Pathways to Excellence

A Monthly Newsletter from Shelby County Schools

October 2021

October is a busy month! From National Principals' Month and National Custodial Workers Day to National School Lunch Week and National School Bus Safety Week, it is a month full of recognition for some of our most dedicated staff and important programs.
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Mt Laurel Elementary School Named National Blue Ribbon School

Mt Laurel Elementary School is one of five schools in Alabama to be named a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recently recognized 325 schools as National Blue Ribbon Schools for 2021, including five schools in Alabama. The recognition is based on a school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

The Alabama schools named as National Blue Ribbon Schools are Mt Laurel Elementary School - Shelby County Schools, Hall-Kent Elementary - Homewood City Schools, Brewton Elementary - Brewton City Schools, MacMillian International Academy - Montgomery County Schools, and Orange Beach Elementary - Baldwin County Schools.

"We are so excited! What an honor!" said Mt Laurel Elementary Principal Celita Carmichael. "I am so proud of how hard the faculty and staff have worked to build strong relationships will all stakeholders. The data takes care of itself when relationships are strong."

Shelby County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Lewis Brooks, said he was thrilled to learn the news of Mt Laurel Elementary School's recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Dr. Brooks and other district leaders visited Mt Laurel Elementary on October 6 to congratulate the Mt Laurel faculty and staff on this accomplishment. Also in attendance were Senator Dan Roberts and State Representative Dickey Drake, who presented Carmichael with two resolutions passed by the Senate and the House of Representatives recognizing Mt Laurel Elementary on the Blue Ribbon School status. Roberts and Drake also presented two financial contributions to assist the school in purchasing new Blue Ribbon School banners and signs.

"We are grateful to the school's leaders and teachers who are so deserving of this honor," Dr. Brooks said. "Congratulations to the school and the entire community. We are so proud."

“This year’s cohort of honorees demonstrates what is possible when committed educators and school leaders create vibrant, welcoming, and affirming school cultures where rich teaching and learning can flourish,” said Secretary Cardona. “I commend all our Blue Ribbon honorees for working to keep students healthy and safe while meeting their academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. In the face of unprecedented circumstances, you found creative ways to engage, care for, protect, and teach our children. Blue Ribbon Schools have so much to offer and can serve as a model for other schools and communities so that we can truly build back better.”

The coveted National Blue Ribbon Schools award affirms the hard work of educators, families, and communities in creating safe and welcoming schools where students master challenging and engaging content. Now in its 39th year, the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program has bestowed approximately 10,000 awards to more than 9,000 schools. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes all schools in one of two performance categories, based on all student scores, subgroup student scores, and graduation rates.

Shelby County Schools Technology Leaders Honored By ALET

Two leaders from the Shelby County Schools Technology Department, Coordinator Lauren Woolley and Program Area Specialist Tracie Davis, were recently honored by Alabama Leaders in Educational Technology (ALET).

Technology Coordinator Lauren Woolley was honored with the Sally Moore Award, which honors one of Alabama’s early educational technology leaders. Like Sally, recipients of this award must demonstrate a long-term dedication to promoting technology in K-12 education, must go “above and beyond” in supporting technology in their school system, and must exhibit extraordinary leadership qualities, including a willingness to share personal successes (and failures) with others.

"I was extremely honored to be selected for this award by a group of people that I have the utmost respect for," said Woolley. "The ALET organization is filled with a group of professional and dedicated individuals whom I feel are all just as deserving. The job that I do is only possible through the continued support and inspiration from the great team and district that I have to work with. Being selected for the Sally Moore Award is certainly a reflection on them."

ALET also recognized Tracie Davis, Technology Program Area Specialist, with the Emerging Leader Award. This award recognizes up-and-coming leaders whose dedication, support, and creativity have resulted in a significant impact on teaching and learning with technology.

"It is such an honor to receive the Emerging Leader award from ALET," said Davis. "I am appreciative of our ALET organization, the leadership, and the opportunities it presents to allow me to grow and learn from others. I love the work I get to do each and every day with the teachers and students of Shelby County. It is so energizing to see the excitement in them and the impact that infused technology is making in our teaching and student learning."

Shelby County Public Relations and Community Education Supervisor to Serve on NSPRA Executive Board of Directors

Cindy Warner, APR, was recently affirmed by acclamation by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) Executive Board to serve as the next Southeast Region Vice President. Warner will serve a three-year term on the NSPRA Executive Board representing the Southeast Region, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennesse, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

April Brand Named Secondary School Coordinator

April Brand will serve as the district's Secondary School Coordinator after being approved for the position by the Shelby County Board of Education. In this role, Ms. Brand will ensure that secondary schools in Shelby County provide middle and high school students with quality educational experiences and instruction.

Ms. Brand has over 25 years of experience in public education and most recently served as the Principal at Helena High School.

Ms. Brand earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Secondary Education from Jacksonville State University. She also earned certification in Instructional Leadership and an Educational Specialist Degree in Instructional Leadership at Samford University.

New Administrators Named for Helena High School and Oak Mountain High School

Ashley Bahr will serve as the new principal of Helena High School. Bahr has over 15 years of experience in public education and currently serves as the Secondary Program Area Specialist for Shelby County Schools. She previously served as the Assistant Principal at both Helena Middle and Helena High School.

Bahr earned a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Secondary Education at the University of Alabama and earned a Master’s degree in Instructional Leadership at the University of Montevallo.

Kasey Hollington will serve as the new assistant principal of Oak Mountain High School. Hollington has 19 years of experience in education and currently serves as the Administrative Assistant at Oak Mountain High School.

Hollington earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Science and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from Florida State University.

2021 Showcase of the Bands

Showcase of Bands

The annual Showcase of Bands was held October 19 at Helena High School and featured this year's halftime and competition shows of each high school in the district.

Montevallo took the field first with their performance entitled “Wanted,” which consisted of music by Bon Jovi, Styx, and Elton John. Next to perform was the Vincent Middle High School band with their theme of “A Star is Born,” featuring music from the Oscar-winning film.

Shelby County High School entertained the Showcase crowd with the theme “Royals of the Frock,” which consisted of music by Chuck Berry, Lorde, and the Beatles.

Next up was Calera High School with their show, “Standing in the Shadows of Mowtown”, a tribute to the Jackson 5, The Supremes, and other great Mowtown artists.

The next band to take the field was Chelsea High School with their show “A Take on Take on Me,” featuring various versions of the hit song “Take on Me” by A-ha.

Helena High School was the next to the last band to perform at the Showcase event. Their show, “Guardians of the Galaxy," is a tribute to the famous Marvel movie.

Oak Mountain High School was the last band to perform with their show “Wild, Wild West.” The show features hit scores from “The Magnificent Seven” and other famous Westerns, such as "Oh Shenandoah" from the 1965 movie "Shenandoah" starring Jimmy Stewart.

The final performance brought all the bands together to perform “America the Beautiful” in honor of the 20th Anniversary of 9-11 and those who continue to fight in the United States Military.

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Taste of Shelby County

Thursday, Nov. 4th, 6-8pm

1 Country Club Drive

Birmingham, AL

Tickets are available at