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Blueberries Added to Growning List of Local Produce in Madison SchoolsPosted by John Peck on 9/9/2019
Madison City Schools is a leader in the growing Farm-to-School program in Alabama.
Apples, watermelons, oranges, cantaloupe and melons have been among the locally grown produce served in school cafeterias since the initiative began several years ago.
Liberty Middle cantaloupe & blueberries from local farms
Friday, a new staple made its debut at Liberty Middle School - fresh blueberries from a farm in Cullman. Cantaloupe from Chilton County was also served.
The berries were picked this summer by volunteers led by LMS teacher Jane Haithcock from the Bagwell Blueberry Farm in Cullman.
(WZDX Fox 54 story: https://bit.ly/2m80yIY)
WAAY-31 story: https://bit.ly/2kCtM25
Cameron Clark, CNP supervisor for Madison City Schools
But in a twist from other fresh fruit offerings, they were immediately frozen rather than served days from harvest. The freeze-storage is part of a pilot project MCS was tasked to lead testing the practicality of picking, then freeze-storing produce to stretch their season of availability.
“One of the challenges of farm-to-school initiatives is being able to find ways to store the produce to serve beyond the growing season,” said Marty Tatara, coordinator of the Child Nutrition Program in Madison City Schools. “If schools and growers can find a way to manage that, markets can grow to make farm-to-school produce more economical and nutritious to serve over a longer period of time.”
The Farm Food Collaborative is a project of the Food Bank of North Alabama that serves as a local food hub to get locally grown fruits and vegetables into local schools.
The buy-local focus supports local farmers. It can also reduce nutrition depletion from long storage and shipping times.
"Base 10" Activities Part of Character Learning at WMESPosted by John Peck on 8/30/2019
West Madison Elementary held a "boot camp" today with activities centered around behavioral and character learning.
Faculty got in the act dressing in camo and staging obstacle courses built around lesson plans.
There were no stern orders at this boot camp. Kids delighted in the activity and seemed to soak up the lesson at each station.
The Base 10 Behaviors covered disciplines such as Being the Best You, Learning from your Mistakes, Be Self-Motivated, Respecting Other Opinions, Showing Respect with Actions, Honesty, Manners, Speaking and Active Listening Skills and Taking Pride in Self, Work and Community.
Faculty designed the program after attending the Ron Clark Academy for Educators. The goal of faculty and staff is to have students leave WMES with the basic social skills that are essential throughout their life. That journey to excellence starts with a strong BASE, as in Base 10.
WAFF-48 and WHNT-19 covered today's event.
Local Legislators/BOE Members, Visit BJ and DMS ClassroomsPosted by John Peck on 8/27/2019
Madison lawmakers and several MCS Board members got a taste of school life today, visiting classrooms and hearing students explain their coursework and school experience.
BJHS Biomedical Internship class
The visit gave a hands-on perspective of some of the great instruction going on in our schools.
It also gave students the opportunity to meet and discuss issues with area leaders and offer opinions on ways to improve the school experience.
The tours at Bob Jones High School and Discovery Middle were coordinated by MCS Secondary Instruction Coordinator Sharon Powell with input from principals and their assistants.
A similar tour is planned next month at James Clemens High School and Liberty Middle.
The entourage of visitors included State Sen. Tom Butler, State Rep. Mike Ball, Triana Mayor Mary Caudle and Board members Travis Cummings and Luis Ferrer.
At Bob Jones, the group dropped in a Biomedical Internship Class taught by Melinda Lawson, an Intro to Engineering Design Class taught by Jessye Gaines, an AP Research Class taught by Debora Scott; greeted custodians and CNP workers; and spoke with a student panel.
The student discussions centered mainly on all the AP class offerings, internships, and juggling schoolwork with extra curricular activities. Students then had a chance to question legislators about various policy issues.
DMS STEM Class
The DMS visit included a visit to the bandroom and a meeting with school custodial and CNP workers. The group dropped in Laura Collins' Code Space class, Sara Baragona's Digital Publishing class, the Medical Detectives class taught by David Sippel and a STEM class taught by Amanda Haynes.
