Prentiss County school board members heard updates on happenings at Wheeler and Jumpertown schools Monday as county principals began a series of updates on the start of the new semester.
Both principals said while the pandemic has created challenges their staffs have stepped up and come together to ensure students are getting the best education possible in difficult times.
Wheeler Principal Denny Shaw said the school started the year with high numbers of students in quarantine during the first month of school, but has recently seen a sharp decline and last week was the lowest they’ve had.
Shaw said they’ve also seen a large increase in the number of students being brought to school by car this year and they’ve taken numerous steps to improve traffic flow in the mornings and evenings to accommodate the increase.
The principal said they are working to increase graduation rates and ACT scores, including a new effort recognizing students publically for their achievements on the ACT.
He praised his staff and the district staff for their work in implementing technology in the classroom and getting students up to speed on new devices and said everyone working together has helped overcome the inevitable bumps in the road and make the new technology work well in connecting students and teachers for learning.
Jumpertown Principal George Moore echoed Shaw’s comments about the staff and said it’s been amazing to see how his teachers and staff have come together and worked to deal with challenges and ensure the needs of students are met. He said everyone has jumped in and done whatever was necessary whether it was their normal job or not and he’s grateful for the strong effort and support.
He and Shaw both noted they are beginning to implement Accelerated Reader programs for the younger grades to encourage reading and Moore said they are also working on efforts to encourage increased ACT scores.
Moore said the move to real-time online education has been a blessing for those students who have had to quarantine and he’s extremely proud of the hard work put in by teachers to make it work so these students lose as little classroom time as possible while they have to be out.
The principal said his school, like all in the district, is struggling to fill substitute teacher positions and is currently looking for people to fill those roles.
He and Shaw also both praised the sheriff’s deputies assigned as school resource officers and said their efforts to build relationships with the students and willingness to assist in any way possible has made a big difference on their campuses.
In other business, the board:
Received an update on grants received by the district from Federal Programs Director Kim Hamm. She noted the district has 23 active grant programs totaling approximately $11.28 million in funding.
Accepted the resignation of Tamri Barnes at Marietta Elementary School.
Approved the following as substitute teachers – Ashley Lewis, Courtney Stapleton, Mandy Lane, Debbie Stenson, Kaylie Beth Sims, Alleck Hobson, Olivia Nash, David Wyers, Andi Gibbens, Kristin Clemons, Kristen Beal and Cindy Rorie.
Approved Dianna Cole as a full-time cafeteria worker at Wheeler and Sherry Farrar as a substitute cafeteria worker at the school.
Approved the following coaching positions: David Mason (head golf, tennis at Jumpertown); Julie Clark and Jessica Penna (cheerleading at Hills Chapel); Rodney Moore (cross country at New Site); Matthew Payne (archery at New Site); Savannah Christie (cheerleading at New Site); Byron Sparks (tennis, golf at New Site); Sharon Arnold (assistant softball at New Site); Josh Presley (assistant junior high and high school boys and girls basketball and assistant softball at Wheeler),
Approved Amy Moore as a bus driver for the handicapped bus at Jumpertown.
Approved Patricia Willis as a handicapped bus monitor.
Approved Andrew Brown as a bus driver for the alternative school bus route at Marietta.