D45 principals provide updates

The Sept. 14 Barnwell District 45 School Board meeting started with a reception for new employees.

After enjoying refreshments, board members all expressed their excitement to have the new employees as part of the district.

“Tonight is a very exciting night,” said Superintendent Crissie Stapleton.

The four principals then provided updates on the first month of school and their goals for the year.

Barnwell Primary

Teachers and staff at Barnwell Primary School started the year off by performing acts of kindness around town, such as providing breakfast for firefighters and bagging groceries at the store. This goes along with the school’s theme of “Filling Buckets”, which comes from a book that promotes positive behavior through kindness.

Principal Donna Selvey said they have been busy with various events, including a lunch for grandparents, meet and greet where 90 percent of students attended, completing all emergency drills, and anti-bullying week. She invited everyone to eat at McDonald’s in Barnwell on Sept. 21 from 6 to 8 p.m. for McTeacher Night, which raises money for the school.

Each student will have either a Chromebook or iPad to use as part of the one-to-one initiative to pair technology with every student in the district. Selvey said she wants BPS to become a Google certified school.

Guidance counselor Amy Davis has started a GoFundMe account to raise money to purchase an American flag for each of the 55 classrooms. Classrooms either don’t have a flag or need to have the current one replaced.

“It’s really important to teach kids about civic responsibility,” said Selvey.

Barnwell Elementary

Barnwell Elementary School Principal Dr. Carolyn Anderson used a video to show some of the initiatives they’ve been working on.

They held a school behavior assembly at the beginning of the year so students would know what is expected of them. The school is also continuing is character education program, including monthly traits.

“Mustangs are mighty when they respect everybody,” said Anderson.

The school is starting an honor society and also has a parade planned for all students who make honor roll or principal’s society.

Anderson said they use data to drive instruction, keep students actively engaged and believe in the importance of community partnerships. They are also implementing new literacy initiatives, such as adding more non-fiction books to classrooms, reading strategies and book talks on the morning school news show.

“We dare to strive for greatness,” said Anderson, who also reported an increase in parental involvement.

Guinyard-Butler Middle

Guinyard-Butler Middle School is “Achieving Academic Greatness” as they prepare students to walk in their destiny, said Principal Dr. Jessica Brabham-James of the school’s theme.

One way they want to achieve that is through positive relationships by creating a culture of accountability, achievement, collaboration, compassion, safety and trust, she said.

As part of their professional development to create a stronger culture, Brabham-James said teachers went on a scavenger hunt across town for landmarks.

The school is continuing “The Chat” which was started last year to go over expectations, goals, rules and other important information with students.

Spanish components have been introduced to go along with their renewal plan. This includes a board in the hallway with Spanish vocabulary words. Students learn two words per week and are given quarterly assessments. Positive incentives are used as rewards.

Barnwell High

Collaboration is the theme for Barnwell High School.

Principal Franklin McCormack said Dr. Betty Bagley, a former superintendent in Bamberg and Anderson, was the guest speaker at the opening day festivities for teachers. She said there are four C’s to world class skills: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.

Parents were able to look at the new Chromebooks during the school’s open house. The first set has been distributed with more on the way.

A new mentor program has launched where every adult at the school will be a mentor to a student. “Every child deserves a champion,” said McCormack of the school’s 661 students.

He said two traditions will continue this year, including the joint pep rally with Barnwell Elementary that was held last month. He said the grad walk at Barnwell Primary is another event his students look forward to. McCormack said fall sports are also off to a great start.

In other news:

• The board approved the monthly personnel report. It included the hiring of Pamela Fedrick as a BES teacher’s aide, Elizabeth Hutson as a BPS teacher’s aide, Dana Perry as a food service operator, and Terrance Washington as a shadow at BES. GBMS custodian Frank Lucas is listed as being dismissed and BES teacher’s aide Stephanie Grissom resigned.

• The board took no action after a closed session to discuss an employment matter.