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The Bibb County School District Newsletter

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October 28, 2016

Westside's Dominique Nichols Named 2017 Teacher of the Year!

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Westside High School educator Dominique Nichols was named 2017 Bibb County Teacher of the Year at the banquet held on Oct. 10. Heritage Elementary School's Ronny Fuerniss was runner-up.

Nichols thanked God, family and mentors alike for their contributions in his life, as well as the Teacher of the Year Committee.

"Thank you for hearing and seeing my passion," he said.

Nichols attended Westside and graduated from Rutland High School before attending Fort Valley State University. He said that winning the Teacher of the Year honor was not a sign that he is Bibb County's best teacher.

"Instead, it is the maturation of the investments made in me over the course of both my educational and professional career," he said.

Other finalists honored as part of the banquet, held at Mercer University, were Rutland Middle School's Connie McCain, Rutland High School's Marissa Rondina and Northeast High School's Darryl Silas.

See photos from the banquet here.

2017 Bibb County Teacher Of The Year

Dr. Jones Recognized With Prestigious State Award

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Bibb County School District Superintendent Dr. Curtis L. Jones Jr. was presented with the Bill Barr Leadership Award on Wednesday, October 19, 2016 during the Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA) Fall Conference in Athens. The award is named after Dr. Bill Barr, GSSA’s executive director from 1991 to 1999. It is presented annually to one exceptional superintendent who possesses the unique ability to mentor and lead others in pursuing excellence in public education.

Dr. Jones joined the Bibb County School District as Superintendent on April 6, 2015. He immediately began working on the district’s Strategic Plan, “Victory in Progress.” The district’s strategic goals focus on increasing student achievement, increasing student and stakeholder engagement, increasing teacher and leader effectiveness, being a reliable organization, and learning and growth. Each of these goals assists the district with its mission of developing a highly trained staff and an engaged community dedicated to educating each student for a 21st century global society.

During his 19-year career in education, Dr. Jones has been a JROTC Instructor, high school principal, and assistant superintendent. Before becoming an educator, he served in the United States Army from 1977 until 1997, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Dr. Jones is a 1977 graduate of United States Military Academy at West Point.

Dr. Jones has received numerous accolades and awards during his tenure in education. He currently serves as a governing board member for the American Association for School Administrators (AASA) and Past President for the Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA). He received the President’s Award from the Georgia School Superintendents Association in 2012 and was one of the finalists for the 2015 Georgia Superintendent of the Year Award. He has served as a member of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission Ethics Task Force.

He is married to Evelyn, an elementary school principal. They have 3 children and are the proud grandparents of 2 granddaughters.

Business Partners, Join Us For a Lunch and Learn Experience!

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JROTC, JLC Students Visit Robins Air Force Base, Hear Tuskegee Airman Speak

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On Sept. 30, students from several Bibb County schools made the trip to Robins Air Force Base to hear Tuskegee Airman William Rice speak.

The Tuskegee Airmen flew a total of 179 bomber escort missions and lost bombers on just 7 of those missions. In all, they lost 27 bombers, while the average for the 15th Air Force in World War II was 46 lost bombers.

Rice is credited with 34 missions.

"I flew more than that," he said. "I don't know what happened."

He shared a story from one flight when a hose for hydraulic fluid broke, which disabled several functions of his plane.

"I had to drop the landing gear manually and land hot, no brakes," he said.

JROTC cadets from Southwest, Northeast, Westside and Howard high schools heard the presentation, as did Junior Leadership Corps students from Ballard-Hudson and Rutland middle schools.

Rice's words had an impact on Southwest sophomore Shatoya Frazier.

"It was amazing to see him," she said. "For him to go through all that, to be here today ... that's wonderful."

Master Sgt. Taylor Lankford, who heads up Southwest's Air Force JROTC program, said that the true importance of the day for his students may not be known for several years.

"To me, that can't be really calculated," he said. "You'll never know what kind of impact they'll be able to reflect on and draw on."

After hearing Rice speak, the students heard a presentation from the Thunderbirds, who were part of the air show on the base on Oct. 1. They also went out to see some of the practice and set-up for the event and saw a demonstration from some of the base's military service dogs.

Learn How to Get More Scholarship Money!

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Volunteers, Students Come Together to Read for the Record

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On Oct. 27, schools across the country joined in to Read for the Record as volunteers read the book "The Bear Ate Your Sandwich." Bibb County schools were no different, with parents and other community members coming in to read the book at schools throughout the district.

Heritage Holds Math Academy for Parents

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Parents often say that they have trouble helping their children with school work, particularly math. The faculty and staff at Heritage Elementary worked to combat that recently with a Title I Math Academy.

While students played math games, their parents learned math concepts and strategies with master teachers. The parents who attended were very engaged in the process!

Hutchings Students Win Awards for Graphic Communication

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Several students at Hutchings College and Career Academy picked up awards at a recent Champions Rally. In all, Hutchings students placed in five of six competitions being held at the event.

"I am so proud of these team members and the members who represented Hutchings at the fair. We have amazing students," said Paige Welch, Hutchings SkillsUSA adviser.

