Glynda Heath has the difficult task of calling parents when their Northside Elementary students are sick or have been injured on the playground.
“She’s the one who calls with bad news,” said Principal Joy Tyner. “But she is always compassionate and empathetic. She has three children of her own and she treats students like they’re her own children. And she talks to parents like she would like to be talked to as a parent.”
Heath’s efforts have not gone unnoticed; on Friday, she was awarded a Dedication of Our Valued Employees, or DOVE, award for excellent customer service.
The DOVE Award launched in March to recognize employees throughout the Clinton Public School District who display exemplary customer service. Nominees not selected in August will also be considered in upcoming months.
“Mrs. Heath is amazing,” said Northside Elementary PE teacher Jana Carter, who nominated Heath for the award. “She works so hard to make sure that every staff member has everything that they need to be successful. Even in stressful situations, she is smiling and sweet. We could not function at Northside without her.”
Tyner praised Heath’s work ethic and her ability to handle sensitive issues.
“She notices things that need to be addressed before they become an issue,” Tyner said. “She instills trust because she consistently makes good decisions.”
The DOVE Award is given each month during the school year to an employee who goes above and beyond in showing customer service to students, parents and the community. A five-member DOVE award selection committee chooses each winner from a pool of nominations.
One of our top goals as a district is to provide great customer service to the community we serve. We want families to have a good experience in our schools, and this award recognized employees who exceed expectations in this area.
Anyone can nominate a CPSD employee via the online form on www.clintonpublicschools.com or by filling out a paper form in school front offices. DOVE Award recipients will be formally recognized at school board meetings, on the superintendent’s blog and in The Clinton Courier.
For the second straight year, Clinton sixth-graders have earned the highest scores in the state in both language arts and math.
In nearly all tested areas in grades 3-8, Clinton Public School District students scored in the top 10 of all districts statewide — and in the top five in most areas. There are 149 school districts in Mississippi.
State test scores were released today by the Mississippi Department of Education. The data is just test scores; school and district rankings will be released later.
“This was a team effort between parents, teachers, school leaders and district leaders,” said Lovett Elementary School Principal Mike Pope.
All CPSD sixth-graders attend Lovett Elementary. When students enter Lovett, he said, “We expect them to give their best. We expect them to try their best and we don’t settle for less.”
Eighth-graders at Clinton Junior High also earned the highest scores statewide in language arts.
“It is very rewarding when teachers’ efforts and student initiative are aligned so well and reap such benefits,” said Dr. Bill Hardin, CJHS principal. “From parental involvement to district support, everyone in the Clinton community can share in this success.”
Assistant Superintendent Tim Martin said CPSD students consistently scored well as compared to students in other districts in these grades.
“At Lovett, it goes back to the teachers,” he said. “They teach. There’s not a lot of fluff. And students grow up there. They have greater responsibility and they rise to meet the expectations placed on them.”
Comparisons by grade and subject area to other Mississippi school districts:
- Third-grade language arts: CPSD, 155 (fourth statewide)
- Third-grade math: CPSD, 159 (eighth statewide)
- Fourth-grade language arts: CPSD, 157 (third statewide)
- Fourth-grade math: CPSD, 162 (second statewide)
- Fifth-grade language arts: CPSD, 155 (sixth statewide)
- Fifth-grade math: CPSD, 159 (second statewide)
- Fifth-grade science: CPSD, 158.8 (second statewide)
- Sixth-grade language arts: CPSD, 159 (first statewide)
- Sixth-grade math: CPSD, 159 (first statewide)
- Seventh-grade language arts: CPSD, 158 (second statewide)
- Seventh-grade math: CPSD, 158 (third statewide)
- Eighth-grade language arts: CPSD, 156 (first statewide)
- Eighth-grade math: CPSD, 159 (third statewide)
- Eighth-grade science: CPSD, 157.5 (fifth statewide)
In addition to strengths, the scores also show areas for improvements. In subject area testing, CPSD identified several areas to grow.
In Algebra I, Clinton students scored 659, 14th in the state. In Biology I, CPSD students scored 650, 28th in state; in U.S. History, CPSD students scored 650, 18th in state and in English II, Clinton students scored 652, 19th in state.
“We know we have work to do in these areas, and the scores help us show specifically within these subject areas where we need to focus,” Martin said.
Martin said many districts saw a dip in test scores because they transitioned completely to the Common Core State Standards last year. In Clinton, he said, schools taught a blend of Common Core and the old Mississippi frameworks, since students were tested on the Mississippi Curriculum Test 2 — or MCT2.
