Back-to-School: D45 principals share goals

Barnwell Primary School

Barnwell Primary School is focused on filling buckets this year.

Their theme centers upon the book “Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids” by Carol McCloud. The book uses a metaphor of a bucket to illustrate how being kind helps fill a person with happiness.

“Everyone has an invisible bucket that can either be filled or dipped into. The book shows how being kind, considerate and respectful to those around us ultimately helps us feel better about ourselves,” said BPS Principal Donna Selvey. “Teachers and students will focus on filling the buckets of others within our school and throughout the community during the school year.”

On August 10, teachers performed random acts of kindness throughout the community, which they shared on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

Selvey said she is excited about their one-to-one technology initiative where every kindergartner and first grader will have access to an iPad while second and third graders will have a Chromebook to use in their classrooms.

“This opportunity will provide numerous possibilities of teaching, learning and competing in a global society,” she said.

This will also assist in meeting the school’s main goal which is “always to increase our student’s learning,” said Selvey. To accomplish this goal, they want to create more of an excitement for learning with students, parents, and teachers. The one-to-one initiative, hands-on lessons, wide array of classroom books, and enthusiastic teachers will make students eager to learn. “We offer a fun learning process to reach the high academic standards we set for our students,” she said.

Selvey encourages parents to get involved. A great opportunity is to join the PTA, which “provides numerous opportunities throughout the school year for parents to be involved in school activities,” she said. The School Improvement Council meets the first Tuesday of each month at 8 a.m. and is a way for parents to provide input. She also encourages parents to check the school webpage for ways to volunteer.

Anti-Bullying Week is scheduled for September 5-8. “Students will participate in activities to make them aware of what bullying is and how to address bullying situations,” said Selvey. They will have a poster contest, writing contest, wear red, and read anti-bullying books in the classrooms.

Barnwell Elementary School

Everyone is an “essential piece” of the team at Barnwell Elementary School.

The school’s theme this year is “Team BES, You’re an Essential Piece” to show that students, parents, faculty and staff, as well as the entire community are important.

“All stakeholders are essential pieces of our school and each contributes to the overall success of our school,” said BES Principal Dr. Carolyn Anderson, who is looking forward to working with “an amazing faculty and staff to ensure each of our students has a productive and exciting school year filled with outstanding learning experiences in a caring and nurturing environment that challenges all students to strive for greatness.”

They continue to emphasize character education which helps create a positive school culture.

With a commitment to excellence in teaching and learning, Anderson said, “We will continue to focus on literacy, rigor, relevance, and relationships, and ensuring that our students have the 21st century skills they need in order to thrive and compete in a global society. This is in keeping with our district’s Core Values: Innovation, Integrity, Investment, and Community.”

Anderson has several goals for the year, including igniting a “passion for learning in all who enter our building” and building a climate where all students feel included.

The new 20 Days of Peace Initiative is focused on improving the school’s climate through individual and group accountability. “For every 20 days in which there are no discipline referrals, we will fly our Mighty Mustang flag in front of the school, as well as have a school wide celebration to highlight this accomplishment. It will take the entire school working together and modeling positive behavior both inside and outside of the classroom to ensure that this goal is achieved. This will also support our anti-bullying initiative. By working with the school, parents, and the community, we know that we can make this a reality,” said Anderson, who believes in celebrating accomplishments of students and employees.

She also wants to build the technological capacities of faculty, staff and students as the district implements the new one-to-one initiative, which places technology in each student’s hands. “This will be a tremendous asset as we continue to differentiate instruction and provide individualized instructional opportunities to all students,” she said.

Other goals focus more on academic achievement, such as continuing to use data and best practices in curriculum and instruction to increase academic achievement; improving literacy skills of all students and empowering parents with skills to help their children become “stronger readers, writers and communicators at home”; and expanding the character education program to include more businesses and community groups.

“We are also thrilled to be implementing a new advisory program at BES entitled Mustang Mingle. All students will have an advisor, and our advisory lessons are also focused on building strong character,” said Anderson, who is working to bring an honor society to BES.

Anderson also wants to build more “teacher leaders” within the school and “build an atmosphere of collegiality and collaboration.”