The awards, in addition to a Reserved Superior Chapter Award, were:

Career Pathways Display (6th place) - Michael Wimbush (PM Graphics Student, Central HS)

Career Pathway Poster (8th place) - Leslie Cannon (AM Graphics Student, Central HS)

Chapter Banner (3rd place) - Jacob Zawacki (AM Graphics Student, Howard HS)

Chapter Recruitment Display (8th place) - Liz Whittington and Brooklynn Thomas (PM Graphics students, Rutland HS)

Chapter Recruitment Poster(1st place) - Ken Edwards (PM Graphics student, Northeast HS)

Schools Participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Several of our schools participated in Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities, including Vineville Academy of the Arts. As part of the Pandas United in Pink effort, the students there were producing panda-themed pink artwork.
Faculty, staff and students also paid a dollar to wear pink shirts one Friday, with the proceeds going to the United in Pink cause. Paula Daughdrill, a kindergarten teacher and breast cancer survivor, organized the effort and said one student even paid her dollar even though she hadn't worn pink.
"I think it's a great opportunity for the kids to go beyond themselves," Daughdrill said.

Daughdrill and Ashton Young, a Vineville Academy student whose mother passed away from breast cancer, did a news interview about United in Pink. Young has participated in a summer camp put on by the organization for the last three years, and said he enjoyed the crafts, music and activities there.

"We have fun," he said.

Students Walk in Parade for Red Ribbon Week

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Every year, students in Bibb County and across the nation celebrate Red Ribbon Week. The annual observation calls for students to commit to a drug-free lifestyle through a variety of pledges and other activities.

The students at L.H. Williams Elementary School also put on a parade on Oct. 27, in which they made banners and wore their red ribbons for a walk around the neighborhood. They were joined by representatives of the Bibb County Sheriff's Office, Blazin' 92.3 FM and the Mercer football team.

Howard Middle School Looks to Build Culture and Climate

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Howard Middle School is looking to improve teacher morale this year through the efforts of its Culture and Climate Committee. A survey last year revealed that the biggest issue affecting the faculty and staff related to a "sense of belonging," according to Assistant Principal Dr. Constance Winds.

"We look at the different data and see what are our strengths and what are our weaknesses," she said.

To create a greater connection and family atmosphere among the teachers and other employees, the Culture and Climate Committee has sought to bring them together. This has taken the form of off-campus gatherings at local restaurants, but on Oct. 21, the committee brought lunch to campus. With the help of Buca di Beppo, Carabba's and Fazoli's, teachers had pasta, bread, salad and desserts served to them.

"We try to celebrate them," Winds said. "Today is one of those days."

Academic coaches Kizzie Lott and Melissa Dent helped serve the lunch. They said it can be easy for educators to get down-trodden without the "collegiality" the committee is trying to build.

"These kind of things kind of restore, for lack of a better word, their value," Lott said.

Southfield Tours Fort Valley State University

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On Oct. 17, the Southfield Elementary Student Leadership Association and Dream Girls Organization visited Fort Valley State University. The groups, led by Amaris Hawkins-Smith and Tene Everett, got a tour of the campus and watched some of the university's homecoming activities.

Thanks to Omega Psi Phi Members!

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Thanks to members of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. who visited Williams Elementary School this month to read to male students in grades 3-5! The members partnered with the school to mentor students and to promote literacy.

Rep. Allen Peake Reads to Heritage Elementary School Students

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Bibb County schools were actually out for Georgia Pre-K Week, as it coincided with the district's Fall Break. That didn't keep the students from getting to celebrate, as Ga. Rep. Allen Peake stopped by Heritage Elementary School on Oct. 10 to read some "Pete the Cat" books to the Pre-K students there.

"It's always fun to come and read with the kids," he said. "This shows the importance of starting early with reading to our kids."

The chosen books taught lessons through both story and song - which Peake sang along with the kids. One such lesson from "Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons" was the importance of not getting attached to material things because "buttons come and buttons go." On top of that, Peake encouraged the students to ask their parents or guardians to read to them each night.

"It's important to read every single day," he said.

Rep.-elect Miriam Paris Becomes Royalty at Vineville Academy

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State Representative-elect Miriam Paris visited Vineville Academy for the Arts on Oct. 19 to serve as Royal Panda Reader. She also talked to the students about the importance of studying and how far their education can take them.
"I am a product of Bibb County Public Schools," said Paris, a Southwest High School graduate.

The students who gathered in the media center with Paris were selected by teachers, many for exhibiting positive character traits in the classroom. That continued as Paris read to them, she said.

"You all were great, very good examples of your school," she said.

Westside Teacher Chosen for CTAE Program

Congratulations to Westside High School CTAE Marketing instructor Valerie Drummond for being selected for the LEAD CTAE program. Only 20 teachers statewide were chosen for the program, which will allow them to gain skills in leadership, priority management, team building and other areas.

Several Bibb Schools Participate in Hats 4 Hope

Recently students, faculty and staff members at several of our schools participated in Hats 4 Hope. The program allows participants to pay a $1 to wear a hat to school, and the proceeds go to Jay's Hope, a local organization that benefits the families of pediatric cancer patients.

