On August 19, 2002, Seymour students will head back to school. There are six schools representing the Seymour area, whose doors will soon be opening with the first day of school excitement. I recently had the opportunity to visit those six schools. I had a chance to chat with the principles for a little insider information on the new things happening at their schools. I also convinced some of them to brag about some of their incredible staff.
Seymour Primary School is under the leadership of Principal Kathleen Fenton. Fenton is no stranger to the school. She taught there for ten years, and then served nine years as assistant principal. The past four years she has served as the principal.
Fenton will take responsibility for grades kindergarten through second grade. The classrooms are kept to a maximum number of 20 students. The most exciting thing to her is “continuing the accelerated reading program and adding accelerated math this year,” she states. The budget for the primary school is unaffected and due to successful fund raising events, at least every classroom has a computer. Updated playground equipment has been added also. Fenton expressed gratitude toward Mr. Charles Temple, school board member, who has served the needs of Seymour very adequately. She described him as “a great asset”.
When asked about her staff Fenton replied, “All of our teachers are outstanding.” All of the teachers, however, could always use volunteer help. In fact, Fenton would like to see parents volunteer some time, during the month, to the school. In a letter to parents she stated that, “volunteering enables you to become shareholders in your child’s education. Your help, whether it be for one hour or one day a month, is vital for our school to remain successful.”
There will be 714 young minds to teach this year, Seymour Primary will once again succeed if everyone works together.
With an enrollment of 750 students, Mr. Greg Clark, and his staff of 46 teachers, will open their door on August 19 with anticipation and excitement.
This year accelerated reading program will continue and accelerated math will be added to the fourth-grade curriculum.
A new element to the school day this year is the division of duty among the fifth grade students. A team-teaching effort, for reading and math, will expand horizons for all of the students. Clark expressed that team-teaching will prepare students for changing teachers and classes when they get to the middle school.
A delay on certain details, of the budget, was frustrating to Clark but over all, the budget was not affected for this school year. It was just a “wait and see,” situation that turned out satisfactorily. Two major fund-raising events will help supplement the budget. The Winter Walk, which accumulated $17,000 last year, will be repeated, as well as the annual carnival.
Clark depends on an estimated 20 volunteers daily to help the teaching staff in many areas. Some of the volunteers come over from the high school’s Future Teacher’s Association. For parents interested in helping, Clark gave the following ideas: eat lunch with your child once in awhile, be sure to attend events in which your child is involved, and support the teachers by attitude as well as service.
When the first day of school ends, and students get back into the vehicles that will carry them home, they should have plenty to talk about.
Faye Nelson, principal of Seymour Middle School, will be on hand to welcome 770 students to school. Her staff of 42, including three new teachers, are prepared to dig into some new textbooks and get back into the accelerated reading program. Nelson asked me to remind the students, who have not finished the summer reading program, to get busy!
On the first day, students will receive their 2002-03 student-planner books, which are provided in part by Citizen’s National Bank. All of the guidelines are included in the front of the planner. A schedule of events for the year is listed as well as new lines of discipline. Classroom open houses will begin after the school year resumes. All parents are encouraged to attend these gatherings and meet their child’s teachers. Like all of the schools in Seymour, the teachers, students, and parents are expected to regularly communicate. Nelson emphasized the importance of parents continuing to come and eat lunch with their students and attend as many school events as possible.
“I’m excited about it all,” when I asked Nelson what she thought was most exciting about the coming school year. Then, she discussed the importance of the accelerated reading program and she also mentioned the instruction students will receive in computer science. Every student has the opportunity to stretch themselves in computer science even to the extent of using programs like PowerPoint®.
This year Science Fair exhibits are going to be coordinated by Michele Ballard. Ballard is looking forward to excelling winners in the Science Fair as they did last year. Last year, the school had a grand prizewinner countywide and honorable mention statewide. Her labs in science are going to be “hands-on” so students should be ready for exciting learning!
Also, classroom additions are in progress. Four rooms are being added during the course of the year. The budget for the year has been met and fund raising events will supply the money for the other needed programs. Nelson, like the other principals in Seymour, is dependant on the support of parents and friends of the community. From the first bell to the last bell of the day students, and teachers alike, will be busy with the essentials of education.
