- Horizon Elementary School
MCS DIstrict Updates 3/28/2023
District Update 3/28/2023
Dear MCS Parents,
As I send this update, I know that all of us are saddened by the tragic school shooting yesterday in Nashville. The loss of student and staff lives is truly heartbreaking. Please know that our safety team, headed by Dr. West, is evaluating this situation as they do any situation like this across the country that affects a school. Prior to this event, our team was reviewing new additions to our safety and response programs for the district. We are planning several upgrades to our facilities this summer. In a few weeks, I will share with you some details on these upgrades. Facility upgrades would not be possible without your commitment to our district from the recent property tax increase.
Adopting new textbooks is a requirement of the Alabama State Department of Education. The SDE develops statewide textbook committees who approve books for schools to use in Alabama. Each local district adopts a textbook committee that reviews the approved material and then makes a recommendation for the district. Part of the process is to allow the community to review these materials. Elementary ELA textbook review materials will be available for public review in the Madison City Schools Boardroom at 211 Celtic Drive on Wednesday, March 29, from 2 - 6 p.m. Members of the public are welcome to review samples from the state approved ELA programs the schools are currently reviewing. The materials being reviewed are Open Court (CORE program), Amplify CKLA (CORE program), and 95 Percent (supplemental phonics/word study program).
Technology and protecting our kids is a topic of growing concern to parents/guardians.
The next Mental Health Matters workshop sponsored by Madison City Schools addresses this. Come to the Madison Public Library tomorrow (Wednesday, March 29) from noon-1 p.m. for a program entitled: “Technology, Youth and Mental Health.” There, you will learn how technology affects our youth’s mental health in both positive and negative ways and what we can do to safeguard against dangers. Tips and resources will be discussed, including a phone contract, safety recommendations and helpful parental monitoring apps. These workshops are free but attendees are requested to pre-register through this link. I would like to thank our Mental Health Coordinator, Stephanie Allen, and our community mental health partners for these outstanding programs.
Cybersecurity programs in Madison City Schools are going strong. Last week, CyberHuntsville - a non-profit group designed to promote cybersecurity in the Tennessee Valley - reported that teams from Bob Jones and James Clemens earned the rank of state champions in the recent state CyberPatriot XV competition. JCHS won the Platinum Open Division and BJ the Platinum All Service Division. JC also had a runner-up team in the Silver Open Division. MCS Cyber programs will be featured in the April edition of Madison Living magazine.
Congratulations to Bob Jones senior Ashwin Prabhakar for securing the 2023 Gorgas Scholarship for Alabama, and senior Austen Wyche of James Clemens for being awarded the 2023 Coca-Cola Scholars Program scholarship. Congratulations also to Mill Creek’s Destination Imagination team for placing first in a recent state competition and Liberty Middle’s Science Bowl Teams for making the semifinals at a State Science Bowl competition last week in Mobile. I also want to commend all of our chess teams and individual players for their outstanding performance in state competition. It was an honor recognizing them along with their leaders, Ranae Bartlett and coaches, at our March 23 Board meeting. MCS is also proud to share that JC’s Ms. Allison Shratter won the Alabama World Language Association Best Latin Teacher award at its recent state and regional conference.
My guests for the latest Sittin’ With The Supe Podcast are leaders with our ELL (English Language Learners) program: federal programs specialist Kaetlyn Hermann, Liberty Middle teacher/EL Summer Camp teacher Micah York, and Heritage EL Teacher Jessie Mayes. You can access the Podcast here.
Within the next few weeks, I will be sending out surveys to gather feedback from our students, teachers, staff, and parents. Click here to preview the surveys.
Finally, I want to congratulate Travis Cummings for his reappointment by the City Council to the Madison City Board of Education. Mr. Cummings has been a tireless leader for Madison City Schools. His passion for students, vision for excellence and advocacy for employees have helped make Madison City Schools one of the best school systems in America.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 3/10/2023
Dear MCS Parents,
As we finish this week and move into Spring Break, I want to wish everyone a safe and refreshing break. It is hard to believe that we are going to begin the last quarter of the school year. It just seems like yesterday that we held our open house meetings. I am certainly proud of our district and the many awards and accomplishments that have been part of this school year. Many of our students, teachers, staff and organizations have been recognized in our region, state and nationally. I recently had the pleasure of sharing these many accomplishments with community leaders in the Madison/Huntsville area. We are blessed to live in a community that supports our school system.
At our Board meeting last night, the Board approved purchasing bonds to build a new elementary school in our district. In this period of rapid growth of our city and school populations, we are continuing our efforts to keep our facilities balanced to meet the rising student enrollment. Our projections are that the school system will be around the 15,000 enrollment mark in the next 6 to 9 years. Our new elementary school will be needed to maintain a comfortable student balance in our schools. While this new school project begins to move forward, we are beginning the plans to expand our high schools.
I am asked many times if we are considering a new high school. The answer is no. There are many reasons for this answer, but the main reason is that the cost of a new high school would certainly exceed 100 million dollars. The district currently does not have sustainable revenue to afford this type of debt service. Therefore, we are currently developing plans to add 10 additional classrooms at each high school. As we move closer to the end of the school year, I plan to send you a more detailed outline of our plans for future facilities. I want to thank you and our community at large for expanding our revenues a few years ago with our 12 mill tax increase. This overwhelming support of our community has allowed us to keep moving forward with facility expansions.
Our community partnerships are vital to the success of our district. I would like to thank the Madison City PTA Council for its annual sponsorship of the Reflections Arts Contest for students. This activity provides a wonderful way for students at all grade levels to submit creations in the categories of Visual Arts, Dance Choreography, Literature, Film Production, Music Composition and Photography. What a wonderful way to stimulate learning outside the classroom. See the 2023 Reflections winners here.
