- Discovery Middle School
MCS District Update 9-26-22
Dear MCS Parents,
We are entering our last full week before Fall Break, which also marks the end of the first 9-week grading period. Please remind your child(ren) to have all school work completed before Sept. 30 so that it can be factored into their grades. It’s hard to believe we will be a quarter of the way through the school year already.
I am happy to report Tommy Overcash as our newest board member. He was appointed by the City Council and sworn in at the Tuesday, Sept. 20 Board meeting. Mr. Overcash has a long history with Madison, having served on the City Council from 2004 - 2020 - eight years as its president. He has an even longer history with Madison City Schools as he and his wife, Debbie, were instrumental in its creation as an independent school district in 1998. We are honored to have him on the MCS team.
It is a great honor to have our Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Heather Donaldson, representing Alabama Career Tech Directors on the CompTIA National Career Tech Education Advisory Council. This is a two-year commitment. Its focus is to find ways to accelerate career tech pathways for students based on workforce demands of each district, emerging technology, certifications, funding sources, articulation agreements, best practices, professional development and industry connections. Read more about CompTIA’s mission here,
September is PTA membership month. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage everyone to join your school’s PTA (full listing in link). They play a vital role in the success of our schools and ultimately, the community. You can join whether you have students in the system or not. There’s even a mega membership that enables you to belong to every PTA in our district for a very low cost. Madison City Schools values the partnership we have with our PTAs and invites all of our stakeholders to support our schools by joining.
Our guests for the latest Sittin’ With The Supe Podcast are Kaila Holloway and Carly Thomas from the BJHS girls flag football team who discuss the rules of the game, power of teamwork and other aspects of this emerging sport. (see full schedule here).
March on Madison is tomorrow night (Tuesday, Sept. 27) at Madison City Stadium. What a wonderful opportunity to hear bands from Bob Jones, James Clemens, Discovery and several other local bands. Tickets are available on the S2 Pass App. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can also purchase tickets from the S2Pass fan website and print your tickets to present at the gate through https://fans.s2pass.com/events. The show begins at 6 p.m.
Last year, I started a Superintendent Student Advisory Committee to provide students with the opportunity to share ideas about critical issues within our schools. The committee will continue to meet again this school year. My goal is to have a diverse group of students with various academic, athletic, fine arts, and extracurricular interests. The committee currently consists of 10 seniors each from Bob Jones and James Clemens who served on the committee last year during their junior year in high school. I would like to add 10 juniors each from Bob Jones and James Clemens for this school year. On Friday, all juniors received an email with the link to apply for the Superintendent Student Advisory Committee. The application will close at midnight on Tuesday, October 4. I encourage students to apply for this opportunity to meet with me in a small group setting to share their ideas.
I am excited to announce that after fall break we are kicking off our after school tutoring programs. The Elementary After School Sustained Tutoring Program will host after school reading tutoring on Monday and Wednesday and math tutoring on Tuesday and Thursday. The tutoring program starts October 17. Participating students will receive teacher-developed lessons focused on review skills needed to assist them in becoming more successful when working towards grade level expectations. Additionally, secondary schools will also host after school tutoring programs - also starting on October 17. Math will be on Monday and Wednesday afternoons, English / Language Arts will be on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, and high schools will have Chemistry tutoring on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. Transportation will be provided. Both the Elementary After School Sustained Tutoring Program and the Secondary After School Tutoring Program are being made available through the ESSER funds that support COVID learning loss. Schools have been sending tutoring information home for qualifying students.
Finally, I’d like to congratulate Bob Jones and James Clemens for earning a GreatSchools.org College Success Award. Only 66 Alabama schools among 1,742 nationwide attained this honor. The award recognizes schools that meet certain criteria in preparing all students for postsecondary and career success.
Have an enjoyable Fall Break.
“Glad To Be Here!”
Dear MCS Parents,
Last week ended on a positive note with the release of National Merit Semifinalists . I am proud to report that Madison City Schools once again produced the most NMS of any other Alabama school district, regardless of size. Next closest school systems were Vestavia Hills (21) and Hoover (18). While the students are certainly deserving for their hard work, credit also belongs to the schools and teachers who helped prepare them. The vast majority of our NMS students (26) attended Madison City Schools from elementary school on up. Looking at these students’ school history, every MCS school at every level can lay claim to their development into top scholars. Congratulations to the students, parents, teachers, principals, and to all who had a hand in this remarkable achievement.
