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    DISTRICT UPDATE 5-23-22

    Dear Parents,

    What a great week we had celebrating our graduating seniors and sending them off to start the next chapter in their lives. Here’s a snapshot of their performance.
    Madison City Schools is ending the year once again with more students than we started with - approximately 400 . It is gratifying to be in a district of high demand rather than one in decline. Starting May 26, students who are new to Madison City Schools can begin enrolling. Re-enrollment for returning students will begin a few weeks later on a day to be announced. Please remember that re-enrollment is required for EVERY returning student and is not to be confused with course selection which was done earlier at the schools. Re-enrollment helps with address verification and keeping demographic information as up-to-date as possible.   

    As a reminder, the last day of school is Wednesday, May 25. This is a half day for all students. Dismissal times are: 10:30 for PreK; 11 for elementary; 11:45 for middle and high schools. Tomorrow (Tuesday, May 24) is a half day for high school students ONLY due to final exams, with a dismissal time of 11:45. Elementary and middle schools will be on the regular schedule that day.

    Madison City Schools is encouraging your student to continue their educational journey over the summer using their district-issued Chromebook. Please have your student reference links in the MCS Bookmarks chrome folder for education resources provided by the district. To enter trouble tickets for your Chromebooks please visit the MCS Helpdesk website. Summer care instructions are also located on our website. Parents can find great resources located in our elementary instruction site and our secondary instruction site. At the start of next school year, the Chromebooks will need to come back with your student to be used on campus.

    With the school year  ending this week, I want to call your attention to a change that will be coming to our school meal program this fall. The USDA COVID-19 waiver that enabled school systems to provide free breakfast and lunch to everyone is expiring. When school resumes in fall, MCS will return to a pay system. Free and reduced meals will still be available upon completion of an application based on household income. The Free and Reduced applications will be available starting in July for the upcoming school year. Watch for information on that soon from me or on our Child Nutrition Program web page. 

    Summer is fast approaching and once again Madison City Schools will be offering a number of summer learning opportunities for students. Click here for more information: Elementary and Secondary offerings,  EL summer programs, and the summer reading list for grades 6-12.

    The Board of Education this week honored several students for their achievements. I would like to commend JC student Jackson Mitchell for being named the top golfer in Alabama by the Alabama High School Athletic Association. Congratulations are also in order to:

    *The Bob Jones ROTC for strong  finishes in national competition (see names in link);
    *Bob Jones and James Clemens students who graduated on May 20 from the KTECH VR Academy.
    *Bob Jones student Ashwin Prabhakar for receiving the Office of Naval Research Lab Scholarship Award. The International Science and Engineering Fair took place this past week in Atlanta and Ashwin won the Office of Naval Research Lab (USN) Scholarship Award ($15,000). Impressive for this hardworking junior and his engineering teacher Jessye Gaines.

    I will end with both a welcome and goodbye to some great servant leaders.

    I am pleased to announce Mr. Quentin Turner as the new assistant principal at Midtown Elementary. Mr. Turner and his wife, Erica and sons Landon (11) and Locklin (1) were introduced at our May 19th board meeting. He comes to us from New Hope Elementary with prior teaching positions in Tuscaloosa elementary and middle schools. 

    I want to wish Mr. Luis Ferrer all the best. He was a selfless leader on the Madison City Board of Education who always had the students and employees’ best interest at heart in his decision making. I thank him for his five years of faithful service to Madison City Schools.

    Have a great rest of the week,

    Ed Nichols

     

    DISTRICT UPDATE 5-13-22 

    Dear Parents,

    Summer is fast approaching and once again Madison City Schools will be offering a number of summer learning opportunities for students. Click here for more information Elementary and Secondary offerings,  EL summer programs, and the summer reading list for grades 6-12.   

    I look forward to sending off our graduates as they leave Madison City Schools and begin the next chapter in their life. Graduation will take place this Monday, May 16th, at the Von Braun Center: James Clemens starting at 2 p.m. and Bob Jones at 7 p.m. The ceremonies can be viewed via livestream. So far, seniors from Bob Jones and James Clemens have received $61 million in scholarship offers. Scholarships accepted so far total $23.5 million, which averages nearly $40,000 each. I am very proud of every MCS graduate and cannot wait to see where their future takes them.

    If you haven’t done so already, please say a word of appreciation to your school nurse during this National School Nurse Week. They are an integral part of our school system, keeping our students and faculty members safe.

    Even though we are still in the 2021-2022 school year, plans are being laid for next school year. Elementary open houses for the 2022-2023 school year will be on August 1, middle schools on August 9, and high schools on August 11 - all from 5-7 p.m.
    In July, each middle and high school will host a tour of the school. During this time, rising 6th graders and rising 9th graders and students new to Madison City Schools may choose to attend to learn their new school. A date will be announced for middle school tours. The Bob Jones tour will be on July 25th and James Clemens on July 26th. Details on all of these events will be shared closer to the start of school.

    Students in the Madison CEO program showcased their individual businesses last weekend at Signalink. Congratulations to these entrepreneurs: https://www.madisonalceo.com/news

    I had the honor this week of joining Construction Academy students from Bob Jones at the postbox dedication at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. The unique postbox was designed and built by the BJHS students in collaboration with Blue Origin for the postcards to space program. This partnership will inspire young people in their quest for knowledge about our Earth and space.

    Our students excel in every category: arts, academics, athletics. I’d like to commend the following for recent achievements: Yewon Lee at James Clemens for being named a U.S. Presidential Scholar and Jack Mitchell from JCHS for winning Class 7A State Boys Golf Championship, Esports player Joshua Vannoy from Bob Jones for signing with Ole Miss as an Esports athlete, winners from Madison City Schools in the recent Alabama Writers’ Forum contest, Mike Zhang from BJHS on being honored as the Bryant-Jordan Scholar state and regional winner, JCHS students (under the direction of JCHS engineering teacher Allison Epperson) who recently competed at the state convention for the Technology Student Association and placed at the top in many areas, and the DMS Scholars Bowl team competing in nationals in Chicago and advancing through playoffs to finish 8th in the country. 

    Have a great weekend!


    Ed Nichols

     

    DISTRICT UPDATE 5-06-22

    Dear Parents,

    It’s only fitting to end this week’s MCS Update with a big salute to our teachers. May 1-8 is National Teacher Appreciation Week. For the hundreds of teachers in Madison City Schools, I want to personally say how grateful I am for your service. As I look back across my life, I certainly am grateful for the many teachers who cared and supported my life journey. We are blessed in Madison to have the most dedicated and caring teachers who spend countless hours providing our children a truly world class education. I hope you have taken time and thanked your teachers this week. 

    One of the greatest joys of the school year is announcing Teacher and Staff Member of the Year Awards. It is also that time of year when we recognize and thank our retiring teachers and staff members for their dedication and support of the students in Madison City. It is so fitting that we gave these awards and recognitions during Teacher Appreciation Week. Congratulations to our Teachers of the Year: Emily Craig (Rainbow), Julia Nagel (Columbia), Stacy Branson (Heritage), Suzanne Curry (Mill Creek), Jennifer Corley (Midtown), Brittany Morris (Horizon), Bonnie Howard (Madison), Sgt. Mjr. Samuel McCray (James Clemens), Sara DeYoung (Liberty), CMSgt Ellis Clark (Bob Jones), and Jacqueline Willis (Discovery). Congratulations to our Staff Members of the Year: Shannon Pease (Transportation), Jessica Foust (Rainbow), Teashia Garth (Columbia), Kerry McMillen (Heritage), Allyson Willis (Mill Creek), Brooke Jones (Midtown), Joe Mitchell (Horizon), Kimberly Johnson (Madison), Crystal Ward (James Clemens), Latoya Whitehorn (Liberty), Wanda Neilson (Bob Jones), Kemi Loftin (Discovery), and Misty Schikner (Central Office). 

    Congratulations to Kristen Steele, JCHS science teacher, for being named a state finalist for Alabama Teacher of the Year. Mrs. Steele is in the final four. The Alabama State Teacher of the Year will be named next week. 

    Several weeks ago I reported to you that MCS completed district accreditation. These evaluations are done every five years by an outside review team that looks in-depth at practically everything we do: academic performance, policies, budget, auditing controls, operations, student services and more. A five-person review team from Cognia, an international accrediting agency, poured through our documentation and interviewed Madison City stakeholders including students, employees, parents, and community members. I am proud to report that MCS earned the highest level on Cognia’s point scale - a #4 rating - in 29 of 31 standards and a slightly lesser #3 rating out of 4 in the remaining two standards. The Cognia review team also provided an IEQ score (Index of Education Quality). MCS earned a 378.23 out of 400 IEQ, which in lay terms would be a high A. You can read more about the accreditation review in this blog link  by Chief Academic Officer Dr. Heather Donaldson. I want to thank Dr. Donaldson and the entire MCS team who led us through district accreditation. I also want to thank all the principals, administrators, teachers, students, and community members who took part. 

