Comments by agentorange007

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Written on Working on Hope: Charter school expert, executive director share their thoughts:

There is a definite demand in this community for a truly innovative elementary school. The slated-for-closure Fort Craig School of Dynamic Learning fulfilled that need in the city school system. It baffles me why it is being closed but I digress.

It seems that countywide demand for a pupil-centered school is the driving force for the Hope Academy. Charter and other innovative-type schools are HUGE in Florida and are responsible for the significant increase in graduation rates of low income and minority students cited in recent news articles.

Given a chance, I think the Hope Academy and other non-traditional schools could do very well in Blount County.

Written on Mike Casteel steps down as principal of Maryville High School:

in response to mysterio:

I assume you are talking about Casteel? If so, he did teach. I was a student of his 1996 drivers education class at MHS.

Anyway, he definitely was better than the principal when I attended... Messer stepped down after he was caught stealing money on video from the concessions stands at MHS. I believe his salary was $80K/year at the time... BUM!

I was referring to the director of Maryville City Schools.

Written on Roach to take over top spot at MHS:

in response to 37803Vol:

Stephanie Thompson promised an "exhaustive search" for this position and it doesn't appear so with only 18 miles separating us from WHS. Surprised she would hire someone with a music background as much as she doesn't value that field. Hopefully Mr. Roach will stand firm and demand that driver's ed be removed instead of cutting into the music program.

There was an "exhaustive search" with "nets cast far and wide" for a new MCS schools director a few years ago. And we know how that turned out.

Could this be a "save my job" move and she is throwing the disgruntled parent peons a bone?

Written on Grassroots group putting final touches on application for first charter school in Blount:

in response to enoughalready:

Using the Tennessee Charter Schools Association website to answer concerns and criticisms about charter schools is akin to asking the Politburo to address concerns and criticisms about Communism. How about we try unbaised organizations, such as Stanford University, which have conducted multiple studies, both positive and negative, concerning charter schools. Or for that, any of the other thousands of studies, both positive and negative, that have been conducted. If you look at the whole picture, not just a selection, then you would realize that charter schools have been around for more than 20 years without any conclusive evidence of being effective.

I am all for trying new things, but at least make sure it is going to work. We are asking our teachers to use PROVEN research based methods (which is stated verbatium in the new evaluation models). Why not have all education decisions based upon the same standard?

I am glad you have poked around and done some digging on charter schools. I have been to some of the same holes. We have reached different conclusions about charter schools and that is okay.

Written on Grassroots group putting final touches on application for first charter school in Blount:

in response to enoughalready:

Parents do have a choice about THEIR tax dollars - move somewhere else! The amount of tax dollars required to fund per pupil expenditures in this county far exceed what the normal, average household pays in property and sales taxes. That means it is not only THEIR tax dollars that are going to support charter schools but also MY tax dollars and the tax dollars of people who do not even have children in the public school system.

I do not refute the test scores from Fort Craig. They are good. However, as with everything dealing with education, it is about parent involvement. That is why the Kovalik/ITI model does not work well in low socio-economic schools. The research supports this this.

I totally agree with the problems associated with No Child Left Behind. However, taking money away from schools that are doing the job is absolutely NOT the answer. That is what a suburban charter school in Blount County would do.

I would be interested in the entrance requirements for the proposed suburban charter school? If it is truly to be a PUBLIC school, there should be NOT entrance requirements and ANY child, of ANY ability, from ANY socio-economic background should be allowed to attend. Of course this would never happen in a suburban charter school.

As stated before, this is a way for a few unhappy parents to reap all the benefits of a private education without paying for it. If public education in Blount County, Alcoa, and Maryville City is all that bad, then why keep your child enrolled there? I am sure The Webb School of Knoxville, CAK, Maryville Christian School, or any other number of private schools would be more than happy to look at new applications.

If you would like to learn more about charter school facts and myths or to find out what charter schools are really about, check out the Tennessee Charter Schools Association website.
http://www.tncharterschools.org/

There are links there to the state laws regarding charter schools.