I encourage everyone once again to come to the Family Mental Health Resource Fair tonight (Monday, Sept. 19) at Midtown Elementary. This is the third year the district has showcased mental health in a districtwide outreach. Learn more about the Mental Health community resource fair in this link. Barnie, our facility dog at Madison Elementary, will be a guest greeter. Hope to see you there.
We had another fabulous homecoming. I had the privilege once again to ride in the James Clemens homecoming parade and attend the game Friday night. What wonderful traditions for our students and community.
I would like to welcome Family Security Credit Union into the MCS and Midtown Elementary family. FSCU officers Regina Kyle, Jordan Woodall and Cailin O’Donnell visited Midtown Friday to give a generous donation to Principal Savannah Demeester. Partners in Education is a program with Madison City Schools, the Madison Chamber of Commerce, PTA and local businesses and families to create a bridge between our community and schools.
Finally, I would like to recognize BJ student Rian Edwards for her courage and advocacy for taking part in a global conference in California aimed at rare genetic diseases. She spoke in a session on the demands and impact on family and caregivers. Rian’s brother, Elijah Edwards, has a rare genetic disease.
“Glad To Be Here!”
Dear MCS Parents,
I hope you all had a fantastic weekend. We had a wonderful turnout for the Bob Jones homecoming parade last Thursday. What a great tradition. Friday’s game with all of the homecoming activities was also enjoyable. I want to thank the police department, students, school employees, parents and everyone else who had a hand in it. I am looking forward to the James Clemens homecoming parade Thursday, Sept. 15, and the game the following night.
Madison City Schools was honored by the Alabama State Department of Education last week for attaining Purple Star status under a new state program aimed at military families. Gov. Kay Ivey and the state BOE recognized 12 school districts and 53 schools as the inaugural class. The Purple Star program was created by a legislative act to help ease the social and/or academic burden of frequent moves. They do this through S2S (student-to-student) chapters at each school that welcome newcomers and provide other assistance,
All 11 of our schools attained Purple Star designation. In other words, one out of five Purple Star schools across the entire state is an MCS school. I’ would like to thank the Community Foundation and the Hometown Lenders Golf Championship for giving MCS a $4,400 grant for S2S chapters in our schools.
Thank you to all who completed the Mental Health Matters parent interest survey. I would like to remind everyone of the district wide Family Mental Health Fair on Monday September 19, at Midtown Elementary School from 5 - 7 p.m. This event features community resource tables as well as an interactive expo with hands-on activities for students and adults to support mental wellness provided by The Enrichment Center. You can find more info here.
Congratulations to JCHS German teacher, Peggy Boynton, who was invited to present and serve as a panelist last week at the Alabama World Languages Association workshop.
Ms. Boynton focused on helping other districts establish a Seal of Biliteracy program. Ms. Boynton helped bring the Seal of Biliteracy program to Madison City Schools, and I am so proud of the work she has done in our district and now the support she is providing to others as they seek to establish a similar program.
The 2023 MCS Budget was approved last week at the Board of Education meeting.
Finally, my guests for the latest “Sittin’ with the Supe’” Podcast are head football coaches Kelvis White with Bob Jones and Chad McGehee with James Clemens.
You can hear what they have to say in this link to the Podcast.
“Glad To Be Here!”
Dear MCS Parents,
I would like to start by wishing everyone a wonderful Labor Day weekend. I hope you and your family enjoy the break and come back Tuesday refreshed for the next stretch.
Tonight marks a special time for our school district. It's the night of the Madison Bowl football game between Bob Jones and James Clemens. While it is a “rivalry” by definition, it is a friendly rivalry. One team will be victorious and the other won't. Let's all remember that we are still one MCS family and be respectful through the outcome.
