🏫 School Board Enthusiasts 🏫 The UnifiEd Student Voice Team's School Board Blog
Lost HamCo Employees The school board meeting started out with a remembrance of the employees that Hamilton County recently lost: Clifford Kirk, Rick Smith, and Catherine Neely...
Clifford Kirk had coached at Hixson, Soddy Daisy, and Sale Creek. He has won more than 1100 softball games. Rhonda Thurman described him as a “fun-loving guy” and “very unorthodox about everything.” Rick Smith spent 47 years in education and 33 years of that was in Hamilton County. Dr. Highlander described him as a “smart guy.” In remembrance, he also went on to explaining personal stories with Rick Smith. Catherine Neely coached basketball and volleyball for 47 years and was an athletic director for 20 years. She is in the TSSAA hall of fame, Greater Chattanooga hall of fame, National High School Coaches hall of fame, Tennessee Sports hall of fame, and the Hixson High School hall of fame. She also taught at East Ridge for 33 years and was a Hamilton County teacher of the year. All three left legacies which certainly motivate young students across Hamilton County. Their accomplishments inspire everyone as we continue through these hard times. These three employees have accomplished so much during their time with Hamilton County and will be missed dearly. The remembrance ended with a brief word of prayer.
Awards and Recognitions It is the wonderful time of year again when we begin the process of recognizing Teachers of the Year. This month’s board meeting recognized the Hamilton County Elementary, Middle, and High School Teachers of the Year. This year’s teachers show extraordinary promise for the future of Hamilton County Schools. Michelle Bailey was recognized as the HCS Elementary School Teacher of the Year. Ms. Bailey is a Kindergarten and First Grade teacher at Thrasher Elementary. David Jackson, a seventh-grade math teacher at Brown Middle School, was recognized as the HCS Middle School Teacher of the Year. Emily MacDonald, a math teacher at Red Bank High School, was recognized as the HCS High School Teacher of the Year. All of the teachers recognized this year work with STEM education, especially Math, and all of them were members of several Fellowship Programs for exceptional educators. As a student with an interest in STEM, I’m thrilled to see special recognition for these teachers that help shape the future’s technical minds. I truly recommend listening to this section of the board meeting to hear the experience that these teachers have. It’s truly inspiring to listen to all of the honors they have received and see their passion for education displayed. I have always been thankful for the teachers that I have had throughout my education. I feel encouraged hearing about the promising teachers that are located all around the county.
Future Ready Update The Future Ready Institutes are something that I am very familiar with, as I was in East Hamilton High School’s Business Institute from Freshman year until the beginning of Junior year. When I joined, The Future Ready Institute(s) was just beginning and still in developmental stages. When I left in Junior year, it seemed like the school was very organized in the business institute. Being in the institute was a very positive experience (that may be because the teacher who taught my courses was absolutely fantastic). With my experience, I was delighted to hear that the school board is looking into introducing The Future Ready Institute(s) early on in people’s education experience. During the meeting, it seemed like the school board wanted to focus on how The Future Ready Institute(s) could form a strong foundation for younger students and help heal “cracks” in students' education. This seemed very positive to me because I think that young students could definitely benefit from more real-life applications of education. We all know we’ve thought, “where will I use this in real life?” I believe that introducing these programs to young students could help answer that question for them and give them extra value in education.
Coronavirus Updates It’s no surprise that with holiday trips and family events coming up, COVID-19 cases are on the rise. This surge in positive test results has alarmed parents, students, and teachers alike. Maddie Kuhar addressed these concerns head-on as she spoke about the county’s commitment to the HCS pledge. Kuhar states that “According to the CDC, students even have a comparatively low risk for hospitalization and death. However, the CDC warns that this must be contextualized to the risk this poses to staff members.” As an in-person student, I always felt safe going to school because I know I’m young and healthy, so my hospitalization risk was low, as Mrs. Kuhar mentioned. However, I didn’t consider the risk factors involved in the staff and teachers at my school. She goes on to say, “According to the HCS reporting tool, the total percentage of employees reporting has nearly doubled in the past two weeks.” She expressed that teachers, especially in K-8 schools, “Do not feel that (their) safety is being taken into full consideration.”I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of selfishness. The extent of my health concerns stopped at my family and me, andnever once did I think to consider my teachers’ health. If I’m in close contact with these HCS employees every day and fail to regard their safety, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to imagine that the higher-ups within our system, such as our board members, haven’t entirely been made aware or acknowledged these concerns too. It is my hope that the board will take our concerns, helpful suggestions, and the county’s statistics into consideration when making future decisions for education in regards to the Coronavirus.