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Monday, Nov. 22 District Update

11/22.2021 Monday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

I would like to start by wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving. I hope you all enjoy the break and come back refreshed for the final weeks of the semester. As I gather with my family and give thanks, I will certainly add the Madison City Schools family as a blessing in my life. It is fitting that Thanksgiving falls closely to Alabama’s Teacher Appreciation Week, which was observed last week. Our teachers - as well as administrators and support staffs - deserve our utmost thanks for their dedication and service to our great school system.

By now, most of your students have been issued a Chromebook. I am pleased to report that we are nearly 100 percent reaching our 1-to-1 initiative of assigning a device to every student in the district. A Task Force has begun meeting to develop a districtwide blueprint for technology instruction. Technology alone is not the answer to improved learning. The key is developing the best professional development and creating an atmosphere where our 1:1 expands the opportunity for our students’ educational experience. Developing a highly interactive curriculum will prepare our students for career skills, address different learning styles, and transform learning in today’s global environment. I am thankful we live in a community that values education and allows us to provide our students these necessary resources to meet our district mission.

Madison is a very diverse community. Students in MCS come from families representing as many as 86 languages. Last week, our district’s EL (English Learners) program hosted a Parent Night for families to learn about helpful resources in the community. Among the community partners represented were Madison Fire, Police, and Parks and Recreation departments; the Madison Chamber of Commerce, public library, HEMSI ambulance service, adult EL class providers, and more. Interpreters for numerous languages were also available. EL Teachers from each school led sessions for new EL parents, and helpful resources were shared like child care and classes for citizenship. Our SROs were a hit with the kids, handing out candy, coloring books, and squeeze balls.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Busby at James Clemens High School and Emmah Rolfe at Bob Jones High School for being Heisman High School Scholarship winners. Elizabeth is a swimmer at JCHS and Emmah a softball player at BJHS. They are among numerous students at both of our high schools who earn academic and athletic scholarships each year.

Congratulations to the James Clemens computer science team on an outstanding performance at the ACTE State Programming Competition. In the Level 5 (Grades 11/12) division, Daniel Je, Pranav Somu, Joshua Wang, and Jeremiah Yang earned 1st place and a perfect score and Koury Harmon, Steve Jung, Alex King, and Jaden Yu earned 2nd place. In the Level 4 (Grades 9/10) division, Madhu Balaji, Nivriti Eadala, Connie Guo, and Grace Hur earned 1st place and Andrew Gohlich, Hannah Park, Sophia Simpson, and Brian Venson earned 3rd place. Jerry Zheng helped co-run the state competition for the second year in a row.

I would also like to extend congratulations to five MCS students who were selected as 2022 Coca-Cola Scholarship semifinalists: Elise Baumgartner, Kailyn Grant, and Mike Zhang from Bob Jones and Sarah Guo and Yewon Lee from James Clemens. Our five MCS students are among the 1,617 students who were selected from over 68,000 applicants from across the country. The Coca-Cola scholars program scholarship is an achievement based scholarship awarded to graduating high school seniors who are recognized for their capacity to lead and serve, as well as their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities.

Our SROs are an integral part of our schools. They not only work to keep schools safe but they also engage with students to build relationships of trust and respect and help teach programs against bullying and substance abuse. Let me cite just two examples of their involvement in schools. When SRO Shane Kyker at Midtown Elementary heard about a 4th grade class studying helicopter flight and using paper models to learn aerodynamics, he arranged to have a state trooper helicopter and an Air Evac medical helicopter land at the school. Flight crews told them all about flight dynamics, emergency responses and allowed closeup inspections of the aircraft. Another example is when Liberty Middle SRO Ruby Jewell applied her life saving skills to revive and help stabilize a student who had collapsed outside. I am grateful for the partnership with our SROs and for their dedication to our students. 

Last week, the Board of Education voted to make December 16 a ½ collaborative day for all students. This year has brought PowerSchool (the new student information system) and the transition to 1:1, which has led to additional work for our teachers. Changing December 16 to a ½ day for all students will help our teachers finish out the end of the semester without carrying work into the holiday season. 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.