Homecoming is fast approaching.The Bob Jones homecoming parade is next Thursday, Sept. 8, starting at 5:30 p.m. with the game against Grissom on Friday. The James Clemens homecoming parade is Thursday, Sept. 15, with the game against Florence the following day. What a wonderful tradition to have homecoming parades with all the festivities that entails. I look forward to seeing everyone along the parade route and at the games.
I had the pleasure this week of meeting some of our kids in the Purple Star S2S groups. S2S is Student-to-Student. These are student mentoring teams in all of our schools that help welcome newcomers transferring into our schools. The S2S program has its roots in welcoming military kids who relocate often. But their outreach is to any new student to help them overcome the social and sometimes academic challenges from being a newcomer.Madison City Schools recently attained status as a Purple Star District under a new state program established by the Alabama Legislature. It has been very successful not only for transient students but also in helping S2S students with their social skills.
Finally, I want to pass along an important event to consider attending. On September 19, Madison City Schools and MCS PTA are hosting a Family Mental Health Fair. This districtwide event will be held at Midtown Elementary from 5 -7 p.m. Mark your calendars to stop by and visit community resource tables, hands on mental wellness expo, student art showcase and more.
“Glad To Be Here!”
Dear MCS Parents,
August is fast coming to a close. We are almost a month into the school year with everything going well so far.
Next week marks an exciting time for Madison City Schools with the Bob Jones-James Clemens football game. I hope everyone makes plans to come to the Madison Bowl next Friday, September 2, at Madison City Stadium.
One exciting new feature to the BJ-JC tradition this year is a special night hosted by our Trash Pandas baseball team in honor of the big BJ-JC game. The team is holding Rivalry Night this Tuesday, August 30, in its game against Biloxi at Toyota Field. Come on out for a fun night of baseball with performances by BJ and JC drumlines, cheerleaders, ROTC corps and more. You might even get to see your superintendent throw the first pitch. Special seating is available for JC fans (along the first base line) and BJ fans (along the 3rd base line). Use the ticket links in the Rivalry Night link above to choose your BJ or JC seating. Proceeds from concessions will be donated to the SOS student fund at Madison City Schools and there will be a school supplies and hygiene drive at the stadium.
Our district is continuing our mental health support and would like your feedback. Please help us plan future Mental Health Matters by this survey: https://forms.gle/YQiE3pxFsrt5wMnf7.
Heritage Elementary School was honored this week with the renewal of their Leader In Me Lighthouse Recertification. Congratulations to the faculty and staff at Heritage Elementary on their hard work to maintain this program that fosters strong leadership skills in students.
I am pleased to share that the Board of Education approved the MCS Strategic Plan last night. The strategic planning process occurred over the last year with stakeholder surveys and meetings of over 100 stakeholders including students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members. Thank you to everyone who has provided feedback along the way, whether that was through the surveys or committee meetings. The Strategic Plan establishes goals for the next five years in the areas of Academics, Special Services, Operations and Facilities, Communication, Support Services, Technology, and Faculty and Staff. View the Strategic Plan here.
Last night, our Board members heard a budget presentation led by our Chief School Financial Officer, Laverne Williams, on the proposed 2023 spending plan for Madison City Schools. You can review the proposed budget here and offer any comment on the attached form before the next scheduled budget hearing on September 6. This budget is the result of months of collaboration and input from my administrative team, teachers and support personnel, board members, city and community members, and other stakeholders. While it cannot cover everything given the limited resources, I believe it responsibly addresses our most pressing needs.
Congratulations to Ashwin Prabhakar, a senior at Bob Jones High School, for earning a $10,000 scholarship as a Davidson Institute Fellows Scholarship winner for creating an innovative approach to deep wound care. I am always amazed by the intelligence, creativity, and performance of our students.
Finally, I am excited to report that this week’s Sittin’ With The Supe podcast features our elementary and secondary Teachers of the Year. Bonnie Howard at Madison Elementary and Command Sgt. Ellis Clark at Bob Jones are representative of the many hundreds of outstanding teachers we have in MCS.
“Glad To Be Here!”
We have finished the second full week of school and our athletic seasons are now underway. With the start of the athletic season, we also will enjoy the sights and sounds of our bands, cheerleaders, dance teams, color guards and student sections. As the sports season progresses, many of you may be wanting schedule and ticket information. BJHS and DMS are now using the S2Pass app for tickets. JCHS continues to use GoFan.
