HCS Index

April 27, 2023

Berry Middle’s Kevin Pughsley Named Finalist for 2023 Alabama Teacher of the Year

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The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) announced 16 outstanding educators as finalists for the 2023 Alabama Teacher of the Year. Kevin Pughsley, Hoover City Schools Secondary Teacher of the Year, was selected as one of those "Sweet 16" finalists!

The 16 state finalists were from a group of more than 150 top educators who submitted applications. The Alabama Teacher of the Year Program is one of the state’s oldest and most esteemed recognition programs. The ALSDE says each finalist inspires students through innovative instructional techniques.

Pughsley said, “I am humbled and grateful to be recognized. There are so many amazing teachers across our district and the state, so to be chosen to represent District 3 is an honor. It serves as further confirmation that I am serving my life's purpose of teaching and impacting the lives of students, teachers, and families around the Hoover community."

The Sweet 16 finalists will be narrowed down to the final Top Four. The 2023-2024 Alabama Teacher of the Year will be announced by the Alabama State Board of Education and the ALSDE in May. Read the District's full story here.

Hoover High School Student Shares Her Experience at the Disney Dreamers Academy

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Chelsea Williams, a freshman at Hoover High School, is still on cloud nine after her experience as a Class of 2023 Disney Dreamer. Williams was selected for a four-day program in March at the Disney Dreamers Academy, an educational mentoring program for exceptional young people hosted at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. She was among 100 teens hand-picked out of thousands of applicants to participate in the 2023 Disney Dreamers Academy.

Williams said, “My mom asked me if I wanted to do this. I really didn’t know what it was at first. I love Disney, so I was like, ‘Why not?’. If I could sign up and go again, I would go. It inspired me a lot. It was hands-on, and you get to do exactly what you would do in the profession you’re interested in pursuing.”

The Disney Dreamers Academy aims to broaden career awareness for teens across the country. The program offers career and leadership workshops, seminars, and presentations led by industry experts. Williams wants to be an actor one day. She participated in experiences related to that field while at the Academy.

“There were a lot of connections. I was around a lot of people who were doing what they love. Even if they weren’t in the acting field, I got to see and talk to them about their journey. Hearing how they got there and their struggles and advice were helpful and inspiring to me,” said Williams.

Read the District's full story here.

School Bus Driver Shortage Impacts Bus Routes

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The Hoover City Schools (HCS) District transportation department continues to work through staffing challenges and is extremely short-staffed. For the first time this school year, some bus routes have been adjusted in order to manage daily operations and to ensure all bus riders have transportation. Jeremy Bradford, HCS director of transportation, says he needs at least 20 additional full-time bus drivers and ten substitute bus drivers by June to prevent additional changes to school bus routes throughout the District.

Here’s a look at some of the measures implemented to recruit and retain bus drivers:

  • Increase in pay for drivers and aides who exceed the 20 hours per week pay period

  • Increase in pay for substitute drivers from $60.00 to $90.00 per day

  • Referral fee for HCS employees

  • Perfect attendance bonus for transportation employees

  • Half route option, which includes health insurance benefits

  • Working with interested coaches, teachers, and staff members to identify bus routes that will work with their class schedule

  • Added more air-conditioned buses

HCS bus drivers earn $22.00 - $29.30 an hour, and substitutes can earn $45.00 per shift (up to $90.00 per day). Bus drivers can earn more by taking field trip routes at $30.00 an hour.

The HCS transportation department has an on-site trainer who modified the department’s course of study to meet the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration guidelines and trains new prospective bus drivers free of charge. In addition, the transportation department offers reimbursement for an applicant’s Commercial Driver’s License fees.

If you’re interested in applying, please call 205-439-1120. Click here for more information about becoming a bus driver for HCS!

Shades Mountain Elementary School Wins 2023 U.S. Green Ribbon School Award

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Photo Source: Shades Mountain Elementary School Website

The U.S. Department of Education announced that Shades Mountain Elementary School (SMES) is among the 2023 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools award honorees.

The Alabama State Department of Education nominated SMES for the U.S. Green Ribbon School award because of the school’s commitment to promoting environmental sustainability education and practices.

