Rector School Board Re-Hires Staff

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Retirement resignations from two long-time local educators were accepted at the regular monthly meeting of the Rector School Board, held Monday, March 12. During the gathering the building principals, Nate Henderson and Anthony Dowdy, also commented on the exciting curricular activities taking place at both the high school and the elementary school.

They indicated a joint venture between the two buildings addressed safety of all the children on both campuses. As previously reported in this publication, the elementary building is being equipped with a card entry system which should be operational within the next week, according to Dowdy. On the other hand, the high school campus is far more difficult to secure with multiple free-standing buildings and over 25 access doors.

Arkansas State Patrolman Mark Vavak, and others, held a safety seminar for all personnel which took place Friday, March 9, with the students being dismissed from classes early. Policies were updated and the most current and up-to-date training for teachers was presented. Teachers have told building administrators they appreciated the updated information and they feel assured that safety is a demonstrated priority. A follow-up story on the effort may be found in the upcoming edition of the CCTD.

Henderson noted he was pleased to share with the board that an ACT Boot Camp had been held during school hours. The effort was designed for the benefit of all juniors and for sophomores and seniors who wanted the training in test-taking strategies and competencies tested by the ACT. Henderson made substitutes available for teachers of core subject areas so that they, too, could be trained in how the test is designed and how best they can help students approach the test with confidence. Mastery Prep sent a professional trainer for the seminar which was attended by 65 students. Henderson is considering using the same company for a curriculum component for the 2018-19 school year and for core teachers’ professional development. ACT results should be available in May. All juniors are required by Arkansas State Education Department to take the ACT to validate their academic progress and their preparation for post-secondary education.

School board president Jody Simmons noted that the RHS Cougar Band had again surpassed previous levels of performance. Simmons and Henderson commented on the band’s Superior rating at Concert Band Competition in Jonesboro and their Sweepstakes Award.

Working with a taco business in Jonesboro, which provides a meal for the less fortunate when one meal is purchased, the Spanish Club led by Christina Boyd, volunteered this past weekend at Tacos for Life. As a part of the effort, they helped make the meals and donated their time to “Feed My Children.” Approximately 20 students took part in this outreach service project.

Teacher Lynnette Trail is slated to be trained during the summer in phonetic connections for students in grades K-2. Access to the program will be provided through a 21st Century Grant being prepared by Dowdy’s staff and practiced grant-writer Boyd. Trail would be taking a 45-hour course designed for systematic, multi-sensory techniques for teaching the acquisition of basic skills for reading. The process is designed to help her become efficient in the skills allowing her to train other teachersas well. The grant will provide funding for the course and will help provide after school programs for students through trained teachers.

“As we investigate strategies that work with students who need multi-sensory intervention skills, we learn that all students learn best when using these methods,” Dowdy commented.

According to information provided by Connections - Structured Literacy and Reading Intervention sponsored by The APPLE Group, Inc. of Jonesboro, “One in five children has trouble learning to read in spite of having normal intelligence, adequate instruction, no emotional disturbances, and no sensory deficits. They just need a different approach to learning.”

Board members Mike Trail, Kim Isom, and Simmons also commented on the FFA Auction held this past weekend at the Rector Community Center. Henderson reported from FFA Adviser Michael Hollis the auction raised approximately $13,000 for the FFA program which is excellent since the they were able to provide the meal at no charge. Simmons noted more people than he remembers from past years remained after the dinner to participate in the auction. Henderson was also praising the students who made fire pits and benches and other items which brought nice prices at the auction.

As the board moved further into the agenda for the month, they approved a resolution to avoid conflict of interest in agreeing to do business with Brad Green to better address the sewer system which has become backed up in recent weeks. Green’s wife is a teacher at Rector Elementary School.

The board also accepted the resignation of two long-time specialists at Rector Elementary School. Julia Wyss is retiring after 39 years in the profession as teacher and counselor, spending her final years as elementary counselor. Dowdy commented on what a tremendous help she is to him, to the students and their parents, and to the teachers. “She is a tremendous asset to the district,” Henderson added.

Meanwhile, Sue Holcomb is retiring after spending over 40 years as speech therapist with Rector School District.

“She makes sure the processes needed to address students’ needs are handled right,” said Henderson. “She is at the school all the time, making sure everything is just perfect. We will all miss her.”

In related agenda items, Dowdy and Henderson each recommended approving all certified staff contracts for RES and RHS for 2018-2019 school year. Superintendent Johnny Fowler recommended to the board that all these contracts be extended to the teachers who want them, and the board unanimously approved.

Superintendent Fowler then recommended to the board the hiring of Christin Holmes, currently a first grade teacher, as the new elementary school counselor. The board accepted his recommendation.

The board approved the superintendent’s February financial report, which indicated the general fund balance is $1,950,573.10. With all other funds, including lunch room and federal programs, the total balance stands at $2,978,057.07.

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