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MCS District Update 5-23-2022


Dear Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great rest of the week,

Ed Nichols


Dear Parents

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

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

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

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

Students in the Madison CEO program showcased their individual businesses last weekend at Signalink. Congratulations to these entrepreneurs:

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

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

Have a great weekend!

Ed Nichols


Dear Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend!

Ed Nichols  

Dear Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Ed Nichols


Dear Parents,

We get a lot of data that helps guide our instruction and shows us how MCS ranks against other school systems.

Last week, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama released its report on ACT scores from every school system across Alabama.Madison City’s composite score of 22.79 from 2021 ACT tests exceeds the national average of 20.3 and state average of 18.58. While all of these scores are slightly down from the 2020 ACT tests due largely to the pandemic, Madison City Schools continues to be a leader in Alabama.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ed Nichols


4/1/22 Dear Parents,

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

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

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

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

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Ed Nichols