On a final note, most of you know how dear St. Jude Childrens’ Research Hospital is to our hearts in Madison City Schools. Every single one of our schools has had a student or students treated at St. Jude at absolutely no cost to families. That’s why MCS has been such a strong supporter of St. Jude over these years through various fund drives. This Wednesday, Nov. 24, the Today show will be featuring one of our students in a special St. Jude segment. Tune in to this special feature on Maelin-Kate of Heritage Elementary in the 9 a.m. hour of the broadcast. Let it serve as a reminder for us to seek ways to love and support others.

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving!

Ed Nichols

11/15/2021 Monday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

The semester's end is fast approaching. After next week, Madison City Schools will be closed the entire week for Thanksgiving (November 22-26). Then, only three weeks remain before the Winter Break (December 20 until students return January 4).

I look forward to all the exciting things ahead in 2022 with our winter athletics like basketball; continued activities like band, theater, choir, cheerleading; and the ongoing academic accomplishments of our students whether that be in lego robotics, greenpower racing, cybersecurity, world language competitions, math competitions and many others. Their performances are what make MCS No. 1 in so many state and national rankings. We thank our teachers, support staff, and of course, parents, for helping our students thrive.

One of the strengths of Madison City Schools is our National Board Certified Teacher program. The Schools Foundation and Committee of 100 have partnered with us in assisting teachers with the cost of attaining NBCT. Last week, I had the honor of attending the launch of the “Raise Your Hand” campaign at Ignite Inc., a defense firm in Research Park. Ignite pledged $20,000 and challenged other area companies to do the same in a $1 million goal to help teachers in Madison City, Huntsville CIty and Madison County school districts attain National Board Certified Training. More than a decade of research from across the country shows that students taught by National Board Certified teachers gain advanced learning each school year, with the positive impact even greater for low-income students. MCS currently has 82 National Board Certified Teachers.

Madison City students constantly impress me with their talents. I would like to recognize James Clemens sophomore Finley Koswoski who developed an app for a historic walking tour through Madison. To fulfill a girl scout project, she teamed up with Madison historic officials to develop the Walking Tour of Madison Smart Phone App.  Our administrative team worked to align the app content with fourth grade standards in our curriculum so that classes can take the tour as a sanctioned field trip. Enjoy these photos from Friday’s launch of the app at Madison Elementary.

Finally, I once again want to recognize all of our veterans who serve, and have ever served, our great nation. Gratitude from our students and staff was on full display last week with various Veterans observances on school campuses. I join them in thanking each of you for your service. Our nation stands strong because of you.

Have a great week!

Ed Nichols

 

11/08/2021 Monday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

I hope your week is off to a great start! 

It is always a pleasure to show off our schools. Last Wednesday, we had groups from Leadership Huntsville visiting several of our campuses to learn more about our district and the rich learning culture in our schools. Stops included the PreK Center, Midtown Elementary, and Liberty Middle. Each group got orientations from school administrators, visited classrooms and spoke with some of the students. At Liberty Middle’s Exceptional Learning Center in the Special Education wing, they were served donuts and coffee by students.

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with my Student Advisory Committee. During this meeting, I received feedback from the students on the current dress code and our strategic planning process. I greatly appreciate these students taking time to join me and offer their suggestions on ways to strengthen MCS.

I would like to remind you again of the public hearing this Wednesday, November 10, at 5 p.m. on middle school rezoning. This will split Liberty and Discovery middle schools to create new zones for Journey Middle. More details in this link, including a grandfathering allowance for some students and a very slight change also in a high school zone line. Speaking of Journey Middle, the Board members, my administrative team and I, and Journey Principal Dr. Treva Stewart, got a sneak peek inside the new school last week on a tour led by construction officials. Journey is on schedule and on budget to open at the beginning of next school year. I will continue to update you periodically on its status.  

