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New teachers, building highlight 2014-15 school year

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District’s vision, some school fees remain the same, but presented in a new form

By Ashley Wilkins

From a new teacher to new shoes, a new school year often brings a lot of changes for students.  However, Shelby County Public Relations Coordinator Ryan Allan said this year there won’t be any significant changes for SCPS students.

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Allan explained that the students will experience no changes in the existing dress code policies, school hours will not be altered, and there are no significant changes to the school policies and procedures.

Most interesting of all, however, Allan said there will be no new principals this year.  In 2012, five of the nine schools in the district hired new principals. 

“This year we have all the same principals,” Allan said. “[We have] two new assistant principals. We are very excited about both of those. I think they are going to make significant impacts at Collins and at Painted Stone.”

This year, the district will welcome Chris Young and Dr. Shalonda Gregory as the new assistant principals to Martha Layne Collins High School and Painted Stone Elementary, respectively.

Dr. Gregory earned two Master’s degrees and a Doctorate from Spalding University and joins the district after serving nine years with Jefferson County Public Schools.

Young is a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and has served in various education positions in Clark and Madison counties.  He most recently served as the principal at White Hall Elementary in Madison County.

In addition to new assistant principals, a wealth of teachers have been added to the SCPS team, including nine both at Clear Creek Elementary Collins High schools, three at West Middle, two at Wright Elementary, three at East Middle, nine at Shelby County High School, and six at Southside Elementary.

The Area Technology Center will also see a couple of staff changes.  The ATC hired a new teacher and Steve Coleman, principal at Cropper will be serving as the Principal at the ATC, as well.

“He’ll serve both schools,” Allan said.

ATC is managed by the state and serves Shelby, Spencer, and Henry counties.  And while the state manages the hiring, SCPS superintendent James Neihof worked with Commissioner Holliday at the Kentucky Department of Education to create a partnership so that SCPS could be more involved and to provide input on the hiring decision.

“The reason we did that was because of Shelby County’s focus on career and technical education, and our focus on college and career readiness,” Allan said.

 

Think big

While the idea of college and career readiness, the district’s THINK BIG motto, and The Leader in Me, is not a new concept for the district this school year, Allan said he hopes parents will start hearing more about it as we go through the year.

“We’re hoping that kids are coming home and communicating with parents about being proactive, about thinking win/win, about beginning with the end in mind.”

Allan said that is how the district operates.

“As we go into this new school year…we are already thinking about where we want to be in the end.”

With all SCPS teachers and district employees having attended workshops and training over the summer regarding The Leader in Me, based on Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Allan said the district expects students to have more exposure to those concepts.

“Teachers will start to use this behavior and thus model it for those kids, and kids are going to see that…and hopefully [start] using it and applying it, which goes directly into that third strand [of the district’s Strategic Leadership Plan] which is healthy and responsible students,” Allan said.

In focusing on the fifth strand, 21st Century Support Systems, Allan explained that students on the high school level will have more exposure to digital devices this year and thus will earn what the are calling a, “Digital Drivers Licenses” in order to be handed responsibility to operate the equipment.

 

Class Fees

Also affecting SCPS high school students, class fees.  Allan said that following a posting of classroom fees on the school websites, some parents expressed frustration, but Allan explained that these fees are not new.

“There is a perception out there that it’s new,” he said, but Allan explained that these fees always existed but had never been posted online in a menu format.

The fees cover classroom materials and supplies that teachers might normally have requested students bring in or donate for classroom projects after students began attending class.

“The school took all of those fees that have been in existence and simply told parents about them beforehand,” he said.

Allan said the only change to the fees is a $100 cap, which prevents a student from having to pay more than $100 in fees.  Included in that cap are optional items like a parking permit, as well as an athletic and activity pass.

Students that qualify for free or reduced lunches are exempt from those fees.

 

Opening Days

And while most students will experience minimal changes for the upcoming school year, students at Southside Elementary no doubt will encounter the biggest adjustment as they step into a brand new building.

Originally the open house dates for the new school were split into several days and times because the main parking lot was not expected to be ready.  However, with the parking lot now projected to be finished, the open house for all Southside parents and students will take place on August 11.

Allan said this opening day is just for parents and students, as an open house for the community to view the new school will take place in September.

However, on August 11, students in grades 1, 2, and 4 will be invited in at 5:30 and those in grades Kindergarten, 3 and 5 will be invited in at 7.

The following morning on August 12 at 8:00 a.m., up to 2,000 attendees will gather at Collins High school as SCPS employees and guests will partake in the faculty’s opening day events.

“This year, in an effort to be transparent and work on partnerships and communication, [Superintendent James Neihof] asked every employee to invite a guest,” Allan said. “So we just went from one thousand to two thousand people that are going to hear the vision for the upcoming year.

“We’re all in this together,” he said. “This is our community, here’s what we’re doing as a school system.”