“Our community puts great stock in our test scores, both for individual students and our schools as a whole,” Martin said. “If our students were going to be tested on the Mississippi frameworks, that’s what we were going to teach. This school year we are going 100 percent with Common Core, since the tests that will be administered this spring are completely aligned with the new standards.”
CPSD teachers have trained on Common Core to be better prepared for full implementation. Despite this, he said, next year’s test scores will likely drop in Clinton.
new standards are a tremendous jump in rigor,” Martin said. “As with any new
test, the first year there is always a drop. That has been the case
historically whenever a new test was adapted, and will probably be the case
"But historically, we always work to improve and our scores do gradually rise to meet our high expectations."
Congratulations to Lovett and to all our schools and students, and Go Arrows!
Often when children are in kindergarten or first grade, they don’t know how to recognize or express their emotions if they’re frustrated or upset.
When this spills over into the classroom it can cause discipline issues. But by using a teaching method called Tools for Life, teachers at Clinton Park Elementary are working with students to recognize and express these emotions and prevent negative behavior. The Tools for Life program also extends through junior high.
Kindergarten teacher Paige Carter said Tools for Life “was the best training I have received in 17 years.”
“I use it daily in my classroom,” she said. “We start each morning talking about how we feel. I let them know it is OK to have feelings. Everyone does. We learn different ways to deal with what we’re feeling.”
Last year her class got along very well and had very few, if any, behavior issues, she said.
“If a student has an issue come up they are taught to use tools to help them figure out how to solve the issue on their own, without me,” she said. “I was amazed that they could actually do it. I am actually able to teach all day instead of solving problems for all my little ones.”
Carter also has a quiet area set up in the room with quiet objects, posters and tools for students to use if they are having a bad day.
Pat Bell of Bell Consultants, the education consultant for Tools for Life in Mississippi said the Clinton Public School District is the first school district in the United States to implement Tools for Life in its schools. Clinton Park began using this social skills curriculum last year with kindergartners and is using it this year with kindergarten and first-grade students. Next year it will be implemented with second-graders at Northside Elementary.
“Tools for Life is all about options,” said kindergarten teacher Debbie Sigler. “This program teaches children how to solve problems on their own. They learn communications skills and how to correctly express themselves. There are different ways to solve problems they have with another student.”
Students think about the best way to solve their problem, she said, including sharing, taking turns, compromising, talking it out, ignoring it, walking away, apologizing or asking for help.
“We tell children it’s OK to feel sad, lonely or other emotions, and we learn what we can do to change that,” Sigler said. “They learn to give ‘Put Ups’ which is saying nice things to someone. We talk about how people feel when you are unkind and say mean things to them, or ‘Put Downs.’ If they say a ‘Put Down,’ then they have to say a ‘Put Up.’”
If a child hits another student, for example, Sigler asks the student what happened and why they hit.
“We talk about it so next time they will know a better way to handle the situation,” she said. “Teachers are merely facilitators. This program helps stop students from being bullies and it prevents bullying before it starts.”
Allen Croxall, president of the Tools for Life Corporation, said the program is not a separate class, but tools that can be incorporated into all lessons as teachers work with students.
“If there are students with aggressive behavior, this can help them change,” he said. “At that age, children may not know how to express what they’re really feeling. This gives teachers options on how they can help children talk about what they’re feeling.”
Some students come from difficult situations at home or just get off to a bad start to the day, he said.
“When children aren’t calm, they can’t hear you,” he said. “With this program, teachers are able to learn what children are dealing with issues and it also helps children with problem solving and respecting each other’s differences.”
Bell said everyone needs relationship-building skills, and Tools for Life is a great starting point.
“It helps teach them how to build relationships that can last a lifetime and learn how to be resilient,” she said. “These are lessons they can use at school, at home and in the community.”
State Treasurer Lynn Fitch visited Clinton High School this morning to kick off her TEAM financial literacy initiative, the Treasurer’s Education About Money.
Treasurer Fitch spoke to students about the importance of learning personal finance skills as key to changing Mississippi’s financial culture.
“You are our workforce and leaders of tomorrow,” Fitch said. “If you learn how to manage your own money, you will be better able to manage the finances of the businesses you lead.”
“Treasurer Fitch is committed to helping Mississippi rise above our current economic situation by teaching students to understand financial concepts and manage their money,” Walker said. “Instead of living paycheck to paycheck because of poor choices, hopefully, our students will be part of a generation of Mississippians who plan, invest and enjoy the rewards of successful money management.”