These links will guide you to schedules and ticket information.
James Clemens: https://www.jcathletics.net/
Discovery Middle: https://www.madisoncity.k12.al.us/domain/173
Liberty Middle: https://www.madisoncity.k12.al.us/domain/232
Enrollment numbers are becoming more settled with a student count now of about 12,400. If growth trends continue, MCS is expected to add 300-400 students this year. This week, the Board approved an architect agreement that begins the process of designing a new elementary school located off Hardiman Road. As we continue to grow in Madison, this new elementary footprint will be needed to meet the future growth in our community.
This past Board meeting, the 2022-2023 calendar was revised. There were a few changes to address the required testing at our high schools and to enhance collaborative professional development for our staff and teachers. The Board also approved the 2023-2024 calendar. Both of these can be found under the calendar tab of our website.
Speaking of calendars, I am pleased to report that we are working on improving the District calendar on the MCS website to include school-based events of districtwide interest. The Official District Calendar on the Madison City Schools webpage has traditionally limited announcements to things like board meetings, graduation day and holidays. Inclusion on the District calendar will broaden awareness of things like athletic events and drama/theater performances.
Juniors and Seniors: Did you know that qualifying for free/reduced lunch also means you qualify for 2 ACT waivers and up to 4 college application fee waivers? If you think your family qualifies, fill out the application here: https://paypams.com/OnlineApp.aspx .
As you may have heard, the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) has adopted a new teacher observation system. The ALSDE assembled a taskforce of Alabama teachers and administrators to develop the Alabama Core Teaching Standards and the Alabama Teacher Observation Tool (ATOT). The ALSDE periodically revises the teaching standards and the teacher observation system; the ATOT is one of many teacher observation systems that I have seen in my time as an educator in Alabama. Madison City principals and assistant principals observe teachers in our classrooms and then complete the ATOT for each teacher. The observation standards are aligned with the Alabama Courses of Study.
Something else you may have seen in the news recently is a possible change to the Alabama High School Graduation requirements. For several years, the state has been assessing high schools on the percent of seniors graduating College and Career Ready (CCR). We have been told that in October, the Alabama Board of Education will vote to determine whether College and Career Readiness will become a mandatory graduation requirement. If it is voted as a graduation requirement, that would begin with this year’s current 8th grade students so it would not affect students who are currently in high school. The state has several ways in which students can become College and Career Ready: benchmark score on the ACT, passing score on an IB/AP exam, benchmark score on the ACT WorkKeys, College Credit, Military Enlistment, Career Tech Credential, Career Tech Completer, or Youth Apprenticeship. If the Alabama Board of Education votes to make CCR a graduation requirement, then our team is prepared to assist our parents and students navigate this new component.
Finally, I hope you enjoy our new bi-weekly Sittin’ With The Supe Podcast feature. Last week’s guests were BJHS and JCHS band directors. Next week’s program will highlight our district Teachers of the Year. Have a great weekend.
“Glad To Be Here!”
Dear MCS Parents,
School is off to a great start. Aside from a few adjustments on things like class schedules and bus routes, we are quickly returning to normal. It is wonderful to see our campuses active again.
As you know, “Glad To Be Here” is our adopted theme this year. If someone were to ask me for examples that inspired that theme, a simple answer won’t do. There are too many positive aspects about MCS to boil down into a short response.
It is in that spirit I am starting something new this year to help parents, students and all of our stakeholders gain greater insight into our district. Beginning today, I will be hosting a regular podcast titled, Sittin’ with the Supe. You can find these brief audio programs on these podcasting platforms: Apple Podcast, Spotify, or straight from this link. In the first podcast of the year, I sat down with Bob Jones and James Clemens band directors - Leigh Thomas and Keith Anderson respectively - to discuss the upcoming band season, all the work that goes into creating their shows, and offer a sneak peek into their fall performances. I can’t wait to share other neat stories and insights as the year unfolds.
