Welcome to the GMSD Neighborhood
It was a great week in the neighborhood
Four of our schools were recognized this week as state Reward Schools. This identification is given to schools that exemplify student success in achievement and growth. Our district was also pleased to announce eight National Merit Semifinalists.
GMSD also took homecoming to new heights with floats, a community-wide #reptheH campaign, dress-up days, the game, and a homecoming dance. Congratulations to the Homecoming Committee for all of the work they did to pull off these incredible events; Shannon Blackburn, Traci Spain, Dr. Abigail Simone, and Coach Chad Becker.
Assistant Commissioner Lisa Coons stopped by Dogwood Elementary School on her tour of tutoring programs in Tennessee. The TN Dept. of Education is visiting successful programs in order to share best practices with all districts.
Two of GMSD's own take the top awards at the annual Tennessee School Board Association (TSBA) Delta Regional Fall Meeting
Hannah Griffin wins the Regional TSBA Student Recognition Award
“My favorite thing about volunteering is seeing people’s reactions to a [young person] volunteering,” said Hannah. And, she can be seen volunteering in MANY locations across Germantown–at church, at school, and as an intern for the Germantown Education Foundation.
Hannah serves as the President of the Executive Council Student Government Association (SGA) at Houston High School and has recently been appointed at the state level to serve as Secretary Co-Host for the Tennessee Association of Student Councils. In these roles, much like the Germantown Education Foundation, she collaborates with peers and adults to plan large-scale events.
Last year, she added a new Teacher’s Night Out event on Valentine’s Day. She and fellow SGA members babysat 20+ children of staff members so that GMSD employees could enjoy a romantic night out.
Kind and easy-going, she is also a dedicated member of the Houston High School cheerleading team. With a 4.0 grade point average and some serious leadership skills, Hannah will do great things! Right now, she’s planning to study engineering in college.
“Hannah is an excellent example of a student-leader due to her ability to balance so many areas of her life. She is the SGA President, TN Association of Student Council Secretary Co-Host, an HHS Cheerleader, a student with a 4.0 grade point average, and member of several other clubs and organizations. It is evident that she has a drive and determination about her that is unmatched,” said Traci Spain, who serves as the sponsor of the Houston High School SGA.
Terry Rogers is named the Delta Region's TSBA Volunteer of the Year
“Terry Rogers lives out loud both with integrity and honesty– he’s a walking party that people want to join,” shared GMC PTO President Joy Williams.
Besides being a ‘walking party’, Terry Rogers and his wife set to work volunteering in our school district from the moment they enrolled at Riverdale. And for the past decade, the husband and wife team have served in various roles.
His first assignment was to emcee the Riverdale Addition Groundbreaking Ceremony. Rogers is no stranger to the stage–a performer on “Live at the Apollo” (2002) and a contestant on the first season of “So You Think You Can Dance” (2005) he enjoys time in the spotlight. “But honestly, I just like being where I’m needed,” said Rogers, who mentioned that it was mentors in his own hometown that inspired him to make time to invest in children. More than anything, he shared, he enjoys bringing people from diverse backgrounds together.
He’s often found in classrooms teaching dance routines for upcoming events or DJing the school dances. What people may not know is that the financial planner-by-day and local personality is also a legislative advocate for public education. In Forrest City, where he grew up and he and his wife Cameisha began their family, he served as an elected school board member for Forrest City Schools.
At Riverdale K-8 School, he quickly plugged into the PTO, joining the Knight’s Watch, a PTO division of dads, and became the school’s legislative chairman. “I follow local policy changes, state legislation, and national shifts,” said Rogers.
As his four boys aged out of Riverdale and moved onto high school, Terry and his wife moved up to the high school as well. On the HHS PTSO, they chair the Project Graduation committee–responsible for fundraising for and planning the penultimate drug and alcohol free graduation celebration for students. To date, they’ve raised about $10,000 for the event.
Noticing his talents for legislative advocacy, the GMC PTO (the school district’s PTO) recruited him as their Legislative Chair in 2018. Last month, he organized Germantown Municipal School District’s Day on the Hill. Thirty-two middle and high school students joined him and some chaperoning teachers, and others for a trip to Nashville. They met Representatives and Senators, toured the Capitol Building, explored the ‘new’ State Library and Archives, and participated in a mock session in the main House Chamber with Rep. Mark White and Rep. Kevin Vaughan. The group also met Governor Bill Lee.
His lifelong service to the schools is inspired by his wife’s devotion to servant leadership. “It was understood that to be with Cameisha, you have to be willing to serve the community,” he said. The two met in elementary school and were high school sweethearts.
Together, the duo volunteer in two PTOs, and help with different ministries at their church. He sees himself in the children that he works with. “No matter their background, they need attention. These days kids have more anxiety and stress and I want to make a difference in their lives,” said Rogers.
The Germantown Board of Education meets on Thursday
A special thanks to all of those who participated in our Calendar Survey last week--especially to the 246 students who took time to voice their opinions! The Germantown Board of Education will discuss the feedback and the 2023-2024 calendar at their upcoming work session next Thursday, September 22nd. The full Agenda for the meeting can be found here. All meetings are open to the public and are also live-streamed on our Youtube Channel.
Anti-bullying message delivered in unusual way at Houston High this week
The No Hate High School Tour, now in its 22nd year, is an incredibly impactful educational program that uses the energy and excitement of action sports to deliver critical bullying prevention tools, techniques, and information to students in a relatable, peer-to-peer manner. The program features top BMX stars that teens admire performing high-energy action sports shows on campus while speaking to the students about their own experiences with bullying, overcoming obstacles, being an ally, inclusion, kindness, surrounding yourself with positive influences, problem-solving, and other important subjects that really resonate with teens. Sponsored by the U.S. Marines, this is one of the ways that Houston High School is supporting student readiness and engagement.