    Our Transportation Department recently earned a perfect score from a rigorous state inspection of its buses. The inspection found zero major deficiencies in its buses. This is the eighth consecutive year MCS has attained this honor. In order to keep students safe, inspectors from the Alabama Department of Education transportation division travel yearly to Madison to look for any major deficiencies in the fleet. This year’s spot inspections covered 92 buses. I want to commend our Transportation Administrator, Dr. Travis Schrimsher, and his team. The staff managed to achieve this feat despite being understaffed and driving bus routes on a daily basis.  The shop members deserve special recognition for their unrelenting commitment to the safety of our students.

    Congratulations to teachers Kimberly Rise at Mill Creek Elementary and Laura Vines at Liberty Middle School for earning an Outstanding Mentor Teacher Award for Spring of 2022 from the UAH College of Education. This award recognizes teachers for their work with teacher interns. They were honored April 26 at a UAH College of Education Intern Reception on the UAH campus. 

    Athletic signings are common this time of year at high schools. But what about for students choosing an academic track in college? The Medical Academy at James Clemens High School held a “signing ceremony” last week for students earning early acceptance into medical schools. What a great way to showcase students who will be our future doctors, dentists, pharmacists and perhaps other healthcare professionals. 

    I am also excited to share that this week we recognized our inaugural welding class at a signing ceremony. Welding was added this spring through a partnership with AIDT and Global Tech. A total of 21 Bob Jones and James Clemens students participated in the program. Several seniors are moving into full-time employment with Polaris, continuing training in welding, or going on to higher education. Congratulations to this outstanding group of students who are helping to fill a tremendous need in industry!   

    Sports programs across the district continue to thrive and grow including our E-sports programs at Bob Jones and James Clemens. Both schools advanced into state finals. I would like to congratulate the BJHS Rocket League E-sports team Fusion for winning its 5th state championship in the recent competition. Congratulations to the BJHS players Joshua Vannoy, Luke Scherer, Max Dunkerley, Mateo Santiago, Jarrett Stephens, and coach Aubree White. The JCHS League of Legends E-sports team went 13-1 in regular season and advanced to AHSAA playoffs where they went on to defeat Sparkman, BJHS, and Thompson but finished runner-up in state championship play. Congratulations to the JCHS players Jackson McWhorter, Abdullah Shaikh, Izaak Stone, Jared Gentil, Daniel Je, Yuyi Li, and coaches Eric Haynes and Pamela Paquette. 

    The AHSAA 7A sectionals Track & Field championship was held last week at James Clemens and here are the complete results by athletes spread across 27 schools. Congratulations to BJ and JC for their performance.
    Students in the Madison CEO program will be showcasing their individual businesses on May 7 from 11-1 at Signalink Click here for more information.

    Have a great weekend!

    Ed Nichols  

     

    DISTRICT UPDATE 4-26-22 

    Dear Parents,

    U.S. News & World Report just released its 2022 Best High Schools rankings.
    Bob Jones and James Clemens once again were near the front of the pack, placing 6th and 7th respectively in Alabama among the nearly 400 Alabama public high schools ranked.
    BJ scored 95.61 and JC a razor close 95.07 out of 100 in the study’s 6-point scale measuring college readiness, curriculum breadth, state assessment proficiency and performance, underserved student performance and graduation rate.

    You will be proud to know that BJ and JC landed in the top four percentile of the 17,840 high schools ranked by the U.S. News and World Report study. Bob Jones ranked 784th nationally and JC 879th nationally. The study actually reviewed 24,000 high schools and assessed rankings to 17,840.

    While this is outstanding news, I would be remiss to not point out that our high schools wouldn’t excel like they do without the excellent performance of our elementary and middle schools. All seven of our elementary schools and both middle schools placed in the top 10 of hundreds of schools in the NICHE 2021-2022 study.
    Education quality at every level helps explain why BJ and JC consistently produce more National Merit Semifinalists each year than almost any other Alabama school district. I am especially honored to report today that two of our seniors - one each at BJ and JC - are U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalists. Only 14 students in Alabama made the cut in this rigorous academic program. Congratulations to Aubteen Pour-Biazar at BJ and Yewon Lee at JC.  Both have attended Madison City Schools since Kindergarten. The legacy of Madison City Schools is a testament to all of the dedicated teachers, support staffs, principals, administrators and board members both past and present.  

    Last week, I mentioned the “Key Communicator Group” that I am starting. Please complete this application if you are interested in becoming part of this group. 

    GoGuardian is utilized to monitor both Madison City Schools devices and Madison City Schools accounts. GoGuardian is a tool used by the District to protect against misuse of student accounts when students are logged into the Chrome browser using Madison City Schools credentials, whether the log-in occurs on a school-provided Chromebook or on a personal device. Student accounts, accessed by using school-provided credentials, are technology resources made available to students for educational purposes. Madison City Schools has provided students with a Chromebook and students are encouraged to use this device as their primary computer for learning.

    April is Autism Awareness month. Share your support for our students and staff with Autism/ASD by wearing blue on April 27. Autism can be challenging but you might be surprised by some of the famous people with ASD/Autism: Albert Einstein, Jerry Seinfeld, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Sir Isaac Newton, Steven Spielberg, Vincent Van Gogh, to name a few.

     Finally, I would like to congratulate Liberty MIddle’s Jane Haithcock for receiving the Valleys Top Teacher Award last week by Fox-54 TV. I would also like to commend BJ golfer Lauren Sheehy and Claire Jeong who golfs for James Clemens for hitting a hole-in-one in recent golf action. Way to go!

    Have a wonderful rest of the week!

     

    Ed Nichols

     

    DISTRICT UPDATE 4-18-22

    Dear Parents, 

    I am very pleased to announce that last week all 11 schools earned the Purple Star designation from the state for our support of military families and students. Madison City Schools has long been a supporter of our military families, wanting to make their time here as welcoming as possible. 

    Congrats to Discovery Middle Principal Jamie Hill and Vanderbilt University athletic director Candice Storey Lee (a former Bob Jones graduate and athletic standout) for being inducted into the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame. Details in this Madison Record report and Fox54 story. Jamie and Candice are representative of the many leaders in our school district who continue to make a difference in the life of others.

    Congrats also to Kristen F. Steele, chemistry teacher at James Clemens High School, for qualifying as District 8 Secondary Teacher of the Year by the Alabama State Department of Education. Ms. Steele is now a “Sweet 16 Finalist” for the 2022-23 Alabama Teacher of  the Year award. The 16 emerged from a group of more than 150 top educators under consideration for this award and soon be pared down to the final Top Four.

    Madison City Schools is hosting a job fair Tuesday, April 19. Principals and administrators will be on hand to answer questions about positions, applying, and offer other insights about working for Madison CIty Schools as teachers, support staff, special education, CNP, bus drivers and other positions.

    Here’s a reminder of some upcoming performances by our drama programs. “Mamma Mia” by Bob Jones High School Theater on April 21st, 22nd at 7 p.m., and April 23rd at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. “Into the Woods Jr. by Discovery Middle is May 6-7 in the DMS gym, 7 o’clock each evening.

    The following policies will be read at the April 26 Board meeting: health precautions, service animals, FERPA, dress code, cameras in self-contained classrooms, and dual enrollment. After a first reading of a policy, the policy is posted on the district website for feedback.

    I plan to establish a “Key Communicator Group” that will meet with me four times a year. This group will include community members, parents, etc. An application will be made available in next week’s update for anyone interested in serving on this committee. 

    Finally, I would like to remind everyone that Monday, April 25, is a weather day that was built into the calendar and there will be no school. This Friday, April 22 is a half-day for students to allow for teacher collaboration. Dismissal times are as follows: PreK: 10:30; elementary, 11; middle and high schools: 11:45.

    Have a great rest of the week.


    Ed Nichols

     

     
    DISTRICT UPDATE 4-12-22

    Dear Parents

    We get a lot of data that helps guide our instruction and shows us how MCS ranks against other school systems.
    Last week, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama released its report on ACT scores from every school system across Alabama.Madison City’s composite score of 22.79 from 2021 ACT tests exceeds the national average of 20.3 and state average of 18.58. While all of these scores are slightly down from the 2020 ACT tests due largely to the pandemic, Madison City Schools continues to be a leader in Alabama.

    Our average ACT score of 22.79 ranks 4th among Alabama’s 138 school districts. This is yet another indicator of the quality of our teachers and instruction. Later this month, I will share with you the result of our recent accreditation review, which looked deeply into all facets of our school system. You will be very pleased with its findings.


    Quality theater is at all levels of Madison City Schools. Last week I promoted Columbia Elementary’s Frozen Jr. performance, as well as the “Midsummer Night’s Dream” play this past weekend at JC and “Mama Mia” by Bob Jones theater April 14-23.
    Today, I call your attention to some theater performances by our middle schools: “Peter Pan” at Liberty Middle and “Into the Woods Jr.” by Discovery Middle. “Peter Pan” is April 15 at 6:30 p.m. at James Clemens High School with tickets available  in this link..
    “Into the Woods Jr”. is May 6-7 in the Discovery Middle School gym, 6'oclock each night. Ticket info here. 

    ELA textbook options are on display for review in schools, but they will also be on display at the district office on April 19 from 5-7 pm and April 20 from 4-6 pm. Forms will be available to leave feedback for each textbook option.

