Harper Elementary 4th grade students ventured out with Mary Gebel & Jennifer Spilewski to experience the Thomas County Public Library. Students were given a tour by Children's Director Amanda Redker as an extension activity to a recent classroom lesson included in the Thomasville City School District's new Journeys curriculum. Students were able to connect functional life skills with prior knowledge and newly learned material to experience learning from a variety of perspectives. Pictured: Serena Harper, Serenity Harper, Malachi Hill, Melvin Holmes, Izaiah Hudson, & D'Jaylin Sharper.
Thomasville City Schools is aiming to boost students and turn the dream of college and career success into a reality through the implementation of AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination.
Assistant Superintendent for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Dr. Daniel Oldham recalls occasions when has asked students to raise their hands if they want to go to college.
“Then we ask if they know what is takes to get to college, and they don’t always know how to make that happen,” said Dr. Oldham.
According to AVID, schools are full of students who possess a desire to go to college and the willingness to work hard, but many of them do not truly have the opportunity to be college-ready. These are often the students who will be the first in their families to attend college and are from groups traditionally underrepresented in higher education.
Cohorts of middle and high school students embarked on their journey toward college success when they applied last spring to the AVID program that is starting this fall.
Dr. Oldham explained that the selection process involved identifying students who would benefit from the program: students who have motivation, are goal-oriented, and have high-level abilities yet may not have all of the supports in place and need the tools to succeed on a path to college and career success. The application process repeats annually and is open to anyone – even if they are not approached as a potential candidate.
“There is a higher level of rigor and accountability for AVID students,” reminded Dr. Oldham.
Thomasville High School AVID site coordinator and teacher Janet Cable listed activities such as teaching the students to set realistic goals, reflecting on tasks in a Weekly Learning Log, and reading research about the amount of time and repeated exposure to a topic that is necessary to retain information.
“It’s not a college awareness program; it’s a college readiness program,” said Cable.
Cable has already instituted weekly inspirational speakers who discuss their college experiences in hopes that the students will not just get to college, they will stay there and succeed.
MacIntyre Park Middle School site coordinator and teacher Tiquilla Futch said that AVID goes beyond being a typical study skills program and promotes a ‘college-going culture.’
“It helps students look beyond obstacles they may have in their lives at home or academic challenges they face at school and lets them know that going to college and graduating college is an option no matter your challenges,” said Futch.
Dr. Oldham said that it’s a learning culture – not a program that is taught and then left behind and that AVID should infuse into all students in all the schools.
“We want our students to learn how to learn and to have a love of learning, to rethink through how to find their own answers, and to understand how to study and problem solve,” said Dr. Oldham.
Beyond the direct-instruction AVID elective class teachers, 25 Thomasville City Schools teachers and administrators were trained at the summer institute so that the core of the AVID program, which is truly based on good teaching practices, will mesh with what they’re already doing – such as organized note-taking, reading informational text, and higher-level collaboration and inquiry.
The entire faculty of MPMS, 5th grade teachers at Harper Elementary, and a group of teachers from THS were formally trained. AVID-trained teachers are sprinkled throughout the academic classrooms where AVID techniques are shared and used by all students. Thomasville City Schools’ faculty in its entirety spent time during pre-planning discussing the AVID philosophy that fosters a growth mindset and how all students can succeed when they leave behind a fixed mindset about their futures.
AVID is closing the opportunity gap in college graduation rates among diverse and underrepresented demographic groups. With AVID, teachers inspire students to take control over their own learning.
Ms. Stouffer and Ms. Mobley's class from Scott Elementary visited the Thomasville Fire Department. The purpose of the visit was to introduce the students to community service workers and explain how they help people in need. The Firefighters were extremely patient with the students and did an excellent job of explaining what they did in a fun way. The students were given the opportunity to dress up like fire fighters and they loved it. Pictured: Firefighter Keifer Barnes, Firefighter Joe Little, Jewelliuanna Brown, Elan Carr, Preston Hines, Ava Musolina, Caleb Mickens, Jalanden Williams, Captain Mark West.