My latest Podcast is on our PreK program with guests Nichole Phillips, (administrator), lead teacher Lisa Koerlin and MCS Elementary Instruction Coordinator Melissa Mims. Use this link to access the program.
Congratulations to JC and BJ track team members for their performance in the recent Battle Royale track meet at JC involving more than 20 schools, and to JC HOSA and BJ HOSA students who placed in the Health Occupations Students of America State Leadership Conference last week.
Congratulations also to BJ Theater/Patriot Players for their performance at the South East Theater Conference (SETF) where they performed Opening Night For the Diva which earned a state trophy and two All-Star Cast members (Evan Willis and Mikala Calhoun) as well as Best Costumes and Outstanding Technical Excellence.
Last week, I was excited to attend the Special Olympic basketball game between James Clemens and Austin High. I am so proud of the JC student body that attended the game and cheered enthusiastically for both teams. There was even a line dancing exhibition by the Principal, Dr. Kerry Donaldson and the Superintendent. As I was leaving the game, I heard a young lady's voice call out my name. As I turned I recognized a former student that was playing on the Austin team. Many years ago, I helped her with swimming at a neighborhood pool. Today she is a young woman preparing to leave school. However, she reached out to me to remind me of the fun she had swimming that day as a small child. I am certainly proud that our district recognizes and supports the gifts of all of our students.
Mark your calendar for March 28 and April 20 for job/career fairs for Madison City Schools. Check out the employment opportunities in one of the best school systems in Alabama and America.
I would like to commend CNP staff at several of our schools for spearheading a peanut butter/non nut butter food drive for the “Spread the Love” campaign by the Food Bank of North Alabama. Together, CNP programs at BJ, JC, Madison, Heritage, Discovery and Liberty collected more than 1,000 jars of peanut butter totaling 1,403 pounds.
I am also proud of the cross country team at Heritage Elementary for fielding the most participants of any school in the Paper Chase 5K benefiting Free2Teach. The showing earned Heritage $1,500 from First Bank for technology and resources for its library,
I want to thank the Schools Foundation for its continued strong support for learning programs in our schools. The Foundation presented a check to the Heritage Elementary Greenpower Team to replace its aging Goblin car.
Congratulations to the BJ staff of the Patriot Pages news site and the staff of the Eclectic literary magazine for placing 1st in each category at the Alabama Scholastic Press Association’s competition. Also to Madison Tanner for winning the Bailey Thompson Award in Editorial Writing.
Finally, I would like to call your attention to the Science Challenge Fair hosted by BJHS on Sunday, March 26, for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders. Deadline to register is March 18. View website here and event details here.
Remember to set your clocks ahead when going to bed Saturday night for Daylight Saving Time.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 2/22/23
Dear MCS Parents,
Curriculum Night for our secondary schools continues this week and next. Journey Middle School will hold a Curriculum Night Thursday, Feb. 23, in the Discovery Middle School gymnasium for students being rezoned from Discovery. Time slots are 5 p.m for rising 6th graders and 6:30 p.m. for rising 7th and 8th graders.Journey-bound students from Liberty Middle had a Curriculum Night at LMS earlier this week.
Remaining Curriculum Nights for MCS secondary schools are as follows: Bob Jones High School on Feb. 23, Discovery Middle School on Feb. 28, and Liberty Middle on Feb. 28.
The Alabama State Department of Education is seeking feedback on the following courses of study that are being developed: Arts, Audiovisual Technology and Communications; Health Science; Human Services; and Science. Feedback is being accepted through 5:00 pm on March 2. Click here to access the draft state courses of study and the state feedback form.
As our district looks to adopt new textbooks, we provide opportunities for parents to review potential textbooks and give feedback. This year we have Career Tech (CTE) textbooks up for adoption. CTE textbooks will be available for review and feedback at the following times and locations: Liberty Middle School - February 21, 22, 23, 24, and 27 in the LMS Media Center from 3:30-4:30 pm; Discovery Middle School - February 21, 22, 23, 24, and 27 in the DMS Media Center from 3:30-4:30 pm; Bob Jones High School - February 23, 24, 27, 28, and March 1 in the BJHS Media Center from 3:30-4:30; and James Clemens High School - February 23,24, 27, 28, and March 1 in the JCHS Media Center from 3:30-4:30.
Our Seal of Biliteracy program continues to help grow students to be proficient in another language and prepare them for our increasingly global society. These JC German language students are the latest example of high performers. Congratulations!
My latest Sittin’ with the Supe’ Podcast features four of our amazing seniors - Olyvia English and Parx White from the Bob Jones Engineering Academy and Tara Flynn and Akshat “AK” Dubey from the James Clemens Health Science Academy. Tune in to hear them discuss their internship experiences and the course pathways that lead them toward their career interests.
The next Mental Health Matters workshop for parents is this Friday, Feb. 24, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Madison Public Library. This free program entitled, “Building Emotional Skills,” will cover ways to teach our children to understand their emotions as well as how to respond appropriately. The Madison library is at 130 Plaza Blvd.
Spring is a busy time in our schools as students prepare to transition to new schools for the next year. I certainly appreciate our teachers, counselors, staff and administrators for working to assist our students and parents in this important education transition.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 2/13/23
Dear MCS Parents,
Congratulations to the BJHS, JCHS, and LMS cheer teams for their outstanding performances at Nationals. BJHS cheerleaders placed 12th in the nation in Small Varsity D1 (out of 114 teams). JCHS were named Champions at Nationals in Game Day NB, Small Varsity D1 (out of 114 teams), and Small World Champions. Congratulations also to JCHS and Liberty Middle Winter Guard teams for their performance in the Thompson Classic this past weekend. JC Varsity placed 1st in its Division and the JV Team placed 3rd. The LMS team placed 1st in their division.
