Morenci schools open for year 2011.08.31

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci students will face some changes when they return to class Tuesday for the 2011-12 school year.

With less than a week until the doors open, last-minute preparations remain ongoing as administrators wrestle with staff cuts and uncertain enrollment.

Elementary school students will see the fewest staffing changes. As of Monday, Chris Mansfield was slated to move from third grade to developmental kindergarten.

Melissa Elliott will join Brigell Bovee-Vernier and Holly Bella in a kindergarten room. Other grades will have two teachers each: first, John Craig and Liz Jarrell; second, Teresa Barrett and Tatum Penrod; third, Robin Borton and Kelly Bush; and fourth, Beth Wright and Natalie Zuvers.

Andi Rorick will spend half of the day at the elementary school  in a Title I role and half the day at the middle school as a special education teacher.

Middle/High School

Closer ties between the middle and high school are in place for the new school year, with more staff members serving in both locations and with an updated student handbook that serves both schools.

New principal Kelli Campbell worked over the summer with staff members to make the changes and create a shared policy book.

Students and parents have been alerted to changes in the handbook, including alterations to the dress code and a rule that forbids the use of cell phones and other signal-receiving devices during all school hours.

The handbook lays out the consequences for infractions—first offense, second offense, third offense, etc.—with continuing problems generally resulting in in-school or out-of-school suspension or attendance at Saturday School.

The handbook, which includes athletic policies, is available on the newly designed school website.

Academic changes include a new approach to foreign language. After experiencing continuing difficulty in trying to attract a part-time Spanish teacher, the decision was made to give the commercial product Rosetta Stone a try. Hudson schools have already taken that approach.

The obvious disadvantage, said counselor Diana Fallot, is the absence of a certified Spanish teacher, but the highly-regarded program allows a student to study one of many languages other than Spanish. A course is also available for students needing English as a second language.

All teachers will either take a turn in the computer lab for one trimester or take on an extra class for a trimester. This will serve staffing needs and also work toward equalizing the amount of planning time available for the upper grade teachers compared to those at the elementary school.

A paraprofessional is expected to be hired for the computer labs, but a certified teacher is also required to oversee on-line courses.

Matt Bostick will put his social studies credentials to use this year by teaching history and social studies classes at both schools, splitting his time between the two schools.

Brad Brown will teach a new probability/statistics course to provide one more option for the fourth year of mathematics. He will also serve as the “guided academics” teacher for the first trimester to provide help to students needing extra assistance.

Kerry Neiman, Kim Mohr and Dennis Quist will each have at least one class in the middle school, and middle school teachers Jim Bauer and Renae Schaffner will each spend some classroom time at the high school.

Fifth grade teacher Dan Hoffman will continue to teach Project Lead the Way science courses. By the end of the school year, all seventh and eighth grade students will have completed the experience—a necessary requirement before the class is introduced at the high school level.

The administration will keep a close watch on fifth grade enrollment over the first two weeks of school before deciding whether or not a third section is needed. A classroom aide will be present in each room to start the school year to help with the large enrollment.

Once classes are underway next week, there are no planned days off for students until the first parent/teacher conferences Oct. 20.

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