Back to School Times for Students, Teachers

Thursday, August 15, 2013
A special back-to-school luncheon was held for staff members of Piggott Schools on Monday, Aug. 12, in the fellowship hall of the First United Methodist Church. Nearly 150 administrators, teachers, aides and support personnel enjoyed the meal as it was served by the volunteers.

Students in the Piggott School District will return to classes Monday, Aug. 19, as the 2013-14 school year gets underway. The summer months saw a lot of change within the local district, with the hiring of replacements for a number of longtime educators, but according to second year superintendent Charlie Powell the students should see "a lot of familiar faces in unfamiliar places."

This week teachers began the process of getting their classrooms ready for the coming year, and Monday staff members were treated to a special meal. The luncheon was held in the fellowship hall of the First United Methodist Church of Piggott, as volunteers served nearly 150 administrators, staff and support personnel.

Along with changes in personnel, the district will also benefit from a new telephone system, comprehensive website and a variety of improvement projects. But, overall things will be much the same as they were the previous year. "There will be no changes in the bell schedule at either campus," Powell noted. "And, I don't think we'll be making any changes in the bus routes or schedules at this time."

Rector first grade teacher Sherry Cate has her room decorations ready for the start of school

But, Powell noted there have been a number of changes behind the scenes-all designed to help staff members be more productive. The improvements include a new phone system for the entire district, which also replaced the bell system for the PES and PHS campuses. The system was installed during the summer months by CenturyLink, and the project was nearing completion as the start of school approached.

"The phone project is nearly complete, and we did a walk-through the other day," she noted. "We are going to have a few programming issues going forward, but will be working those problems out as we go."

During Monday night's school board meeting Powell updated other projects which were earmarked for the summer months. "We were scheduled to have the gym light project finished this week, but they were delayed. The PA and lights at the football field will be done before the first home game."

Powell reported the census of students for the start of the new school year is very close to the ending census from last year. "We ended last year with an average daily census of 892 students, and we expect to start this coming year with an average daily of 894," she explained.

For students, teachers and parents one of the biggest improvements for the coming year will be the addition of the new interactive website.

"I think the biggest change for students and parents will be our new website," Powell observed. "It allows a lot more parental involvement, and allows better tracking of grades and homework assignments. The system even gives access to such information as the students cafeteria account--and it will allow parents to post payments to their child's account on-line if they choose."

Powell noted both individual student and family accounts can be set up on the system, allowing parents to stay apprised whether they have one student in the district or several. The site will also include a daily calendar and announcements, information on sports, clubs and other extracurricular activities and a link to the Edline system.

The PHS webpage may be accessed at http://piggotthigh.ar.pdh.schoolinsites.com/ while the site for Piggott Elementary school is available at http://piggottelem.ar.pde.schoolinsites.com/

"We're also working on a project funded by a grant through the City of Piggott to increase safety for students," Powell added. "Soon we'll have flashing beacon lights installed at the crosswalk in front of the elementary school." She also noted several other projects are also still in the works for the coming weeks.

In preparation for the start of school an open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15 at Piggott Elementary School. The seventh and eighth grade swimming party, which was postponed from last week, will also be held from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday evening at the municipal swimming pool. A clothing fair is also being held in the PES gym daily through Thursday's open house.

Parents were also reminded school supplies are available for children in need by contacting Mona Scott in the Parent Center at PES at 598-2546.

With the 2013-14 school year at hand, classes at Rector are also slated to begin Monday, Aug. 19.

Students and teachers have been making preparations in recent weeks, as the days of summer vacation are rapidly drawing to a close.

Classes will begin at both elementary and high school at 8 a.m. Monday. Classes will dismiss at 3 p.m. In the elementary grades, students who walk or are picked up by car will be dismissed at 2:52 p.m., while those who ride the bus will be dismissed at 2:55 p.m.

Breakfast will be served Monday. Breakfast is $1 and lunch is $1.90 for students in K-12. Reduced price meals are 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch. Any parent who wishes to eat lunch with a child is asked to send a note in advance. Parents should check in at the office and wait for the student to go to lunch. The lunch charge for an adult is $3.

There are seven lunch periods at Rector Schools. The lunch schedule is: kindergarten, 10:30 to 10:55; first grade, 10:50 to 11:15; second grade, 11 to 11:25; third grade, 11:10 to 11:35; fourth grade, 11:15 to 11:40; high school students, 11:49 to 12:20; fifth grade, 12:25 to 12:50, and sixth grade, 12:30 to 12:55.

Parents are urged to read the student handbook carefully due to changes that have been made.

The bus schedule will be the same as last year. Buses will leave the elementary school at 3 p.m. Cartoon characters and symbols are located on the buses next to the bus numbers to help students identify the bus they are to ride. Bus numbers, symbols, drivers and routes covered are:

Bus 2 -- Dog with duck, Gene Ellis, route six.

Bus 27 -- Camel, Eldon Haynes, route five.

Bus 21 -- Dolphin, Tim Carroll, route four.

Bus 20 -- Rooster, Bill Rabjohn, route two.

Bus 22 -- Starfish, Jill Wynn, route one.

Bus 25 -- Eagle, Lance Mabrey, route three.

This year, the school is welcoming five new teachers. Joel Boyd will teach Art to elementary and high school students. Melinda Van Aalsburg will teach elementary and high school music. Hannah Gray has joined the faculty as the agriculture teacher. Donnathea Pelts has joined the school as a special education instructor. Tim Parrott will teach math at the high school.

The returning elementary school teachers are: Amber Bucy, Mandy Isom and Lynette Trail, kindergarten; Lance Mabrey, Sara Rabjohn and Sherry Cate, first grade; Bethany Burns, Jade Simpson and Peggy Slaughter, second grade; Jami Palmer and Wendy Richardson, third grade; Shawna Bucy and Brittany Herring, fourth grade; Leisa Wesley and Barbara Robertson, fifth grade; Christen Holmes and Susie McCarroll, sixth grade; Karen Miller, special education; Heidi Henderson, librarian; Sue Holcomb, speech; Elain Lovelady, computer lab; Bonnie Manning, Title I math; Kathy Fowler, Title I reading and Sue Rowton, reading recovery.

The returning high school teachers include: Diane Brewer, librarian; Katherine Champ, keyboarding; Matt Dean, girls' basketball and physical education; Lewis Ernest, Spanish, football and softball; Donna Haynes, science; Eldon Haynes, science; Constance Johnston, English; Brent Maddock, science; Melinda Hobbs, English; Lisa Manchester, business; Belinda Matheney, history; Rachel McNamee, history; Matt Mills, boys' basketball; Dawn Sims, special education; Jill Wynn, special education; Amber Teager, math; Daniel Van Aalsburg, band; Candy Williams, Gifted and Talented and Sarah Wright, family and consumer sciences.

Administrators for the school are Nate Henderson, elementary principal; Wade Williams, high school principal and Johnny Fowler, superintendent.

Michelle Hartsfield is the elementary secretary. Rene' Shavalia is the high school secretary. Julia Wyss and Karen Cagle are the elementary and high school counselors, respectively. Lorna McCluskey is the school nurse.

"We have outstanding personnel at our school," Fowler said. "Our people go the extra mile to help the students take advantage of the educational opportunities available.

"We're looking forward to another good school year here in Rector. The students, staff and community work together to make this a school we can all be proud to call our own."

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