Long County’s public school teachers name the most deserving of their peers Teachers-of-the-Year each year. The 2018-19 school year Teachers-of-the-Year were announced during a regular Long County Board of Education meeting Monday.
Smiley Elementary School principal Beverly Hill said Smiley’s Teacher-of-the-Year, first grade teacher Teresa Whaley, is a life-long educator. Smiley Elementary serves kindergarten through second grade students.
Special Education teacher Alisa Whiteman was named McClelland Elementary School’s Teacher-of-the-Year. McClelland Elementary School principal Lisa McCallister said Whiteman “always has a smile” and brings sunshine into the school.
English/Language Arts teacher Sandi Rentz was recognized as Long County Middle School’s Teacher-of-the-Year. As grade level chair for the sixth grade, Rentz mentors other teachers, LCMS principal Dr. Patricia Krumnow said.
Long County High School chose preschool teacher Kristi Garcia as its Teacher-of-the-Year, LCHS principal Sherry Lester said. “She (Garcia) makes those kids like rock stars!” Lester said, referring to the in-school field trips the preschool class takes to high school classrooms, such as the biology lab to see sharks dissected.
Long County School Superintendent Dr. Robert Waters said he was proud of the dedication and leadership exhibited by these Teachers-of-the-Year. Waters said they set examples for both students and teachers to follow.
School principals updated board members on the first busy week of the new school year, reporting that, overall, it was a smooth start.
Smiley Elementary School’s morning drop-off time for students began as a 30-minute process, but has decreased to about 15 minutes, Hill said.
McCallister reported that open house at McClelland Elementary was “a tremendous success” and a punch-list of continued physical improvements to the new school are underway. She said a second assistant principal has been hired to focus on curriculum and instruction, and that a keyboarding class will be offered to students so they can take computer-based standardized tests.
McCallister described the new school’s cutting edge technology, including 30 chrome books per class and digital ceiling clocks in each classroom.
Krumnow echoed her school building counterpart, praising LCMS teachers who “put in extra hours” to prepare for the new school’s open house. She said the children enjoy the school’s techno-savvy water fountains, which allow students to fill their personal water bottles and tallies the number of plastic bottles one saves from landfills.
She said the middle school has a strong faculty, with 11 sixth grade teachers, 10 teachers each for seventh and eighth grades, nine for special education and 11 parapros.
The LCMS principal added that students have more time to sit and eat lunch, with five serving lines in the cafeteria.
Lester said high school students have been compliant with the new clear and mesh book bag rule. She said the disciplinary program, PBIS, was being called “The Blue Tide Way,” to sound more positive for students. She said high tide days denote no disciplinary referrals.
The LCHS principal said the school will host an SAT day this year, so about 50 students can take the test during the school day. She added that on Nov. 1, the school will host a college probe fair from 2-3 p.m. Lester also said the high school has about 80 students who are dual enrolled in college classes.
Waters updated the school board on continued improvements to the new school building, both inside and out. He said eventually there will be green space and pine trees planted outside the school.
According to Waters, the road from the school to Highway 84 is being worked on this week. He warned that rain could somewhat delay the road work. However, the Elim Road entrance has been more than adequate, he said.
“I can say after six days of school, that getting in and out of Elim has been a smooth process,” Waters said.
The superintendent said he is looking into funding to have a traffic light installed on Highway 84. He said the estimated cost is $181,000. Waters said he would also like to have a caution light on Elim Road to improve traffic safety.
Waters also quoted the most current enrollment numbers. He said by October 2017, the district served 3,524 students. In March of this year, 3,472 students attended Long County schools. And as of Aug. 13, there were 3,513 students enrolled.
“Our numbers are going to continue to rise,” he said.