Student panel at BJHS
BJHS Intro to Engineering Design Class
Medical Detectives Class at DMS
CodeSpace Class at DMS
Digital Publishing Tools class at DMS
Random Scenes From The 1st Day of SchoolPosted by John Peck on 8/7/2019 12:55:00 PM
Madison City Schools got off to a fantastic start for the 2019-20 school year.
School staff and administrators shared snapshots from the schools.
Pledge in Ms.. Baragona's class at Discovery Middle School
Student dropoff at Horizon Elementary
"Boo hoo" room at West Madison Elementary for parents
Students catching up from summer at Bob Jones High School
Crowded hallway at Mill Creek Elementary
Getting directions at Liberty Middle School
A tranquil James Clemens High School before student arrivals
Student manned help table at James Clemens High School
SRO with a smiling early learner at the MCS PreK Center
PreK Administrator Nichole Phillips directing traffic at dismissal
Spirited welcome back greeting at Rainbow Elementary.
Learning under way at Heritage Elementary
Student at Madison Elementary with "Buzz," the hornet mascot
Keeping students safe in school zones.
America's Best High Schools Report ranks Bob Jones, James Clemens, Near Best in Alabama & NationPosted by John Peck on 5/13/2019
Madison City Schools once again placed both high schools on the U.S. News & World Reports list of America's Best High Schools.
Bob Jones and James Clemens were among 17,245 of 23,000 high schools nationwide in the 2019 rankings.
Bob Jones placed 555 nationally and 5th in Alabama.
James Clemens placed a close 7th in Alabama and 674th nationally out of the 23,000 high schools.
The study gave BJHS a composite score of 96.78 out of 100 and JCHS a razor close 96.09 out of 100. Their performance puts BJHS in the top 2.4 percent and JCHS in the top 2.9 percent of all of America's High Schools.
The rankings are a measure of college readiness, math & reading efficiency and performance, underserved student performance, college curriculum breadth and graduation rate, and more. You can read the overall report here: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/national-rankings
Access the school reports in the following links.
School Board Members Key to Success of Madison City SchoolsPosted by John Peck on 5/10/2019
Madison City Schools Board members are front and center of all things Madison City Schools.
You see them at board meetings, school plays and band performances. They are at the football stadium and in bleachers at swim and dive competitions.
You might catch one reading to a class, speaking to a PTA meeting or advocating for schools at a City Council meeting.
They attend graduations, school carnivals, EL summer classes and greenpower events. They meet with legislators and city leaders to discuss school issues, undergo board training and attend conferences away from their family.
They are our Board of Education members.
We are most grateful for their leadership and selfless service - all without receiving even a dime of compensation.
See this brief board appreciation video from all of our schools: https://youtu.be/VTFZt4if1ng.
Board President Ranae Bartlett shared the following on how the Madison City BOE does its job:
Madison City’s Board is unique in that its members are appointed by its City Council to represent the residents of Madison at-large.
That means each individual school board member is charged to make decisions in the best interests of all Madison City students, not just those of a particularly geographic zone.
Each board member is appointed to staggered five-year terms. One of five board members is up for appointment or reappointment each year, and the term of office begins on June 1.
Each member of the Board of Education in Madison serves without compensation. Since the formation of the school system in 1998, the Board of Education has elected not to receive compensation so that its work is done in the true nature of public service.
The Board of Education appoints the Superintendent and Chief School Financial Officer and selects Board counsel. The Board also works with the superintendent in setting the strategic plan and vision for the school system, and establishes policies as part of its governance role.
Our Board of Education is highly engaged in our school system, each member having had or currently has children attending school in Madison. Board members actively participate on numerous committees and are present at numerous school and district activities throughout the school year.