The Board and I were pleased to recognize the Bob Jones band for emerging as grand champions in three of four recent competitions, beating out dozens of bands. The band also won numerous "Outstanding" caption awards in categories such as Music, General Effect and Most Entertaining Show. U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalists from BJ were also recognized (JC semifinalists will be honored at a future BOE meeting.) See the jc/bj presidential scholars semifinalists here.
As a reminder, there is no school on Monday (Feb. 20th) in honor of Presidents’ Day. Also, this Friday (Feb.17th) is a collaborative work day for teachers, meaning a ½ day for students. Friday early dismissal times are as follows: PreK, 11; elementary, 11:30; middle and high school, 12:15.
Course registration for our secondary schools begins this week with the James Clemens High School Curriculum Night tonight (Feb. 13th).
The other secondary school curriculum nights are as follows: Journey Middle School on Feb 21st and 23rd; Bob Jones High School on Feb. 23rd; Liberty Middle School on Feb 28th, and Discovery Middle School on Feb. 28th. For students who are interested in dual enrollment with Auburn First or UA Early College, click here for more information. For students who might be interested in the Academy of Craft Training program provided by the state department, click here for more information.
Finally, the next Mental Health Matters workshop for parents is Friday, February 24, at the Madison Public Library, from noon-1 p.m. This free program, Building Emotional Skills, will focus on teaching children to understand their emotions as well as how to respond to them in a healthy, proactive way. MCS is pleased to offer these workshops by our Mental Health Services department.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 2/13/23
Dear MCS Parents,
February is here and planning for the 2023-2024 school year has already begun. A big reminder of that has been happening every day outside my office window in the construction of the new Journey Middle School. I am happy to report completion is near and plans are being made for the opening this fall. Board members and I took a walk-through tour of Journey on Feb. 1. Here are a few pics from our site visit.
Guests for my latest Sittin’ With The Supe podcast are Dr. Heather Donadson, Chief Academic Officer for MCS; and Mrs. Sharon Powell, Coordinator of Secondary Instruction. They talked about our secondary curricular offerings including AP and Career Tech options, updates in the state’s College and Career Readiness requirements and more. I urge secondary students and their parents to visit their school on Curriculum Night to help decide course options, review electives, and understand the educational pathways to each area of interest. Above all, ask questions. Teachers, school counselors and administrators are there to help. The Curriculum Nights schedule is as follows: Bob Jones, Feb. 23; James Clemens, Feb, 13; Discovery Middle, Feb. 28; Liberty Middle, Feb. 28; Journey Middle, Feb. 21 and 23. Access the podcast here or on Apple or Spotify podcasts.
National School Counseling Week is February 6-10. Our MCS school counselors help increase student success and provide a much-needed resource for students, teachers, parents and administrators. Please join me in recognizing the integral role they play in our schools and thank them for all that they do.
Congratulations to the Mill Creek Greenpower team for its 1st place finish at the Choccolocco Green Prix Race in Oxford. In addition to the team’s top placement, students earned several top three finishes as well. See Madison Record report.
The winners for the 2023 State Superintendent’s Visual Art Exhibition include two students from Madison City Schools: Rachel Zhang, 5th grader at Columbia; and Aashima Martin, 8th grader at Liberty Middle. That’s fantastic! MCS is proud of you. See their art here.
Liberty Middle and Discovery Middle 6th grade Scholars Bowl teams had a close 1-2 finish in recent state competition. LMS team members, coached by David Clifton, are: Oliver Baker, Eiliyah Hafiez, Levi Jordan, Prachi Khadka, William Kimberl and second-place medalist Colin Krefting. DMS members, lead by Coach David Sippel, are: Cindy Halter, Captain (5th place individual medal); Elise Datcu-Charrault, Blaise Bruni, Preston Anderton, Ahsan Sohel, Thomas Arent. Great job!
James Clemens boys and girls track teams continue to shine in area and state competitions. Check out this story in the Madison Record. The Jets should be especially proud to have a first-ever three runners make the AHSAA Cross Country All-Star team: Emma Bothern for the girls and Cole Robinson and Michael Dylan Dryer for the boys. Outstanding!
I’d like to give a shout-out to Bob Jones E-Sports for its performance in the recent AHSAA State Championship in Birmingham. Corey Robinson won in Madden. Team Fusion claimed yet another State Championship in Rocket League, with League of Legends placing 2nd.
Finally, I would like to thank our local Knights of Columbus chapters for generous support of MCS Special Education programs. KOC leaders from the Most Merciful Jesus Catholic and St. John the Baptist Catholic parishes gave more than $14,000 in proceeds from the recent Tootsie Roll 5K in Madison. This was the 5th annual Tootsie Roll Run and it attracted 400 participants. The 2023 Tootsie Roll Challenge is set for Nov. 4 at Madison City Stadium.
I hope to see you there.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 1-25-23
Dear MCS Parents,
It has been a busy start to the semester. Besides the strong academic performances I’m seeing in schools, I have had the pleasure of attending events including bowling, dance team competitions, basketball and wrestling; theater programs (Aladdin by CES Drama was outstanding by the way), and more. Having strong drama programs in elementary and middle schools explain why our Bob Jones and James Clemens theater programs do so well. I am pleased we recognized them at our most recent Board meeting.