Riverdale School Counselors host a Community Helpers on Wheels Day for PreK-2nd graders
"One thing that your school counselors do to support students is to plan career development experiences," said one of Riverdale's three counselors, Janie Trenthem. Though each counselor supports different grade levels, they plan these important events as a team.
"Last week, we kicked off our career-focused events with a Careers on Wheels event for our PreK-2nd grade students. The firemen, the SWAT team from GPD, Germantown Public Works all came out to show our students what they do for our City," said Trenthem. Students loved interacting with the different vehicles and the community helpers. The 3rd - 5th graders are excitedly awaiting their turn in a couple of weeks!
Next, the RES counseling team will plan a Career Fair for older students. Meanwhile, in the middle school, counselors are preparing to roll out career interest inventories and other tools to help students begin thinking about careers. They've added the Naviance platform (utilized in high school) to assist students in thinking about their future plans.
Germantown Municipal School District celebrates EIGHT National Merit Semifinalists
These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to continue in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring. The nationwide pool of applicants is about 1.5 million, and the Semifinalists represent less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors. Over 90 percent of the Semifinalists are expected to attain Finalist standing, and about half of the Finalists will win a National Merit Scholarship, earning the Merit Scholar® title.
Semifinalist Smayan Sompalli encourages all students to take the PSAT, which qualifies you for the distinction. "It takes a bit of practice, studying, and maybe even a little bit of luck," said Sompalli. He plans to pursue a college education and career in Finance. Ananya Mahapatra echoes that sentiment. She plans to pursue a post-secondary education in pre-Law--one day becoming a lawyer.
"My parents encouraged me to push myself and to take ALL the opportunities," said Sydney Kong. She also added that determination and confidence can go along way when competing in academic scholarship contests. Kong plans to pursue a career in the organic chemistry field, preferably she hopes as a research scientist.
"Germantown School District is proud of the fact that we have eight students who qualified for National Merit Semifinalists this year. This is an exciting accomplishment for our students, but we are also proud of the fact this represents years of excellent education for these students. All of our educators and these students' families should be proud of the investments that they have made in these exceptional scholars," said Superintendent Jason Manuel. Click here to see more.
Germantown Municipal School District on Instagram: "Congratulations to our National Merit Semifinalists!!! #teachgmsd"
Germantown Municipal School District shared a post on Instagram: "Congratulations to our National Merit Semifinalists!!! #teachgmsd". Follow their account to see 236 posts.
Sophie Christopher is ready to the take on the golf course this season
From an early age, Houston Golf Team standout, Sophie Christopher knew she wanted to play competitive golf. Click the video above to see her story.
Several students recognized at the Delta Fair for outstanding artwork
Zion Neely, HHS, 2nd Place
Lilly Hollandsworth, HHS, 8th Place
Moss Butterfield, HHS, 10th Place
Ella Barnett, HHS, 10th Place
Fatima Hernandez, HHS 10th Place
Addie Smith, HHS, 4th Place
Rachel Yan, HMS, 3rd Place
Garland White, HMS, 6th Place
Emerson McCann, FES, 4th Place
Are you following the HHS Transition to Work Instagram Page?
Trending this week, the HHS Transition to Work Instagram page takes viewers behind the scenes of our Transition Academy. Each week, students with disabilities attend field experiences that train them in various workforce fields. They are practicing job skills in hospitality, healthcare, childcare, retail, and many others. According to Assistant Superintendent of Exceptional Student Education Sarah Huffman, "The goal of our Transition to Work program is for every student to explore career options and grow in their occupational skills".
The community has opened their doors to our students and are providing these learning opportunities outside of a traditional ESE classroom. You can follow the adventures of our students each week as they document some of these partnerships.
Is your place of business willing to open its doors to these extraordinary students? GMSD invites any community partner interested in becoming a work site to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Young Dolphins explore taste after unit on the five senses
“I can’t get the sour-y smell out of my mouth,” kindergartener Tristan Laumonnerie said as he smelled and then tasted a lemon.
The Dogwood kindergarten classes just finished their unit on the five senses, and as a culminating activity, they participated in a tasting. The students sampled coconut, pineapple, lemon, and unsweetened chocolate. They started with smell and then a tentative bite as they explored the difference between sweet, bitter, and sour.
Ms. Word held up her hand and asked the student to tell her the one rule of tasting: Don’t eat until everyone has some. They started with coconut, and that got a lot of thumbs down responses. Then came the pineapple. Once everyone had a piece on their plates, the fun started. The students let loose a chorus of mmmm’s, which was a welcome change after the coconut.
“It [the coconut] was terrible. It smelled like seawater,” said Lanie Laird. The bad tastes weren’t relegated to the coconut. The sour lemon was a shock to some too. The whole class got excited when Ms. Word brought out the unsweetened chocolate. As she walked around, polite students told her “thank you.” Her response was “thank me later.”
They did not thank her later as they rushed to get water after tasting the bitter chocolate. “You tricked me,” was shouted from all corners of the room. They learned that food can be tricky, but it is all worth a try.
This week's Blue Chip Teacher Profile is Logan Harris. He is a new English teacher at Houston Middle School. A former HMS Mustang himself, he was inspired to become a teacher by his middle school English teacher.