The Hope of a New Year
First, I would like to thank the AASSP, AAMSP, and the CLAS staff for hosting an outstanding Fall Conference at The Grand Hotel in Point Clear a couple of weeks ago! This conference was filled with helpful information and provided school leaders a time to recharge. The location offered beautiful scenery at one of Alabama RSA properties as well as great coastal food, and we even witnessed the SpaceX capsule return to Earth! It was a great experience all the way around. So, thank you again to all of those associated with AASSP and AAMSP. We all are looking forward to next year's Fall Conference and venue.
Time away from our school buildings is often needed for reflection, and, with that absence, comes appreciation. To say the last year and a half has been challenging is a tremendous understatement. It’s like a hangover that lasts forever. If you have never experienced one, then just think of COVID – what a headache!
When COVID struck, we were forced to teach and lead in ways that essentially no one on our campuses had been trained to do. But our school teams did it. Teachers found creative ways to support students. Some schools mailed packets of lessons. Some schools had parades so that there could be some connection with students and educators. Some schools provided food pick up. Communities came together. And our parents appreciated it.
In Fall 2020, campuses opened in various fashions, some alternating days with students on different days, some were fully open but blended with a virtual option, and others were virtual. Students and staff wore masks, shields, or both. We had plans for quarantining students. We had cleaning procedures implemented to keep all in the school safe. Slowly, but surely, we seemed to be getting the hang of what school would be like in the time of COVID. Finally, in January 2021, many students returned to campus, and we learned that some students could be successful in a virtual setting, but many would not. And most of our parents appreciated what we were doing for our students.
The hope of improving COVID cases over the summer and the hope of returning to “normal” was dashed a couple of weeks before opening for the 2021 -2022 school year. School boards and superintendents had to make difficult decisions. To mask or not to mask became the question. And many parents who sent us thank you notes a year or even six months earlier, well, they went bonkers over one extreme or the other.
The hope of returning to normal was put on hold in many places. But administrators and teachers came to school and did what they do best. They came to make a difference in students' lives. Teachers and administrators alike have given up chunks of time during the day to cover classes due to substitute shortages. Teachers and administrators have taken on different duties so that the safest, most stable part of their day stays intact for many young people. As a result, we have learned to deal more with mental health challenges from our students to as well as our staff members.
And as the school year progressed, thankfully, COVID numbers declined. We all hoped this trend would improve, and it has. Most school districts have an optional mask policy. Pep rallies, dances, large crowds at football and basketball games have returned.
So, as we move into a new calendar year, I hope your staff stays healthy. I hope we all get more of a grasp of PowerSchool. I hope we find ways to keep our staff motivated. I hope the holiday season brings joy to you surrounded by family and friends. I hope you can reflect on the many blessings and other good things we have in our lives. I hope your faculty and staff are among those blessings. Finally, I hope that the next variant of COVID does not send large shockwaves through our great nation. I hope…
Education Workshop: Substance Abuse and Mental Health
I know I’m not alone when I say that this is my absolute favorite time of year! The beginning of the year tested and stretched every single part of my brain and it created an opportunity for growth for all of the educators in my school. We found ourselves creating and searching for out-of-the-box opportunities for our students to learn. In doing this we also uncovered some of the habits that the students developed as a coping mechanism for being home for almost two years. We searched for ideas that would allow us to understand and empathize with some of what everyone was experiencing. As a school zone (Elementary-High school) we have decided to bring in someone to address one of the issues that is plaguing the youth in not only our community but the state: Substance abuse and Mental Health. On Friday, January 7, 2022, our community is hosting a workshop titled “High in Plain Sight” by “Tall Cop”, also known as Jermaine Galloway. This workshop will provide tools, resources, and training to combat substance abuse.
As educators and parents, we hear and see many of these issues every day, but we very rarely receive training on what to look for and how to help! During this workshop, he defines popular music, slang terminology, subliminal clothing and text lingo, etc. I, along with a lot of other educators in Alabama, have heard him speak multiple times at the TAASRO (The Alabama Association of School Resource Officers) conference and we always walk away with a fruitful amount of useful information.