    Our students excel in so many things it is impossible to recognize all of their accomplishments. Here are a few from last week. James Clemens students winning an essay contest by the Madison Optimist Club; Rainbow students placing in national science, history and geography competitions; Discovery Middle students in the Exceptional Learning Program manning a coffee cart each Friday to serve faculty and staff. The “Panther Perk, as it is called, gives them working experience and helps hone their social skills. Liberty Middle School held a Fine Arts Night showcasing its choir, band, jazz band, advanced theater students and student art displays. Check out this Madison County Record story on the recent Science Challenge at BJHS and the wonderful things our  students are doing not only as participants but as organizers for the younger students.    

    Columbia Elementary’s Goblin Car Team finished 2nd overall of 19 teams in a recent greenpower car competition. Congratulations to these students and their coach, Kylie Dunkerley. 

    I would like to congratulate teacher and choir director Alicia Mulloy at Liberty Middle for being featured as the Valley’s Top Teacher by WZDX Fox 54.

    On a final note, Thursday, April 14, is national “Purple Up Day” celebrating our military families in tandem with April being the Month of the Military Child. Everyone is invited to wear purple that day in honor of their service and sacrifices. Also, Madison City Schools is accepting applications for foreign exchange students through April 15.

     

    Ed Nichols

     

    DISTRICT UPDATE 4-1-22 

    Dear Parents,

    I am sending the district update today to make sure you are aware of the Mental Health Summit that was rescheduled to Monday, April 4.The event is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Bob Jones High School. This promises to be another helpful Mental Health Summit filled with useful information and breakout sessions designed from parent feedback. Whether you are just curious, struggling or have a family member who is, this “Diving Deeper” Mental Health Matters event is for you. 

    I would like to congratulate Liberty Middle science teacher Dr. Lori Shrode for being chosen to participate as a Teacher Fellow in the 2022 Northrop Grumman Foundation Teachers Academy. She will join 21 other educators from across the country in a program designed to expand and strengthen STEM education opportunities for students globally. Participants will attend the NSTA National Conference on Science Education this July in Chicago and participate in an immersive internship at their local Northrop Grumman facility to observe and experience critical workforce skills in action. 

    Mark your calendar for some upcoming great theater performances. Today, through Sunday, Columbia Elementary’s Drama Club will present the children’s classic, Frozen Jr. Performances are 7 p.m. today, 2 and 7 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at www.showtix4u.com. James Clemens Theater will perform Midsummer Night’s Dream April 7-9. Bob Jones Theater presents Mama Mia in a series of performances April 14-23. Tickets for the high school performances can also be found at www.showtix4u.com or at the schools.

    Recently, several JCHS students participated in the annual French Convention hosted by the Alabama Association of Teachers of French. Students across the state compete to have their language skills evaluated by language professors from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. This year's event was held online. The awards range from the highest overall score (Grand prix) to Supérieur, followed by Très bien, and finally Bien. JC French teacher Katie Gilliam shared the following results of her students. Alexandria Alford - Written Test level 2 - Très bien; Hannah Bruce - Written Test level 2 - Très bien; Urvi Mysore - Written Test level 2 - Grand prix. Priya Mantraratnam - Oral Competition advanced level - Très bien; Sara Rushing - Oral Competition advanced level - Très bien.

    I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!


    Ed Nichols

     

    DISTRICT UPDATE 3-28-22 

    Dear Parents,

    I hope everyone had a refreshing Spring Break that reinvigorated them for this final stretch. It’s hard to believe we have only eight full weeks until the end of the school year. We are on course for another great year in Madison City Schools. I hope that the challenges of these past two years led by the pandemic are behind us so we can more fully benefit from the great instruction, athletics, arts, and social events that Madison City Schools has to offer. 

    Let me remind you that tomorrow, Tuesday, March 29, is a virtual day for our 9th, 10th and 12th grade students while all 11th grade students take the ACT in-school. This will be an asynchronous virtual learning day for freshmen, sophomores, and seniors and does not affect students in any other grade level.   

    I would also like to remind you of our family Mental Health Matters mental health workshop this Wednesday, March 30. This free mental health forum, titled Diving Deeper, is from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. at Bob Jones High School. There will be tables manned by mental health partners across the community and numerous breakout sessions on issues such as anxiety, depression in youth, supporting children/ teens through loss, family communication skills, trauma and the teen brain, building self confidence and self-image in your students, and more. The keynote speaker is Bob Jones alum Dustin Haraway who will share a story of hope. Visit our website for more information about Mental Health Matters.  

    I am pleased to announce that Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools were awarded grants of $20,000 each from the Alabama Arts Association Initiative. The grant for Bob Jones will go to the theater department. The James Clemens grant will benefit its arts program.

    World Down Syndrome Awareness Day was March 21 and it was heartwarming to see our schools participate in so many creative ways. I especially liked the wild socks students and faculty wore that day symbolizing how every student is unique.

    I would like to recognize the following James Clemens HS German students for their performance on the National German Exam level 3. Anabelle Wadsworth, Carol Anne Spears, Brody Wilhelm were each awarded a bronze medal; Graysen Furber and Marcus Gomez each earned an achievement award. Peggy Boynton is the German and Latin teacher at JCHS.

    The Bob Jones High School Science Academy is a student-led club at BJHS. The group is hosting a Science Challenge at Bob Jones on April 2 that is free for all students who have registered. This is a science-based competition open to all students in grades 3-5 including fun hands-on events, labs, activities, and additional contests. All participants will receive free pizza and snacks, and winners will be awarded prizes such as trophies, medals, T-shirts, and plushies.

    Last week, an administrator from the Office of School Improvement from ALSDE visited Madison to personally honor our latest group of National Board Certified Teachers. I had the pleasure of accompanying Anthony J. Buckner and principals on several of his drop-in visits to their classrooms. The newest NBCTs are Beth Woodard, Madison Elementary; Savannah Lyles, Mill Creek; Lory Schieler and Dr. Lori Shrode, Liberty Middle; Sophia Hall, Rainbow Elementary; Judy Bagwell, Discovery Middle; Stephanie Bostick, Bob Jones HS.; Lauren Cecil and Susan Vest, Midtown Elementary; Peggy Dupree, Central Office. We would like to thank our community partners for supporting our ongoing NBCT program: Committee of 100, Schools Foundation and the Raise Your Hand campaign.

    Congratulations to Puja Chopade of Bob Jones High School for earning a slot this summer in a top science program of MIT’s Research Science Institute.

    Please mark your calendars for April 1, 2, or 3. Those are the dates for the upcoming play, Frozen Jr., by the Columbia Elementary Drama Club. Several cast members gave a sneak preview at our Board meeting last week. The talent was phenomenal. Showtimes and tickets are available at www.showtix4u.com

    Several Bob Jones students had the unique privilege of sitting in on an Alabama Supreme Court hearing this week. The high court held oral arguments on a road show to Huntsville. I want to thank our board attorney, Woody Sanderson, for helping to arrange access for high school students to the hearing at the Von Braun Center. The Huntsville Bar Association invited several other high schools to attend.

    Congratulations to James Clemens students Sarah Vaughn and Will Creech who received Early Medical School Acceptance at UAB and Jayamalika Vadapalli who received Early Dental School Acceptance at UAB. These students were selected out of 400+ applicants. Congratulations to these students on this outstanding accomplishment!

    I would like to recognize Bob Jones students Aparna Bhooshanan and Maanasi Limaye for winning the Award for Aspiring Aspirations in Computing. Each year, the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) recognizes students and educators for their accomplishments and goals in computing and technology. These two BJHS students rose to the top of more than 3,500 high school applications and more than 130 educator applications from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, overseas U.S. military bases, and Canada. The 2022 high school and educator awardees are recognized for their academic excellence, leadership, future goals in computing and technology. Congratulations to Aparna and Maanasi on this outstanding achievement.

    I would like to recognize the Mill Creek Science Olympiad team for their 2nd place finish in a recent team competition. Students competed in individual events to earn points for our team. Our team was one of the smallest in the competition so that meant everyone had to prepare and study for multiple events. Congratulations to the following students and their sponsor Jacqueline Smith: Eiliyah Hafiez, Rhyan Quansah, Erasmus Tettey, John Kowamoto, Kayden Barbour, Shravan Balaji, Avery Seaton, Ananya Bhovi, Caroline Dervan , Joseph Lee, and Ashlyn Langston.

    Congratulations to Mill Creek student Stella Lee who won 2nd place in the Alabama Arbor Day State Poster Contest. Stella received her award from Governor Kay Ivey. She helped Governor Ivey plant a tree outside the state capitol.

    Mill Creek had another recent outstanding performance at the Destination Imagination State Competition. Three Mill Creek teams competed in the Destination Imagination State competition at Discovery Middle School. The Crazy Critters (Sydney Svendson, Kyndall Carter, Khloe Glanzer, Kamryn Govan, Jillian Nolan, Lydia Hosmer and Shravan Balaji) won 2nd place in the Fine Arts category and the Micro-Minis team (Audrey Fanning, Lucy Moultrie, Avery Langston, Danika Nickerson and Lily Sullivan) won 1st place in the Scientific Challenge. The Hyper-Imagination team (Ananya Bhovi, Zach Hossler, Shade Opiniano, Krish Jain, John Kawamoto, Noah Mikolaschek and Nirvan Nagapuri) won 1st place in the Engineering category and won the Da Vinci award for outstanding creativity and using a unique approach to find a solution to their challenge. Congratulations to these students and their sponsor Jacqueline Smith!