At the Board meeting this week, the instruction team presented the curriculum proposal for the 2023-2024 school year. Click here for the details of the approved curricular offerings.
I had the privilege recently of joining UAH President Dr. Charles Karr and my fellow Superintendents Christy Finley and Ken Kubik at a major grant announcement at UAH aimed at strengthening our EL programs. This partnership is timely with families increasingly moving here from all over the world.
Madison City Schools continues to be a state leader in the National Board Certified Teachers program. We were honored to recognize our latest batch of new NBCTs at the Jan. 23 BOE meeting along with those renewing their certifications. Congratulations to these outstanding MCS educators.
Having the best teachers is certainly a factor in why our students fare so well academically. Madison City Schools once again had among the most U.S. Presidential Scholar semifinalists in Alabama (17 percent of the state’s 70 total) than any other district. I am proud of each of them and what that also says about our teachers.
Congratulations to Coach Wade Thaxton at Bob Jones for leading the girls BJ Swim and Dive team to a state title. BJ worked hard climbing from a 3rd place finish in 2020, to 2nd in 2021 to 1st place this past fall. We were glad to recognize the team with their impressive trophy at our Board meeting.
As mentioned before, January is School Board Appreciation Month and Madison City is blessed with the best. Words cannot express how appreciative I am for their leadership, vision, and passion to serve. Check out this brief Board appreciation video produced by JCHS senior Riyan Barnett. And if you haven’t done so already, please reach out to our Board to thank them for their service.
Finally, my latest Sittin’ WIth The Supe podcast was a dog-gone pleasure to host. Tune in to learn all about Barnie - the facility dog at Madison Elementary. Barnie joined us on the set, but his story had to be told through his handlers, counselor Stefanie Cook and gifted teacher Beth Woodard along with MCS District Mental Health Coordinator Stephanie Allen.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 1-09-23,
Dear MCS Parents,
I hope you all enjoyed a fabulous Winter Break, and that 2023 is off to a great start.
It’s exciting to have our students back and school events ramping up again.
I would like to begin by calling your attention to January being School Board Member Appreciation Month. While we are blessed with great faculty, staff and administrators, our School Board is front and center of all things Madison City Schools. I invite you to take time to reach out to these selfless school board leaders to thank them for their service. They and BOE members before them deserve much of the credit for the total school experience in Madison City Schools and MCS placing at or near the top of many state and national school system rankings.
While we are beginning 2023 in a positive direction with Journey Middle opening in fall, the planning for an 8th elementary school is under way. We are excited that we will soon have the opening of a special education wing at Bob Jones High School and conversion of the West Madison Elementary building into a PreK Center. I want to take a moment to reflect on some of the tremendous accomplishments from 2022.The accolades are many, but here are a few: #1 in Niche, most National Merit Scholars, Mental Health Fairs, all A’s on the State Report Card, 12 new National Board Certified Teachers bringing us to 100 NBCTs in Madison City Schools, continued growth in Career Tech with the addition of Welding, playground renovations at all elementary schools, securing a $2 million DODEA grant geared toward elementary STEM.
My latest Sittin’ With The Supe podcast can be accessed here: https://rss.com/podcasts/sittinwiththesupe/. Hear Sally Warden, Marc Jacobson and Greg Curtis talk about their role in the formation of the Madison City School District as MCS celebrates its 25th anniversary. These podcast guests, along with many others in the community, were crucial in our transition from Madison County Schools to what we now know as Madison City Schools.
Our Mental Health Matters programs, sponsored by the MCS counseling program, continue into the new year. The next one is Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 4-5 p.m. at the Madison Public Library on the topic, “Building Self-Confidence in Youth.”
Columbia Elementary Drama will present Alladin Jr next week. Performances will be at Bob Jones High School on Friday, Jan. 20, at 7 p.m.; and at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21. Tickets can only be purchased online through https://www.showtix4u.com/event-details/69914.
Congratulations to these Bob Jones volleyball players for being named to the Al.com Huntsville All Regional Volleyball team: Kennedy Vaughn, Rachel Mecklenburg, Riley Lovell, Meg Jarrett from Bob Jones. They are among the many talented athletes we have throughout MCS.
Finally, Monday, Jan. 16, is a school holiday in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Enjoy the extended weekend.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 12/13/2022
Dear MCS Parents,
The semester is winding down fast. I would like to wish everyone a safe, joyous, and restful holiday. I remind you that this Thursday and Friday will be half-days for all students. Dismissals both days are as follows: PreK, 11 a.m.; elementary, 11:30 a.m.; middle and high schools, 12:15 p.m. Schools resume for students on January 4th. I can’t wait to see all the great things our teachers and students will be doing next semester.
I’ll begin the district update with a progress report on construction projects around the district. The construction manager reported at our Board meeting last week that Journey Middle School’s final inspection is expected in February. I look forward to adding Journey to the lineup of outstanding schools in Madison City. Our Special Education wing at Bob Jones is moving along and we anticipate it being completed in February.
Another project of interest has been the long-awaited jet display at James Clemens High School. Board approval of the pedestal contract moves the jet display closer to reality. This project has been greatly enhanced by the generosity of Northrop Grumman, our local legislative delegation and many individuals who have made donations.
The construction of new playgrounds has begun at our elementary schools. By spring break, we anticipate that all of our elementary schools will have a state-of-the-art area to utilize for outdoor activities. These areas will also have specialized equipment for students with special needs. I am certainly grateful to our School Board for their support of this project.
