Perfect Attendance and Other Achievements

Closing out 2020-21 with Look Back
Posted on 05/18/2021
This is the image for the news article titled Closing out 2020-21 with Look BackThe close of any academic year comes with marking many milestones. Giggles and grins are evident as end-of-year-testing yields to field days of fun. Award ceremonies for character-building, reading strides, good grades and attendance fill the calendar. Kindergarten, middle school, and high school students walk across stages for graduations.

But, since August 17 when school doors opened, the question of COVID has loomed large. Would doors have to close? Would protocols based on CDC guidelines be enough?

According to Bethany Allen, coordinated school health coordinator, who was tapped to track ever-changing CDC guidance and keep schools in compliance, absences hit their peak in mid-December with 401 students and staff in either isolation or quarantine. By the end of February, the pandemic numbers were at their lowest with only 7 out.

Among the achievements of this never-seen-before year, were the successful efforts of school nurses who were also keeping up with CDC findings and conducting the ever-important contact tracing on top of their ongoing responsibilities. During May 12’s School Nurse Day observance, school administrators acknowledged the gargantuan task.

Martin Elementary Principal Patresa Rogers also acknowledged staying healthy in stressful circumstances is difficult which means the number of teachers and staff who obtained the “perfect attendance” mark for 2020-21 were due some praise. Within a week of her suggesting the county schools do a roll call of those with perfect and/or three days of less of absences, the results were in.

Perfect Attendance
Dresden Elementary -- Gwen Hardy, teacher
Dresden High -- Teacher Victoria Todd
Gleason – Teachers Amy Orr, Lori Wilson and Phyllis Gearin
Greenfield – Teacher Linda Farmer
Martin Primary – Teachers Alex Smith, Elisabeth Tompkins, Jennifer West
Martin Elementary -- Teachers Karen Baker, Candace Crumby, Latessia Shane, Amber Wharton, Ciera Wood
Sharon – Teacher Michaela Frederick
Westview – Teachers Chris Coleman, Burton Rutledge, Teri Ryan, Dan Scates
Bus drivers/transportation department -- Mark Byington, Stanley Tims, William Gamble, Donnie Gearin, Lisa Huestis, Corey Vancleave, Denise Hayes, Gabriel Martin, Ronald Plunk, Richard Hodges, David Campbell, John Stewart
Cafeteria – Deana Hogard

Three or fewer missed days
Dresden Elementary – Teachers Debbie Simmons, Colby Akin, Cari Malone, Becky Anderson, Pam Cooper, Amber Wharton; EAs Barbara Buckley, Emily Carr, Paula Stofleth
Dresden Middle -- Sheryl Alford, librarian; Kelly McGuire, teacher; Jamie Rickman, counselor
Dresden High -- Teachers Jason Kemp, Ashley Cantrell, Tim Evans; Nurse Diane Lillegard
Gleason – Teachers Amy McKenzie, Brittany Bargery, Melissa Stafford, Jacob Canaday, Jason Stephens, Melissa Terrell, Pam Sliger; Kim Riggs, EA; Paige Vaughn, teacher and Literacy Leader
Greenfield -- Teachers Jennifer Biggs, Johnny Growe, Beth Ann Sawyers; EA Cheryl Potts; Bookkeeper Vicki Galey; Nurse Regenia Horton; SRO Bryan Cooper; Vice Principals Matt Butler, Jamie Doster; Principal Jeff Cupples
Martin Primary -- Wanda Fields, secretary; Katie Brewer, teacher; EAs Cathy Arredondo, Annie Schommer, Teresa Williams
Martin Elementary – Teachers Allie Crews, Shannon McMillin, Carrie Stringer; Vera Shanklin, interventionist; Charleigh Stephens, teacher/librarian; Debbie Allison, EA
Martin Middle – Teachers Avery Orr and Monica Collins
Sharon – Teachers Steve Douglas, Missy Estes, Jennifer Lamb, Brenda Randolph; EAs Regina Harrison, Rose Wade, DeAnn Wolski, Alison Williams
Westview – Teachers Brian Allen, Jennifer Cupples, Seth Frields, Brian Haskins, Carol Owen, Kyle Rogers, Jarod Neal; Shannon McWherter, counselor
Bus Drivers/Transportation -- Bobby Garrigus, Lynette Emmons, Gene Gardner, Rick Everett

While surviving a pandemic year is a feat worthy of note, Weakley County Schools also proved “thriving” was possible.

When asked about major achievements for the year, Assistant Director of Schools Jeff Kelley easily responded that keeping all schools open for “in person” learning took the top spot. Coming in close behind were the cooperation of the parents and community in understanding and following protocols and the extraordinary work of the cafeteria staffs in feeding the children and youth of Weakley County during the spring and summer.

Elementary Supervisor Terri Stephenson points to the successful implementation of a new English/Language Arts curriculum, something she underscores would be a major accomplishment in any year.
“As I have observed instruction in classrooms and viewed evidence of student work hanging in the halls, I am thrilled with the progress we have made even in the midst of a pandemic. I have seen teachers flourish with content being taught and students grow tremendously in reading and writing. Becoming college and career ready begins in the elementary grades and we are preparing them for the future,” she noted.

Special Education Supervisor Deborah Perkins remains excited about the Transition School to Work Case Manager position that was added this year and looks forward to building on that foundation.

Coordinator of Safe Schools Lorna Benson sees the recent installation of new kiosks in each school to help with visitor registration as a major step for even greater school safety.

Donald Ray High, Supervisor of Instruction for Middle and High School, turns to the ACT when asked about strides, “I think a major achievement was the fact we were still able to have our in-person ACT Success boot camps for our juniors this year before they took the ACT in March. These boot camps have proven to be very helpful for our students as a final push before the ACT.”

Career and Technical Education covers a broad spectrum from health sciences to business, to family, and agriculture. Gains were made in all arenas, noted CTE Director Lindsey Parham, and in particular she underscored a large increase in Work Based Learning students across the district, launching a custom-cut meat business out of the farm program, opening crop land to allow for research and demonstration plots to aid in laboratory opportunities for both dual enrollment and regular Agriculture students, and securing new partnerships for post-secondary opportunities with TCAT and UTM in Advanced Manufacturing and Agriculture.

“Much has been said about potential learning loss. We will not be in a position to fully answer that question until we receive final test results at the end of summer,” said Weakley County Schools Director Randy Frazier. “But without a doubt we can say that we are successfully ending this full year of in-person learning because of an incredible dedicated staff of professionals who give their all to make sure our students arrive safely, receive nourishment of body and minds and serve as role models for grace under pressure. I am grateful for each one of them.”

Sharon cafeteria
Sharon School staff packing some of the more than 420,000 meals which were distributed in the spring and summer of 2020.

chicks hatching
Helping children develop background knowledge for reading engagement is one of the reasons second graders across the county were treated to eggs, incubators and ultimately chicks.

transition to work
Westview students helped lay a foundation for the new transition to work program in Weakley County Schools.

ACT boot camp
Greenfield hosted Gleason for an ACT boot camp.

farm meat store
The Weakley County Livestock Production Farm has expanded to meat sales thanks to the addition of new refrigeration and freezer units in Dresden.