The following website refutes the six common unfounded criticisms of charter schools, some of which you bring up.
http://www.edreform.com/Archive/?Char...

Written on Grassroots group putting final touches on application for first charter school in Blount:

in response to enoughalready:

Charter schools in a suburban area - which has two of the top performing school systems in the state. Now that is an interesting concept. The idea behind a charter school it to help underperforming systems reach higher academic standards. It is not meant - nor should it be designed for - parents who want a private education for their children but do not want to pay the tuition. If public education is that bad, then remove your child from it. There is nothing keeping them here. If you do not want your tax dollars going into the local school system, then leave. You have that choice. The founding director, Mrs. Bradley, implemented the ITI and Susan Kovalik model. Of course her school was chosen as a model school for Kovalik because Blount County has paid Susan Kovalik and her company thousands of dollars to implement the system. This is not a distinction given by an unbaised agency. Kovalik is a company trying to sell their education reform. It only makes sense they will be giving "awards" to their best customers. Since it was put into place at Mary Blount, has anyone measured the success? If you look at the state test scores for Union Grove Middle (which used to be William Blount Middle) the impact of the ITI/Kovalik model is minimal at best and fails to create lasting learning on those items which are tested and deemed the most important by our State Department of Education.

Charter schools, especially in affluent suburban areas with high performing schools, make great sense as a solution for public education (I hope the sarcasm from this statement is evident!). Take away funding from school systems, only allow a select few to attend the charter school, and sing their praises! This does not solve the solution for public schools, it only creates an inexpensive way for complaining parents who do not get their way to have private school benefits without the private school costs.

Your criticisms of charter schools are typical and expected and have been well documented in charter school research. And they all are refutable. Take a look at the state test scores at Fort Craig (the first school in this area to implement Kovalik's ITI/HET model.)

Charter schools in other states are not just for the underperforming students and/or schools. Charter schools are a way to empower parents to take charge of THEIR tax dollars and to use them to do what most school systems can't or won't.

It is not wrong for anyone to use THEIR tax dollars to take THEIR child's education to the next level instead of being stuck in the "No Child Gets Ahead--err No Child Left Behind" rut.

Written on Grassroots group putting final touches on application for first charter school in Blount:

in response to Parent:

It sounds as if Throckmorton is saying that the state education board can overule the local school district's decision to deny a charter school petition, but Shamblin seems to think the local school board will control the decision. I wonder how often a local district has been overuled?

According to a PowerPoint presentation available on the Tennessee Charter Schools Association website, the state board of education has overruled the LEA at least twice, once in Chattanooga and once in Nashville.

Written on Maryville schools discussion on music curriculum has parents at crescendo pitch:

I think I will try to bypass this MCS mess and see if I can get my kids into the proposed charter school.

http://www.blounttoday.com/news/2011/...

Written on Grassroots group putting final touches on application for first charter school in Blount:

in response to tbright:

The story was pulled directly from print and the founding members statement was missed. It has now been updated with the founding members listed.

Thanks for the update!

I wish the Hope Academy all the success in the world. They are on the right track because I believe there is definitely a demand for the kind of school they want to create.

Written on Grassroots group putting final touches on application for first charter school in Blount:

"For a list of founding members, go to www.BlountToday.com"

Can't find them.

Written on Grassroots group putting final touches on application for first charter school in Blount:

Maryville City Schools: Are you paying attention?

Written on Alcoa on short list for Sierra Nevada Brewing Company site:

A little over 25 years ago when I lived in Bradley County Tennessee, Anheuser-Busch proposed to build a brewery there. There was such a howl and protest about the "immorality" of alcohol being potentally produced in Bradley County that A-B built it near Cartersville, Georgia instead. I wonder if similar protests will occur here.

Written on Maryville schools discussion on music curriculum has parents at crescendo pitch:

in response to bluefish:

I believe the number of parents who are unhappy with the way Maryville City Schools are being managed is a huge number. Much bigger than people realize.