Both James Clemens and Bob Jones theater programs placed well in the recent state competition at Troy University. BJ’s 1-Act play won Best in Show, Best Costumes and was selected to represent Alabama at the Southeastern Theater Conference in March. More on BJ’s individual awards in this link. Students in James Clemens theater won 12 individual awards and its play Shuddersome won Best in Show which is in the top 5 of the state as well as Best Ensemble. More on JC theater’s performance at State in this link. Also, JC’s Amy Patel won Alabama Theater Teacher of the Year. Bravo to Ms. Patel and everyone in the BJ and JC theater programs.
Congratulations to BJ’s Girls Swim and Dive team for winning 1st place at the state meet in Auburn. JC’s cheer team won 1st place in state competition in traditional and 2nd in game day, while BJ cheer placed second in traditional. Congratulations to both cheer teams!
Speaking of James Clemens, I want to wish Dr. Brian Clayton well in his next role as Superintendent of Hartselle City Schools. Dr. Clayton did an outstanding job as JCHS principal leading it into becoming a powerhouse school. He leaves behind a legacy of excellence. Our plan for filling the vacancy is to name an interim principal later this week while we continue to take applications and review data from the surveys. Interviews for the full time position will start after spring break.
We had a very successful Computer Science Education Week. It was exciting to see students flexing their computational thinking skills and using technology in creative ways. I want to congratulate Ms. Shemeaka King’s 2nd grade class at Mill Creek and 4th grader Estaban Jerez in Ms. Hulvey’s class at Horizon for winning our districtwide tech challenge. The contest tasked participants to explain what this year’s theme, #CSEverywhere, means to them. Special thanks to VEX Robotics for donating robotic kits as prizes. Click here to view their winning projects.
Madison City Schools is blessed with excellent counselors. Last week, the Board recognized four of our counselors for winning statewide and regional honors: Stephanie Allen, Sadie Sturdivant, Carissa Davis and Carol Torello. They play a vital role in the success of our school system.
In another nod to excellence, MCS continues to add National Board Certified Teachers to its ranks. The latest additions raise the school district’s total of NBCTs to 99. I congratulate the following new NBCTs and hope to formally recognize them at an upcoming board meeting: Stacy Branson, Kristen Brown, Amy Carter, Neil Clement, Heather Courtney, Megan Gowan, Sarah Peppers, Jamie Ratcliffe, Jeanne Simpson, Kristen Steele, Marissa Weir, and Molly Wright. Also, congratulations to our NBCTs who successfully renewed this year: Sara Baragona, Nicole Coker, Kylie Dunkerley, Rachel Gibbs, Sharon Harris, Lisa Kiss, Amber McMillin, Amber Merrill, Alicia Mulloy, Noel Newquist, Patrice O'Donnell, Amy Patel, Jessica Pinegar, Jackie Smith (Robinson), Natalie Smoak, Lisa Snyder, Tosha Swearingen, Teresa Tarter, Liz Vaughn, Rebecca Wilson, and Megan Kunzli. More about NBCTs in this link.
Finally, the latest Sittin’ With The Supe podcast is on our E-sports programs in Madison City Schools. My guests are E-sports coaches Aubrey White at Bob Jones and Pam Paquette at James Clemens.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Updates 12/05/2022
Let me begin by sharing some exciting news about PreK. Last week our Board met in a special session to approve a construction project that will renovate the closed West Madison Elementary School building into a district wide PreK Center. I can think of no better use for the WMES property than turning it into a learning center for our rising PreK population. We know from long waiting lists at annual PreK registrations that demand far exceeds capacity. The West Madison renovations will create 21-23 total PreK classrooms - nearly doubling capacity now.
This project would not have been possible without passage of the 12 mill property tax by Madison and Triana residents in 2019. Money from that levy built Midtown Elementary and is paying for the new Journey Middle Schools, the special education wing at Bob Jones High School and the PreK expansion into the WMES campus.
Midtown Elementary had a very successful International Festival last week. What a wonderful way to showcase the different cultures we have in MCS.
I want to commend the following students for qualifying last week as Coca-Cola Scholarship semifinalists. They are just a small example of students whose academic achievements earn financial assistance to further their education after high school.
Congratulations also to BJ Swim and Dive for its performance in the state meet in Auburn. Girls placed 1st and boys 5th. The girls’ team top finish put Principal Sylvia Lambert and Coach Wade Thaxton in the pool for the traditional dip from winning state.
This week is Computer Science Education Week. It is exciting to see the hands-on assignments our teachers are leading to strengthen student learning in coding and other technical skills. View some of the CSE activities here on the MCS Facebook page.
I had a productive meeting today with my Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council. While I always appreciate feedback from parents, employees and community members, I always value input from students on things MCS is doing right and ways we could do better.
Finally, I would like to remind everyone that the free Mental Health workshop on Depression in Youth will be Wednesday, Dec. 14 in the Central Office Board room, from 4:30-5:30 p.m. The program had previously been canceled due to inclement weather.
“Glad To Be Here!”
Dear MCS Parents,
I want to welcome everyone back from the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope you all enjoyed some good family time and relaxation.
Just three weeks remain before schools dismiss for the winter holiday. Please encourage your student(s) to make sure all assignments are up to date to close out the fall semester.
The last day for students before Winter Break is Friday, Dec. 16, and they will not report back to school until Wednesday, Jan. 4. I’d like to remind everyone that Thursday, Dec. 15 and Friday, Dec. 16 will be a half-day for all students. Half-day dismissal times have been changed to the following times: PreK, 11; Elementary, 11:30; Middle and High Schools, 12:15.
I’d like to recognize the following students and teams for spectacular performances in recent competitions: Liberty Middle Scholars Bowl.; Bob Jones and James Clemens bowling teams; Bob Jones Swim and Dive, with girls winning 1st as a team and boys 2nd as a team; Bob Jones Esports for ending the season 1st in state in Rocket League and 2nd in state in League of Legends.