As the state drafts and prepares to adopt new courses of study (COS), they seek feedback from teachers, administrators, parents, general public, etc. The Alabama State Department of Education has shared the following draft courses of study for feedback: Cosmetology COS and feedback form, Education and Training COS and feedback form, and Hospitality and Tourism COS and feedback form. I invite you to review these draft courses of study and share your feedback with the state.
Every week, something outstanding about MCS is brought to my attention. One I just ran across is a report in USA Today that Madison City Schools has the 3rd best e-sports team (BJHS) in the U.S. Outstanding. E-sports teams at BJ and JC are an integral part of our high school offerings.
We live in a very giving district. Here is a cause I would like to call to your attention; Snacks for success to benefit students.
The Madison Bowl is a spirited event for the entire community. This year’s game between Bob Jones and James Clemens is on Friday, September 2, at Madison City Stadium. To help get everyone in the spirit and to support MCS schools, our Trash Pandas baseball team is hosting “Rivalry Night” on Tuesday, August 30, in their game against Biloxi at Toyota Field. We are grateful for their support for our schools. Buy Tickets and Learn More Here
Finally, these past few years have been challenging to all of us in the MCS family. As you are aware, many districts across the nation have seen a mass exodus of teachers and a short supply of new teachers to fill empty positions. We are blessed in this community with great administrators, teachers and staff. Please know that our teachers and staff give their heart and soul to your children everyday. Remember, though, that they have families that need their attention also. In the past few years, we have all become accustomed to the desire for rapid response of text or emails. I encourage you to please remember that, when our teachers and staff go home, they have a priority to take care of their families. Time spent with their families is always a great source of mental wellness. So, if you send an email to a teacher after the school day ends, please give them time to respond the next day during their planning time. By supporting our staff and teachers, we can continue to hire and retain the best teachers and keep our district one of the best in the state and nation.
Dear MCS Parents,
I am looking forward to welcoming your children back to school this Wednesday, August 3.
Our entire MCS team has been busy preparing for their return. All Madison City employees reported back last Wednesday for Institute Day where we were inspired and energized by our keynote speaker. As educators, we are blessed with the opportunity to support your children on their path to reaching and exceeding their goals. I want to give you a few updates as we prepare to start the 2022-2023 school year.
Masks will be optional this school start. If you want your child to be masked, you will need to provide a mask for them. Any student or staff that tests positive for COVID will stay home and be excluded from school and school activities for a minimum of 5 full days (1st day of symptoms is day 0). Please contact your school nurse to report a positive COVID case.
See the Health Services website for the complete procedures for absences and exposure to someone positive to COVID-19.
Please remember to keep your sick child at home and communicate with your school nurse regardless of whether your child has COVID- 19 or any other illness.
I know you have seen construction taking place on multiple school campuses. Some projects, like the new special education wing and the south parking lot at Bob Jones, are quite visible. Others, like HVAC replacements at several schools, are less noticeable. As always, the summer months are very short for this type of work, but are the least disruptive to the school year. I certainly appreciate our maintenance and custodial staff for their hard work to get areas that have been disrupted by construction back in order. I also appreciate the countless community groups and staff that came during the summer and served our schools in clean up programs.
As I shared last week, safety is always our top priority. This school year we have a renewed focus on staff training, use of available resources, and physical security. Although we will not share specific plans for security reasons, we feel confident that our schools are safe. We will continue to be vigilant and evaluate our procedures designed to keep our campuses safe. I appreciate our partnership with the City of Madison and the Madison Fire and Police Departments. We are blessed in this community to have such a tremendous group of first responders.
I want to remind everyone that MCS will be returning to the National School Lunch and Breakfast Program for the 2022-23 school year. Due to the rapidly increasing cost of food and supplies - combined with reduced federal reimbursement rates - MCS meals will increase by 10 cents to the following new rate: elementary lunch $2.75; secondary lunch $3. Breakfast remains the same at $1.75. Families who may qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced School Meal Program can use this link to apply https://paypams.com/OnlineApp.aspx
Those who have had children in the district know that car lines are always longer the first few days and traffic is always a little heavier when we return to school. The heavier traffic and longer car lines usually ease up after the first week or so of school. Your local school has all route and bus information. I encourage you to use the GPS Parent Portal app for tracking your child’s bus in real time. Your schools have all the codes and information for downloading the app to your device. Please note that our transportation department will be balancing ridership loads during the first couple of weeks of school and there could be slight route changes. Your school will communicate those changes to you. I appreciate your patience in advance as we all work together to get our students to and from school safely.
