Principals spotlight their schools

Principals who addressed the board, from left, Leigh Ann Rowland, John Brantley, Buddy Powell, and Dr. Anthony Morris.

The Escambia County Board of Education meeting Thursday, February 23, provided an opportunity for four principals to spotlight their schools.

Superintendent John Knott and the BOE set aside a portion of each meeting for Spotlighting Success which is often a time to recognize student achievement. However, this meeting, four principals were in the spotlight. As is the BOE’s custom, they invite principals whose contract renewals are pending to make a presentation to the board on their schools’ recent achievements as well as future goals. Thursday, the following principals highlighted their schools: John Brantley, A.C. Moore Elementary; Leigh Ann Rowland, Huxford Elementary; Dr. Anthony Morris, Escambia County Alternative School; and Buddy Powell, Pollard-McCall.

John Brantley, A.C. Moore Elementary
Brantley talked about The Leader in Me program initiated at A.C. Moore this school year.

The Leader in Me is not a program, it’s a process,” Brantley said. “The goal is to see the potential and worth in all our students.”

He talked about the 7 Habits of The Leader in Me – Be proactive; Begin with the end in mind; Put first things first; Think win-win; Seek first to understand, then to be understood; Synergize (solving problems through teamwork); Sharpen the saw (taking care of yourself through exercise, getting enough sleep, etc.,

spending time with family and friends, taking advantage of learning opportunities in and out of school).

A.C. Moore is in the first year of three-year implementation. The Leader in Me is ongoing each year after that.

Brantley talked about the school’s 21st Century grant which enables the school to partner with the YMCA, Atmore Public Library, the city and Wind Creek.

A.C. Moore also received a Pre-K grant, and the school now has two pre-K classes, in which students through play.

Dr. Anthony Morris, Alternative School
Dr. Morris is in his first year at the Alternative School, located on the Flomaton school campus. He has three teachers at the school

“They are passionate,” Dr. Morris said of his staff. “They show care and concern for these students.”

This school is for students with problem behavior, however, Dr. Morris said, there are a lot of issues that have be addressed before they can address behavior.

Dr. Morris may have an advantage because he knows most of the children at the Alternative School from his time as principal of Escambia County Middle School.

The curriculum is computer-based, and students are at every level academically.

The Alternative School is for grades five through 12.

“We hate to see them come as young as fifth and sixth grade,” Dr. Morris said. “However, they are kept separate from the older students.”

The minimum stay at the Alternative School is 20 days.

He gave the following stats:

* 33 percent are special needs students.

* 34 percent are involved with juvenile probation officer.

* 57 percent are black males, a fact especially disturbing to Dr. Morris.

Despite progress that is made at the Alternative School with individual students, Dr. Morris said they often lose ground when the students go home after school.

The long-term consequences for some of these students is staggering for them and for society.

“It costs three times more to incarcerate rather than educate,” he said.

The Compass School, also on the Flomaton school campus, includes students from the Brewton City School System. The Alternative School has 29 students, with 18 on the Compass side.

Leigh Ann Rowland, Huxford Elementary School
“It’s an honor and joy to be principal at Huxford Elementary School,” Rowland said.

The school’s enrollment is currently 318 in kindergarten through sixth grade. The most students in a class 25, the fewest 18.

HES has a partnership with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians – 30 percent of the school’s students are Native American.

Seventy percent are on free and reduced lunch.

The 2013-14 school year was the first year for Aspire (student assessment), and for the first time, the school has Chromebooks for students to use in taking the tests.

There are some new programs at HES this year, while successful programs continue.

* Huxford Ambassadors – six students who serve during events at the school.

* In grades three through six, the school has purchased 110 Chromebooks.

* The first JumpStart program was held last summer.

* Here Every Day Ready On Time – Heroes – Students rewarded for attendance and being on time and ready to work.

* Fancy Lunch – Students who exhibit good behavior for the nine-week grading period get to sit at a special table in the lunchroom.

* A chapter of the National Junior Honor Society has been formed for the first time at HES, with induction planned for April.

* TV monitors are in the hallways for announcements, etc.

* AMSTI curriculum – The Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative is the Alabama Department of Education’s initiative to improve math and science teaching statewide.

* Addressing safety concerns – Renovation of foyer for security; Poarch routinely sends a resource officer to the school.

* This is the fourth year for the Archery Team with students in grades four through six. There are currently 25 on the team. Rowland said the faculty and students would like to host a tournament with proceeds benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. A former student had been to St. Jude.

“Parental involvement is awesome at Huxford Elementary,” Rowland said.

Buddy Powell, Pollard-McCall Junior High School
When Powell took the job as principal at this school, he walked into what might have been a daunting situation to some. The vacancy in the principal’s position was due to the sudden death of Principal Hugh White.

“These were big shoes to fill with the death of Hugh White,” Powell said. “ … Hugh’s family there for me. I saw God’s grace … through the White family.”

Powell is seeing a number of improvements at Pollard-McCall, which was built in 1922.

The school got a grant through RC&D for $5,500 to redo the teacher workroom / lounge.

The parking lot has been restriped.

Data is maintained or excelled in most areas.

They’re using the Dore Program to address attention deficit syndrome.

The school received an EMITS grant – Engineering and Mathematics, Inspiring Thinking Solutions – and now have Chromebooks for all students in the seventh grade.

“All the negative you read in the newspaper … good things going on,” Powell said.

He touched on a number of things he’s proud of:

* Hugh White Memorial

* PTO support

* Wind Creek donation of more than $14,000 in the TITO program

* Southern Pine support

* The countywide spelling bee champ – Jaelyn Bloodsworth

* Excellence in sports

* “Great staff, great kids, great parental support”

In other business,
* Coretta Boykin, with Reid State Technical College, provided brief update on USDA RUS grant partnership highlighting the success of students enrolled using the system.

* Superintendent Knott gave update on renovation projects:

W.S. Neal High School phase 2 – The auditorium, athletic fieldhouse, girls athletic facility should be completed by end of school year if not before; gymnasium in progress.

Escambia County High School auditorium – The superintendent got contracts back from the Building Commission. Construction is now officially under way on the renovation. The projected ending date is end of September.

* Knott announced that Flomaton High School is hosting the school’s first ever History Fair April 26.

* Chief School Financial Officer Julie Madden gave the financial report. The system has 4.89 months operating reserve. She noted a new item on the monthly financial statement – $2.5 million lease / purchase agreement for new buses, funded with state renewal funds.

* Approved the 2017-2018 School Calendar. Assistant Superintendent Beth Drew is in charge of the calendar committee. She noted one difference in this year’s calendar. On the days of parent-teacher conferences, there will be an early release for students on those two days. Conferences will begin earlier in the day which may accommodate some parents.

Next year, school start date is August 9; full week out at Thanksgiving; two full weeks at Christmas; teachers return Jan. 2; students return Jan. 3.