Meet our Board:
Ranae Bartlett – President
Ms. Bartlett is in her second five-year term and third as President of the Board. She has one son who attended Rainbow Elementary, Discovery Middle, and entering his senior year at Bob Jones High School. Upon graduating from law school, she clerked for Chief Judge Politz on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Prior to moving to Madison, she was employed as Assistant General Counsel of Wal-Mart Stores, and then became the career law clerk to U.S. District Judge C. Lynwood Smith, Jr. in Huntsville. She retired from that position and began service on the School Board in 2011. When she is not at a school-related event, she is usually coaching chess and running chess tournaments in Madison and Huntsville.
Tim Holtcamp, Vice President
Mr. Holtcamp is the Vice-President of the Board, Chair of the Policy Committee, Safety & Security Committee, and member of the Finance Committee. He is in his first term on the Board. Mr. Holtcamp has an engineering degree from Auburn University. He is employed as a Senior Engineer and Intelligence Analyst at Parsons Government Services. His daughter graduated in 2019 from James Clemens and his son is entering his sophomore year. His other son attends Columbia Elementary. When Mr. Holtcamp is not at a school function, you probably will see him running a swim meet in our community.
Mr. Greg Hulsey was appointed to the BOE in 2019 and sworn in June 6. He previously served on the Madison City Schools Capital Planning Committee. He is a graduate of the Leadership Greater Huntsville Focus Program. Mr. Hulsey is Chief Executive Officer of Maynor & Mitchell Eye Center and the Eye Surgery Center of North Alabama in Huntsville. He earned his Bachelors in Commerce and Business Administration from the University of Alabama; and both a Master of Science in Health Administration and Master of Business Administration degree from UAB. He is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives and recognized as a Certified Medical Practice Executive by the Medical Group Management Association.
Mr. Hulsey and his wife, Tara, moved to Madison in 2016 along with their daughters Ainsley (James Clemens High School), and Haley (Liberty Middle). They attend Asbury Methodist Church in Madison.
Mr. Ferrer is serving in his third year on the Board. His son attended Pre-K at Rainbow, attended Columbia Elementary in grades K-2, and is now a 5th grader at Heritage Elementary. His daughter has attended Madison and Columbia Elementary, Discovery and Liberty Middle, and now is a junior at James Clemens High School. Mr. Ferrer is a former Triana Town Council member. He earned a Master’s in Business Administration, with a concentration in accounting, and graduated with honors from the Inter-American University in Puerto Rico and also earned a Bachelor’s in Science, with a concentration in Electronic Engineering. He is currently employed at the Missile Defense Agency on Redstone Arsenal. Mr. Ferrer serves on the Board’s Capital Planning, Finance, and Special Education Committees.
Mr. Cummings is in the second year of his term. He has one son who attended Horizon Elementary, Discovery Middle and now is a sophomore at Bob Jones High School. Mr. Cummings serves on the Capital Planning, Policy, and Special Education Committees. He has a Master's Degree in Community and Regional Planning from Alabama A&M University. He is employed as the Zoning Enforcement Coordinator for the City of Huntsville's Planning Department.
Registration/Zoning/ Attendance The Front Lines of Any School SystemPosted by John Peck on 5/9/2019
Long before students enter the door of a Madison City school, chances are, Dorinda White has had dealings with them.
Probably not directly, but in ensuring that each is a resident of Madison or Triana and assigned to the correct school zone.
Mrs. White oversees Student Services. Her official position is Coordinator of Strategic Initiatives, Attendance and Community Relations.
That catch-all title includes registration/re-enrollment, student attendance, school calendar development, and rallying the district-wide fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. She also helps create school rezoning models when zone lines are proposed for realignment.
Dorinda White deals with registration & enrollment, calendar,
school zone lines, St. Jude campaign, attendance.and discipline.
Managing registration and re-enrollment is a huge task. It’s increasingly getting tougher with 11,000-plus students and more people attempting to falsify addresses to get in Madison schools. It’s the part of her job that parents expect the most accountability. As each school year comes to a close, she works with school registrars and the technology department on protocols to make the online process as easy as possible.
Day in and day out mostly in the spring-summer months, Mrs. White and her staff work with registrars at the schools processing and verifying registrations and re-enrollments. Part-time help is enlisted to assist those having trouble and to also help verify proof-of-residency documents.