    Congratulations to the Bob Jones student staff of The Eclectic and their sponsor Brandy Panagos. Their literary and arts magazine earned a Superior rating at the University of Alabama’s Scholastic Press competition.

    I would also like to recognize the Bob Jones staff of Patriot Pages and their sponsor Brandy Panagos for earning the ranking of All Alabama, which is Alabama Scholastic Press Association's highest distinction. The online news sites are judged for the quality of the writing, photography, multimedia, social media, the design of the website, and the frequency that it is updated.

    I am so proud of all of our students and staff for their amazing accomplishments!


    Finally, I am happy to share that new guidelines have been developed for parent visitations to resume in schools. I would like to thank our principals and Elementary Instruction Coordinator Melissa Mims for working out a plan. Check with your school for details.

    Have a great rest of the week!

     

    Ed Nichols

     

    DISTRICT UPDATE 3-11-22 

    Dear MCS Parents,

    I want to wish all of our MCS families a relaxing and safe spring break! Today marks the end of our 3rd nine-week period. I am looking forward to a strong finish to an exciting school year. With our COVID numbers across the District continuing to fall significantly (This week number is 9), we will no longer update our website with weekly COVID counts. However, we will continue to monitor the COVID positivity rate within the district and update the school community if COVID cases rise substantially. 

    Last night, the Board of Education approved a Virtual Day March 29 for our 9th,10th,and 12th grade students while all 11th grade students take the ACT in-school. This will be an asynchronous virtual learning day for the 9th,10th and 12th graders and does not affect students in any other grade level. All Pre-K through 8th grade students will attend their school as usual on March 29.

    Every five years, school systems in Alabama face an extensive accreditation review by an outside team of professional educators. This week, Madison City Schools went through district accreditation through Cognia, an international accrediting agency formerly known as AdvancED. I am pleased to report that they shared glowing remarks about our district after reviewing hundreds of pieces of evidence, reading narratives about the district, and interviewing 179 stakeholders. I would like to thank the members of the Cognia review team for their kindness, professionalism, and thoroughness throughout this process. I welcome the review and any suggestions for ways in which we can continue to improve and grow. I would also like to thank our teachers and school staff, students, school and district administrators, parents, and community partners for their participation in this process. Click here to read more about the Cognia accreditation review. A final report is expected within 45 business days, which puts the release in early May. 

    Due to the possibility of wintry weather, the SAT administration scheduled to take place tomorrow (Saturday, March 12) at James Clemens High School has been changed to Saturday, March 26. Students should receive information from their school and/or the College Board if they were signed up to take the SAT.

    I would like to express how proud I am of our Cybersecurity teams at Bob Jones and James Clemens. Both will attend a reception by Cyber Huntsville for cyber teams that won regional or state honors at state competition last December. Coaches are Ginger Cochran at JC and Bill McIlwain at BJ. The cyber team wins are just another example of how talented our high schools are in almost every endeavor they compete in. At last night’s Board meeting, we honored the BJ swim & dive teams for being the runner up in state competition. This comes less than a week after the JC basketball team finished 2nd in state tournament action. Both schools share plenty of 1st place awards as do our middle and elementary schools in the many areas they compete in. 

    Congratulations Liberty Middle Lionettes who took 2nd place at nationals for their hip hop routine and 4th place in the nation for their pom routine. Their coach, Courtney Kelley, had this to say about them: “These girls have been outstanding all year, and they make my job an absolute joy. They represented Madison City with poise and perseverance.” The Lionettes are Makayla Feria, captain; Lauren Lane, Lauren Walker, Ramsey Carey, Abigail Baker, Abby Taylor, Brielle Hicks, Vi Lepore, Addison Hankins, and Lily Seay.

    You all know with my band director background how much I love school music performances. I want to congratulate all of our band and chorus students on their recent performances in state assessments. I was able to hear several of these groups, and our students and directors were truly spectacular in their adjudicated scores and performances. We are blessed in Madison City to have outstanding fine arts teachers at all grade levels that expose our students to the love of the arts. I want to also commend the Liberty Middle choir for earning a rating of Superior with Distinction and the overall highest score of all divisions (middle school and high school) at the recent Orlando Fest National Choir Competition. Congratulations to LMS choir director Alicia Moreno Mulloy (Mrs. M&M) and all of the members of the LMS choir. See this link for more awards by the LMS choir

    I hope you all have a fantastic spring break!

    Ed Nichols



    DISTRICT UPDATE 3-8-22 

    Dear MCS Parents,

    As our students and teachers gear up this final week before spring break, I would like to recognize some of the outstanding performances recently in our district.

    Every staff member in our district plays a vital role, but I would like to take a moment to recognize the permanent substitutes in each of our schools. These employees field phone calls and emails from early in the morning until late at night and make sure there is a substitute in every classroom if a teacher is out. Absences due to COVID illness was a challenge earlier in the semester, and our permanent subs worked day and night making sure classes were covered. They also help train new substitutes and make sure they understand the processes and procedures for the school. Thank you to this special group of staff members who make sure that our students are always the top priority. 

    Last Friday, I had the honor of celebrating Discovery Middle math teacher Kelsey Cooper at an awards ceremony for earning a Milken Educators Award. This is a top national award - considered the “Oscars of Teaching” - which only a handful of teachers nationwide receive each year. Milken VP Dr. Jane Foley came in from Santa Monica to join State Superintendent of Education Dr. Eric Mackey, the Board and dignitaries at the surprise, spirited announcement in a packed school assembly.

    I congratulate Ms. Cooper for the hard work and dedication she puts into teaching. We are blessed in MCS to have teachers like her leading students every day on their learning paths. The secret nature of the Milken announcement had the DMS leadership team promote the assembly and Dr. Mackey’s visit as a celebration for Discovery Middle being named the best middle school in Alabama. Not only is DMS named best middle school by the 2022 schools rating organization NICHE, every single Madison City school ranks in the top 10 among elementary, middle and high schools. The Madison City Schools district ranks 2nd best of 138 systems statewide. That is a reflection of the top quality teachers, faculty and admins we have throughout MCS.

    Congratulations to Coach Frankie Sullivan and the James Clemens boys’ basketball team on their outstanding finish as runner up in the basketball state finals.

    I want to say how proud I am that Madison City Schools has not one, but two, schools earn the CLAS Banner School of Distinction awards by the Council of Leaders in Alabama Schools. This is quite an honor. Bob Jones was recognized for its Construction Academy and James Clemens for its student leadership program. You can learn more here: CLAS School of Distinction 

    Last week, I recognized the Bob Jones HOSA students who excelled at the recent HOSA State Leadership Conference in Montgomery. This week, I would like to recognize the James Clemens HOSA students earning top honors at that conference. MCS is proud of these students for their hard work and I know both schools will do well at the international conference this summer in Nashville. HOSA is a national organization of secondary and post secondary students that supports career development in the health industry. Details here

    Congratulations to Katie Crocker for winning the art contest at Madison Hospital in the MyHospital campaign commemorating its 10th anniversary. Katie is a 6th grader at Discovery Middle School. Click the link above to read the story in the Madison Record. Her work is being displayed prominently in the hospital.

    I want to commend Puja Chopade of Bob Jones High School for being the 2022 Alabama Brain Bee champion for the 2nd year in a row. The Brain Bee is a neuroscience competition for high school students held in conjunction with the UAB Neuroscience Day. Five BJ juniors participated this year and three besides Puja were in the top 10: Neha Chopade, Emily Lee, Thais Arslanbekov.

    Our archery teams continue to perform well in competitions.
    Madison City Schools did fantastic at the recent regionals competition at Buckhorn High School. Horizon placed 1st and Mill Creek 2nd in the elementary division, Liberty placed 2nd and Discovery 3rd at the middle schools level, and James Clemens finished 2nd and Bob Jones 4th among high schools. Congratulations to the students and their coaches on their outstanding performances!

    March 6-12 is National School Social Work Week. I would like to recognize the important role school social workers play in our district, linking students and families with community resources, leading parent and teacher education sessions and a host of other support. This year’s theme is “Time to Shine.” Our social workers in MCS shine brightly in helping to meet the needs of families in Madison City Schools. Please join me in thanking Heather Hicks, DeAnna Haataja and Briana Hawkins.

    Have a great week!

     

    Ed Nichols

     

     DISTRICT UPDATE 3-1-22

    Dear MCS Parents,

    It is another great week in Madison City Schools with a full slate of athletics, theater practices, and innovative teaching going on. I am sure the warm weather has us all looking forward to spring.

    I will begin by congratulating James Clemens basketball for making it into the Final Four of the AHSAA 7A state playoffs. This is the first time JCHS has advanced to play in the Final Four in the school's history. The Jets will be taking on Baker High School on March 3 at Legacy Arena in Birmingham. Go Jets!

    I love springtime when our secondary schools welcome rising 9th and 6th graders to help them become oriented to the next school level. On Thursday, February 24, Bob Jones hosted the rising 9th graders Patriot Pride. Principal Sylvia Lambert stated, “Patriot Pride was an exciting day for our rising 9th graders to learn more about our Bob Jones culture. Our teachers and students did a fantastic job in sharing a glimpse of ways to get involved at BJ”. Patriot Pride exists to ignite a sense of Bob Jones pride in our rising 9th grade as they get a brief glimpse of life as a Patriot. Learn more in this District Blog post. 