Time will sort out the facts but I for one am impressed with the actual data that our fellow blogger, sunshine has gathered.

It would be a great step forward to have Stephanie Thompson removed as director of schools.

The director of schools will not be removed by the present school board. Three of the five current board members hired her in the first place and they do what she says, not the other way around. The only way to remove her is to elect forward thinking board members to replace the sitting ones. West and Jenkins are eligible for replacement in 2012.

Written on Maryville schools discussion on music curriculum has parents at crescendo pitch:

in response to rational:

I am defensive. I do feel that the opinions and news articles are very "Chicken Little" and dramatic. Even the headline of the article is very dramatic. I also feel the comments are polarizing. The comments lead me to believe that some parents believe that its them against the school system or music vs. athletics, or all Maryville City elementary schools vs. Ft. Craig. We're all on the same team trying to work together to provide the best education we can for our kids. So, let's work together. I am responsible for MY childrens' education. The teacher is responsible for the group of children in their classroom. The school board is responsible for the education of the children as a whole system. I am offended at the approach some of these commenting parents are taking not necessarily what they have to say. I am personally very happy with the system and the education my kids receive. I would guess that most of the parents who chose to put their kids in MCS are happy. That's not to say there isn't room for improvement. I think the comments I have read reflect a vocal minority. I think a lot of the parents expressing concern over music are still hurt because of the Ft. Craig decision. But in my opinion, the Ft. Craig approach to education is not a new approach. Whole language, looping, multi-age classrooms have been around for a long time. The approaches may change names every 10-20 years but they are theoretically the same. Teaching is an art, not a science. The Ft. Craig teachers will not lose the essence of how they teach within the elementary schools. Its not going to be a negative transition unless you make it one. I do not think athletics needs a bigger piece of the pie, just part of the pie.

This is not a Fort Craig issue. Fort Craig is dead. Killing Fort Craig was just the first domino to fall.

Now the issue at hand affects the whole system. It is NOT a vocal minority who are concerned about the changes in the intermediate school music program.

What I am concerned about is the surprise coming next. What is it you ask? Don't know--that's why its called a surprise. Who knows? The next brilliant MCS proposal might adversely affect your kids.

I agree the MCS is a good school system. However, from what I have seen the past four years, I do not have much faith in the leadership of the schools director or the majority of the school board. It is sliding down the slippery slope of mediocrity.

Written on Maryville schools discussion on music curriculum has parents at crescendo pitch:

in response to Rational1:

The prevailing ignorance of these posts is astonishing. Clearly many have no idea what is like to be in education today. Schools are blamed for everything that is wrong with society; from poor test scores to teen pregnancy rates to drug abuse. Maryville City responds to those challenges by increasing instructional time in the core subject areas as well as introducing STEM classes. And the response is that Maryville does not care about academics? The evidence used to support that claim is that we are making cuts in band (a non-academic activity for those not paying attention). How rational is that thought process? Sports and band are both enrichment activities and are important. Sports activities do not try to take up instructional time. We do not practice football, baseball or track while we should be spending time learning math and science. Who in their right mind believes that a school system does not value academics based on the fact that they are trying to increase instructional time in the core subject areas by cutting time in an enrichment activity. And as for the personal attacks, grow up. You do not have to agree with every decision made, but to be mean-spirited and vicious is uncalled for and out of line. I hope your children have learned from their teachers here in Maryville City the value of respect. Clearly many of you have not.

Just to clarify, who is ultimately in charge our childrens's education? (a) the parents, (b) the schools director, or (c) the school board? Pick one, coach.

Also, please rank a,b,and c in the correct heirachal order (answer below)

Answer:
Parents >> School Board >> Schools Director

If you said: Schools Director >> School Board >> Parents, (as is the current chain of command) then you would be wrong.

Written on Maryville schools discussion on music curriculum has parents at crescendo pitch:

Here is a link to Stephanie Thompson's memo about the music situation

http://www.maryvillecityschools.k12.t...