Required lease, utility and property tax receipts are all verified for authenticity. Follow-ups are needed in many cases to prove residency. That would include instances like a house under construction or a temporary living arrangement with a legal resident.
Accurate student rolls are important in determining how many teachers and other resources are needed at each school.
Dorinda White reviewing school registrations with Horizon Elementary
Principal Rodney Richardson & clerical aid Betty Anderson.
Mrs. White’s job also oversees attendance with help from LaTwan Lynch, the school system's attendance officer. Alabama law is very specific for student attendance. They work with schools and parents to limit chronic absenteeism (missing about 2 days a month for any reason) and truancy (absent without an excused reason).
* Children chronically absent in kindergarten and 1st grade are much less likely to read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade.
* By 6th grade, chronic absence is a proven early warning sign for students at risk for dropping out of school.
* By 9th grade good attendance can predict graduation rates even better than 8thgrade test scores.
Another responsibility is the drafting of a school calendar each year that sets school start and end dates, holidays, weather days and half-days.
Utilizing the criteria set by the Alabama Department of Education and working with a local committee, a calendar draft is presented to the board and then the public for review.
Receptionist aid Nancy Jackson greeting a new family from
Birmingham starting the enrollment process
Marcia Layne accepting residency verification papers
LaTwan Lynch, Registrar/Attendance Manager, assisting new
family with enrollment.
Feeding Bodies & Minds; CNP Food Services Serves Up A Big Responsibility to LearningPosted by John Peck on 5/8/2019
Each day even before many students awake, school cafeteria employees are at work preparing meals for them.
Madison City Schools is the largest food service in town. MCS Cafeteria workers serve approximately 6,000 lunches and 1,000 breakfasts daily. That’s over 1
million meals annually across 11 schools and the Pre-K Center.
That’s a lot of bellies getting filled and minds being nourished.
As Coordinator of the Child Nutrition Program, Marty Tatara has a plateful of responsibilities.
CNP Coordinator Marty Tatara with PreK kitchen manager Shirl Hopgood
She works with food distributors and a staff of nearly 70 school lunchroom
workers to keep kitchens equipped, freezers running and pantries stocked - often
with just-in-time deliveries.
Kitchens must be staffed and trained not only in food preparation but handling,
storage and cleaning as well. Menus have to be well planned for public posting
and to meet nutritional and pricing guidelines.
Students enjoying lunch at the Madison City 1st Class PreK Center
Mrs. Tatara and her bookkeeper, Danielle Orlando, maintain thousands of student accounts from both pre-pay and pay-as-you-go transactions. Food must be bid and fit within budget.
CNP workers are aware of the stereotype that school meals are bland.
But spend a day in these kitchens and you’ll find workers aren’t just throwing together pizza or chicken nuggets. Many attend workshops led by culinary chefs to learn seasoning and cooking techniques. They take pride in their work and learn students by name. Staffers often post fun food facts near serving lines and display holiday-themed decorations.
Madison City Schools began an initiative in 2014 to acquire more locally grown
produce. The district was already getting periodic shipments. A farm-to-schools
collaborative expanded deliveries of sweet potatoes, melons, oranges, tomatoes, peaches and apples from local growers.
The initiative improves freshness and nutrition while boosting the local economy. Community feedback on the farm-to-schools program has been overwhelmingly positive. Scott's Apple Orchard has visited school lunchrooms to show a fun video and answer questions about apple production.
Madison City Schools CNP worker preparing food in culinary training
The Madison City CNP is self-supporting, generating its own money and
paying essentially the full cost of operating this massive program. Parents are
welcomed anytime to join their kids for lunch and try one.
Meals remain a bargain. Breakfasts are $1.75 for K-12 students.
Lunches are $2.65 for PreK-5 students; $2.90 for grades 6-12; $3.60 for faculty, staff and volunteers; and $4.60 for visitors.