    Hats off to our elementary schools for creative ways to observe Read Across America Week. Schools are holding various themes to promote reading, including today’s Hat Day at Midtown Elementary inviting kids to wear a hat and take part in reading activities. Mill Creek sponsored a Paws for Reading and encouraged kids to share photos of their pets. Horizon invited faculty and students to dress as book characters. Our teachers do a great job making learning fun.   

    Giving back has always been a hallmark of Madison City Schools. Heritage Elementary was recognized for its giving spirit with a gift for participation in the Paper Chase Run. This annual run benefits the Free2Teach organization which supports teachers. The school's running club earned $1,500 for the school for having the highest team participation in the Paper Chase this past weekend in Huntsville. The money will be used by Heritage for technology in classrooms. Way to go Rams!

    Mark your calendars for some upcoming great theater performances at James Clemens and Bob Jones high schools. JC Theater kicks off with Midsummer Nights Dream, April 7-9. Bob Jones Theater presents Mama Mia in a series of performances April 14-23. Tickets can be found at showtix4u.com or at the schools.

    I want to commend Bob Jones HOSA students for their performance at the State Leadership Conference in Montgomery. (see results here) All students ranking in the top 3 are guaranteed to compete at the HOSA International Leadership Conference in Nashville June 22-25. HOSA is a national organization of secondary and post secondary students that supports career development in the health industry.

    Congratulations to the Discovery Scholars Bowl team. DMS had 5 teams participate in the Russellville Middle School Invitational tournament a few weeks ago. The 6th grade B team took 3rd place: Sarah Allison, Adrian Smith, Austin Roesener, Jinwoo Jung. The 6th grade A team took 2nd place: Levi Cybuck, Logan Rydbom, Layla Wills, Michelle Schwartz, Gian Grant. Both teams advanced to the semi-finals. It was a head-to-head match-up. DMS A (6th) won that round and advanced to the finals. DMS B (6th) played for 3rd place and won on the second tie breaker question. DMS A (6th) came in 2nd for the tournament. The 7th/8th B team took 4th place: Roman Hanson, Charlie Huang, Byron Lewis, Arham Muhammad. The 7th/8th A team took 1st place: Karsten Wallace, Owen Bruyns, Alex Fedoseyev, Mark Allison, Louis Johnson. DMS A and B teams advanced to the semi-finals. This was again a head-to-head match-up. DMS A advanced to the finals. DMS B placed 4th and DMS A placed 1st.

    Finally, if college is in your immediate future, take advantage of Alabama Free College Application Week when application fees are waived from Feb. 27 - March 5. You can find more information here.

    Have a great rest of the week!


    Ed Nichols

     

    MCS MASK CHANGE / DISTRICT UPDATE 2-23-22

    Dear MCS Parents,

    It is good to have our students back after the extended Presidents’ Day holiday. March is just around the corner and I look forward to all the school activities a change in seasons usually brings.

    One change I would like to call your attention to is the lifting of the district’s mask mandate. This morning, our Board of Education approved lifting the mask matrix and putting Madison City Schools in a mask optional status beginning tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. 24. Masks will continue to be worn on school buses as per federal regulations.

    We have said all along that we would monitor the COVID situation and make adjustments if necessary. The Board and I believe now is that time. Currently, the COVID positive number in our district is below 1 percent at .29%. In the last few weeks, we have seen a tremendous drop in the community rate of both positive tests and hospitalizations.

    These factors lead us to believe that we can make this transition to a more normal operational routine in our schools. We certainly will respect those in our community that want to continue to wear a mask and those that choose to not wear a mask. Hopefully, we can soon put COVID behind us and get more normalcy back in our lives. I certainly appreciate and respect those of you that have sent me messages and concerns based on this issue. It is obvious from these messages that all of us care for our community and our school children. 

    On another note, I am happy to report a new partnership between Madison City Schools and HEALS (Health Establishments for Local Schools). Currently, HEALS clinics have been serving Huntsville and Madison County school districts. Thanks to a recent grant by the City of Madison, HEALS can now expand into Madison City Schools. The service will start with a pilot program at two MCS elementary schools (to be announced) to provide free dental screenings to students who may not otherwise have access to health checkups. We hope this partnership will grow to support more of our students in need of medical and dental care.

    Last week, 89 of our teachers participated in Orton-Gillingham training focused on dyslexia instruction. This specialized teacher training uses an approach focused on struggling readers. I want to again thank the Community Foundation and Greengate School for a very generous grant to make this happen. This partnership was also aided by supplemental grants from Junior League of Huntsville and The Dollar General Foundation. These 89 teachers trained in Orton-Gillingham Reading are added to the list of 60 teachers who have already been trained in Orton-Gillingham Math.

    Congratulations to the Liberty Robotics Team on their recent showing at the VEX IQ Middle School State Championship. The LMS C and D teams worked hard competing against 45 of the best teams from across the state and ended with several awards. Learn more about the competition and team in the link above.

    MCS values the numerous partnerships we have with business, industry, and higher education. I am pleased to share that Mrs. Fleenor’s BJHS Teaching Academy students recently participated virtually in UAH’s Classroom and Behavior Management course led by Dr. Jason O’Brien to learn about FERPA and other student-focused issues.

    Finally, I would like to recognize our school bus drivers and SROs (School Resource Officers) for all that they do for Madison City Schools. SRO Appreciation Day was Feb. 15 and Feb. 22 was School Bus Driver Appreciation Day. They play a vital role in the safety and well being of our students.  

    Ed Nichols

    MCS DISTRICT UPDATE 2-14-22

    Dear MCS Parents,

    It’s another exciting week in Madison City Schools. Schools are bustling with activity and I’m always amazed by the creativity of teachers in their lessons. It is timely that Friday, Feb. 18, is a collaborative day - meaning a half-day for students - so teachers can devote their attention to lesson planning and other professional development.

    Dismissal times this Friday, Feb. 18, will be 10:30 for PreK; 11 for elementary schools, and 11:45 for middle and high schools. There will be no school Monday, Feb. 21, in observance of Presidents’ Day.

    Last week, I shared an update with Journey parents about the delayed opening. It has come to my attention that some parents did not receive that email. If you did not receive that email, please send your name, your student’s name, and your home mailing address to zoning@madisoncity.k12.al.us.

    I am excited to recognize the Robotics Club at Liberty who recently hosted one of the largest robotics competitions in the state and finished well in competitions. Click here for LMS results and team members.

    I love to highlight the accomplishments and awards that our students and teachers earn, but it also gives me great joy to share when our teachers and students give back to the community. I want to recognize Junior Leaders at Mill Creek for giving back through their annual “Sweet Treats for Sweet Hearts” Valentines gifts for parents and staff of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Huntsville Hospital. This is the 10th year MCES students stuffed goodie bags with treats and cards to help brighten the lives of NICU staff and families. Several were NICU infants themselves.

    A big thanks to the students and teachers in Bob Jones Patriot Path who have been working on the Blanket Project Room at The Inn at Real Church Food Bank. This generous outreach will help a lot of families in need.   

    Congratulations to the Bob Jones HOSA Chapter for being selected to participate in the first high-school-level Invent2Prevent program competition. Its focus was on preventing targeted violence. Based on their research, connectivity in the school environment is crucial for high school students. So the BJHS team decided to base their invention around connecting with others through Patriot Path. 

    Finally, I would like to thank Sen. Tom Butler for securing $10,000 for Bob Jones theater. The money will be used for stage lighting. Sen. Butler delivered the check today to Principal Sylvia Lambert, theater instructors Mary Davis and Jesse Tilton and visited with students practicing for the upcoming Mamma Mia production in April. Thank you Sen. Butler.

    I am so proud of all of our students and teachers. Here’s to a great week ahead!


    Ed Nichols

     

    MCS DISTRICT UPDATE 2-7-22

    Dear MCS Parents,

    It is great having everyone back in schools. The recent virtual days not only helped teachers catch up on their planning but also for COVID absences to settle down. I believe we are beginning to turn the corner on our COVID numbers. Last week, we had 177 positives reported to ADPH, this is down from over 600 the previous week. Statewide, there’s been a drop from 24,913 students and staff positive to 9,800 this past week. All of the data points from ADPH show that we may have peaked and should continue to see a decline across the state and in our county.

    Teachers and staff have done a phenomenal job working through obstacles to keep schools open. Staffing became a huge challenge with a depleted substitute pool. I’m pleased to report now that the sub list is rapidly growing. More than two dozen new substitutes were approved at the Board meeting last week, bringing our sub ranks to over 300 candidates. I appreciate our personnel coordinator, Dr. Jah and her staff, as they have worked to expand outreach efforts and speed up the hiring process.

    Our community is such a giving one. Support for our schools comes in many ways, from substituting, to PTA-sponsored appreciation lunches for teachers, to volunteers in the car line. Just this past Saturday, members of a local church went to Bob Jones High School to do a thorough cleaning inside the school. A local business, GE Aviation, delivered a huge shipment of books on Friday, targeted for our English Language Learner students. These are just a few examples of the tremendous community support we receive as a district.

