Thursday, July 26, 2012
Changes in place at county schools
By BARRY BURLESON
Some changes will be waiting when students in the Marshall County School District return to class.
Superintendent Jerry Moore, in his first year of leading the district, has altered the grade spans, plus shifted around some personnel and hired a few new administrators.
At Potts Camp and H.W. Byers, as has been the case in Byhalia, the grades will be divided into elementary, middle and high schools. The grade spans vary a bit at each location.
“We looked long and hard at the state and federal accountability models and reviewed best practices concerning grade spans and how those grade spans affect student achievement within those two models,” said Moore, who took office as superintendent in January. “We decided there had to be a change in our grade span configurations to give our students the best possible opportunity to increase their achievement results.
“I’ve said before that those models don’t always highlight what our students are doing, and we want our students to see their progress. The reconfiguration is one step in that direction.”
In Potts Camp, the grade spans will be Mary Reid K-3, middle school 4-8 and high school 9-12.
Pat Kennedy returns as principal at Mary Reid. She will be assisted by Jean Newman, part-time instructional facilitator, and Cana Minor, a teacher who will add some administrative duties.
Leigh Anne Sanderson will be the new principal of Potts Camp Middle School. She was previously the high school principal.
The new Potts Camp high school principal will be Noah Hamilton, who is coming from the Itawamba County School District (Mantachie).
Assistant principals for both the middle and high schools in Potts Camp will be Markeith Washington, a former teacher and coach at Byhalia High School, and Shane Stone, back in the same role along with head football coaching duties.
“They will split their time between the two schools,” Moore said.
At H.W. Byers, the grade spans will be elementary K-5, middle 6-8 and high school 9-12.
Chris Ferrell returns as principal at Byers Elementary. Shoanee Garrison, a teacher at the school, will add some administrative duties.
Summer Pannell, previously the instructional facilitator at Byhalia High School, is the new principal of Byers Middle School.
Sonya Cross returns as principal at H.W. Byers High School. William Oliver will split his time as assistant principal for both the middle school and high school at Byers. He moves from his former job as assistant principal at Byhalia High School.
In Byhalia, the grade spans will be elementary K-5, middle 6-8 and high school 9-12.
Returning Byhalia Elementary principal Dameka Smith and assistant principal Todd Sanderson will be joined by another assistant principal, Carrie Skelton, who will be in charge of academics. Skelton shifts from Byhalia Middle School, where she worked as an instructional facilitator.
“We had to add another person due to the sheer growth in the school there,” Moore said.
At BMS, Landon Pollard returns as principal. The new assistant principal is Dontae Thorton, who comes from Shelby County (Tenn.). Gail Moreland will be the instructional facilitator. She was previously the assistant principal at Byers High School.
The new principal at Byhalia High is Charles LeSure. Last year he was the assistant principal at Holly Springs High School. Filling the other leadership roles at BHS are assistant principal Sean McClish and instructional facilitator Monica Cowan. Both were teachers who recently earned their administrative degrees.
Don Jackson, formerly the BHS principal, is the new principal at the Marshall County Alternative School.
There are no changes at Galena as far as grade configuration or principal. Andrae Sims is in charge of the K-8 school.
Nashonda Johnson, the English Language Learner (ELL) coordinator for the district, will continue in that roll but have her office at Galena, where she will be also be administrative assistant.
“Personnel changes have to be about the students and their best interest academically,” Moore said. “The first thing you look at are the data trends in student achievement over a three- to four-year period. If student achievement isn’t increasing, you know you have to make changes.
“You then have to look at the school culture and climate and the strengths of employees – that is, making sure employees are in areas where they can show those strengths and benefit our students.
“After considering these factors, we felt a few personnel changes had to take place in order for our students to move forward. We will now monitor those changes and see how they play out. If they don’t seem to be playing out correctly, we’ll adjust again in the spring.
“But, it will always be about what’s in the best interest of the students because they’re our clientele.”
The first day of school is just two weeks away – Thursday, Aug. 9.
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