Down near the end of it on recommendation for parents #2 is a link to the master planning website. I clicked on it and it led me to a nonfunctioning Amazon.com UK page. Look up at the address bar and it says something about Calamity Jane's Hottest Adult Stories. Why? Does anybody else get the same result when they click on that link?

Written on Maryville schools discussion on music curriculum has parents at crescendo pitch:

in response to sunshine:

I had read the articles in your link a few weeks ago. Funny that they hired Thompson to keep things the same, but now she's getting away from site based management and "standardizing" the system by weeding out anything that made it unique!

...and what's the deal with all these beloved principals and coaches resigning, retiring, or stepping down?

Written on Maryville schools discussion on music curriculum has parents at crescendo pitch:

in response to teamplayer23:

I never felt good about the new grade configurations in the first place. Now the complete unknown about it is starting to come to the surface. There is so much going wrong in our school system right now, it's just bitter icing on the cake to even think about the music programs suffering. Is there really anything concerned parents can do about this? I feel really bad for all the families that chose Maryville as their home based on the school system as it was a few years ago.

"Is there really anything concerned parents can do about this?"

Yes. Jenkins' and West's terms on the school board expire next in 2012. Fire them at the ballot box and replace them with excellence-minded candidates. Then replace the current schools director with one who is actually qualified to do the job and not based on her "relationships."
http://www.blounttoday.com/news/2007/...

Written on Maryville schools discussion on music curriculum has parents at crescendo pitch:

in response to sunshine:

The current director of schools isn't the right fit for the system. She gets evaluated by the board in June. Maybe they should give her an F and send her on her way. No tutoring available for someone who makes as much as she does.

I agree but they will give her glowing reviews and a pay raise to ensure she remains the City of Maryville's highest paid employee.

Written on Maryville schools discussion on music curriculum has parents at crescendo pitch:

in response to sunshine:

If they're so concerned about students learning math and science, why do they wait to fund before and after school tutoring until a month or so after school starts? Shouldn't tutoring be a priority?

The answer to your question: NO!

Tutoring is NOT a priority!

Academics are NOT a priority!

According to current MCS dogma, a kid can learn everything they need to know on the football field or basketball court.

Now let's call a snow day so our youngins' can stay up late and watch the NCAA football championship. Yippee!

Written on Maryville schools discussion on music curriculum has parents at crescendo pitch:

MCS spokesmouth Anglim says to send your comments to the Central Office. There they will seen by blind eyes and heard by deaf ears. Of course there will be a well scripted "process" of study and stakeholder input. However, let it be known the decision has already been made, probably at a secret school board meeting at the Opryland Resort. Folks, closing Fort Craig was just the beginning.

Written on Maryville schools discussion on music curriculum has parents at crescendo pitch:

Well,well! Now the rest of the MCS parents know how the Fort Craig folks felt. It's not the money but "programming?". Give me a break!! Does the central office not have a clue about neuroscience evidence on music and learning? Of course not! Schools Director Stephanie Thompson knows nothing about such things because she has never been a real teacher or principal. Where are her comments for this article?

But she is hot to get a new wood basketball floor and soccer field lights for MHS. See, it is all part of the "Master Plan.". There is more mayhem and foolishness to come. Stay tuned!

Written on Mike Casteel steps down as principal of Maryville High School:

Can anybody 'splain to me how someone who has never headed a classroom as a teacher, or a school as a principal, end up as the City of Maryville's highest paid employee at $126,000 plus per year?

Written on Closing Fort Craig: Maryville City School board makes decision to close school, reconfigure grades:

in response to windrider9999:

There is a huge difference in FH and FC from my families prospective. At FH my son was constantly pulled aside a labeled a trouble maker, when in fact he was BORED from not being challenged and encouraged. The FH school leadership suggested we have him tested for ADD. A freind suggested we put him in the lottery for FC. after he got into FC, he quickly began to love school and eventually moved to the top of his class as an excellent student that tutored others and was looked up to as a leader. The leaders and teachers at FC recognized his potential and totally changed his outlook about school and taught him that he could be an awesome student leader. At FH he had been "labeled" as a troublemaker. I am grateful and thankful to the teachers and curriculum style that no doubt has laid the foundation for a great Man of the future. It would not have happened at FH. On another note, not being from the area i had no idea about the "politics" and " attitudes" that are held regarding FC. I have seen it now, and even Mr. Jenkins stated that there would be people who would be high five-ing that FC is closing. SAD.. SAd. Whats wrong with you people? Congratulations on following in our country's footsteps and squashing excellence in favor of Mediocrity

I am glad your son got the chance to prove himself and succeed just as every kid deserves. I am not surprised. Your tale is just one of many similar success stories to come out of Fort Craig. 'NUFF SAID!!

Written on Fort Craig will close:

I am patiently waiting for the "Fort Craig hand picks its students" and "they get more funds" mythmongers to show up, so I can pounce upon their misconceptions.

I am also going to patiently wait for the next two school board elections and will strongly support any candidate who is forward thinking, unbiased, visionary, open minded and independent.

In the meantime, I am going to vote with my dollars when it comes to cars, boats, contractors, and CPA's.

Written on Fort Craig Controversy: Administrators, school board and parents offer their perspectives:

in response to sam3rd:

First, congratulations to most of you on your ignorance.
I am a recent graduate of the Maryville system and a proud graduate of Fort Craig and let me be the first to tell you that most of the "facts" that you are throwing up on this post are completely false. I will (obviously) admit that the statistics that you give are valid and provide a great point but the majority of the argument is based on "he said, she said" about rumors that are flying around like this is middle school--not a conversation between adults. I can understand people's anger and frustration but let's get to the root of the cause--which was clearly stated multiple times in the article for those of you who "conveniently" overlooked it--money. No one (well except Denny, perhaps) will deny that Fort Craig students perform at a higher standard than the other elementary schools but no one seems to be bothered by the "why" of the statistic. The numbers that were previously given mean nothing without context. And here is the context--Fort Craig students perform better because the environment is more conducive to this. The classroom sizes are smaller which leads to a smaller teacher: student ratio so there is more one-on-one attention. The only problem with this--its super expensive and money is the driving force behind the proposed closing of the school. Many of the previous comments talk about how Stephanie Thompson doesn't like Fort Craig and wants to see it closed but has anybody heard her say this specifically? I didn't think so. Before we continue to throw around vicious rumors about the "village idiots" on the school board, why don't we stop being ignorant bloggers and do something productive about it? I am writing on here because I find the previous comments from the "educated" public to be humorous in their ignorant discourse. The entire thought that Mrs. Thompson was groomed to be Director of Schools to specifically shut down Fort Craig from the beginning is completely invalid and honestly laughable, but agentorange007, I suppose that if your "fruitcake" of a neighbor said it, it must be true. You might want to go take a quick intro to psychology course where the first thing you will learn is that correlation doesn't lead to causation...aka your coincidences are merely that--coincidences.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Would there be any more credibility to the claims if that "nutty" parent was also a Maryville City Schools employee?

Since you are a recent graduate of MCS and Fort Craig, you must be relatively young. Wise up kid and take a look at how the real world works.

Written on Fort Craig Controversy: Administrators, school board and parents offer their perspectives:

in response to POLITICALLYNEUTRAL:

I don't have the research but I would like to see these "lottery" results on paper. If you believe it is a lottery then I have a goose that lays golden eggs for sale.

How much do you want for it?

Written on Fort Craig Controversy: Administrators, school board and parents offer their perspectives:

in response to POLITICALLYNEUTRAL:

FortCraig:------66-----64----------63------------------64---
SamHouston:-61-----62----------61------------------60---
Foothills:-------58-----61----------60------------------60---
JohnSevier:---57-----59----------60------------------58---

The scores should be a lot better since the student population is hand picked! I would put FHE up against any school for overall education. I hate that the elitist have to give up their own little world of a school but the schools have to tighten the belt like everyone else. I am soooooo tired of hearing about how much better Ft Craig is than the other elementary schools and those "other" schools should be mad as heck at the back-handed insults being thrown by the members of the Ft Craig Cultist that rant and rave. All I can say is way to go Director Thompson, Denny Garner and Christy Sayles! stand your ground and close this publicly funded private school.