Increasing parental involvement is also important, which is why Anderson welcomes parents to BES. She said many parental activities are scheduled throughout the year. Parents can also serve as mentors, volunteers, reading buddies, class moms and dads, and chaperones on field trips, just to name a few. Parents can participate with career days by sharing their expertise with students. There are also evening events, such as restaurant nights, where the entire family can come out and eat dinner with BES faculty and staff. McTeacher Night is Sept. 5 and Pizza Hut Night is Sept. 7 from 4-6 p.m.

“We also have parenting workshops scheduled for this school year. So please come out and be a part of these wonderful opportunities. We would love to have you here,” she said.

Serving on the PTO and the School Improvement Council are also great ways to get involved. The next meeting is Sept. 5. “These two groups are greatly supportive and provide tremendous insight and feedback to our school,” said Anderson.

Guinyard-Butler Middle School

Guinyard-Butler Middle School is focused on teaching and learning, relationships, and mentoring.

Principal Dr. Jessica Brabham-James said she and her staff are “excited and enthusiastic” about the new school year as they continue to build upon their theme, “Achieving Academic Greatness...Preparing OUR Students to Walk in THEIR Destiny!”

“I am looking forward to establishing relationships with our rising seventh graders and new employees and building upon established relationships with our eighth graders and returning faculty and staff members,” said Brabham-James.

She said she has six main goals for the year, including increasing school morale “through respect and positive relationships, engaged learning and activities.” Another goal is also relationship-related as she wants to “build upon the culture of accountability, achievement, collaboration, compassion, safety and trust.”

Other goals include: addressing literacy deficiencies and increasing reading comprehension and reading levels through the Read to Succeed legislation; continuing to refine Response to Intervention (RTI) to ensure personalized support/instruction is provided to meet student needs and maximized potential; and implement a mentor component for students.

Brabham-James is excited about the implementation of the one-to-one initiative for District 45 because every GBMS student will have a Chromebook to use for instructional purposes. This will assist in her final goal of maximizing the use of data and technology.

“I am excited about the opportunities and the extension of learning that will occur as a result of enhanced technology for our students. Furthermore, I am enthusiastic about building on the established foundation, culture, and practices created,” she said.

Parents, guardians, and community members are encouraged to get involved in their children’s education.

“We need them and welcome the support. We believe in the old proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,’” she said.

Parents and community members are asked to come by the school to complete a volunteer application. In addition, participation is encouraged for the School Improvement Council and the Parent Teacher Organization. If parents have not done so, they are encouraged to come to the school to sign up for Parent Portal, which provides parents with access to student grades.

Several events are coming up, including a home football game against Wade Hampton on Thursday, Sept. 7, STEAM Parent Night on Tuesday, Sept. 12 at 5 p.m., Beta Club induction on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 3 p.m., and Open House on Monday, Sept. 18 at 5 p.m.

Barnwell High School

Collaboration is the theme for the 2017-2018 school year at Barnwell High School.

“The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration, our growth is limited to our own perspectives,” said BHS Principal Franklin McCormack, quoting educator and author Robert John Meehan.

McCormack said he always looks forward to a new school year. This year is no exception as he said the school has a great group of students returning.

“I cannot wait to see how our student body performs in the classroom - our community, parents, faculty and staff have high expectations for this group. Additionally, we had a packed Freshman Orientation on August 6, which indicates these students and their parents are committed to finding success,” he said.

His goals for students, faculty and staff are twofold. “I yearn to see (1) our students maximize their potential in each endeavor they pursue, whether it be academic or extracurricular and (2) our faculty and staff inspire a passion for learning to ensure our students are productive, well-rounded, upstanding, and committed. This is the purpose of the Barnwell High School professional learning community (PLC),” he said.

The school is launching a fourth Project Lead the Way (PLTW) course this year called Computer Science Principles. “Students will gain an understanding of computer science and engineering through the Python programming language. The other PLTW courses include Introduction to Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, and Computer Integrated Manufacturing. PLTW continues to be a focal point for Barnwell High School,” said McCormack.

McCormack is also excited about the one-to-one initiative coming to fruition after months of hard work and planning. During the month of August, each teacher and student will receive a Chromebook. “With these devices come responsibility and opportunity. Students will be taught digital citizenship skills while utilizing technology to enhance their own learning,” he said.

“Parents/guardians are strongly encouraged to get involved in their child’s educational and extracurricular experiences by serving on the School Improvement Council, chaperoning a Technology Student Association event, or working the concession stand at an event, just to name a few,” he said.

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