Anyone interested in attending can purchase a ticket at https://bit.ly/tallcop-pm. Please help us spread the word about this awesome opportunity to attend this event. It's time for us to take back our kids and educate our communities!
Larry Haynes Named New AAMSP Executive Secretary
Larry Haynes has been an educator in Alabama for over 30 years, the last 17 as principal at Oak Mountain Middle School in Shelby County. He previously served as an assistant principal at Oak Mountain High School. Prior to becoming an administrator, he taught U.S. History, English, journalism, and broadcasting at Montevallo High School, which is also in Shelby County.
Dr. Haynes has been a member of CLAS since 2001. Since 2008, he has served in various roles for AAMSP, including district president, vice president, president, and currently as secretary. While serving on the CLAS Board (2012-2020), he served as a mentor principal, a district liaison for recruitment, and on the planning committee for the AAMSP/AASSP Conference.
As a teacher, Dr. Haynes presented at the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s Spring Convention at Columbia University where he received the Gold Key award in 2001. In 2017, he was a keynote speaker with one of his teachers at the Alabama Association of School Board’s (AASB) Spring Conference where the topic was “Building a Culture of Excellence: Leadership for Developing a Highly Effective Staff.”
He and his wife Samara have been married 31 years, and they have two children.
Seth Taylor Chosen as AASSP Vice President-Elect
In 2010, Seth Taylor entered the field of education and his career has been a whirlwind ever since. Mr. Taylor came into education after being in the corporate world for seven years prior. Managing a large corporation would prove beneficial in his future as an administrator. Mr. Taylor began his teaching career as a math teacher at Munford Middle School. From there he went to B.B. Comer Memorial High School and then finished his time in the classroom at Jacksonville High School. Changing gears from classroom math teacher to administrator began in 2016 when he became the Assistant Principal at Lincoln High School. Two short years later, Seth Taylor climbed the ladder to take on the role as Principal at Munford High School. The success in that position was the catalyst for Taylor making the move to Pleasant Valley High School.
Being an administrator at the high school level is a multi-faceted position. Aside from operating a school full of students, faculty, and staff, Mr. Taylor is always educating himself and networking to ultimately provide the best educational experience for the students he is entrusted with. He currently holds an ED.S degree from the University of West Alabama and is pursuing his Doctorate of Philosophy in Leadership from the University of the Cumberlands. Mr. Taylor is involved in several networks that allow him to learn from as well as guide other administrators to success in their schools. As a member of the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS), he has rapidly gone from member, to board member, to Vice President, to recently being voted AASSP District Six Principal of the Year. He is also a member of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. Not only does he facilitate, educate, and network, but Seth Taylor is also a published author. In 2015, his article “What is ‘Real World’ Preparation?” was published in the Alabama Association of Secondary School Principal NEWS. Along with this article, Seth Taylor has been responsible for the creation of several ibooks. Eleven years is the amount of time that Seth Taylor has been in education. Mr. Taylor’s rise to success has just begun and based on all that he has already accomplished it shows no signs of stopping.
Ashley Bowling Named Assistant Principal of the Year
Dr. Ashley Bowling, assistant principal at Florence Middle School in the Florence City School System has been named the Alabama Assistant Principal of the Year by the Alabama Association of Secondary School Principals (AASSP). As the Alabama state winner, Bowling is eligible to be selected as the 2022 National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) National Assistant Principal of the Year.
Bowling has 16 years of experience in the field of education with 7 years experience as an assistant principal. She previously served in Colbert County Schools and Florence City Schools as a special education teacher before becoming the assistant principal at Florence Middle School.
Positive school culture, high expectations, and creative problem-solving are just some of the qualities Bowling brings to Florence Middle School. She has worked to create a student-centered environment in teaching and learning by implementing restorative discipline practices and building a culture of trust among students, teachers, and administrators.
Bowling led the development and implementation of a Behavioral Support Classroom (BSC). The BSC focuses on behavioral instruction paralleled with differentiated instruction. This program has become crucial for students with significant behavioral issues and academic challenges. With a specialized structure, the BSC schedule provides additional reading and math specialized instruction along with daily social skill instruction, counseling, and cognitive breaks. This program has resulted in a drastic decrease in office referrals for participating students.