For some area schools, the theme this year is heavily rooted in change.
Aside from the State Department of Education calling for adjustments in how those responsible for a school’s leadership and instruction are graded and the materials and methods used to deliver and test new information, many students are getting to know unfamiliar teachers and administrators.
Students at Woodall Public Schools have two new administrators and seven new teachers, and the first semester has been going very well, said new Woodall Principal Cris Wyse.
“[We] began the new school year with many new faces among the faculty and staff,” he said. “Superintendent Linda Clinkenbeard served 12 years as the assistant superintendent in Fort Gibson prior to coming to Woodall. [I] was an assistant principal at Wagoner High School for eight years, and high school principal in Warner for three years. Each of the new teachers was selected because of their classroom experience and came highly recommended from previous administrators. When considering all of the changes, the start of school has gone very smoothly and this can be attributed to top-notch educators who are determined to make it a great year at Woodall.”
These new teachers include first-grade teacher Angie Carter, sixth-grade social studies and seventh-grade reading teacher Stephanie Shieldnight, all-grades technology instructor Rick LaBounty, first-grade teacher Stephanie Gragg, third-grade teacher Holly Patterson, sixth- through eighth-grade science teacher Dr. Geary Crofford, and early childhood physical education teacher Nicole Sloat.
Another alteration made in the Woodall system is the early Friday release.
“Preparation for the Common Core State Standards has required us to change our weekly schedule to allow regular, sustained staff development to take place,” said Wyse. “Students are now dismissed at 1:45 [p.m.] on Fridays to allow time for teachers to research new teaching methods and strategies. A significant portion of this staff development is technology driven and requires in-depth instruction and practice.
Students will soon be given the opportunity to transition to tech-driven classrooms. Notebooks have arrived on campus for our sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students, and will be used on a regular basis as an instructional tool in the near future.”
Wyse said Woodall teachers will also be implementing literacy strategies across the curriculum that will require reading, writing, spelling, listening and speaking activities in every classroom.
Students attending Briggs School are taking in newly-constructed areas of the school, while welcoming a new superintendent in 21-year educator Stephen Haynes, said Briggs Principal George Ritzhaupt.
This school year kicked off with a back-to-school celebration that included games, an 18-foot blow-up slide and Jupiter Jump.
“The students toured and viewed the new construction of hallways and classrooms. The students and staff absolutely loved our back to school celebration,” said Ritzhaupt. “Our fifth- and sixth-graders have joined in the departmentalization like our seventh- and eighth-graders have been doing for years. It is working out great, and the students like the change.”
Haynes is entering his 13th year in the role of superintendent, Ritzhaupt added.
Briggs started the CCSS transition last year with its kindergarten classes and has extended the application of the new teaching strategies and student activities this year through the second grade.
“We also have grades three through eight teaching to the Common Core State Standards,” said Ritzhaupt. “If a standard that is no longer taught in that grade level, but we are still assessed over that standard on the Oklahoma Core Curriculum Test/Criterion Reference Test, we teach that standard, too.”
Tenkiller Public Schools Superintendent Randy Rountree said the beginning of the school year was frictionless.
“Tenkiller has had a very smooth start to the new school year. Students and staff are excited about this year’s possibilities for student success,” he said. “Tenkiller still offers an exciting after-school program with emphasis on homework and tutoring the first hour, various activities and clubs the second hour. Tenkiller also offers before-school care and monitoring starting at 6:45 a.m. each day. ”
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