    As a reminder, if you move during the school year, please update the school registrar. This is very important in the spring as we begin working with students in middle and high school as they register for classes for the following school year. 

    Congratulations to the students whose artwork was selected for the State Superintendent Art Awards. Yanran Zhang (7th grade at Liberty Middle School) was awarded 2nd Place in the Secondary 7-8 division. In the Secondary 9-10 division, Elizabeth Haddock (10th grade at Bob Jones High School) was awarded 3rd Place and Kaylee Rodgers (9th grade at James Clemens High School) was awarded Honorable Mention. I would also like to recognize all of the students whose artwork was selected for submission for the State Superintendent Art Awards contest: Isabella Wang (4th grade), Ashlynn Langston (4th grade), Michelle Jesionowski (5th grade), Yanran Zhang (7th grade), Amila Delarosa (7th grade), Christine Wang (8th grade), Alexis Walther (8th grade), Kaylee Rodgers (9th grade), Elizabeth Haddock (10th grade), Hannah Southward (11th grade), Emma Blair (11th grade), and Ben Trieu (11th grade). Congratulations to all of these students. Click here to see their artwork. 

    Congratulations to Ashwin Prabhakar, a junior at Bob Jones High School, for his induction into the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Honor Society, which is the international honor society of science and engineering. After being able to present at one of their conferences in the fall, his work made a big impression on the researchers and they nominated him as an Associate Member. 

    Congratulations to the Bob Jones students who recently received Scholastic Southeast Regional awards. In the Art category, Congratulations to Makala Alexander, the edge (Gold Key); Patrick Nicholson, Sculpture of Prey (Silver Key); Hannah Southward, Lovely Tea (Gold Key); and Madison Tanner, Hog Hunt (Gold Key). In the Writing category, Congratulations to Emily Duong for earning two awards, one for "Euphoria in Doses" (Gold Key) and one award for "Women in Prison Needs More Solution" (Silver Key). Students from public and private schools and art academies from Washington, DC to Louisiana participated in the Southeast Region. Our students who won in the art and writing divisions will go on to be adjudicated at the national level which will be announced on March 23. Congratulations to these students and their teacher, Mrs. Robin Lakso.

    At the recent Board of Education meeting, we recognized the new National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT). Congratulations to Judy Bagwell, Dr. Stephanie Bostick, Lauren Cecil, Peggy Dupree, Sophia Hall, Savanna Lyles, Lory Schieler, Dr. Lori Shrode, Susan Vest-Rader, and Beth Woodard. There were also 15 current NBCTs who recertified this year: Michelle Breeden, Jane Haithcock, Dr. Ambra Hamilton, Missy King, Robin Lakso, Jodi Jones, Karen Jump, Susan Maynard, Leah McRae, Stephanie Nguyen, Tabitha Odom, Amy Protos, Debbie Scott, Adrian Wells, and Kristy Wheeler. This brings the district total to 92 National Board Certified Teachers. Click here for more details about our NBCTs. Congratulations to our new NBCTs and those who renewed. Thank you to all of our teachers who have earned National Board Certification and those who are pursuing it! We greatly appreciate your dedication to this very rigorous professional growth process!

    I was honored to join the Board the other night in celebrating the Bob Jones cheerleading team for winning at state. Both BJ and James Clemens will be competing soon in the national cheerleading championship.

    Lastly, this is National School Counselors Week. I encourage everyone to take a moment this week to thank your school counselor for all that they do. So much of what they do is unseen to others but their impact is tremendous. We are grateful for the wonderful counselors we have in Madison City Schools.

    Ed Nichols  



    VIRTUAL DAYS UPDATE 1-25-22 

    Dear MCS Parents,

    The Madison City School District will change to a virtual platform for all students beginning Thursday, Jan. 27. Students will return for in-person learning on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022. All of these virtual days will be asynchronous. I want to commend our staff, teachers, administrators, and substitutes who have served and worked diligently to maintain in-person learning through these challenging times. However, when we as a district reach a point that certain staffing areas and substitute staff are not available to maintain our classes, then I feel it is best to alter our platform temporarily.

    I believe that this break of consecutive days will allow for many of our staff, teachers, and substitutes to return from COVID absences. We have seen that a portion of them have not been able to return in a 5-day window and this has caused our current staffing dilemma. When students return on Tuesday, Feb.1, we will have the remainder of the week for in-person learning. Therefore, the virtual day scheduled for Friday, Feb. 4, will return to in-person learning. 

    The current information from the ADPH suggests that we may be reaching the crest of this variant. I hope that this change in schedule and a drop in the area infection rate will allow us to continue uninterrupted as we move forward. However, we will continue to monitor this situation. 

    Thanks,

    Ed Nichols

     
    DISTRICT UPDATE 1-23-22
     

    Dear MCS Parents,

    I just wanted to update you on our current COVID situation. This past week, we had 88 teachers and staff positive in the district. That is 4% of our employee base. We also had 524 students test positive which is 4% of our student enrollment. While this percentage may not seem high, it does not reflect the staff and students quarantined due to being a close contact. Currently, we had around 10% of our staff that were out this past week for COVID and personal reasons. The good news is that almost 50% of those are scheduled to return on Monday. This hopefully will help relieve some of the issues we are facing.

    I know you are aware that when we have a snow or virtual day, many of our parents have to miss work and do not have the ability to be virtual or have paid sick leave. A lot of our families are not from here originally and do not have local families to assist with their students. So keeping kids in school is my primary goal both for our student's learning needs and their family logistics. However, I know sometimes that is not possible. So, I will just say that our entire system is doing our best to balance how and when to move our schools from the in-person setting based on outside events.

    Most of all, I want you to know the tremendous efforts our teachers and staff are making during this time. Some of our teachers have lost planning time as they cover other classes when we cannot find substitute teachers. Also, some of our special area classes such as Spanish, art,  music and other classes in our elementary schools have been missing from the daily schedule so these teachers can assist with regular classroom needs. So, I ask that in this challenging time, when we are all tired and frustrated, we remember our teachers and staff. Also, if you have the ability in your schedule to become a substitute teacher, please reach out to our HR Department. We can use extra people any day of the week.

    Finally, due to our staff and teachers having missed the opportunity to meet as grade levels and subject areas to review data and develop planning of new material, we will have virtual days on the next two Fridays, Jan. 28 and Feb. 4. These virtual days will be asynchronous. This change in schedule will allow our school teams an opportunity to meet and prepare future lesson material and review current data.

    Hopefully, we can continue to hold our in-person platform; however, we will continue to monitor the COVID issue and are flexible to make changes in our schedule as needed.

    Again, thank you for your continued patience and support.

    Ed Nichols


    JOURNEY/COVID UPDATE 1-19-22
     

    Dear MCS Parents,

    MCS administrators have been monitoring the progress of Journey Middle School since the groundbreaking. In recent communications with the construction management firm and contractors, it was brought to our attention that completion could be delayed due to serious supply chain and labor issues related to COVID.

    Our admin team is working on potential scenarios depending on the length of delay. In light of a potential deferred opening, the transfer and waiver process for rising 7th and 8th grade Journey students is being suspended until we have a better understanding of the completion status. The student preference forms were sent home last week with rising 7th and 8th graders zoned for Journey for 2022-2023. Waivers were scheduled to be returned no later than January 21. This process is on hold until further notice. If students have turned in these forms, they will be held at the middle schools until further notice and will not be considered binding as a decision at this time. I will update you on this issue as we receive more information and plans become available. 

    As many of you know,  some districts across the state have moved to virtual learning due to the increase in COVID numbers and the lack of available substitutes. Our schools are doing an amazing job of maintaining in-person learning, and several members of our Central Office staff have been subbing in our schools to help prevent a move to virtual learning. Teachers and staff are covering each other's classes and helping throughout the school to make sure we can continue our in-person classes. However, I cannot rule out that the impact of COVID could result in a temporary move to a virtual platform. I can assure you that our administrators, teachers and staff are doing everything possible to maintain our in-person platform. I certainly understand the challenge that changing to a virtual platform places on our working families and the difficulty of continuing in-person learning with the COVID issues on our staff. Hopefully, we will see a decline in the positivity of our area soon. We are still accepting new substitutes so if you or a friend are interested in helping our schools as a substitute, please contact our district office or click here to learn more.

    I know that there are some questions and rumors that we will be going virtual. At this time, we are planning on continuing with our in-person schedule. We are making sure that students have their laptop computers with them at home on a regular basis due to potential weather issues and the possibility that a class or grade level is moved to virtual after the end of a school day. However, our plan for Thursday and Friday is to maintain our regular schedule. 

    Due to the recent change in quarantining guidelines, it has become very difficult for our nursing staff to contact trace on every positive case. Therefore, in the future, instead of person to person tracing, we will inform the entire class when there is a positive case. Isolation from school should still be maintained for the following scenarios:

    1. Any person with a positive test should be isolated.
    2. Any person with symptoms should isolate and seek a COVID test.
    3. Any person with a positive test in their household should contact their school nurse for isolation guidance. 