Funny but I would have thought that Foothills with it's brand new building and zoned for the high dollar elistist neighborhoods like Cross Creek, Royal Oaks, Oxford Hills, and Wimbledon would be blowing everyone into the weeds.

Let's do the math for Fort and Foothills, Foothills, shall we:

Math: 66 - 58 = 8; 8/58 = 13.8% higher score
Reading/Language: 64 -61 =3; 3/61 = 5% higher
Social Studies: 63 -60 = 3; 3/60 = 5% higher
Science: 64 -60 = 4; 4/60 = 6.7% higher
Those are statistically significant percentages, especially that 13.8% in math.

The parents of the other "cookie cutter" schools should be mad as heck that their schools have not adopted innovative 21st century educational methods. If they did, there would be no need for a school like Fort Craig. They should be directing their jealousies to the principals, schools director, school board, and the city council for an "excellence culture" in ALL schools. There is no reason it can't be done. The same people you are cheering for are the ones letting you down!

For the last time, Fort Craig students are not "hand picked" elitists. Every child is picked from a lottery with higher priority for socioeconomically disadvantaged children.

For sure, there are some kids from millionaire families attending there. There are also many more kids whose families fall below the poverty level line. And there is a spectrum of socioeconomic diversity in between. The one thing each of these families have in common is that they put a high premium on education and feel that Fort Craig is a better elementary school "choice."

Again, I wish that all schools were more like Fort Craig. Then I believe test scores would not only equalize but improve systemwide. Isn't that what all of us want in the first place?

Written on Fort Craig Controversy: Administrators, school board and parents offer their perspectives:

The City of Maryville has money--a lot of it.

http://www.ci.maryville.tn.us/Pam/FY1...

The City’s total Cash and Investments of $48,063,125 at June 30, 2010 is classified below:
Table 1: Total Cash and Investments at June 30, 2010

Petty and working cash $ 2,500
Local financial institutions – checking and savings accounts 10,212,159
Cash held by investment firms 116,930
Certificates of Deposit 4,600,000
State of Tennessee Local Government Investment Pool 20,819,207
Investment in federal, state, and local government securities 12,312,329
Total Cash and Investments $ 48,063,125

Written on Fort Craig Controversy: Administrators, school board and parents offer their perspectives:

in response to MrBuds:

Mr. Garner's argument is also that Fort Craig students do not grow academically at the rate that the other schools do. What he is not telling is that all of the students test scores are averaged together to get the total; that includes the special needs students who the school requires to take the TCAP tests. He also says FC is not socioeconomically diverse and because of that, FC should be blowing the other schools out of the water. My point in stating all this: Is this really about $$$? Apparently not with him. He has personal reasons for wanting the school closed. His children once went to FC, but after a disagreement with an administrator, he pulled them out and has been against the school ever since then. That is not rumor; just ask him. I feel it is a conflict that he even gets a vote on this!

Sounds like Mr. Garner has got that socialist "life is unfair" chip on his shoulder.

Once again, the numbers do not lie. If one was to study the makeup of Fort Craig's student body, almost exactly 1/3 is from the Foothills district, 1/3 is from Sam Houston, and 1/3 from the John Sevier zone. I don't know how more diverse one can get than that.

Also, the Fort Craig lottery is configured such that those children who qualify for reduced/free school lunch have a higher priority. Why these families do not take advantage of the situation, I do not know. Maybe it is just plain parental apathy. Some have suggested transportation is a barrier. If so, that is a responsibility of the school system and not the school.

Interesting point about Mr. Garner holding a longstanding grudge. What is Christi Sayles' beef?

Written on Fort Craig Controversy: Administrators, school board and parents offer their perspectives:

in response to tennessee7:

would be interesting to see what the test scores are for each of the elementary schools.