Parents can set up an account through www.paypams.com and make deposits for
their child to make purchases from. There is also free and reduced-price
availability for students at or below the poverty line. Weekly menus and other CNP information can be accessed here: http://www.madisoncity.k12.al.us/?DivisionID=7840
The lunch serving line at Heritage Elementary
The recently renovated and expanded cafeteria at Liberty Middle
CNP workers prep ccookies, always a hit with students
Food delivery to Bob Jones High School.
Keeping food pantries stocked for menu demands is a big task
Horizon Elementary CNP worker preparing locally grown watermelon
Samantha Ledington, Discovery Middle, with fresh oranges from Satsuma, Ala.
School Resource Officers Vital to MCS SuccessPosted by John Peck on 5/6/2019
A School Resource Officer holds a job with many roles but with the ultimate responsibility of protecting students.
The various roles may encompass teaching a class about drugs, directing hall or parking lot traffic, helping quarreling students work through their dispute, building a rapport with students, and always keeping an eye out for threats.
For thousands of students across Madison City Schools, the first adult they may see each day at school is not a principal or a teacher.
It is an SRO.
SRO Supervisor Sgt. Clayton Jordan signing an arm cast of a young student, who excitedly ran up to him with a marker
School Resource Officers are as much a part of the school fabric as the teachers, principal, librarians, cafeteria servers and any other employee that students come in daily contact with.
One of the main benefits of having a regular presence in an assigned school is relationship-building with students. The idea is to build a trust so that students/parents feel comfortable to share a personal or external concern.
An SRO is a career law enforcement officer who is deployed in the community-oriented policing. They are assigned by the police department or agency to work in collaboration with the schools.
SROs are sworn law enforcement officers who are selected and properly trained to the school environment.
The SRO program utilizes the “Triad” approach to school–based policing.
What is meant by Triad?
If you could see an image of the SRO, Triad would look like a Triangle. One side would be that of counselor/mentor, another side would be a teacher and the final side would depict a law enforcement officer.
SRO at Liberty Middle walking with students asking about their day and how classes are going. Relationship building is a key to SRO effectiveness in schools.
The SRO program is much more multi-faceted than simply placing a law enforcement officer in school hoping that all programs related to school safety will be solved.
An effective SRO program has officers who become a regular part of the school community and are viewed and treated like another faculty member. The SRO is involved in the school community in a variety of functions:
* A visible active law enforcement figure on campus dealing with any law related issues.
* A classroom resource for instruction in law enforcement and other areas of their expertise.
* A member of the faculty and administrative team working hand-in-hand to solve problems in the school community.
* Someone who builds relationships with students.
* A resource to teachers, parents and students for law related concerns and questions.
SRO greeting kids arriving at Madison Elementary
An SRO is not a disciplinarian of school sanctions. That is the responsibility of administration and should remain as such.
Currently the Madison Police Department has full time SROs in the high schools and middle schools, as well as SRO coverage for all the elementary schools. Sgt. Clayton Jordan is supervisor over the unit.
During the month of June, the unit sponsors a “Kids Camp” for 5th graders who have completed the “Too Good for Drugs” program. The camp give kids the opportunities to mingle with officers of the unit and meet other officers from the department.
Above and Below: Officers at a Too Good For Drugs graduation at Madison Elementary
Police Chief David Jernigan, 2nd from left, joins officers at graduation ceremonies of a Too Good For Drugs class
SRO officers enjoy working with students in all grade levels. It is their way of building that bridge to remind the students that all the officers of the department are here for them if they ever need their assistance.
While not considered part of the SRO unit, school crossing guards are also under the supervision of the police department. SROs often step in to assist with school crossing duties when regular crossing guards are not available.
All in all, Madison City Schools treasures its relationship with SROs and all units of the police department.
Relationship-building with kids at Horizon Elementary
Two SROs are assigned full time to each high school
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall honors SROs
SRO mingling with students at Liberty Middle School
Crosing guards are under supervision of Madison Police but not directly in the SRO program
A Driving Force In Any Good School District: The Transportation DepartmentPosted by John Peck on 5/5/2019
Ken Clark brakes his school bus to a halt by the cluster of young schoolchildren at a neighborhood bus stop.