A side effect, Walker said, is that Mississippi as a whole will be in better financial condition when its residents manage money well.
“We appreciate Treasurer Fitch for being forward thinking and encouraging this instruction,” Walker said.
Fitch is traveling Mississippi this week to share the details of her TEAM initiative to make personal finance education resources available to every high school student across the state.
TEAM is built on a public-private partnership that includes local communities, businesses, nonprofits, and educators all aimed at improving Mississippi’s financial literacy.
“Mississippi has been named as among the least financially capable states in the country,” she said. “This is unacceptable. I want to change our financial culture, and TEAM is a significant step in that effort.”
With funds raised from the private sector, Treasurer Fitch’s TEAM initiative will make available a computer-based program for students to learn the basics of managing their money.
Designed by EverFi, a company with a proven track record of implementing the financial literacy program in schools across the country, the TEAM program is available online so that students can easily complete the nine different modules in classrooms, computer labs or in their homes. Schools have flexibility to use the EverFi program in many different subject areas, and students are tested throughout the program to measure their progress.
The modules include lessons on credit scores, insurance, credit cards, taxes, investing, 401Ks, savings, mortgages and college savings.
TEAM will also enlist the Mississippi Council for Economics Education, a Mississippi nonprofit that already successfully provides training for teachers in the areas of economics, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy and is led by former CHS teacher Selena Swartzfager. MCEE will expand its current teacher training in personal finance it already provides to include the EverFi program.
“The EverFi program has already been piloted in 100 schools around the state,” said Treasurer Fitch. “Students who completed the lessons showed a 40 percent increase in financial literacy. With MCEE’s effectiveness in training teachers, we can really raise awareness that personal finance education is a life skill we all need.”For information on TEAM, contact TEAM@treasury.ms.gov or call 888-308-1997.
In its second year as a one-to-one district, the Clinton Public School District is “growing technology” in several ways.
To better train and engage faculty, the district on Thursday partnered with Hinds Community College and Instructure to hold CanvasCon, a day-long professional development day that covered the basics of Canvas. This learning management system allows teachers to post lesson plans and assignments online for students, and students can log in, complete the work and turn it in to teachers’ inboxes.
“Canvas is used by thousands of students and teachers throughout the country,” said Dr. Kameron Ball, CPSD’s director of technology. “The Mississippi junior and community college system and several four-year institutions of higher learning have adopted Canvas as their delivery method for online, digital e-learning courses.”
In Clinton, she said, Canvas was selected as a supplement to the 1:1 Digital Learning Initiative, in which every student is provided a Mac computer or tablet.
“Every student in grades 5-12 has a MacBook Air laptop and all of our faculty also have laptops to use for instruction and assessment,” she said.
At CanvasCon, teachers learned how to use Canvas to create and manage grade books, create and add students to classes, how to communicate with students, create calendars with dates that assignments are due, and how to add multimedia elements such as videos and podcasts.
Eighth-grade science teacher Linda White said the conference helped her see how Canvas could be used for day-to-day instruction.
“This is doable,” she said. “Even for veteran educators like me, I can see how I can use this in my class.”
Among her plans are to create virtual science labs and embed multimedia elements that she would otherwise hand-draw.
“This (CanvasCon) has been thrilling,” she said. “I can put these things in Canvas and I feel comfortable using it. I love the ability to create audio and video that kids can review later when they’re studying.”
Since all her students have laptops, she added, they can download information at school in case they don’t have access to Wi-Fi at home.
“There were some good questions from teachers in the assessment session,” said CJHS Assistant Principal Brian Fortenberry. “With the Respondus browser, teachers can make their tests ‘cheat-proof’ because students can’t search Google for answers, take screen shots or message other students while they’re taking the test. That took away teachers’ fears and made them more receptive to the technology.”
Teachers also like that Canvas will allow them to receive immediate feedback on whether students ‘get’ the lesson or if more review is needed, he said.
Through Canvas, teachers and students are assigned to the courses on their daily school schedule. Each completed assignment is time-stamped when students submit it to their teachers, so teachers can tell if students turn in work on time.
Teachers can upload class presentation notes, study guides, handouts, videos and links to other resources that students may need for completing their work and studying for tests.
helps students stay better organized an informed, and it cuts down on paper,”
Ball said. “All student work in Canvas is archived in folders for their use at
any time. Course assignments and tests are posted to an online calendar so
students can improve their time management skills.”
CPSD secondary schools began piloting Canvas in January 2014. After ongoing training this past spring — and attending CanvasCon — CPSD teachers will move forward and fully implement Canvas this fall.