    Due to testing too early and the potential for a false negative, please remember that we only accept home test results if the result is positive. If there is a positive result with a home test, write the student’s name and date on the test and email a picture to the school nurse

    We ask that all of you observe your students and please contact your school nurse if you have any questions. The most common symptoms are runny nose, headache, fatigue, sneezing, sore throat, and congestion; however, fever/chills, cough, muscle or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, nausea/vomiting, and diarrhea are still COVID symptoms.

    Registration for selection into Madison City PreK programs is now open. Use this link to register for the First Class, Early Beginnings or HIPPY PreK programs: Deadline to apply is March 15 for the drawing on March 24. 

    Congratulations to Wendy Tibbs, gifted teacher at Midtown Elementary, for earning the Bizworld Teacher of the Year award. The award is based on “use of innovative ideas to instill in students an entrepreneurial mindset so that they can be architects of their own futures.”

    Last week, I recognized the dedicated members of our Board of Education during School Board Member Recognition Week. I would also like to salute our School Resource Officers during National Law Enforcement Appreciation Week. Their work in schools and interactions with students make SROs an integral part of every campus. Join me in thanking them, along with every member of our Madison Police Department.  

    I would like to put in another plug for our PTAs which are key to the success of our school system. A school supplies drive at Mill Creek and a new fence at Midtown that separates the playground from the parking lot are just two of the latest examples of PTA partnership in schools. If you have not done so already, please consider becoming a member of your school’s PTA. You can actually be a member of every PTA group within the Madison City Schools system with one simple click. Dues are cheap, and it is a great way to show your support for our schools. Join here: https://mcspta.square.site/

    This past Monday, we remembered and honored the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. As we in our community and school system face the current challenges, I am reminded of this quote from Dr. King. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” I am thankful that our community is a place that helps and supports each other. 

     Ed Nichols 


    DISTRICT UPDATE 1-11-22


    Dear MCS Parents,

    This has certainly been an interesting start to 2022. Thank you for your continued support as the district navigated the winter weather last week.

    The disruption from school closings was limited by being able to shift to virtual learning. Teachers, principals, and instructional leaders deserve a lot of credit for building a virtual learning platform that enables students to do schoolwork remotely. Credit also goes to our technology team who worked tirelessly over the past several months to get electronic devices in the hands of all students.

    Last Thursday at our Board meeting, the Board of Education approved the middle and high school rezoning plan. Click here for the rezoning information. They also approved the Middle and High School Curriculum for the 2022-2023 school year. Information about middle and high school course registration for the 2022-2023 school year will be sent out from schools in the near future. If you have a rising 7th or 8th grade student who is zoned for Journey Middle School starting in the 2022-2023 school year, your student will have the option to complete a waiver request form to remain at their current school. The form will come home this week and is for rising 7th and 8th grade students only who are zoned for Journey.

    As a reminder, elementary and middle school report cards came home today. High school grades can be viewed in PowerSchool. Printed report cards for high school will be sent home on Friday. 

    Congratulations to the James Clemens medical academy students who were the first to attempt and pass the newest industry credential that we are offering to high school students–Certified EKG Technician. Congratulations to Mrs. Ashley Steinert and her students on this outstanding accomplishment. Students are Alice Shin, Emily Tieszen, Evan Harvey, Jade Parkes, Kim Phan, Kyleigh Castillo, Minh Phan, Ria Sethi, Tyler Gohlich. Students earning their CPCT credential (Certified Patient Care Technician) were Ava Baker, Jade Parkes, Ria Sethi, Christian Lomack, Alice Shin, Shayla Hawkins, Minh Phan, Elizabeth Busby, Emily Tieszen, Nicole Lipski, Evan Harvey, Tyler Gohlich.

    I am proud to share that toward the end of last semester the Discovery Scholar’s Bowl team made an outstanding showing at multiple tournaments. Another Discovery team went undefeated in a scholars tournament that will air on APT on Saturday mornings. Click here to see all that they won. Congratulations to all of these students and their sponsor, Mrs. Sara Baragona.

    I want to commend two of our students for acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point: Jillian Pennell from Bob Jones and Tyler Gohlich from James Clemens High School.This is a prestigious honor that took a lot of hard work.

    Two of our coaches also deserve recognition for recent achievements: Luther Tiggs, head basketball coach at Bob Jones High School, for snagging his 400th win in 22 years as a head coach in a victory against Austin High School. I also want to recognize Chad McGehee, head football coach at James Clemens High School, for coaching in the Under Armor All American Game in Orlando on January 2. McGehee was also selected as 7A Coach of the Year for the Alabama High School Athletic Association.  

    We are closely watching the current Covid-19 situation in our community and in our schools. Currently, the positivity rate is a little over 40% in Madison County. We are seeing the effects of this in our schools. Last Friday, we reported 135 positive cases with 35 of those cases reported to our staff. We are doing our best to secure substitutes for our staff and maintain our current educational programing. 

    Please be reminded that the new quarantine guidelines allow for those that are fully vaccinated to continue without isolation from school if they are asymptomatic. At no time will our staff require you to show a vaccination status when your student is considered a close contact. However, please know that if we continue to see a rise in cases, we could reach a position where the district has to use a virtual platform by classroom, grade level, school, or district due to staffing demands. Therefore, please assist us by closely monitoring any symptoms for your student. 

    Finally, this is School Board Member Recognition Month. We are blessed in Madison to have a very dedicated group of Board members. These servants volunteer for Board service and spend an incredible amount of time in service to our district solely on a volunteer basis. They are very dedicated to our MCS staff and students. 

    I hope you all have a fantastic week!

    Ed Nichols

     
     
     
    1/7/22 FRIDAY VIRTUAL DAY; COVID PROTOCOL UPDATE
     

    Dear Parents,

    Currently, the NWS expects temperatures and wind chills to be near the single digits in the morning, causing both road issues for drivers and health concerns for students. With safety for our students and staff in mind, Madison City Schools will have a virtual learning day tomorrow (Friday, January 7). 

    Elementary students will utilize iReady lessons or teacher assignments. Secondary students will access asynchronous assignments through Schoology. If students have difficulty accessing assignments, they should communicate with their teacher. Virtual assignments should be accessible after 9:30 am on Friday. More specific instructions will come from your child’s school. 

    Additionally, I wanted to update you on some Covid-19 procedures for quarantining. As you may be aware, the CDC and the ADPH have updated guidelines that relate to quarantining for Covid-19. After review and guidance from the Alabama Department of Education, Madison City Schools will utilize the procedures listed below for Covid-19 exposures and positive cases. 

    1. If a student or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 (whether vaccinated or not), they will need to be isolated at home for a minimum of 5 days.
    • If after 5 days there are no symptoms or symptoms have resolved, they can return to school but must wear a mask around others for 5 additional days.    
    • If symptoms are not resolved after 5 days, then the person should remain isolated for the full 10 days.
    • If a person is unable to be around others with a mask, home isolation should continue for 10 days. 
    1. If a student or staff member is exposed to someone with COVID-19 and they have been fully vaccinated:
    • They can continue to attend school and will be required to wear a mask around others for 10 days.
    • Please monitor your symptoms, and if symptoms develop, stay home and contact your health provider. 
    • If possible, they should be tested on day 5.
    1. If a student or staff member has not completed all vaccinations or is unvaccinated: 
    • They will need to isolate themselves at home for 5 days and then can return to school and wear a mask for the next 5 days.
    • Please monitor your symptoms, and if symptoms develop, stay home and contact your health provider.
    • If possible, they should be tested on day 5.

    If you have any questions concerning Covid-19 symptoms or testing, please contact your school nurse for assistance.

    As a reminder, masks must continue for all students and staff when the Madison County positivity rate puts the school district's mask matrix in mask-required status, regardless of any 5 or 10-day conditional in the abovementioned protocols.

    On a final note, report cards were scheduled to go out tomorrow. With the winter weather, reports cards will now be issued on Tuesday, January 11.

    Thank you all so much for your support of our school district.

    Ed Nichols

     

  • Schools Closed; Virtual Learning Jan. 6, 2022

    Dear Parents,

    As you may be aware, the weather forecast for tonight through the morning presents the potential for snow and/or ice. This forecast is still very unstable. However, instead of waiting until the early morning hours, I feel it is best to make a decision on school closure now so you have time to prepare. 

    Therefore, Madison City Schools will hold an asynchronous virtual learning day for ALL students tomorrow (Thursday, Jan. 6) due to the potential for hazardous winter weather. School campuses will be closed.

    Elementary students will utilize iReady lessons or teacher assignments. Secondary students will access asynchronous assignments through Schoology. In most cases, students are bringing home school-issued chromebooks. If students have difficulty accessing assignments, they should communicate with their teacher. Virtual assignments should be accessible after 9:30 am on Thursday. More specific instructions will come from your child’s school. 

    Thank you for your support and patience as we do our best to keep our students and staff safe during potentially hazardous conditions. We will keep you updated on any effects of this weather that might impact school on Friday.

    Finally, we have received new information from the CDC and the ADPH concerning quarantining as related to Covid. We will inform you of any changes in our procedures from these updates on Friday. 

     

    Ed Nichols

     


    MCS UPDATE: Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022

    Dear MCS Parents,

    I hope all of you have enjoyed your break and spent time with family and friends.
    As you are aware, the Covid positivity rate has increased in our community in the last few weeks.
    On Nov. 4, 2021, the Board of Education approved a Covid Matrix that determines our requirement for masks in the district based on the positivity rate of Madison County as reported each Friday.