A parent tips her mug hello while patting her child toward the open door. "That warm coffee is appreciated on cool mornings," he responds.
Clark greets each child by name as they pivot past him down the aisle of seats.
"Good morning Briana."
"What's up, Caleb?"
"Where's my smile, Janell?"
"James! Glad you're back with us today, buddy."
Ken Clark's view as he approaches a bus stop.
In the eight years Clark has been a bus driver for Madison City Schools, he's gotten to know most of "his kids" well.
It's that family connection that sets Madison City Schools' transportation department apart from systems that contract their bus service to private carriers.
Recognizable by their iconic yellow paint, school buses serve a vital - and sometimes underappreciated - role in the mission of educating our youth.
Kids waiting curbside as a school bus approaches. Staggered school starts allow buses to run both elementary and secondary routes.
Each day, throughout the school year in Madison City, more than 5,000 students are delivered to and from school. For some students, this is their only means of transportation. This number goes up if you include the 1,000-plus trips to athletic events, academic competitions, and various other extra-curricular activities.
Bus drivers are the first, and last, school employee many kids see each day.
Transporting our community’s most precious commodity is a huge responsibility that requires a great deal of behind the scenes planning, coordination, maintenance and training.
Our transportation staff numbers just over 100, including 64 regular bus drivers, 13 mini-bus drivers and 13 mini-bus aids, 4 certified mechanics, a shop assistant, shop foreman, route specialist, office manager, 2 permanent subs (utility workers), a supervisor and a small pool of subs.
It’s a job we take very seriously which is why the board of Madison City Schools chose not to contract out this service but instead hire its own drivers, bus-aides, and mechanics.
As employees of Madison City Schools, these transportation professionals recognize and embrace their role in serving the students of our district.
Their commitment to safe, reliable and courteous transportation is a testament as to why this was a good decision on the part of the BOE.
Madison City Transportation Specialist Roosevelt Carter.
At the heart of providing school bus service is route planning. It is an ongoing, ever-changing, task that demands routine attention.
Route planning begins with an analysis of data collected from current and past year routes. As families move in and out of neighborhoods, and new subdivisions pop up all over the city, existing routes are tweaked, new routes are added, and some old ones are removed.
Bus stops that may have been in place for years are sometimes moved to accommodate more riders. Great efforts are made so that no student has to walk no further than the state recommended limit of two-tenths of a mile between home and bus stop.
MCS Transportation employees at a child trafficking awareness training.
In addition to seeing that routes serve our entire community, we make sure we have the best, highly trained, and vetted drivers on our buses.
To begin with, all drivers, aides, mechanics, and office personnel go through the same rigorous background screening that our teachers do. When you see your driver on the bus, you can be assured that he or she is CDL certified and has passed an FBI background check and a pre-employment drug screening.
We routinely send our drivers to have random drug and alcohol screenings throughout the year. Our drivers and aides are also required to attend an annual bus driver recertification class that is taught by a state certified instructor.
Mechanics work hard to keep the Madison City bus fleet in tip-top shape.
And, last but certainly not least, great emphasis is placed on the safety and maintenance of our buses. Drivers are required to report every irregular sound, smell, or gauge reading on their bus to ensure there isn’t a serious underlying problem.
Madison’s buses are subject to rigorous, thorough inspections by a state inspector. These annual probes are designed to identify potential maintenance issues before they become problems.
We are proud to say that for the second year in a row, Madison City Schools received a perfect score on our state bus inspections. This is a rare and highly sought after achievement.
It takes a committed team effort to keep the wheels on a bus rolling, safely and efficiently. That’s why we are proud of the service we provide, and will continue to do our very best for the students and families of Madison City.
SRO Sgt. Clayton Jordan, Police Chief David Jernigan, Supt. Robby Parker,
Transportation Specialist Roosevelt Carter, Assistant Supt. Eric Terrell.
About 5,000 students ride buses daily in the Madison City Schools system.
Driver Ken Clark greets a rider by name while offering a fist bump.
Kids filing out of the bus to begin another day of school.