Congratulations to Bernd Elementary School's September Students of the Month!

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The following students were named Students of the Month for September at Bernd Elementary School: Kaiden Stanley, Ja’Leah Pope, Kelvin Howard, Samuel Jackson, Jazmine Scott, Jasmin McLin-Willis, Avery Harvey, Braxton Paul, Jaiden Dawson, Ryenne Stepehns, Mykeria Johnson, Saphira Moss, Alex Huston, Ametryss Walker, Calises Eason and Brooke Ward.


Students Learn Gardening for Farm to School Month

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October is Farm to School Month, and several of our schools participated both in the classroom and outside in gardens. With the help of Talibah Muhammad and Linda Newberry with the University of Georgia's Extension Office, the students got to learn a variety of practical agriculture lessons.

"Oftentimes, kids don't even know where their food comes from," Muhammad said.

One of the classrooms that participated was Sabre Bostwick's fourth grade class at Lane Elementary School. The students there started in the classroom, where they learned about new herbs and vegetables and how to read a seed packet. One student reacted negatively to her pack of oregano seeds until she was told that oregano was actually in pizza sauce.

"You like oregano, so now you can smile," Muhammad said.

Outside in the garden, Bostwick's class planted crops and even harvested some, including sweet potatoes that grew from seeds planted a previous year. Each student was also given a seed packet to take home.

"It's a basic life skill," Bostwick said of gardening. "It can be a hobby. They learn so much about earth science by doing this."

Other Schools Take Part in Farm to School Efforts

Westside Seminoles Continue Learning During Fall Break

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Bibb County schools took their Fall Break from Oct. 3-7, but many at Westside High School used part of that time to get help in their core classes.

The WHS InterSession School was offered on that Tuesday and Wednesday, with about 125 attending the first day and about 100 on the second.

"Students come for remediation, enrichment, and even acceleration in their courses," said Teacher of the Year Dominique Nichols, who helped organize the sessions.

During those two days, students participated in Edgenuity credit programs, SAT practice and preparation, and classwork assistance.

Rutland Softball Season Ends in State Playoffs

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Rutland High School's softball team did enough in the regular season to earn the No. 2 seed in Region 4-AAA. That meant hosting a first-round series in the state playoffs, but the Hurricanes dropped both games of a doubleheader against Brantley County on Oct. 12 to see their season come to an end.

Laney Wallace (pictured) got the start in the circle for a tight 2-1 loss in the first game, and the Hurricanes fell 4-3 in the second game. Special thanks to Wesleyan College and softball coach Dickey Hightower for allowing Rutland the use of the Wolves' field.

MLK Students Inducted into Junior Beta Club

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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School recently held a Junior Beta Club Induction Ceremony. Pictured on the front row, from left, are Shaniya Stokes, Makayla Shannon, Ellanna George, DeShay Heath and Logan Hill. On the back row, from left, are Paris Cobb, Queen Miller, Tori Gosha and Shakira Mitchell.

Schools Collecting Coats for Drive to Benefit the Needy

Through Dec. 1, students at several Bibb County schools will be collecting coats to be donated to Loaves and Fishes Ministry.
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Two Bibb Teachers Earn Grants for 'Bright Ideas'

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Weaver Middle School band teacher Ginger Gilpin and Bernd Elementary School teacher Tracy McWilliams got surprised earlier this month in the form of a pair of grants. The Bright Ideas grants were presented by Flint Energies for Gilpin's lesson titled “Boom Boom Pow,” which focused on music notations and counting rhythms, and for raised bed gardens in the Bernd courtyard.

Gilpin's lesson would use “Boomwhackers,” which are colored plastic tubes that are tuned to emit various notes when struck on a table. The $990 grant is also expected to cover transportation to take the students to perform their talents for the public, as well as materials to make a table specifically for the instruments.

McWilliams brought in $885 for the garden beds that will be used by the whole school. Gardening and other agricultural concepts have been on display around the district in October, which is Farm to School Month. McWilliams said she had scheduled some dads from her class to put the beds together, further improving family engagement.

Springdale Selected for Fitness Program Led by NFL, Atlanta Falcons

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Springdale Elementary School and PE teacher Jena Derzi were selected to participate in the NFL Play 60 FitnessGram through the Atlanta Falcons. Over the course of the next two years, Derzi will be recording students' fitness data and encouraging them to get exercise at home.
One of 35 schools statewide selected for the program, Springdale is set to receive a grant of $2,000 at the end of the two-year period. Derzi said that money would likely go to new basketball goals, cones and balls.
"I try to get stuff that we're going to use on a daily basis," she said.

Derzi said that when the NFL and the Falcons began the program in 2010, Georgia was second in the nation in childhood obesity. Now, that number has dropped to 17th in the nation. She also added that the key was often to get students to see how they could get 60 minutes of exercise a day without going out and just running - through activities like sports, bike riding and neighborhood walks.

"You're getting 60 minutes a day; you just might not realize it," Derzi said.

Bibb County School District


Each student demonstrates strength of character

and is college or career ready.


The Bibb County School District will develop

a highly trained staff and an engaged community dedicated

to educating each student for a 21st century global society.

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