Principal Kevin Erwin said, “We are so proud to represent the state of Alabama and Hoover City Schools as a U.S. Green Ribbon School. Our community values the beautiful examples of nature surrounding our school and the teachers of Shades Mountain make sure the students here are exposed to the learning opportunities all around our campus. We certainly realize how blessed we are to be located in such a wonderful place.”

Across the country, 26 schools, 11 districts, and four postsecondary institutions were honored for their innovative efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, improve health and wellness, and ensure effective sustainability education. Read the full story here.

Registration is Underway for the 2023-2024 School Year

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It’s time to register your child/children for the upcoming 2023-2024 school year. We strongly recommend completing the registration process now for staffing reasons and teacher placement for your student(s). In addition, registering early gives high schools adequate time to accommodate and schedule requests related to advanced, standard-level, and specialty course sections. For parents of children going to kindergarten next school year, now is the time to register your little ones for a Hoover elementary school!

For important information about new and returning student registration and instructions on registering your student(s), please click here to be redirected to the Enrollment webpage on our website and scroll down to the PowerSchool Enrollment section.

If you’re registering a NEW student, please click on the link provided on the webpage.

For RETURNING students, parents will receive an email with a link to complete their child's registration. Please visit the enrollment webpage for more details.

District Equity News

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Hoover City Schools (HCS) District Chief Learning Officer Dr. Chris Robbins partnered with the Elam Leadership Institute to lead April’s District Equity Committee meeting and discussed equitable practices in the classroom. Dr. Robbins oversees curriculum and instruction to ensure effective instruction and support teachers.

School administrators and teachers worked in groups to review the Alabama State Department of Education's new Alabama Teacher Observation Tool to identify equitable practices that are included and how the tool can be used to impact the learning of all students.

Some highlights from this training:

  • Engage all students in the learning process

  • Use data to meet the needs of all groups of learners

  • Ensure equitable practices are threaded into the curriculum

  • Create environments for individual and collaborative learning

  • Understand differences and cultures

Dr. Donna Elam, the founder of the Elam Leadership Institute, attended the meeting virtually.

“I’m watching magic happen with educators who really know their craft, and they’re integrating equity into the organizational culture of their work,” said Dr. Elam. “So, as they make the observations, the teachers understand it, administrators understand it, and it’s part of your organizational culture now. I’m always so impressed with you.”

HCS has partnered with the Elam Leadership Institute since 2018 to provide diversity, equity, and inclusion training for administrators and teachers across the District.

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New Parent Equity Committee Members

The HCS Parent Equity Committee welcomes three new members: Kemberly Blackledge, Alexis Gartman, and Ashley Dorough (pictured above).

The HCS Parent Equity Committee was established in 2018 to get parents involved in discussions about diversity, equity, and inclusion practices throughout the District and the continued implementation of diversity initiatives.

Blackledge said, “Parents have to be involved because what you want to produce is fairness for all kids and the same opportunities for all kids. You want to see all kids move to the next level of excellence.”

Click here for more information about HCS equity initiatives.

Autism Awareness Month 2023

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Hoover High and Spain Park High Students Honored for Their Community Service

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Several Hoover High School and Spain Park High School students were honored during the Youth in Service Awards Breakfast on Friday, April 21, in downtown Birmingham. Youth Serve hosted the event to recognize students for their service to the community. Youth Serve is an organization that empowers youth in the Birmingham metro area to serve and lead.

Terri Coleman, a Trace Crossings Elementary School counselor who serves on the Board of Directors for Youth Serve, says two Hoover students were also finalists for services awards. Sara Hancock designed the "To the Fullest" service project, and Kennedy Means participated in the "Attire to Inspire" project.

Coleman said, “As a Youth Serve board member and Hoover City Schools employee, it is so exciting to see the impact that our Hoover students are making within their school and community. Several students from various schools in the area are doing amazing things to make a difference in their communities. It was extra special to see that the judges selected two Hoover students’ projects as finalists at the Youth in Service Awards Breakfast.”

There were more than 60 applicants for Youth in Service awards. Mayor Frank Brocato and Hoover City Schools Chief Learning Officer Dr. Chris Robbins were among those in attendance to celebrate the students and their commitment to serving their communities.

Alison Skipper is Named Alabama School Nutrition Association Employee of the Year

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Congratulations to Alison Skipper, Rocky Ridge Elementary School Child Nutrition Program employee. The Alabama School Nutrition Association selected her for its 2023 Employee of the Year award!

