month” and two “Teachers of the Month.”

Simmons talks GES

At Greenville Elementary, Dr. Simmons said the attempt to get students involved in clubs had gone “extremely well.”

“We have 320 students who are members of clubs and that will only go up, as we have some new clubs for them to join,” Simmons said.

Students get to enjoy a tasty snack and build their word power on “Oreo Wednesdays,” the principal explained.

“We give out a definition over the intercom that morning, and the first class to come up with the right word to match the definition wins a package of Oreos to share with the class,” Simmons said.

GES students are also benefiting from the Kids College Learning Through Sports Program, which helps them master grade level skills in math and reading.

Good behavior and self-discipline is rewarded through “Gotchas,” when students are caught being good. “Gotchas” can be turned in at the end of the semester for prizes.

“We will be holding a Mr. and Mrs. GES Pageant in November to raise funds for the purchase of these prizes,” Simmons said. A Family Night is planned for the end of October.

The UAB Theatre will present two productions at GES this year: “Aesop’s Fables” and “Ransom of Red Chief.”

Number of clubs at W.O. Parmer

According to Catherine Sawicki, “academics are always at the forefront” at W.O. Parmer Elementary School.

“We want to challenge students and to provide remedial help for those who need it,” Sawicki said.

Many of the educational programs such as Kids College, COMPASS, Accelerated Reader and Fluent Reader used at WOP can also be used with home computers, she stressed.

A number of clubs have also been established at GES. The new Drama Club will present their version of “Henny Penny” at PTA this Thursday, Sawicki said.

“We also have a wonderful art program in its second year which has won state level awards; “Kindercrafts with Jean Bauer, which she always ties into children’s literature, and our podcasting on the Internet – a great way for grandparents to hear their children’s voices,” the principal said.

Learning current events at RLA

At R.L. Austin Elementary School in Georgiana, Alton Abrams said he was happy his school was able to offer the same programs such as Kids College offered in Greenville.

“It’s wonderful to have a system where we all can make use of these programs and try to make sure no child is left behind,” Abrams said.

One of the things the RLA principal is most excited about is the school’s Chess Club, saying it helps students develop strategic skills and recognize chess can be played at their level.

“We also have a very strong Student Council and they are learning about the democratic and political process in this election year,” Abrams said.

Students also learn about current events and talk about topics “beyond Georgiana,” he said.

“Our goal at the school is to teach Life Sports – knowledge and skills that will make them better taxpayers and better citizens. At the end of the year, we will have a big Academic Celebration. It’s by invitation only – you not only have to make the A or A-B Honor Roll, you also can’t have any disciplinary referrals,” Abrams said.

While the school system is not yet where it should be, Looney said, “We are definitely heading in the right direction.”

“I think the general public would be surprised to how much God is central in our public schools. We have a lot of God-fearing folks in our public schools and I think much of our success is due to folks turning it over to Him.”