Bruce Wilson, principal at Seymour High School, is responsible for the 970 students enrolled this year. Of those students, 201 will earn a diploma by the end of the year. Mr. Wilson has watched over the curriculum and extra curricular events at the high school for 14 years. He takes budgeting in stride by just waiting to see what the dollars will be and then adjusting. Is he worried about it this year? “No,“ he said, “we have been able to add some new classes this year.” Wilson is confident that the funding is adequate. Taking fund raising ideas from political practice, the school raised about $20,000 last spring at a $125 a plate dinner. Other clubs within the system, such as band, and cheerleaders, run their own fund-raisers for the extras that they want or need.
New classes this year include Vocational Office Education, which will be a second-semester course. Diversified Tech II is new also and will expand far beyond Diversified Tech I. The enhancement of core subjects, by the addition of these vocational courses, is a plus for the high school, which Wilson will watch with positive anticipation.
How can parents help in the high school? Wilson advises parents to become acquainted with each teacher. Meet your teen’s teachers. Parents should stop and speak to them whenever they run into each other outside the school setting,” advised Wilson. It helps keep parents in touch with the teachers, and allows breathing room for the independence of their students, who are no longer constantly in need of attention. It is still important for parents and family to attend athletic, music, and academic competitions. When I asked Wilson about whether he would continue to have prayer before athletic events, he gave a direct answer. “Yes.”
The opportunities to learn in a diversified environment abound at the high school. Students, who apply themselves in the classrooms, will be adequately prepared at the year’s end.
Parents, who want the choice of sending their children to a private Christian school, have Seymour Community Christian. The school, a ministry of Seymour Community Church, meets expenses through tuition, gifts, and fund-raising events. Estimated enrollment determines the annual budget. This year’s current enrollment is 130 in grades K-12. Enrollment in the Pre School is another 50. The Pre School begins phonics and numbers study from age 2.
Principal, Patrick Koster says, “Although academics, fine arts, and sports are important, my priority is meeting the spiritual needs of the student body.”
Bible classes are taught daily and weekly chapel meets on Wednesday. The school is accredited through the Tennessee Association of Christian Schools, which monitors all aspects of the school. They are also accountable to the Tennessee Department of Education.
All of last year’s staff is returning with no new teachers added. Mrs. Linda Williams, second grade, is also certified with the National Institute of Learning Disabilities. Williams adds an exceptional dimension to the school. She is able to assist with learning disabilities in all of the grades in an after-school program she developed. The music and drama teacher, Tonya Wilson, is returning with hopes of again bringing home first-place winners in state competitions, as she has in previous years. Mr. Koster also has his work cut out for him; he would to see like another winning basketball season.
When asked about the recent ruling on the Pledge of Allegiance, Mr. Koster affirmed that the pledge would be recited, as it always has been, starting with the first day of school, August 19. The elementary students also recite the pledge to the Christian flag and the Bible daily. All three pledges are recited in the weekly chapel as well. Christian, Biblical principles are integrated throughout the entire curriculum, providing children with another firm education foundation.
King’s Academy is situated on a 67-acre complex just off Boyd’s Creek Highway. Two men serve as principals: Steve Sharp, who is Upper Level Director, and Leroy Beam, who is the K—8 principal. The two men oversee a total enrollment of 385, with 50 boarding students. Two-thirds of the boarding students are international and add a unique cultural dimension to the campus.
Sharp is most excited about the addition of two more advanced placement courses in english, and environmental science. Advanced placement in biology already exists. Beam is looking forward to the use of the upgraded media center. “Stacy Sharp has been working tirelessly,” Beam says, “on organizing multiple media materials for the use of both students and professionals.”
Like most Christian schools, King’s Academy does not receive any tax funds for budget purposes. Tuition and funds allocated for them, from the Tennessee Baptist Convention Cooperative Program, determine the spending for the school. Fund raising supplements other needs. The Parent-Teacher Fellowship assists in raising additional monies as well as adding positive support to the teachers and administration. They often plan to meet during a time when they are apt to be together, such as attendance at soccer games. With a grin of pride, Sharp expressed his desire to see another outstanding soccer season just like last year’s.
While volunteering is always welcome, both men agreed parents are the best help when they support teachers in a home by following up the positive principles stressed at school. Sharp introduced the character points of development the school will stress this year: commitment, humility, respect, integrity, service, and trust. The first letter of each trait spells out CHRIST. King’s Academy is about the business of keeping Christ foremost in all daily activity at the school.

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