Congratulations to the Bob Jones Construction Academy and instructor Steven Lanford for its recent win in the statewide Student Carpentry Team Build competition in Tuscaloosa. The four-person team designed and built an 8X10 shed in a limited timeframe and were judged on every aspect of construction standards.
Our Career Tech programs continue to expand. We had a well-attended public information session last week on the new dual enrollment Craft Academy Welding program that will be offered to BJ and JC students next semester. Through this course that is in partnership with AIDT, students will have the ability to pursue several industry welding certifications. Students who are interested in the welding program should contact their school counselor.

As a reminder, our elementary After School Sustained Tutoring and secondary Homework Hotline programs are up and running. The elementary After School Sustained Tutoring program  hosts after school reading tutoring on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and math tutoring on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. The participating students receive teacher-developed lessons focused on review skills needed to assist students in becoming more successful when working towards grade level expectations. As data points are re-evaluated throughout the 2021-2022 academic year, additional students may be selected to participate in the program. The secondary Homework Hotline is available in the evenings for students who are struggling with homework or test preparation in math and English. Students are able to meet with a teacher via WebEx in the evenings to get help with their questions. More information about the Homework Hotline can be found on the district website. Both the elementary After School Sustained Tutoring Program and the secondary Homework Hotline are being made available through the ESSER funds that support COVID learning loss.

I would be remiss to not acknowledge Huntsville City Schools for its last-minute help in providing a stadium for the BJ-Hewitt Trussville playoff game Friday night. Superintendent Christy Finley and her team pressed into action when Madison City Stadium had a major failure in its lighting system shortly before kickoff. The game was shifted to Milton Frank Stadium, thanks to quick action by the BJ administrative team and MCS district administrators working with Huntsville City Schools to secure an alternate site.

Finally, with this being Veterans Day week, I would like to thank our retired and active duty veterans for their service. As a child of a military veteran, I know the sacrifice of those who serve our country in the armed forces. My father served for 26 years in the Army, Army Air Corp and Air Force. Many of our schools will be holding parades, programs and other observances. Let us never take for granted their service and all the sacrifices they and their families have made.


Have a great week!

Ed Nichols

 

 

10/29/2021 Friday District Update
Dear MCS Parents,

Each week I like to share highlights. From this point forward, my weekly email update will be sent out on Mondays. Therefore, there will not be a weekly update next week. The next update will be emailed on Monday, November 8.

On Tuesday, I communicated to you that I would be seeking approval of a COVID Matrix at the next Board meeting November 4 which would determine our mask policy. I will share two proposals for the Board to review. 

Proposal 1

  1. When Madison County reaches the MODERATE(Yellow) level as designated by the ADPH, mask will become OPTIONAL in the Madison City School District. 
  1. School Buses Facial coverings will remain mandatory for passengers and drivers on school buses. The Alabama Department of Public Health has interpreted the federal order regarding facial covering requirements on all forms of public transportation to include public school buses. This requirement supersedes the facial covering policy of the schools.
  1. This matrix will terminate on May 25, 2022 unless terminated by the Board prior to this date.

 Proposal 2

  1. When Madison County reaches the MODERATE(Yellow) level as designated by the ADPH, mask will become OPTIONAL at the high school level in the Madison City School District. When the Madison County level reaches LOW(Blue) as designated by the ADPH, mask will become OPTIONAL at the middle and elementary level in the Madison City School District. Until all schools are at a mask optional level, the Central Office building will require a mask.
  1. School Buses Facial coverings will remain mandatory for passengers and drivers on school buses. The Alabama Department of Public Health has interpreted the federal order regarding facial covering requirements on all forms of public transportation to include public school buses. This requirement supersedes the facial covering policy of the schools.
  1. The Elementary and Middle School Level requirement will revert to a MODERATE designation 45 days after a vaccine is released to the public for children 5-11 years of age. This matrix will terminate on May 25, 2022 unless terminated by the Board prior to this date.

 

As always, our team continues to review COVID cases in the district. To find the updated COVID numbers for this week, click here OR go to the district website, click on Departments and Health Services. The website provides the number of “close contacts” and positive cases.

