The Tift County Board of Education recognized several individuals at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.
Vice Chairman Kim Rutland, who acted as chairman in the absence of Dr. Shawn Utley, said this is one of the most exciting things that is done during their meetings.
The room was packed with faculty and community members as the board first recognized Coach Randy Paulk, a physical education teacher at Omega Elementary School.
Superintendent Patrick Atwater gladly announced that he and Principal Victoria Melton at Omega Elementary School recently received a friendly e-mail from Detective Kenneth Kromer from the Cobb County Police Department concerning Paulk.
He stated that the e-mail is something that “makes us all proud” that someone took the time to put kind remarks, instead of complaints, in writing.
Melton stood at the front podium and read the e-mail, in which Kromer stated that he and his wife were recently on vacation in Florida with their 6-year-old daughter and some friends who have a 4-year-old daughter.
He explained that they met Paulk and his family on their last day at the beach, and as the day progressed with them getting to know each other better, Paulk invited Kromer’s daughter to go out for a brief spin in the water in his kayak.
After their return, he learned that Paulk had spun a tale of a treasure chest being buried somewhere beneath the surf and that it was being guarded by dragons, sparking his daughter’s imagination, as well as the 4-year-old's.
Kromer stated that Paulk felt bad for getting the girls so excited about the fictional chest that this led to him purchasing a small treasure chest from a thrift store and various trinkets to put inside it. He then went out into the water, out of sight of the two girls, and buried the chest.
Kromer explained that Paulk surprised the girls by taking them in the boat to search for the hidden treasure, which as he stated in the e-mail was “conveniently left unguarded as the dragons had gone off for their lunch break.”
As Melton read the heart-felt e-mail, it became evident that Paulk had made the two girls’ day an adventure that they’ll cherish forever.
Kromer wrote, “...The experience of living out the real-life fairy tale of finding a buried treasure and taking it from the dragons simply was the highlight of the entire trip for the girls. That is a memory that they (and their parents) will always cherish. And we owe it all to Coach Paulk.”
Also, he stated that Paulk is an asset and “embodies what an educator should be in our opinion, someone who thinks first and foremost of the children. He is not only a credit to your district but to your profession as a whole, and we just felt compelled to share that with you.”
As Melton concluded with the reading of the e-mail, the crowd stood and applauded Paulk.
Melton stated, “That’s truly a piece of what Coach Paulk does. He always does things out of the ordinary. We’re thankful to have him on our staff.”
She added that Paulk brings a lot of fun to the Omega school. The board stated that they appreciate all that Paulk does. Also, Kromer’s positive remarks were appreciated by him, Melton and the board.
Paulk smiled and jokingly stated that upon Atwater and Melton receiving an e-mail from a detective, he thought that he was in some kind of trouble.
Board member John Smith noted that Paulk has a great love for motorcycles.
“You live out a life that most people would never envision living,” he said. “You’re a credit to us.”
Also, Eighth Street Middle School Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter was recognized for recently being selected by the National FFA Organization, from a pool of 660 candidates nationwide, as a two-star winner in the National FFA Chapter Award program. The chapter was also named Outstanding Junior FFA Chapter in Area V. Beth Golden is the advisor.
Craig Matthews, Tift County Schools’ career tech and agriculture education director, introduced the chapter to the board. Each student then introduced themselves and the various activities they are involved in, such as poultry judging, land judging, livestock judging, show livestock, nursery landscape and FFA quiz.
Golden told the board that the members in attendance at the meeting only represented a handful of the students involved in the organization. She noted that there are approximately 80 members.
“We’re very proud of them,” she said. “We have a great group of kids to work with.”
The board congratulated the group and Golden, who stated, “I didn’t do anything different last year than I do every year. It’s all them.”
The board was also pleased to hear from Joy West, special education director, who addressed the Innovative Practices Award that the local preschool Response-to-Intervention (RTI) team received from the Georgia Association of School Psychologists.
The team noted that the preschool is the only one in the state that has a RTI team. West said many people from other counties are inquiring about their services and some are even moving to Tifton in order to receive those services. She stated that at least once or twice every two weeks, they get a call about their services. She noted that they have well over 100 3 and 4-year olds who attend the preschool.
“It’s a happy place,” West said.
“Thank you for what you do for our children,” Rutland told the group.
In unfinished business, Kevin Dobard, director of human resources, gave an update on the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES). He noted that this is a pilot program that’s still in the works and is expected to be fully implemented in 2014-2015 in the state.
He discussed Teacher Assessment on Performance Standards (TAPS) Keys domains and standards, which is what teachers will be evaluated on. The five domains — planning, instructional delivery, assessment of and for learning, learning environment and professionalism and communication — have a total of 10 standards (two for each domain).
“For once, we finally have a true piece of evaluation,” Dobard said.
He stated that what’s important is the totality of the evidence.
“This is not a ‘gotcha’ system,” he assured. “It’s to help teachers and students.”
He added that this system helps to look at effective teachers, as well as student growth. Someone from the Georgia Department of Education, who will be the program specialist for Tift County, attended the meeting and advised that students will also be given a survey to not rate their teachers, but to give their perspective. This is just one component of data that can be used. She noted that by 2014-2015, Tift County will be prepared. Training on the system began Wednesday.
Other topics discussed at the meeting:
• Atwater addressed the strategic planning process. The community was invited to participate in a community engagement session in May, where they were able to express their views on how to improve the local school system. Atwater said it was a very good experience and they’re working towards Phase 3. Board members commented that the session was very engaging with healthy debates and was a celebration of diversity. Also, board member Marian Richbourg noted that the Georgia School Boards Association commended Reginald Phillips of Phillips Educational Consulting & Associates, LLC and SuzAnne Lamb, parent liaison at Tift County High School Northeast Campus, for their organized preparation.
• Matthews gave a presentation on the 2012-2013 CTAE (career, technical and agricultural education program) local plan. He asked the board to approve the plan at their next board meeting. He also gave an update on the STAR Farm. He noted that the ninth annual Farm Day will take place on the farm for the first time this year on the morning of Nov. 2. Matthews expects a larger crowd at this year’s event.
• Atwater discussed the board resolution opposing the constitutional amendment relative to state approval of charter schools. He noted that they will soon will be deciding on how to approach the amendment in November. He added later that he spoke to the local chamber and they support the board. He and the members agreed that they’re lucky to have a local chamber that is very supportive of the local board.
• The board briefly discussed the personnel committee, curriculum committee and property committee reports. During this time, Dr. Chad Stone, principal at ESMS, commented on the bell schedule (connection classes and increased time for academic classes) and mentioned to the board that he is hoping to offer Spanish I at the school.
To contact reporter Latasha Everson, call 382-4321.