Since you asked....

Tennessee Department of Education Report Card

---------------------2009---------------------
--------------Math---Read/Lang--Social Studies---Science

FortCraig:------66-----64----------63------------------64---
SamHouston:-61-----62----------61------------------60---
Foothills:-------58-----61----------60------------------60---
JohnSevier:---57-----59----------60------------------58---

Years 2006-2008 tell the same story but are not included here because I am too lazy to type all of that data.

I guess school board member Denny Garner is WRONG. Fort Craig is NOT average when scores are compared to the other schools.

Got to http://www.tn.gov/education/reportcard/
and one can compare school systems and schools.

Written on Fort Craig Controversy: Administrators, school board and parents offer their perspectives:

Like many families, we searched the Knoxville metro area for the best schools and moved to Maryville specifically to attend Fort Craig. We were sorely disappointed when the lottery did not favor us. I was not impressed at all with the school for which we were zoned. But fortunately a spot opened up at Fort Craig and we were elated! My kids have thrived at Fort Craig and actually look forward to going to school! That was one of the goals that founding principal Laryy Holt desired. Despite what Stephanie Thompson says, the Fort Craig learning culture is different enough to make, well..., a difference.

When my 4th grade daughter started Kindergarten at Fort Craig, in the very first week another parent told me she hoped we would get to "finish out" at Fort Craig. I asked her what she meant. She said that Stephanie Thompson was being groomed to take over the top spot when then schools director Mike Dalton retired. When he did retire, there would be a sham search for a new director but Thompson would be unaminously selected. She would then move to shut Fort Craig down ASAP. Why? She apparently didn't like it from the beginning. I thought this other parent was nutty as a fruitcake at the time but her predictions are turning out to be remarkably spot on!

The visionary triad of Gary Hensley, Mike Dalton, and former school boards started Maryville City Schools on a path to excellence. The new triumvirate of Greg McClain, Stephanie Thompson and the majority of the current board could more aptly be called the "village idiots." They have already started Maryville City Schools down the slippery slope of mediocrity.

Since I am being critical, I would be remiss if I did not offer a proposed solution.

Since John Sevier has the highest percentage of free/reduced school lunch students, and since these kids are at increased risk for academic difficulties, I would propose a combination neighborhood school/school of choice. Convert the entire school to the Fort Craig program, allot a percentage of enrollment to zoned students and another percentage to students "city wide" as a "school of choice" like Fort Craig is now. Advantages: more students (especially at risk) could benefit from the Fort Craig culture, property values in the John Sevier district go up, and Maryville City Schools get their new intermediate school.

Written on Rick Wilson won’t lead new Maryville intermediate school:

I guess he got the same "I am the new schools director--hear me roar talk" that former Fort Craig principal Pete Carter and former MIS principal Jan Click got.

Written on Forget Valentine’s Day and show a little love for teachers:

Excellent article!

We have a couple of schools in Blount County who are making silk purses out of sow's ears for the very reasons you stated. To reiterate: truly passionate and innovative teachers and a "can do--I think I can" family oriented school culture that empasizes personal accountablility at all levels. What truly perplexes me is why on Earth do the school systems not try replicate this "good to great" mindset systemwide? Why are the parents of these schools not demanding it?

The school systems are bringing in this motivational speaker again (Bill Daggett was here in 2006) to get everybody fired up again about changing the education paradigm. In the mean time, the Maryville City Schools is trying to shutter the type of excellent school he advocates. Go figure.

Written on Educational guru Bill Daggett to bring ‘relevance and rigor’ message to Maryville:

The "rigor and relevance" model seems very similar to the Integrated Thematic Instruction/Highly Effective Teaching (ITI/HET) model that has been used at the Fort Craig School of Dynamic Learning for nearly 20 years. In fact the creator of ITI/HET, Susan Kovalik, is a staff member of the Center for Leadership in Education. Maryville City Schools is bringing this guy in but wants to take a step backwards and close Fort Craig? Awkward, to say the least!

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