Jerger Elementary students will be out in force this weekend as Thomasville City Schools kicks off its annual THANKS Ticket fundraiser. By teaming with 42 generous local sponsors, the credit card-sized discount card now holds more special offers than ever before while continuing to maintain the inexpensive $5.00 price tag.
“THANKS Tickets are a win-win for the school and the community. Area residents have the opportunity to enjoy a variety of discount opportunities. The schools benefit by earning money for the purchase of new or updated technology and other resources throughout the year,” said Principal Lawana Rayburn.
So far this year, Jerger has spent approximately $30,000 on its new playground, border, and mulch. In addition to the new playground, Jerger has also assisted the PTO with the new security measures completed over the summer, spending approximately $20,000 for materials and installation of the new doors, glass, and counters in the lobby.
The money collected from the sale of the THANKS Tickets will be used for the purchasing of student incentives, technology, and other special projects throughout the year.
“The THANKS Ticket makes for a great stocking stuffer, thank you, ‘thinking of you’ token, door prize, or gift for any occasion,” added Rayburn.
Students were sent home with packets containing a list of businesses included on the discount card and fundraising tips to help increase sales while keeping the students safe.
District cash prizes for the top three individuals and Jerger participation prizes will be distributed at the end of the sale. All sales must be submitted to Jerger’s office by 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 6, 2018.
District top seller for 2017, Jerger Elementary 5th grader Wyatt Elkins, sold 281 cards.
“I sell THANKS Tickets because I like the prizes, I like helping my school, and I like a lot of people saving money,” said Elkins.
Harper Elementary is also participating in the THANKS Ticket fundraiser. Contact Jerger (229-225-2625) or Harper (229-225-2622) front offices for more information.
Three new middle and high school leaders are energized by their goals for the future and encouraged by a warm welcome from a “district full of caring people.” A relationship among the administrators, faculty, support staff, and students was the common attraction for these three administrators when they chose to join the “District of Champions.”
Dr. Laine Reichert begins her second year as Thomasville City Schools Superintendent.
“We are so excited to welcome three high-caliber administrators to continue the good work at our middle and high schools,” said Dr. Reichert.
A champion is a person who has surpassed all rivals in a competition, but a champion is also a person who fights for a cause or on behalf of someone else.
MacIntyre Park Middle School Principal Dr. Tret Witherspoon plans to build on the strengths of the school district to achieve his goals.
“The strengths of the Thomasville City School District include a strong faculty, support staff, and stakeholders who place the needs of our students as priority,” said Dr. Witherspoon.
Thomasville High School Principal Dr. Shannon Norfleet notes that when most people think of champions, they would naturally think about all of the successful athletes that have been a part of the Thomasville City School System, but there is so much more.
“TCS is a part of and a reflection of the Thomasville community. This community is a strong and tight-knit community of people who are proud to live and work here,” said Dr. Norfleet.
He added that since moving here, usually the first thing people say is that they graduated from THS and the year that they graduated.
“This is a community of successful people who are proud to have gone to THS. These are champions,” said Dr. Norfleet.
Scholars Academy Director Jeanene Wallace is proud that her students earn awards in areas from academics to athletics to fine arts, but knows that a champion doesn’t always receive public accolades.
“I want to be a part of helping students see that they are champions because they have reached their goals and have succeeded in a way, which may not win a trophy, but will prepare them to graduate high school and to succeed in whatever their next steps are in life,” said Wallace.
Dr. Witherspoon hopes to close, what he calls, “the attitude gap.” He refers to this as the gap between those students who have the will to strive for academic excellence and those who do not. When the attitude gap closes, so will the achievement gap. He aims for the transformation of student attitudes through intentional reflection of teachers’ and administrators’ own attitudes toward the students, their practice, and their development.
"I plan to close the attitude gap by creating an environment for learning, having a positive attitude toward students, building relationships with students, showing compassion for students, and creating relevance in instruction,” said Dr. Witherspoon.
Dr. Norfleet’s goals for THS involve a focus on the current students as well as the schools’ heritage.