The James Clemens Science National Honor Society is hosting its second annual science fair for K-8 students in Madison City Schools. If your child would like to participate, they must register by Dec. 14. More about the JCHS Science Fair here.
For those who missed it, the latest “Sittin’ With the Supe" podcast is on our theater programs. You can access it here . The next Podcast is scheduled to be on our E-sports programs.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 11/18/2022
Dear MCS Parents,
The Alabama State Department of Education has released its school and district report cards for 2021-2022. I am pleased to report that Madison City Schools yet again earned straight A’s. Not only did we get an “A” for the district as a whole, every single one of our schools earned an “A.” MCS was one of five districts in the state where every school in the district received an” A” rating.
In this Thanksgiving season, let me express how thankful I am for our students, teachers and staff, administrators, board members, and parents for the role they play in making our school system great. I certainly appreciate the support we receive from our community and community leaders that allows us to provide a high-quality education for the children of Madison. I am in classrooms every week and see the outstanding things that are happening in each of our schools. While we are pleased by this outcome, we celebrate this with the understanding that a letter grade is only a symbol. The most accurate measure of our effectiveness is how well we are preparing our kids for their future. So we accept this with a commitment that we will never become complacent where we are. We will constantly seek ways to improve.
The state report cards are a measure of academic achievement, academic growth, chronic absenteeism, and progress in EL proficiency for our elementary and middle schools. For the high schools, the state report cards are a measure of academic achievement, academic growth, graduation rate, college and career readiness, chronic absenteeism, and progress in EL proficiency.
The straight-A performance by our schools affirms that no matter where one lives in Madison, they are zoned for a quality school.
I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving break with your family.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 11/14/2022
Dear MCS Parents,
Schools will be closed November 21-25 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday.
I have a very important announcement concerning rising 7th and 8th grade students who are zoned to attend Journey Middle School next school year.
Waivers will be going home this week, giving rising 7th and 8th grade Journey-zoned students an option to remain at either Discovery or Liberty for the 2023-2024 school year.
It must be noted that transportation will NOT be provided for rising 7th and 8th grade students who submit waivers to remain at LMS or DMS. Also, the waiver does not include siblings who may be entering 6th grade next school year.
Waivers should be returned to your child’s school by December 2, 2022. Additional information can be found on the district website: Journey Middle School Letter to Parents, Journey Middle School FAQs, Journey Middle School Waiver Request.
Click here to check your school zone.
As a final reminder,the next Mental Health Matters parent workshop will be Tuesday, Nov. 29, on the topic, “Depression in Youth.” These are free to the public and address a wide variety of mental health issues that parents and students may be experiencing. The program is from 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the Central Office board room.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 11-10-22
Dear MCS Parents,
I would like to start by thanking all of you and your family members who have served in our military. Friday, Nov.11, is Veterans Day, a day to recognize everyone - past and present - who have served in the military. All of our schools have been holding Veterans Day observances this week whether it be a parade, a hero’s walk, special breakfast or lunch. There is no school tomorrow in observance of this holiday. Pics from many of the events are in the above link. As we celebrate our veterans and military-connected community, I would like to remind our MCS families to complete the annual Impact Aid survey that opened last month. The form can be found in PowerSchool where many other very important school and student information can be accessed.
I want to remind everyone of the next Mental Health Matters parent workshop coming up. These are free to the public and address a wide variety of mental health issues that parents and students may be experiencing. The next session is on “Depression in Youth.” It will be Nov. 29 in our Central Office board room, from 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Congratulations to our Board member, Mrs. Alice Lessmann, for being named District 9 Director for the Alabama Association of School Boards. As AASB District 9 Director, Mrs. Lessmann will be the liaison between the state AASB and school boards throughout the District 9 region in North Alabama.
Congratulations also to:
James Clemens students Max Wyche, Lilliann Markowitz, and Matthew Odom each received a $1,000 scholarship essay award from the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama’s Torch Award for Ethics.
The BJHS Volleyball Team for its 2nd place finish in the state championship.
Boys and Girls State reps from BJ and JC for participation in the recent Boys and GIrls State Convention.
In previous updates, I shared after-school tutoring options. This program has been very popular, especially at our middle schools. Due to transportation staff shortages, we are making a slight adjustment with after-school transportation for middle and high school tutoring. We can no longer provide transportation home for middle and high school students who sign up for tutoring between today and the end of the fall semester. For those who have already registered for tutoring and transportation services, the afternoon bus route will continue to run as normal. This transportation change only affects students who have not signed up before today, November 10.
I am pleased to report another successful Tootsie Roll 5K benefitting special education programs in Madison City Schools. The 5th annual run last Saturday drew 400 entrants. I am grateful for the local chapters of Knights of Columbus for their faithful sponsorship of this event, and to all the sponsors and participants who make it happen each year.
Finally, I know that flu and other illness seasons are upon our community. Please know that if your student is sick, they should remain home until they are fever free for at least 24-48 hours. If an illness places your student into excessive absences, please contact your school principal. Our team will work with you since we don’t want students trying to come to school sick because of a fear of absences. We have been blessed that while we have dealt with a rise in illness, we have not been faced with a huge crisis of absence across the entire district. We have had a few schools dip into the low 80% attendance range for a couple of days; however, as a district we are currently holding around the 90% attendance range. This is slightly below our 94%-96%.normal range. I certainly appreciate our operations and custodial staff for the extra cleaning that they are doing during this season. I also appreciate our support and teaching staff for covering class areas when substitutes were difficult to schedule. I continue to encourage anyone that is available to consider becoming a substitute teacher for our district.
