GBEMS working together through departmentalization

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education Local School Improvement Council [LS IC] meeting Monday afternoon at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, principal Ricky Sharp gave a presentation on a new style of teaching for third through fifth grade.

Sharp explained that the third, fourth and fifth grade teachers are rotating their students, and each is focusing on one subject, much like a middle school or high school setting, in hopes to provide a well-rounded education to the students.

“I’m a big advocate for looping – one teacher taking a class all the way through,” Sharp said. “They start with kindergarten and, all the way through fifth grade, they are with the same teacher. I advocate for that because the teachers tend to know where their students left off and every year, when they change a teacher, you lose some time for that teacher to get to know their students.”

While Sharp understands it will be difficult to implement looping at GBEMS, he did start departmentalization, which has shown to be effective.

“By going to departmentalization, those teachers are going to teach the same content area,” he said. “They know where their students were so this is as close as I feel like I’ll be able to get to looping. I hope that you’ll see our scores improve across the board this year and, especially, next year.”

Sharp added that Angela Vandevender is teaching reading; Elaine Sheets, writing; Kim Shinaberry, math; Cheryl Nelson, science; and Kelli Tallman, social studies.

So far, the students have responded well to the program and the teachers are enjoying it, as well.

“Mrs. Nelson has taken science – she really likes the science,” Sharp said. “She likes doing the hands-on projects with the kids. The kids have responded really well with that.”

Sharp also discussed issues the school is having, including a faulty intercom and clock system. He said maintenance is working on the problem to get the issue resolved, but it may require replacement parts.

Sharp yielded the floor to student body president, eighth grader Kelsey Taylor, who gave a report on the school year.

“This year’s school year has been going really well because less people are getting in trouble,” she said. “We have a clear understanding of behavior expectations, which means the rules are easier to understand and follow. Our eighth grade class hasn’t had any write ups, and Mr. Sharp noticed that, and he told us he would reward us for it.”

Taylor said the eighth grade elected to go to the Franklin recreation center to bowl and roller skate. She added that Sharp is rewarding the middle school as a whole with a trip to the movie theater in December.

Several grade levels gave presentations to the board as part of the visit. Kindergarten students performed the class nursery rhymes, “Baa Baa Black Sheep” and “Jack Be Nimble.” Two of Cindy Himelrick’s first grade students presented the class literacy fair project which won first place at the county fair.

Cheryl Nelson’s fourth grade science students gave a presentation on a recent project in which they dissected owl pellets. The students shared their findings and explained the food web of owls.

The board thanked the students and staff for the information and for welcoming them to the school.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Jimena Macedo Luna to remove her child from school, retroactive to October 31 through November 16, for educational leave.

• M. Erin Baldwin to transport the Green Bank Elementary-Middle School eighth grade English/language arts class to the Berglund Center, Roanoke, Virginia, by school bus, departing from and returning to GBEMS on November 16.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Employment of Shane C. Jones as assistant boys basketball coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2018-2019 season, at a supplement of $500. Position pending on sufficient number of players to make a team.

• Creation of position technology systems specialist for Pocahontas County Schools, effective December 3, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year. Term of employment is 122 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.

• Employment of Freda P. McKean as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, effective November 7, for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.

• Reclassification of Caleb Barkley from custodian IV at Marlinton Elementary School to custodian IV/sanitation plan operator at Marlinton Elementary School, effective November 6, 2018 through June 30, 2019.

• Resignation of Kathryn Chandler-Hall as substitute aide for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to October 31.

The next board meeting will be a Local School Improvement Council meeting Monday, November 26, at 3 p.m. at Pocahontas County High School.

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