“It’s such an honor and blessing to represent child nutrition workers,” said Skipper. “The children are the heart of what we do. The children, their joy, and their love for all things food keep me going and thriving for the best for the children. I’m in my second year at Rocky Ridge Elementary School, and it’s by far the best school! The staff, teachers, co-workers, and administrators are all here with the same goal, doing our best for the children!!”

Skipper was recognized Saturday, April 22, during the Alabama School Nutrition Association annual conference at the BJCC in Birmingham.

Hoover Students Spend Their Spring Break in Uganda on a Mission Trip

Instead of going to the beach or just relaxing over spring break, some Hoover High School (HHS) students spent their time off making a difference. They were part of a group that took a 14-hour flight to Uganda for a mission trip.

The Hunter Street Student Ministry led the trip, and they partnered with African Children’s Mission (ACM) in Uganda, located in eastern Africa. There were 13 people on the trip, including four HHS students and two Hoover City Schools employees. The students were Chasely Jasper, Emma Kathryn Jones, Catherine Wallace, and Bella Wilbanks.

Some of the things they did on the trip include:

  • Working in classrooms with kids on their reading skills at primary schools.

  • Helping with school feeding by providing and serving lunch to all students and teachers.

  • Walking primary school students home from school with their ACM-sponsored social workers to meet their families and learn more about how they live.

  • Helping assemble mud walls of a hut for a family in need.

  • Helping repair a well in a village. Every time a well is installed or repaired, the life expectancy of the surrounding villagers immediately increases by ten years.

Hoover City Schools Librarians Serve in Leadership Roles with the Alabama School Library Association

Congratulations to Gwin Elementary School Librarian Jennifer Northrup, who will serve as president of the Alabama School Library Association (ASLA) for the 2023-2024 school year, and Berry Middle School Librarian Ginger Hewitt, serving as secretary of the ASLA.

“After completing the year as president-elect, I will serve as ASLA’s president for the 2023-2024 school year,” said Northrup. “As president, I lead our meetings on current topics, help budget our expenses, and ensure the organization runs smoothly. I am committed to moving the ASLA organization forward and serving the librarians of our state.”

Hewitt is serving as the ASLA executive board secretary for another term.

“ASLA provides me with the opportunity to give back to the community of library media specialists that helped make me the professional that I’ve become today,” said Hewitt. “ASLA connects all of us throughout our respective schools and communities, keeping us abreast of professional opportunities and trends.”

The Hoover City Schools District Celebrates School Librarians for National Library Week (April 23 - 29)

Hoover City Schools' librarians put together the cool collage below for School Library Week!


  • Hoover City Schools District libraries have circulated more than 225,000 books, eBooks, and audiobooks so far this school year.
  • Our librarians include five (5) National Board for Professional Teaching Standards educators.
  • All librarians hold a master's degree.
  • Three (3) librarians hold education specialist degrees.
  • One (1) librarian holds a doctorate degree.
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GEMS Program Gets a Big Donation

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The Girls Engaging in Math and Science (GEMS) program is thrilled to receive a big donation from Alabama Power. Dr. Dil Uswatte, Rocky Ridge Elementary principal and GEMS program organizer, says the GEMS District leadership team is eternally grateful to Alabama Power for donating $2,500 to the 2023 GEMS event.

"Alabama Power and the Hoover City Schools Foundation were our major sponsors of this event, impacting over 400 girls. Thanks to all of our sponsors, our girls were able to participate in our STEM projects fairly; be inspired by our guest speaker, Astronaut Jan Davis; explore STEM hands-on activities; enjoy a free lunch; and receive a special t-shirt,” said Dr. Uswatte.

Dr. Uswatte and the GEMS leadership team have started planning for the GEMS 10th anniversary and are actively seeking sponsors. Whether it’s $50 or $500, every dollar will make a difference. If you would like to sponsor this event, please contact Dr. Uswatte at duswatte@hoover.k12.al.us

Hoover City Schools Foundation Denim and Dining Fundraiser is FRIDAY!

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Hoover City Schools

Our award-winning, nationally-ranked school district features highly-motivated students, skilled and caring educators, and engaged parents.

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