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City school board recognizes teachers of the year

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Dyersburg City School Board recognized their teacher of the year at Monday's school board meeting. From left, Sarah Alley, Monica Gregory, Anne Ladd Welch and Mark Stenberg.
The Dyersburg City School Board honored their teachers of the year during the board's first meeting of 2013. The teachers honored included: Mark Stenberg from Dyersburg High School, Sarah Alley from Dyersburg Middle School, Monica Gregory from Dyersburg Intermediate School and Anne Ladd Welch from Dyersburg Primary School.

"I am really proud of you all," said Chairwoman Amy Heckethorn. "It's really an amazing thing what you have done."

Each of the teachers introduced themselves to the board members and recounted how long they had been at Dyersburg City Schools and why they love teaching. Collectively the teachers had almost 40 years of service at the city schools.

School board members were intrigued by Welch, who is one of the teachers that loop at DPS. Welch began with her class in kindergarten last year and has now moved on to the first grade with the same class. Welch acknowledged that its going to be hard to say goodbye to her kids after next year when they finish the second grade and she returns to kindergarten to start all over but says she is enjoying the experience so far.

Other teachers shared about their teaching style, such as Alley, who has taught a variety of subjects at DMS in her 11-year career at Dyersburg City Schools.

"I try to be as non-conventional a teacher as possible," said Alley. "My students cannot leave until they tell me something they have learned that day."

Superintendent Neel Durbin commented that students in Stenberg's government and history courses at DHS better be prepared to figure it out as he makes his kids think in class.

"There are no silver spoons in his class, you better be ready to figure it out," said Durbin.

Gregory commented to school board members that she believed Dyersburg has an excellent school system. Gregory, who teaches third grade and is the technology instructor at DIS, says their kids strive to do the right thing.

"We have the best resources and the best technology at Dyersburg City Schools," said Gregory.

Durbin announced that each teacher would receive a $2,000 bonus in appreciation for their efforts.

The board moved on to discuss the 2013-2014 calendar, which has created a lot of discussion since it was first presented in November. During the November meeting it was noted by school board member Dr. Scott Self that graduation was set for the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend. He expressed his concern that it would be difficult for families that had immediate family out of town to make the ceremony. During Monday's board meeting Heckethorn said the board would move forward with approving the calendar minus the graduation date and would save that for discussion during the board retreat.

The calendar was unanimously approved on a motion by Vice Chairman Joe Yates and a second by Self.

"It's important to note that we will be out the whole month of June and July," said Yates. "It's a good mental thing for students and their parents to know they have two full months off."

Durbin moved on to update the board on a three-year study done by the Gates Foundation on education that Dyersburg City Schools was invited to participate in. After handing out a report on the study to board members, Durbin said it was an honor and privilege to be a part of the study.

"The one thing about the Gates Foundation is that they do not worry about money," said Durbin. "They just want to know what's best for kids."

Durbin told the board that Dyersburg City Schools is going to receive four camera units from the foundation. In exchange, the cameras are to be used to add on to the foundation's expanding video library in the cloud to help teachers become better educators by seeing best practices on video. Dyersburg is only required to load four videos a year. According to Durbin, the units would have two cameras, one that pans 180 degrees across the classroom and one that is focused on the teacher and is equipped with a microphone.

Durbin noted that the future uses of the equipment are endless. It could be used for students that miss a day in class or possibly even for teachers to turn in their first planned classroom observation. The idea says Durbin is that a teacher could record themselves before the observation is due and receive feedback from their peers.

"The Gates Foundation wants people to take the incentive to better themselves," said Durbin.

The board moved on to discuss school safety, a hot topic after last month's events, when an individual made threatening phone calls to DIS and DPS. Durbin once again praised Dyersburg's first responders for their quick response and calm demeanor during the incident. He also commented that the first thing on the city school mission statement is to provide a safe environment for the students and many steps have been taken to ensure a safe environment, steps Durbin says he is not prepared to disclose.

"I wouldn't disclose my security plans at home and I wouldn't do it here either," said Durbin.

Lyn Taylor, director of system services, interjected that she and Chad Webb, school resource officer for the city schools, are attending upcoming seminars on safety and will be looking at some necessary minor renovations to make the city schools a little safer.

Board members were supportive of Durbin and his staff for their efforts but noted that the staff in Newtown, Conn. did everything they could and still 20 children died.

"A random act of violence you cannot predict, but our kids are safer than they have ever been," said Yates.

In other business:

* Student successes were recognized including sophomore Erik Lewis and senior Stephen Simpson being inducted into the ACT 30+ Club.

* Durbin gave an update on common core standards.

* The board unanimously approved board policy 6.305 pertaining to bullying on second reading on a motion by board member Hubert Jones and a second by board member Gleyn Twilla.

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