    With the past two weeks reaching above the High Level of the ADPH, we will begin the new semester in a mask required status for ALL staff and students.
    This mask status will remain in effect until we fall below the Moderate Level for two weeks as determined on Friday of the ADPH website. 

    Furthermore, we are aware that the CDC has issued some new guidance on the time frame as it relates to a positive test and close contact exposure.
    We are reviewing these updates with our local ADPH officials and will update you on any changes early next week. However, until clarification has been made by ADPH, we will continue to follow the same protocol for isolation and exclusion that was used before the Winter Break.

    Thank you,

    Ed Nichols
    Superintendent
    Madison City Schools

     

    MCS UPDATE: Monday, DEC. 20, 2021

    Dear MCS Parents,

    I hope your holiday break is off to a great start. I wanted to share one more messenger before we return in January.

    Last Tuesday, the Board met in a special session to fill some school leadership positions made vacant by several mid year retirements. Miranda Bolden is the new principal at Columbia Elementary, replacing Jamie Hill, who moves to Discovery Middle to replace retired Kim Stewart. Several assistant principals were also approved to backfill positions left vacant by promotions.
    You can see the latest assistant principal changes in this link. The district is fortunate to have such a talented pool of leaders to promote from within.

    Wednesday, I attended the Redstone Federal Credit Union branch opening in James Clemens High School. These branches at both Bob Jones and now James Clemens are a convenience to school employees and serve as a teaching tool for student workers interested in the financial services industry. Through this partnership, we have a Madison City Schools Affinity Card. Redstone Federal Credit Union gives 10 cents to the district for every purchase made with the MCS affinity card. We are fortunate to have this partnership with RFCU. I look forward to seeing all the positive things that can come from it. 

    I would like to commend all of our teachers who recently received their National Board Certification: Judy Bagwell (DMS), Dr. Stephanie Bostick (BJHS), Lauren Cecil (MTES), Peggy Dupree (CO), Sophia Hall (RES), Savannah Lyles (MCES), Lory Schieler (LMS), Dr. Lori Shrode (LMS), Susan Vest (MTES), and Beth Woodard (MES). I would also like to congratulate the following National Board Certified Teachers who recently renewed their certification: Michelle Breeden (LMS), Jane Haithcock (LMS), Dr. Ambra Hamilton (LMS), Jodi Jones (LMS), Karen Jump (CES), Missy King (JCHS), Robin Lakso (BJHS), Susan Maynard (MCES), Leah McRae (JCHS), Stephanie Nguyen (CES), Tabitha Odom (LMS), Amy Protos (JCHS), Debbie Scott (BJHS), Adrian Wells (HRTG), and Kristy Wheeler (BJHS). There are now 92 National Board Certified Teachers in MCS. Congratulations to all of you for earning and/or maintaining this certification!!!    

    Congratulations to Heritage Elementary Principal Dr. Georgina Nelson for being selected as a finalist for a national SOAR Award for Principals. This is the Science of Reading Star Award given to educators for their strong emphasis and programs in reading proficiency. Congratulations also to Esports teams at Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools for claiming 1st place in three of the four state championship competitions held last week in Birmingham: JC placed 1st in League of Legends and BJ won in both Rocket League and Madden.
    Two more MCS standouts, Jamie Hill and Candice Storey Lee, deserve recognition for their recent induction into the Huntsville-Madison County Hall of Fame. Hill, incoming principal at Discovery Middle, was selected for his baseball excellence at Hazel Green High School, MTSU, UAH and the Texas Rangers system. Ms. Lee was a girls basketball team standout for Bob Jones High School in the mid-90s and later Vanderbilt University, where she is now athletic director. Learn more about the 2022 inductees here.

    I would like to commend James Clemens senior Alana Sperling, a cadet in the JCHS JROTC program, for her appointment and full scholarship to the U.S. Army Service Academy at West Point. Alana grew up in a military family, moving 10 times and attending 9 different schools and finally stabilizing in her high school years. She is a member of the girls varsity basketball team, co-captain of the girls varsity tennis team, and is actively involved in her church and youth group. I know that Maj. Rezell Linen is proud to have one of his students attain this high honor.

    As we enter the winter break, let me close by wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful and joy-filled holiday. I was reminded of the joyfulness of the season while dressing as Santa and making the rounds to our elementary schools and PreK center. Nothing conveys the spirit of joy more than young children looking up with such wonder in their eyes. May that wonder remain with these young students throughout their school experience in Madison City Schools. The wonder of learning, of involvement in school activities, of making lasting friendships, and charting a course for their future. May we ALL be joyful and never lose our sense of wonder.


    Ed Nichols       

     

    MCS UPDATE: Monday, DEC. 13, 2021

    Dear MCS Parents,

    I would like to start by commending the work of our Strategic Planning Committee which wrapped up another collaborative session Friday. This group of stakeholders in the community - parents, school employees, local business reps, PTA members - has been meeting regularly to assist our administration in the development of a long-range plan for Madison City Schools.
    Their collaborative efforts will help guide decisions over academics, communication, faculty/staff, operations/facilities, support services and the many facets of our school district. Areas they are looking at include student achievement, academic and extracurricular opportunities, employee recruitment and retention, professional development, financial strength, building maintenance, technology infrastructure, culture/climate, mental health, community partnerships and more. Community input is a key reason for the historic success of MCS. We plan to build on that foundation with a blueprint that meets the growing and changing demands. I hope to have this strategic plan ready for adoption some time this spring.

    We know from city development records that the majority of current and future residential growth of Madison is happening in Limestone County. More households mean more families, which translates to more students. MCS has been growing 300-500 students a year steadily for the past several years. If that trend continues, we will be in need of an eighth elementary school in the very near future. The Board recently approved a purchase agreement on a 16.77 acre tract of land in Limestone County. This property is due west of the intersection of Hardiman and Burgreen roads closer to Segers Road. Boards of Education in fast growing areas like Madison must be proactive in securing land before it is developed. The 17-acre tract where Midtown Elementary is now and the 80 acres at James Clemens High School were purchased by MCS several years before Board approval as school sites.

    Another school need from our growing enrollment is more PreK classrooms. Last week officials from the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education joined me in a walk-thru of the old West Madison Elementary School. We were given the go-ahead on plans to renovate WMES for use as a PreK Center. I am excited that this historic school that has been such a vital part of Madison will continue to educate children. I will keep you updated as we move forward on this large project.The Council of PTAs for Madison City Schools came to our Board meeting last week to present its Golden Apple Awards. This recognition is for schools that have 100 percent of their certified teachers belonging to the PTA, which is fitting since the “T” in PTA stands for teachers. MCS values the work of our PTAs and all that they do for their schools and the community. 

     Last week, students in the Madison CEO program met with business and community leaders in the Leadership Greater Huntsville Flagship Class (L-35) to share details about the CEO program. The students shared the purpose of the program, which is to help develop leadership and entrepreneurship skills. The students discussed their class business that was formed earlier this school year. Several of the students also pitched ideas for their individual businesses. When students return in January, they will be working hard on developing their individual business, and in May, they will showcase their business at a local trade show. Students in the Madison CEO program include Bob Jones students Parker Runnion, Adam Baer, Aleksei Fadairo, Austin Minor, Justin Bonney, Ryland Segerson, Sean Scherer, Thrush Patel, and Cameron Cummings and James Clemens students Griffin Derby, Kenneth Lobo, Ethan Benko, and Madeline Shaw. The Madison CEO class facilitator is Mr. Michael Marty. Madison CEO is funded through investors who value building capacity in students who will hopefully one day serve the area in business and community leadership roles; the CEO program is offered at no cost to students or the school district. Students from St. John Paul II Catholic High School also participate in the Madison CEO program. Click here to learn more about the Madison CEO program.

     Last week I recognized Bob Jones cheerleaders for several 1st place finishes in state competition. I’d like to commend James Clemens cheer for its 1st place finish at state. The Lady Jets set a school record in the Gameday competition, scoring 98.5 out of a possible 100.

    The site work and subgrade package have been completed for the Bob Jones DD Wing project. The contractor has begun working on the footer for the building and anticipates beginning to pour concrete over the next two weeks. 

    Earlier this year, we expanded our Partners in Education program to two of our schools. This was a pilot program in the 2020-21 school year, and has proven to be a success and we hope to continue to see growth in this area to ALL of our schools. The program is a partnership between Madison City Schools, PTA, and local businesses and families to create a bridge between our community and schools. We would like to partner with our businesses and schools to make a positive impact, teach skills, and provide opportunities for all students in Madison City. We will begin next semester by highlighting the local businesses and families that have joined this program. If you are interested in joining or know a company who is, please contact our Development Office - lshaw@madisoncity.k12.al.us.

    As a reminder, the Board of Education voted to make December 16 a ½ collaborative day for all students. Dismissal times for both December 16 and 17 are as follows: PreK, 10:30; Elementary, 11:00; Middle School and High School ,11:45. There will be no extended day on December 16 and 17.

    I wish you a wonderful last week of the semester, and I hope you all have a wonderful winter break. 

    Ed Nichols

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