With the opening of Journey Middle School next fall, the district will be rezoning our middle school areas. On November 10 at 5 pm, there will be a public hearing on rezoning held in the Central Office Board Room; this public hearing will be for middle school rezoning and the one change for high schools. Click here to view the proposed zoning changes for middle schools and the one change for high schools. It also will show you a small change in the high school zone that is in the Shiloh Creek area. All other high school zones are remaining the same. There is a link for you to provide feedback. Last year, when we released the first proposed zoning, there were several questions about the transition to three middle schools. I would like to address a few of the questions at this time.

  1. Current 6th and 7th graders at Discovery and Liberty Middle Schools will have the option of staying at their current school until they transition to high school. Transportation will not be provided if you choose to remain at your current school and once they declare their school choice, there will not be any transfers. The students will declare in January as we begin scheduling for next year. 
  2. Any younger sibling not currently attending Liberty or Discovery will need to attend their school as designated by the new zoning.
  3. Journey is a comprehensive middle school and will offer classes and programs like Liberty and Discovery. They will also house a DD unit. 

Earlier this week I had the honor of joining Huntsville Superintendent Christie Finley and Madison County Superintendent Allen Perkins at the annual Impact Aid kickoff at JCHS. Garrison Commander COL Glenn Mellor came to help us jointly appeal to families to fill these forms out and return them to your child’s school by November 3. Impact Aid is federal appropriations for school systems in communities with a large abundance of federally connected jobs. The money replaces taxes that are exempt on federal installations. Please help us by filling out and returning those Impact Aid forms.

I want to thank Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama for again supporting our schools in its Be Healthy School Grant Program. BCBS awarded $9,000 to Columbia Elementary for initiatives to keep kids healthy. Horizon received this grant last school year. CES will use the money for a rock wall and playground equipment. Judging by all their hoops and cheers at Wednesday’s BCBS presentation in the gym, the additions will be a hit with the kids.

Our teachers and staff are often recognized by outside groups. Two Bob Jones teachers recently received honors in the community. Math teacher Emily Albert was recognized at the Dr. Wernher Von Braun Memorial Dinner by the National Space Club of Huntsville for its 2021 Teacher Certification Award. Social Sciences teacher Cory Wright was honored by the Madison Police Department for five years of voluntary service as a Reserve Officer. Midtown Elementary School counselor Carissa Davis received the New Counselor of the Year Award by the Alabama School Counselor Association. I am proud of the accomplishments of these employees.

Special Education plays a vital role in Madison City Schools. The Knights of Columbus has been a faithful supporter of Special Education for more than a decade. Its signature fund-raiser is the Tootsie Roll 5K, which is November 6 at Madison City Stadium. Please consider entering the Tootsie Roll 5K. All proceeds benefit our Special Education program.

I will close with this reflection on some of the creative ways schools are keeping students and parents engaged. While I love to report our top academic rankings by organizations like U.S. News and World Report and NICHE, I also enjoy sharing some of the fun activities in our schools and PTAs. Heritage Elementary, for example, allowed kids to “slime” their principal for reaching a fundraising goal for major playground work. Horizon Elementary’s PTA Harvest Festival featured tricycle races between teachers and administrators. The red-ribbon week campaigns against drugs had daily themes for kids to dress the part. See more examples here. 

MCS thrives because of strong community support, quality leadership from our Board and administrators, and top teachers and staff.

I wish everyone a great weekend!

 

Ed Nichols 

 

10/22/2021 Friday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

Madison City CNP employees continue to do all they can to ensure our students are receiving a healthy breakfast and lunch each day. Throughout the state, school systems have struggled with food delivery shipments, staff shortages, last-minute menu changes and other adjustments. I commend our CNP for working through all these challenges to best serve the district.

Our team continues to review COVID cases in the district. To find the updated COVID numbers for this week, click here OR go to the district website, click on Departments and Health Services. The website provides the number of “close contacts” and positive cases.