“I hope to build a strong culture at the school that ensures a quality learning environment for every student and that honors the great legacy of Thomasville High School,” said Dr. Norfleet.
Wallace will focus on the unique nature of her students at the 6-12 accelerated magnet program and will continue to focus on positive connections with students as the foundation to further increase academic success.
“At Scholars Academy we have high achievers who are willing to put in the work to achieve at the highest level. The Scholars Academy team will continue to provide incredible instruction to support our students’ successes and are willing to spend the extra hours it takes before and after school and on weekends to make that happen,” said Wallace.
Dr. Witherspoon joins Thomasville City Schools again at MacIntyre Park Middle School. Witherspoon began his professional career as an 8th grade teacher at Cook Middle School in Adel. After two years at Cook Middle School, he spent the next three years teaching English and Employability Skills at Moultrie Technical College and then two years as teacher/administrator at Valdosta Technical College Cook County Campus. Witherspoon went on to serve as assistant principal of Cook Elementary School and principal at Taliaferro County School, before he accepted the principal’s position at Scott Elementary in July of 2007 where he served for next six years. His next assignment was at Stringfellow Elementary in Moultrie where he served as principal for four years. After serving as an elementary principal the last 11 years, he is extremely excited to begin his tenure as principal of MacIntyre Park Middle School.
Dr. Norfleet comes to Thomasville High School as a public educator for the past 24 years, including 13 years of classroom experience teaching chemistry in Houston, Putnam, and Bleckley Counties. For the past 10 years, he has served the Bibb County School District in several administrative positions, including successful tenures as principal at the middle and high school levels.
Wallace is following up 21 years as the director of Pathways Educational Program where she lead a vital part of local school systems' continuum of services for students in Pre-K through 12th grade with severe emotional disorders or autism from all socio-economic backgrounds and range of academic abilities
Dr. Witherspoon said that he has grown personally and professionally and believes that his educational preparation and professional experiences have prepared him for this position.
“My successful track record and experience in successfully executing strategic plans and deploying necessary supports for continuous improvements have prepared me to lead at the next level,” said Dr. Witherspoon.
Dr. Norfleet said that he has never been welcomed so nicely to any job or community.
“Thomasville is a wonderful place and I am thankful for having been given the opportunity to serve here,” said Dr. Norfleet.
Wallace entered education with the goal to help every student reach his or her potential. One of the most important things she wants students to know is that she’s interested in them— who they are.
“Just recently a student walked up to me and said, ‘Mrs. Wallace, I am one of your students, and I wanted to introduce myself.’ They know I want to know them— not just their names and faces but what they enjoy, what their goals are, or even where they may struggle,” said Wallace.
Wallace added that TCS understands the importance of relationships in education. It is one of the many reasons joining the district was so appealing.
“Superintendent Reichert is working to continue to show that this is a district that cares— not just about test scores and numbers, but where administrators, faculty, and support staff at and among the schools are working to continue to make the district even better for every student,” said Wallace.
All are invited to a Meet and Greet for the new administrators on Tuesday, August 28 from 4:30-5:00 p.m. at Thomasville City Schools Board Meeting Room (404 N. Broad Street, 3rd Floor). TCS scheduled Board Meeting will follow at 5:00 p.m.
Thomasville High School and Scholars Academy students’ persistent achievement as Advanced Placement Scholars continues with 47 named AP Scholars in recognition of their exceptional achievement on the College Board’s Advanced Placement exams.
Class of 2018 graduates Christopher Carpenter, Anne Clifton, Grayson Durham, Lilith Edwards, Ian Penix, and Jackson Singletary; current seniors Louis Carter, Emily Dixon, Spencer Harbin, Mason West, Claudia-Michele White, Seth Wier, and Mason Wilson; and current junior Braxton Sizemore qualify for the AP Scholar with Distinction Award by earning an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on five or more exams.
Class of 2018 graduates Roderick Elzy, Liam Foster, Brittany Hawkins, and Garrett Poole; current seniors John Carpenter, Brayton Hanna, Tyla Joseph, Christian Pyle, and Maura Shiner; and current juniors Jack Edge, Elijah Humphries, Emma Humphries, Kaitlyn Kasper, and Maxwell White qualify for the AP Scholar with Honor Award by earning an average score of at least 3.25 on all AP Exams taken and scores of 3 or higher on four or more of these exams.
