A New School Year Begins for Area Students

Thursday, August 22, 2013
PES Assistant Principal Erica Harris welcomes students as they exit the bus Monday morning on the first day of classes for Piggott Schools.

A number of changes awaited students of both Piggott Elementary and Piggott High School, when they returned to classes Monday, Aug. 19. A number of faculty members at both campuses retired at the conclusion of the 2012-13 school year, and have since been replaced. Other staff members have been shuffled about, while a number of others also have new responsibilities, as the local district works to implement the new "common core" system of standards.

Students at PHS also have a new face to greet them in the office, as Misti Sanders takes over as the secretary at high school for Denise Featherston, who was named to supervise the in school suspension program.

At the elementary school, Katina Wilson has become a familiar face in the office as she has started her second year as PES secretary, after taking over for Rose Dalton the previous fall.

Members of Mrs. Peggy Slaughter's second grade class at RHS are off to music class on their first day of school

But, there have been a number of changes at PES, as new staff members have been added and others have been reassigned. Marissa Howell was hired as a kindergarten teacher; Laura Brantley was hired to teach second grade along with Nikki Cato; Karen Seal is an aide for third grade and also teaches the new class on keyboarding in the computer lab; Heather Seegraves moves to third grade; Tammy Cashion takes over one of the fourth grade classes, Gina Brewer is the new reading recovery instructor and Nikki Speer is the new elementary school physical education instructor.

Speer was also named as the head volleyball coach, and is the current head softball coach, for PHS.

There are more new faces among the ranks at Piggott High School, while other educators have been given additional responsibilities.

Liz Henfling has been hired as the new high school English teacher for seventh and 11th grades, while April Flowers will be teaching the ninth grade and senior English classes. Meanwhile, Jennifer Vernon will teach 10th grade English and takes over leadership of the annual staff from Flowers.

Linda Rouse will be teaching World History, as well as seventh grade math; Karen Coomer will also be teaching two new classes, added due to the common core requirements, including Bridge to Algebra 2 and Advanced Topics. Kaley Brewer of Jonesboro was hired to teach Algebra 2 and 3 along with Pre-Calculus and AP Statistics.

Melissa Hopkins-Turner moves from PES, where she taught second grade last year, to high school where she will teach seventh and eighth grade math and a new class, Pre-AP math. She will also assist Speer as an assistant coach for volleyball and softball, and will assist Coach Alan Rabjohn with the girls' basketball program.

Misti Jolly, most recently of the Marmaduke District, has been hired to each Biology, Pre-AP Biology, AP Biology and seventh and eighth grade science. Stephanie Goode has been hired to teach physics, chemistry, environmental science and physical science. Meanwhile, Dave Hendrix will teach the seventh and eighth grade science classes.

Jennifer McPherson will be teaching Special Education for 10th through 12th grades, along with Orientation to Teaching. Meanwhile, Jenny Hamilton will teach Special Education for grades 7-9.

PES instructor Penny Toombs will be teaching two classes at the high school for PACE students. And, elementary art teacher Julie Banning will also be teaching a class on Art History at PHS.

Mohawk boy's basketball coach David Reynolds will also be teaching some of the health classes this year, and will serve as girl's track coach based on need.

The district also has a new band director, as Jeremy Wortham was hired to fill the position the week before marching practice began. A graduate of Greene County Tech, he has spent the past four years at East Poinsett County.

Jamie Tharp will supervise the distance learning lab this year, and as mentioned earlier Denise Featherston will be in charge of ISS (In School Suspension).

Rector Schools Bustling with Activities

The Rector School District is bustling with activity this week as students returned to classes for the beginning of the 2013-2014 year on Monday.

In elementary, young students are reuniting with existing friends and making new ones while adjusting to new home rooms and teachers. The experience is exciting, even for those students who may have wanted a few more weeks of summer vacation.

"I guess (I'm ready to be back in school)," sixth grader Zach Gilbee said. "I missed my friends. I don't think I'm ready for homework yet."

With or without homework, the first week appears to be going well.

"It's been a very smooth start," RES principal Nate Henderson said. "The student body has been excited to come back. A few students, especially the younger ones, are a little hesitant at first, but by the end of that first day I saw them laughing and having a good time. We couldn't ask for a better start."

It's business as usual at the high school campus where older, more mature students are fitting into their familiar grooves.

"It's been a good start to the year so far," high school principal Wade Williams said. "The students are energetic and happy to be back with their friends. The teachers and staff are enjoying being back. We're looking forward to another good year."

Students will attend classes with regular scheduling this week and next. Rector schools will be closed Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 2 and 3, for the Labor Day holiday.

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