Congratulations to Jerry Zheng, a junior at James Clemens High School. Jerry was one of 6 students of 400,000 across the U.S. and other nations to earn a perfect score on the AP US History exam in May 2021. I am so proud of Jerry for this outstanding academic accomplishment. His teacher at JC, Patrice O’Donnell, deserves credit as well 

Several MCS teachers were recognized externally this week for their service. Kent Chambers, teacher-coach at BJHS, has been recognized by the National FastPitch Coaches Association for its Humanitarian award. Coach Chambers received this award for his advocacy of womens’ sports and commitment to softball at BJHS. Darius Brewton, career prep teacher and assistant football and baseball coach at Liberty Middle, has been recognized for being named educator of the year by the Partnership for a Drug Free Community. The selection was for his advocacy against alcohol, drugs and tobacco use among teens. Liberty Middle math teacher, Nate Pahman, has been recognized for earning the Valley’s Top Teacher Award by Fox-54.

I am excited to share that Ms. Stephanie Kelley, Executive Director of The Schools Foundation, joined us this week to present MCS with a check of more than $5,600 for A+ College Ready. These funds directly support Advanced Placement training for high school teachers. 

Redstone Federal Credit Union also gave a generous donation to our culinary program at Bob Jones High School. MCS values its partnership with RFCU, which operates official credit union branches in both high schools that are staffed with students who are considering a future in banking and financial services. 

I would be remiss to not recognize our Transportation Department during National School Bus Safety Week. Our drivers, mechanics, route specialists, aides do a tremendous job serving our school community. They have worked extra hard dealing with staffing shortages and other challenges. This year’s theme is “Be Safe - Know the Danger Zone.” Let it be a reminder to be extra careful in school zones and to not pass a stopped school bus when it is loading or unloading.

Finally, I want to address the Literacy Act because of some information that came from the State Board of Education this week. The focus of the Alabama Literacy Act, passed in 2019, is to help improve reading in Alabama public schools for the purpose of ensuring students are reading on grade level by the end of the third grade. Proficiency in foundational reading skills is a prerequisite to developing adequate skills to comprehend and understand grade level text in all subject areas, not just reading alone. Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year (unless amended during the upcoming legislative session), children scoring in the lowest reading achievement level on the ACAP Summative and not meeting the criteria for a “Good Cause Exemption” will be retained in the third grade. 

According to the 2020-2021 third grade ACAP Summative data, 5.59% of third grade students in Madison City Schools scored below the lowest reading achievement level on the ACAP Summative. After considering the reasons for a “Good Cause Exemption” the percentage lowered to approximately 4.0%. Each elementary school is working to ensure that all students scoring at this level are receiving the appropriate interventions. As we review data shared recently identifying students scoring below the lowest reading achievement level, all parents of current third grade students scoring at such level on the 2020-2021 ACAP Summative Reading assessment will be notified prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. 

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Ed Nichols

10/15/2021 Friday District Update

 It has been a wonderful week having our students, faculty, and staff back on school campuses from fall break. The range of activities is as varied as the weather, and I look forward to continued school visits to see all the exciting things going on.

Our team continues to review COVID cases in the district. To find the updated COVID numbers for this week, click here OR go to the district website, click on Departments and Health Services. The website provides the number of “close contacts” and positive cases.

October is National Principals’ Month, and I want to take a moment to honor all of our outstanding principals: Mr. Jamie Hill at Columbia Elementary, Dr. Georgina Nelson at Heritage Elementary, Mr. Rodney Richardson at Horizon Elementary, Mr. Jamie Golliver at Madison Elementary, Mrs. Savannah Demeester at Midtown Elementary, Mrs. Carmen Taylor-Tubb at Mill Creek Elementary, Mr. Karl Fernandez at Rainbow Elementary, Mrs. Kim Stewart at Discovery Middle, Mr. Shannon Brown at Liberty Middle, Mrs. Sylvia Lambert at Bob Jones High, Dr. Brian Clayton at James Clemens High, Dr. Kerry Donaldson Administrator at The Academy, and Mrs. Nichole Phillips Administrator at the First Class Pre-K.
Our district is blessed to have the most dedicated principals leading our schools, and I am honored to work with each one of them!

