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MCS Virtual Days Update - 1-25-22

1/25/2022 Dear MCS Parents

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

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

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


Ed Nichols

1-23-22 Dear MCS Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

Again, thank you for your continued patience and support.

Ed Nichols





Dear MCS Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Ed Nichols 


Dear MCS Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Ed Nichols


Dear Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ed Nichols



Dear Parents,

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

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

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

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

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


Ed Nichols



Dear MCS Parents,

Madison City Schools will delay the school start for students by two hours tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan. 4). Bus routes will be adjusted accordingly.
Faculty and staff will report at their regular time.

With morning temps expected in the low to mid-20s and potential power issues, the school delay will help ensure that buses and building operational systems are fully functional for the arrival of our students. 

MCS is looking forward to a great 2022!

Ed Nichols
Madison City Schools


01/02/2022 Return to School 

Dear MCS Parents,

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

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

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

Thank you,

Ed Nichols
Madison City Schools

12/20/2021 District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ed Nichols       


12/13/2021 District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ed Nichols


12/07/2021 District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

Forgive the lateness of our "Monday" District Update. It's taken a little longer to develop with all of the great things going on across the district.

Many of you have learned by now of some leadership changes coming to several of our  schools. This is due to retirements from principals who have served this district well and are ready for the next chapter in their lives. It is never easy to see great leaders go, but I am confident their replacements will do wonderful things leading their faculties and staff in service to their students and school communities.

Last week the Board approved Jamie Hill as principal of Discovery Middle, Demetria Freeman as principal of Horizon Elementary and Nathan Wilson as principal at Mill Creek Elementary. They will officially assume their new roles on January 3. The selection committees interviewed some very qualified candidates, and it is noteworthy that all of the replacements come from leadership positions in MCS schools.

I want to personally thank retiring principals Kim Stewart (DMS), Rodney Richardson (HRZ), and Carmen Taylor-Tubbs (MCES), for their years of service to Madison City Schools. They have left strong foundations for their successors that will ensure continued success at those schools.

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

Last week, the District was pleased to host a successful Youth Mental Health First Aid session for Madison City parents. Another is scheduled next week. Youth Mental Health First Aid is a great opportunity to educate and equip our community in a time of increasing mental health needs. The parent trainings are being led by our Mental Health Services Coordinator Stephanie Allen and Social Worker Heather Hicks. This is just another way MCS is providing vital information that can help strengthen families.

Rainbow Elementary had an extra reason to celebrate last week. Assistant Principal Miranda Bolden and clerical aid Erica Ogle traveled to Orlando to accept a national Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Lighthouse Award on behalf of the school. This coveted award is based on numerous criteria including having challenging standards and curriculum, an active teaching and learning atmosphere, technology integration, vibrant school and community partnerships, student-focused with a supportive culture, and more. Congratulations Rainbow!

Congratulations to Bob Jones students Elian Castaneda and Marjorie Baumbach on receiving the Air Force Junior ROTC Flight Academy Scholarship. They are among the 200 Air Force Junior ROTC cadets around the world to receive the scholarship from Headquarters Air Force Junior ROTC, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, AL. More than 1,300 cadets applied for one of the 200 scholarships. There are almost 120,000 high school students enrolled in Air Force Junior ROTC programs at approximately 870 high schools in the U.S. and overseas. The scholarship covers transportation, room and board, academics and flight hours required to potentially earn a Private Pilot Certificate. The scholarship is valued at approximately $22,500.
Congratulations also goes out to our BJ and JC swim teams for impressive top place finishes at the AHSAA State Swim meet in Auburn.
Theater/drama teams racked up a lot of first place finishes as well at the state competition at Troy University. BJ Patriot Players won Best In Show, Best Technical, and had outstanding performances all around. JC placed 1st or 2nd across 14 different categories, including 1st in Group Acting.
BJ Competition Cheer placed 1st this week at state competition. JC’s Blue Angels Dance Team clinched regionals at the NDA Regional Competition in Kentucky, winning 1st place in Pom, Game Day and Hip Hop.
MCS faculty members also continue to draw recognition for their work. Congratulations to Mrs. LaToya Grow of Madison Elementary and Mrs. Tracey Adkins of Horizon Elementary for earning the 2021 Outstanding Mentor Teacher Award by the UAH College of Education. James Clemens High School earned its Outstanding School Partner Award.

Giving back has always been a hallmark of Madison City Schools. In this season of giving, Madison City Schools is once again reaching out to brighten the holidays for many. Generosity is on display in every school and the District through angel trees, canned food drives, sock collections for nursing homes, clothing and hygiene items for the rescue mission, collections for St. Jude, the MCS Supporting Our Students fund - even an “Adopt a Foster Animal” promotion. It is heartwarming to see how faculties, students, administrators, athletic teams, school clubs and PTAs are reaching out to serve others. What a great lesson for all of us as we prepare to close out the year and enter a new one.

Finally, we are still under a masking requirement for our elementary and middle school students since the positivity test rate in Madison County remains in the “Moderate” level. Since it takes two consecutive weeks for a change, masking for elementary and middle schools will continue until the end of the semester. However, the Mask Matrix outlines that ALL grade levels will revert to the secondary level standard starting January 1, 2022. So if the positivity test rate remains below the HIGH (RED) level, ALL students would return to school for the second semester in a mask optional setting. Please remember that each Friday, we update our current COVID numbers on our website:  Departments > Health Services.

I hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week.

Ed Nichols


11/22.2021 Monday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last week, the Board of Education voted to make December 16 a ½ collaborative day for all students. This year has brought PowerSchool (the new student information system) and the transition to 1:1, which has led to additional work for our teachers. Changing December 16 to a ½ day for all students will help our teachers finish out the end of the semester without carrying work into the holiday season. Dismissal times for both December 16 and 17 are as follows: PreK, 10:30; Elementary, 11:00; Middle School and High School ,11:45. There will be no extended day on December 16 and 17.

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

Wishing you all a blessed Thanksgiving!

Ed Nichols


11/15/2021 Monday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week!

Ed Nichols


11/08/2021 Monday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

I hope your week is off to a great start! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week!

Ed Nichols



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

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

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

Proposal 1

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

 Proposal 2

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wish everyone a great weekend!


Ed Nichols 


10/22/2021 Friday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Ed Nichols

10/15/2021 Friday District Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope you and your families have a wonderful weekend.

Ed Nichols 

10/01/2021 Friday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ed Nichols 



9/24/2021 Friday District Update

Dear MCS Parents,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ed Nichols


  • Tuesday, September 21 Mask Update
    Dear MCS Family,

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

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

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

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


    Ed Nichols