I will close with a reminder that my latest Sittin’ With The Supe’ podcast is on some of our wonderful theater programs in Madison City Schools.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 10-31-22
Dear MCS Parents,
As I begin this week’s update, I want to congratulate all of our district on being named a “System of Distinction” by the accrediting association Cognia. Cognia is a global, nonprofit improvement organization dedicated to helping institutions and other education providers grow learners, teachers, and leaders. Cognia offers accreditation and certification, assessment, and professional services within a framework of continuous improvement. Cognia serves 36,000 public and private institutions from early learning through high school in more than 90 countries, During the 2021-2022 school year, Cognia conducted approximately 1,500 school engagement reviews for accreditation. This year, 96 schools and 38 systems in 34 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and nine countries are recognized as “Schools and Systems of Distinction.” In Alabama, 35 systems went through the process and Madison City was one of two districts to receive this recognition. The number of institutions reviewed and those that earn this designation vary from year to year. Winners carry the designation for one year. Member institutions in Cognia’s Global Network may seek accreditation.
We have recently been made aware that our mass notification system, which is used to convey weekly superintendent updates and timely weather announcements, is not reaching some of you. Our technology team identified errors in our communication system and have made the necessary corrections to ensure successful delivery. If you know of other parents or guardians not receiving these district notifications, please ask them to notify their child’s school registrar. The registrars will verify your contact information is correct in PowerSchool. The contact information is populated for mass communications through the PowerSchool registration system.
MCS is beginning to see increases in confirmed cases of flu and other illnesses in our schools. I shared with the Board this morning that while attendance normally runs in the 94-95 percent range districtwide, it was closer to 90 percent last week, with some schools dipping into the low 80s. Schools have ramped up disinfectant applications to help slow the spread. Our school nurses team asks parents to help slow the spread by keeping children home if they are sick and to not return them too quickly before they’ve recovered. Please review The MCS Communicable Disease Policy for guidelines for the student’s return to school.
I would like to congratulate Clay Combs and students in the technology and broadcast academy at James Clemens High School for outstanding finishes in the All American High School Film Festival held Oct. 21-23 in New York City. JC had seven finalists and two winners in various categories in this international competition involving over 3,000 submissions from across the U.S. and countries abroad. James Clemens student Jim Eso placed 1st in the PSA category with his submission of “Open.” Another JC student, Connor Douglass, placed 1st in Micro Movie with “For The Picture.”
I would also like to congratulate the Bob Jones Volleyball Team for placing runner up in the recent 7A State Volleyball championship. The Lady Patriots defeated both Auburn and St. Paul’s Episcopal 3-0 to advance to the state title match against McGill-Toolen, where they came up short in a four-match set. I am proud of the students and coach for their talent, determination and sportsmanship.
The latest Sittin With The Supe’ broadcast features our MCS College and Career Readiness team. Tune in here for a discussion with Kaleb Owens, Lana Meskunas and Stephanie Bostick, our college and career readiness coach and counselors.
Finally, I know that many of you will be taking part tonight in Halloween traditions. I urge everyone to take all the necessary precautions to keep our children safe. I also want to remind everyone to complete the annual Impact Aid survey that was recently announced. The form can be found in PowerSchool where many other very important school and student information can be accessed.
“Glad To Be Here!”
District Update 10/24/22
Dear MCS Parents,
I would like to thank everyone who has responded so far to the Impact Aid survey which brings hundreds of thousands of additional dollars annually to Madison City Schools. This money is tied to MCS parents/guardians who live or work on federal installations as determined by completion of federal Impact Aid forms. We are pleased to make the forms available now via the PowerSchool parent portal over the traditional paper forms. Please register for PowerSchool if you haven’t done so already. It is also a convenient way to access your student’s grades and other important school documents.
Our school counselors are an integral part of Madison City Schools.
Three earned special recognition this past week: MCS District Mental Health Services Coordinator Stephanie Allen, counselor Sadie Sturdivant at Columbia Elementary and counselor Carol Torello at RISE Academy. Mrs. Allen was tapped by the Alabama School Counselor Association as its Administrator/Supervisor of the year.
Mrs. Sturdivant has been named recipient of the Asa Sparks New Counselor of the Year Award. This is an especially high honor for a first-year counselor, as there is only one Asa Sparks award issued annually. She is doing amazing work at Columbia and her spirit of caring and enthusiasm is obvious to those around her.
Ms. Torello has been in education 33 years and now serves as guidance counselor at RISE Academy at JCHS. She was recognized last Thursday at the Partnership for a Drug Free Community’s annual awards luncheon for her advocacy and work with students.
Congratulations are also in order to:
* Heritage Elementary for being named to the Leader In Me Lighthouse Academic Roll for 2022.
* Columbia Elementary for an outstanding performance in National Science Bee competition.
* Bands at JC and BJ. James Clemens Band earned superiors in all categories, and received awards for Best in Class Band and Dance Line, as well as the Outstanding Music Award and Best Overall Band award among 24 bands from Georgia and Alabama. The BJHS Competition Band placed 1st at the Alabama State Marching Band CHampionship Oct. 22 with best in musical performance, visual performance and outstanding general effect.
* The Bob Jones Volleyball team for advancing in state tournament action. The Lady Patriots play Auburn at noon this Wednesday in playoff rounds.
For those who missed it, here’s a link to the latest “Sittin’ With The Supe’” podcast. My guests are engineering teacher Jessye Gaines at Bob Jones High School and teacher Jackie Smith at Mill Creek Elementary who are sponsors of their school Greenpower Racing teams.