U.S. News and World Reports issued its annual best schools rankings. I am proud to share that all of our schools placed in the top percentile in the respective school levels. Heritage ranked #5 in Alabama out of 811 elementary schools and #1 in Madison City Schools. Liberty ranked #9 and Discovery ranked #13 out of 552 middle schools in the state. Bob Jones and James Clemens ranked in the top 4 percent nationally among nearly 24,000 ranked high schools. Among 374 ranked high schools in Alabama which includes magnet schools, BJHS placed 6th and JCHS 10th in Alabama. This is a record that I am proud to boast of because our teachers, staff, and administrators continue to do an outstanding job, especially in the midst of a pandemic.

I am excited to announce that we are kicking off the elementary After School Sustained Tutoring Program. The Program Directors will be emailing permission forms to parents of selected students the week of October 18. The program will host after school reading tutoring on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and math tutoring on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons beginning November 1, 2021. The participating students will receive teacher-developed lessons focused on review skills needed to assist students in becoming more successful when working towards grade level expectations. A task force, including multiple representatives from each elementary school, worked collectively during the 2021 spring semester to develop criteria and a structure for the program. As data points are re-evaluated throughout the 2021-2022 academic year, additional students may be selected to participate in the program.

As a reminder, we also have a Homework Hotline for students in grades 6th-12th. The hotline is available in the evenings for students who are struggling with homework or test preparation in math and English. Students are able to meet with a teacher via WebEx in the evenings to get help with their questions. More information about the Homework Hotline can be found on the district website. Both the Elementary After School Sustained Tutoring Program and the Secondary Homework Hotline are being made available through the ESSER funds that support COVID learning loss.

A few weeks ago, I shared that my team and I met with Ed Castile from AIDT to discuss the future of welding in Madison City Schools. I am happy to announce that we will be offering a dual enrollment welding program starting January 2022. Through this welding program, students will have the opportunity to pursue several industry welding certifications. Students who are interested in the program should see their high school guidance counselor. AIDT plans to partner with us by bringing in a mobile welding lab and providing a welding instructor. There will be an informational meeting on November 4. Click here for more information about the new welding program.

I am excited to share that the Community Foundation is partnering with Madison City, Madison County, and Huntsville City for dyslexia training for our teachers. This will be a game changer for students who struggle with dyslexia. Through this partnership, we will be able to train 30 elementary and special education teachers in the Orton-Gillingham reading approach. As a district, we have already trained 60 teachers in the Orton-Gillingham math approach, and this new partnership will help further our district goal to train every elementary and special education teacher in Orton-Gillingham reading and math. 

Partnerships such as these underscore the importance of community involvement in our schools. Today, I met with our Strategic Planning Committee to begin the process of developing a roadmap for the growth and direction of MCS. This group includes community members, teachers, and staff. This group will review data and make recommendations throughout a series of meetings.

I hope you and your families have a wonderful weekend.

Ed Nichols 


10/01/2021 Friday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

I would like to begin by wishing you all a wonderful fall break. I hope everyone enjoys time with family and comes back refreshed and ready for the next nine weeks.

I do not like to begin my Friday messenger on a negative note, but one very serious matter I would like to discuss with you involves social media challenges. In recent weeks, we have seen social media challenges encouraging students to vandalize school restrooms. The challenges moved to tampering with the vehicles of teachers and staff members. The newest challenge is to strike a teacher or staff member. Our teachers and staff members pour their hearts into educating your children, and they should never have to fear their safety being compromised - by a social media challenge or for any reason. Please talk with your children about the severity of these actions that are encouraged through social media challenges and join me in ensuring that this type of behavior will not take place in Madison City Schools. Behaviors of this type are of a serious offense and are classified as a Class III violation in our Code of Student Conduct. 