Class of 2018 graduates Carl Blackmore, Madison Cook, Anna Cooper, Victoria Cordista, Yolanda Hadley, Alexa Hernandez, Morgan Matthews, Anna Kate Pomeroy, Jessica Shores, and John West; current seniors Ben Dozier, LaTatyana Hadley, Sydney McKay, Keisha Patel, Heaven Robinson, Amber Sarabia, and London Weier; and current juniors Winston Cornish and Kathleen Geyer all qualify for the AP Scholar Award by completing three or more AP Exams with scores of 3 or higher.
Ashley Ivey-Jackson, who teaches AP Studio Art and AP Art History, notices a common work ethic in students who succeed in AP classes and on AP exams.
“These students realize that it takes effort on their part with research and reading beyond the notes given in class to do well in an Advanced Placement class,” said Ivey-Jackson.
Betty Elkins currently has 42 enthusiastic sophomores in her AP English Language class.
“Our students are not afraid to tackle rigorous coursework, and it is amazing to watch their progress from August to May each year,” said Elkins.
Scholars Academy Director Jeanene Wallace agrees that the Advanced Placement courses are rigorous, but teachers provide the level of instruction and support to give students the skills and confidence to score well.
“At Scholars Academy, we encourage every child to take the exams in their AP classes; we don't select or handpick those to test. The preparation we provide along with the expectation and culture of success consistently produces a large number of AP Scholars,” said Wallace.
“If you expect a lot out of your students and believe in their ability to produce on a higher level, they generally will rise to meet your expectations,” said Ivey-Jackson.
Guidance counselor Marcie West explains that Advanced Placement courses serve a dual purpose for students: the opportunity to experience the rigor of college classes and to select courses that are necessary to gain acceptance into competitive colleges.
“Because of the national acceptance of AP, we encourage all students to take the AP tests at the end of the year. Ninety-five percent of our students earn an AP score that awards them college credit. In many cases Scholars Academy students earn up to eight hours of college credit per AP course and test,” added West.
Students achieving AP Scholar Awards have the remaining time in high school to complete additional AP exams to increase their standings as AP Scholars. Academy students begin taking AP classes in the 9th grade so that they can take full advantage of the school’s wide offerings of twenty-one AP courses which go beyond the typical four academic subject areas. AP courses in music theory, foreign languages, and visual arts expand the choices for students.
AP Environmental Science teacher Robert Peterson notes that these students have learned to manage their workload to be able to complete the work and hold a busy extracurricular schedule.
“All of them have a drive to be successful and it shows in their work ethic,” said Peterson.
AP Literature teacher Lynn Stowers defines a skill that sets apart the best AP students.
“One thing which is very helpful in AP Literature is the ability to understand the nuance of what the author is saying. Well-written literature always gives the reader hints of a deeper level of meaning. The ability to sense that deeper level can make the difference between just barely passing and doing really well,” said Stowers.
Scholars Academy has accumulated 8 National AP Scholars, an award which is granted to students in the United States who receive an average score of at least 4 or higher on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 4 or higher on 8 or more exams. These National AP Scholar Thomasville City Schools graduates continued their studies at a variety of institutions: Shradha Patel (United States Naval Academy), Felix Edwards (Amherst College), Milo St. Ives (University of Georgia), Sharon Autry (University of Georgia), Aaron Bellamy (Georgia College and State University), Jacob Rieber (University of Pennsylvania), Rebecca Jane White (United States Naval Academy); and Asa Harbin (Georgia Institute of Technology).
Through 34 different college-level courses and exams, the College Board’s AP Program provides willing and academically prepared students with the opportunity to earn college credit or advanced placement and stand out in the college admission process. Each exam is developed by a committee of college and university faculty and AP teachers, ensuring that AP Exams are aligned with the same high standards expected by college faculty at some of the nation’s leading liberal arts and research institutions.