It is still not too late to register for the 5th Annual Knights of Columbus Tootsie Roll 5K in Madison benefitting our Special Education programs.
The run/walk is Nov. 5 at Madison City Stadium. For more information, and to register, click here. All proceeds benefit students with special learning needs in Madison City Schools.
“Glad To Be Here!”
Dear MCS Parents,
Yesterday marked a very important anniversary in the history of Madison City Schools.
October 16, 1997 was when the Madison mayor and council at that time formally approved a Madison City Board of Education to begin the process of separating from the Madison County school system. Sunday, the Board and I had the honor of hosting a reception for past and current officials/community leaders who were instrumental in putting Madison and Triana in an independent school district.
We owe a debt of gratitude to everyone back then who had this vision.
The move to independence was fueled by higher expectations and having more local control. In the ensuing years, MCS has become a state and national leader in preparing students for global success. A larger communitywide celebration will be held around next year’s school start marking the 25th anniversary as a school system.
Speaking of honors and achievements as a school district, here’s another. Cognia, an international accrediting agency that conducted an extensive accreditation audit last year of MCS, reported last week that Madison City Schools is one of just 38 school systems across the globe recognized as a school system of distinction based on the level of positive findings by the audit.
This is yet another example of high performance that sets Madison City Schools apart from many other school systems
Congratulations to our bands at James Clemens and Bob Jones for excellent performances at recent band competitions. Click here for a summary.
Congrats also to our Scholars Bowl teams and coaches Baragona and Sippel for impressive finishes in tournament competition at the Alabama School of Cyber Technology and Engineering. DMS placed well in individual and team competition. Sixth graders did exceptionally well playing up to middle school level with JV sets of questions.
At our Board meeting last week, the construction manager over Journey Middle School reported that the project is on track to be several million dollars under budget when completed potentially this December. That’s great news as our continued growth will demand a new elementary school within a couple of years. More about that in this news link along with positive news on our ACT scores and our recent increase in substitute pay.
The latest Sittin’ With The Supe’ Podcast focuses on our Greenpower program. Guests are engineering teacher Jessye Gaines at Bob Jones High School and 5th grade teacher Jacqueline Smith at Mill Creek. The taping was featured on WHNT-19. The BJHS Patriot Racing team will next compete at Hazel Green H.S. on Saturday, Oct. 29, and at Choccolocco Park in Oxford on Friday, Nov. 4.
As a reminder, Oct. 19 will be an E-learning day for 11th and 12th grade students while 9th and 10th grade students take the PreACT. Additional details have been sent out from the high schools. Students in grades Pre-K through 8th grades have a normal in-person school day. Parents can see up-to-date grades anytime by logging into PowerSchool or downloading the app. This is a great time to verify if you have everything set up in PowerSchool so you can regularly check grades and attendance.
Finally, Oct. 17-21 is Alabama School Bus Safety Week. I would like to extend a big thank you to our Transportation Department. This amazing team of bus drivers, mechanics,and route specialists run an operation that transports nearly 6,000 students daily on school routes and on countless extracurricular runs. Please drive safely in school zones and particularly around school buses as they are loading and unloading. And be sure to thank your bus driver.
“Glad To Be Here!”
Dear MCS Parents,
I hope you had a relaxing Fall Break and enjoyed the beautiful weather! It is great to have all of our staff and students back in our school buildings.
As a reminder, this Wednesday is a ½ day for students. Pre-K will dismiss at 11:00, Elementary will dismiss at 11:30, and middle schools will dismiss at 12:15. All sophomores and any juniors who signed up will be taking the PSAT on Wednesday. All other high school students will have an eLearning day.
Congratulations to the BJHS Air Force JROTC for recently earning the distinction of Cognia Accreditation. Cognia is a national accreditation agency that conducts a rigorous evaluation process for schools, districts, and programs seeking national accreditation.
Congratulations are also in order for William McIlwain, a Cybersecurity and IT Fundamentals instructor at BJHS, for being named to the National Career and Technical Education Advisory Council for Comptia. He will join MCS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Heather Donaldson who will lead Alabama’s input in a national dialogue focused on accelerating career pathways in technology.
I would like to remind everyone of our after-school tutoring programs starting up this month on October 17. The Elementary After School Sustained Tutoring Program will host reading tutoring on Mondays and Wednesdays and math tutoring on Tuesdays and Thursdays. 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. For the secondary school after-school tutoring programs, 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. Schools have been sending tutoring information home for qualifying students.
We are continuing our Mental Health Matters initiative with free parent/community workshops this year. The 1st one coming up is October 28 which will address Understanding and Coping with Anxiety. Parents can attend just one workshop that interests them or attend them all. These workshop sessions are provided in partnership by Madison City Schools and Madison City Council of PTAs to bring deeper understanding on how to support the mental health of young people.
Our athletic teams continue to do well. Congratulations to JC track team members for an impressive performance at the Under The Lights Cross Country Festival at Palmer Park. The Jets swept all four divisions of the meet with outstanding finishes in both girls and boys divisions. BJ’s Cross Country competed at Lake Guntersville with Varsity Girls taking 1st and Varsity Boys 3rd in addition to great individual performances. I am looking forward to wins by both JC and BJ this Wednesday in the 7A Area Volleyball Tournament at Bob Jones.
For those who missed it, Madison City Schools has been ranked the No. 1 school district in Alabama by NICHE. The findings that were released just before Fall Break also ranked individual schools. Every single one of our schools were in the top 10 out of hundreds of schools statewide. This is outstanding and the result of true community and MCS district wide efforts.
“Glad To Be Here!”
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!