At this time, Madison City Schools has decided that we will continue with the mask mandate upon returning from fall break. We will continue to monitor community and school-wide positivity rates. ADPH has just recently issued new updated school guidance for COVID-19 close contact exclusions. These new close contact exclusion requirements are as follows:

  • After fall break, our exclusion timeframe will be shortened for excluded students to 10 days if there is no ongoing exposure to COVID-19 in the household setting or other potential ongoing exposure. Ongoing exposure means being in contact with an infected person by sharing the same living space, sleeping with an infected person, eating with an infected person, or any other circumstances where persons are closely exposed to one another.  
  • 10 day home quarantine: 10 day home quarantine is allowed if there is no ongoing exposure (as outlined above), the quarantined person has not had symptoms during the quarantine, and the quarantined persons can symptom monitor, follow masking, and continue social distancing. 
  • 7 day home quarantine alternative: 7 day home quarantine is allowed as an alternative in schools if there is no ongoing exposure (as outlined above), the quarantined person has no symptoms during the quarantine, the quarantined person has a negative COVID-19 test (molecular or antigen) result which has to be collected NOT BEFORE day 5 of the quarantine period, and the quarantined person can symptom monitor, follow masking, and continue social distancing. Under this alternative, the student will be allowed to return on day 8.
  • Home Based-Tests: Home-based tests are not accepted for the 7-day home quarantine. If a person has a positive home-based test, they are considered to be a COVID-19 case and should follow Isolation and Exclusion for the full 10-day period.

Excluded students will still have the option not to be tested and return to school on day 11. Nothing has changed for COVID positive students; a positive student must still be out of school for 10 days from the first day of symptoms.

Today, I had the pleasure of having lunch with our National Merit Semifinalists from James Clemens. (The BJ merit luncheon was last week). What an honor it is to meet with these students and hear them talk about their aspirations, their post high school plans and their school experience here in Madison. As I look over the elementary and middle schools that they had attended, it is noteworthy that most came through MCS since starting school. That is a testament to all the dedicated teachers, staff and administrators here in MCS, along with a supportive community and boards of education that place such a high value on education. Our schools are frequently visited by outside educators to glean ideas from what we do. Just this week, I joined Dr. Clayton at JC to welcome the president of the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP). As leader of NASSP.  Gregg Wieczorek is visiting one secondary school in every state and chose JC as his only high school stop in Alabama. He said in a media interview afterwards he was impressed with the hands-on learning opportunities he saw.

MCS was recently honored to have four seniors participate in the International Virtual Youth Leadership Summit for Peace. BJHS seniors Cameron Cummings and Leah Lessmann participated in one summit on September 21 while JCHS seniors Quincy Bowie and Sarah Bierbauer participated in a summit on September 30. These students had the opportunity to interact with leaders and students from across the globe. The organizer of this summit said the Madison City students “were by far our most impressive student leaders” and that they are “self-starters who take charge when the occasion merits.” Congratulations to these students, their parents, and MCS teachers and staff who have helped lay the foundation for all of our students to excel on a global scale.

Something we are always trying to do as a district is to bring in new opportunities for our students. I am so excited to share with you that we have partnered with Madison Hospital, Phoenix Industries, and the Department of Alabama Rehabilitation Services to develop a new work-based learning program for our students with exceptional learning needs. This program is geared toward students who have completed 12th grade, and it provides real-world work experiences through two 30 day rotations within Madison Hospital. Thank you to our faculty and staff members and community partners for continuing to develop great opportunities for our students.

I am also happy to share that my team and I met with Ed Castile from AIDT this week to discuss the future of welding in Madison City Schools. I am happy to announce that we are in the early stages of adding welding as an option for our high school students. AIDT plans to partner with us by bringing in a mobile welding lab and providing a welding instructor. More information will be released in the coming weeks.

Another partnership I am proud to announce is with the Community Foundation for dyslexia training for our teachers. This will be a game changer for students who struggle with dyslexia. It was an honor to join superintendents from Huntsville City and Madison County schools at the announcement ceremony today at Greengate School on the Randolph School campus. Through this partnership, we will be able to train 30 elementary and special education teachers in the Orton-Gillingham reading method. As a district, we have already trained 60 teachers in the Orton-Gillingham math method, and this new partnership will help further our district goal of training every elementary and special education teacher in the Orton-Gillingham reading and math methods.  