Our theme this year as a district is “Glad To Be Here.” I am glad to be a part of the Madison family and serve our Board, teachers, staff and students. We are blessed with a wonderful community that truly values education. Together, we can and will continue to focus on our students and “Empowering All of Them for Global Success.” I look forward to seeing your children in our schools tomorrow!
It’s an exciting time in Madison City Schools as we get ready for the return of students and teachers. I cannot wait until the hallways are buzzing again. As we wrap up the last full week of summer break, I want to take a brief moment to share some information about the return to school.
Each year, parents of students who are returning to Madison City Schools must re-enroll their student(s) online. This is a very quick process and is necessary for parents to update any contacts, notify us of any changes in medical history or custody, and of course, provide proof of residency in the Madison City Schools’ zone. Almost 11,500 students from last year are returning and most have submitted their re-enrollment application and been approved. However, currently we have about 573 students who have not yet started the re-enrollment process. An additional 234 have started the process but not finished. Another 239 submitted, but have been notified they have outstanding forms to be submitted for proof of residency.
All of this is necessary as we make sure we base staffing on the number of students who are approved to return. The deadline was July 22. If you have not registered your student, please do so as soon as possible. Schedules and class assignments are currently being made for those that have registered. Any student not registered will not receive a class assignment or schedule until they are registered.
As we prepare for the upcoming school year, it is important that we reinforce our commitment to safety and security across MCS. Our district has many resources to keep our campuses safe yet we are always looking for ways to improve.
After the tragic event in Uvalde, Texas, we conducted an audit of our safety protocols. This review included assessing facility vulnerabilities; forming a safety/security workgroup composed of teachers, staff, parents and administrators; and conducting a staff survey to get vital feedback. MCS currently has 10 School Resource Officers (SROs) assigned to our schools, along with 3 private security guards, and a safety and security coordinator solely dedicated to overseeing the district’s safety and security posture.
The Madison Police Department provides MCS with SROs who receive unique, high-quality training that qualify them for these assignments. We also utilize resources dedicated to mental health, early warning detection, intervention processes, and personnel dedicated to addressing safety and security.
Each school is required by law to have an updated Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). The school’s EOP is updated annually and staff are trained on their EOP and our district emergency response protocols. This school year we will have a renewed focus on staff training, use of available resources, and physical security. Although we will not share specific plans for security reasons, we feel confident that our schools are safe. That said, we continue to look for ways to improve school safety and avoid becoming complacent.
Student and campus safety/ security will always be our top priority and our partnerships with the Madison Police Department, parents, and other community stakeholders will remain a vital part of this effort.
As we launch into the 2022-2023 school year, we are preparing for New Student Orientations and Open Houses. Elementary Open Houses will be on Monday, August 1, in time intervals based on last name. See the school-by-school schedule here. Secondary students’ schedules will be available for viewing in PowerSchool prior to the start of school: Liberty and Discovery students can view schedules starting Friday, July 29, and Bob Jones and James Clemens students can view schedules starting Monday, August 1. More information about schedules will be released from schools.
In the past, we have tried several scheduling options with Open House, including setting elementary, middle, and high school open houses on the same day, which posed difficulties for families with students in multiple grades. We considered this option when planning our Open House schedule for this year. In addition, we took into account the schedule changes that always take place at the middle and high school level, due to the balancing of classes and new students enrolling daily.
With these things in mind, we made the conscious decision to hold the middle school Open Houses on August 9th and the high school Open Houses on August 11th (after the first day of school). For new MCS students and other students new to a building, our secondary schools are holding New Student Orientations prior to the first day of school. In addition, our teachers will allow our students time during the first few days of school to find their way around. Finally, our secondary schedules will be more accurate than schedules that we would have passed out in mid-July. Secondary students not involved in new student orientation can obtain bus route information by contacting the school on or after August 1.
Have a great week!