These partnerships underscore the importance of community involvement in our schools. Earlier this week, I met with our Strategic Planning Committee to develop a roadmap for the growth and direction of MCS. This group includes community members, teachers and staff. Over the next series of meetings, they will use results from last year’s Strategic Planning Survey to make recommendations on facilities, curriculum offerings, services and more.

As you can see, it has been a busy week for our students, teachers, and staff. I hope all of you thoroughly enjoy fall break and time with family.

 

Ed Nichols 

 

 

9/24/2021 Friday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

 It's been an exciting and eventful week, starting with a luncheon honoring our National Merit Semifinalists at Bob Jones and concluding with James Clemens homecoming activities. Next week we will be honoring our National Merit Semifinalists at JCHS. All National Merit Semifinalists will be honored at upcoming football games.

 I congratulate these students for their hard work, but I also want to recognize the supportive parents, teachers and staff throughout their school experience, and school boards past and present who laid a strong foundation for their success. When I look at our list of 37 national merit scholars - 19 from BJ and 18 from JC - the vast majority attended Madison City schools throughout their school experience. Every single elementary and middle school had some of these merit scholars.

It is noteworthy that all Madison City schools are ranked in the top 10 in the 2022 NICHE rankings of schools in Alabama. Think about that. Our seven elementary schools ranked 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th of ALL elementary schools in Alabama. Discovery Middle ranked 1st and Liberty 6th of ALL middle schools in Alabama. James Clemens claimed the 4th place slot and Bob Jones 6th of ALL high schools in Alabama. We are also ranked as the #2 best district in the state and as the #8 best district to teach in. According to NICHE, we are #3 for districts with the best teachers. I realize I am biased, but as I visit schools every week, there is no doubt that we have the absolute best teachers in the state. I could not be more proud of our teachers, staff, students, and administrators who work so hard every day.

We have a lot of events coming up next week before the October 4-8 Fall Break. I would like to encourage everyone to attend the March on Madison band performance Tuesday, September 28, at Madison City Stadium showcasing the halftime and competition field shows of BJ, JC and other area high school bands. Madison City Stadium will be busy with excitement again on Thursday, September 30, when Discovery Middle plays crosstown Liberty Middle in football. Kickoff is 5 p.m. 

Next week is also the optional Flu Vaccine Clinic for students. Click here for more information on dates for each school and also for the parent consent form. Consent forms should be returned to the school nurse at least one day prior to the flu vaccine clinic. Flu vaccines are optional; only students with a completed and signed consent form will receive a flu vaccine. 

As a reminder, the first grading period for the 2021-2022 school year ends next Friday (October 1). The PowerSchool Parent Portal and the PowerSchool App are excellent ways to stay connected with your child’s daily progress and attendance in classes. Click here for more information about the parent portal and the app.

Our team continues to review COVID cases in the district. To find the updated COVID numbers for this week, click here OR go to the district website, click on Departments and Health Services. The website provides the number of “close contacts” and positive cases.   

I hope you all enjoy the beautiful fall weather and have a wonderful weekend!

Ed Nichols

 

  • Tuesday, September 21 Mask Update
     
    Dear MCS Family,

    I apologize for sending this out so late. Last Friday, I made the decision to move the district to a "Mask Preferred" status based on the low rate of positivity in the district. However, since that time after consultation with our legal counsel, I have been advised of a possible interpretation of the Board’s policy under which the Board should be asked to approve or disapprove the change I announced.

    For that reason I have decided to return to  Madison City Schools’ previous “Mask Required” status until this matter can be considered by the Board.

    I apologize that we are so quickly reversing course. However, I certainly want to make sure that our district is in compliance with Board Policy. I have always believed that if you need to correct an issue, you take action and do so.

    Therefore, I will work with our Board to review the appropriate masking procedure and how it may be addressed in the future. We will return to mask required for all staff and students beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.

    Sincerely,

    Ed Nichols