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Middlesex schools open Tuesday


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Nicole Huntley decorates her sixth grade classroom at St. Clare Walker Middle School in preparation for the first day of school on Tuesday. Huntley teaches social studies and science. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

The Middlesex County Public School system is expecting about 1,250 students when school bells ring on Tuesday, September 2, said superintendent Rusty Fairheart.

That’s a decrease of 21 students from the opening enrollment of 1,271 in September 2007, he said.

The school system has three new administrators—Rashard Wright, assistant superintendent for instruction; James Lane, principal at St. Clare Walker Middle School; and Jeannie Duke, assistant principal at Middlesex Elementary.

The public schools will have 115 teachers, four less than last September. Of those, 14 are new to Middlesex schools, said Fairheart.

Seven of the new faculty members will be at Middlesex High School; four will be at St. Clare Walker Middle School; and three will be at Middlesex Elementary School. The new teachers are:
Middlesex High

Danielle Y. Early will teach English. She is a recent graduate of James Madison University.

Eleanor Harper will teach math. She has taught math for West Point Public Schools.

Katherine Lanier will teach English. She has taught in Hampton, Gloucester and West Point. 

Melissa A. Newsome will teach Spanish. She comes to Middlesex from Poquoson City Public Schools.

Johann E. Odom will be a technology teacher. He last taught in Henrico County Public Schools and has also taught in the State of Maryland and with Gloucester County Public Schools.

Christine Pederson will teach English. She is returning to Middlesex County Public Schools and has a master’s in English and American Literature.

Jason Alan Perry is the new choir director at MHS. He moved to the area from Pennsylvania.

St. Clare Walker
John Hegdal will teach eighth grade math. He has taught in Chesterfield County’s middle and high schools.

Mandy Machut will teach sixth grade science. She has taught in the State of New York and has a master’s in science education.

James I. Somerville will teach history. He is a graduate of Northern Michigan University.

Amy H. Stamm will be a guidance counselor. She comes to Middlesex from Lancaster, where she has taught for five years. She also taught in Richmond County for two years and has a master’s in school counseling.

Middlesex Elementary
Jacqueline Brooke Ailsworth will be a special education teacher. She last taught at Majesty Christian Academy in Gloucester County.

Susan W. Boyette will be a guidance counselor. She previously taught at Gloucester High School and has since earned her master’s degree in counseling with emphasis in school counseling.

Megan Doody will teach third grade. She was a substitute teacher in Lancaster prior to coming to Middlesex.

The following school-opening statements were released this week by school administrators.

Excited About The Upcoming Year by Rusty Fairheart - Superintendent, Middlesex Schools
It has been a busy and exciting summer for Middlesex County Public Schools as we have been preparing for the upcoming 2008-09 school year. Our administrative staff has been hard at work analyzing data, reviewing curriculum, and planning programs to enhance teaching and learning. Additionally, our support staff has spent countless hours ensuring our facilities are ready to welcome students on the first day of school.

Preliminary SOL Test results indicate that all Middlesex County Public Schools will be “fully accredited” for the 2008-09 school year. Additionally, preliminary results indicate that Middlesex High School earned all of the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) benchmarks mandated by No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Our success is truly a reflection on the effort and dedication of our students and staff! While we are pleased with our successes from last year, we are even more excited about the opportunities the upcoming year presents. 

The summer has also provided us with an opportunity to welcome new additions to our staff. We have 14 new teachers for the 2008-09 school year and three new administrators. 

Jeannie Duke is the assistant principal at Middlesex Elementary School, James Lane is the principal at St. Clare Walker Middle School, and Rashard Wright is our assistant superintendent for instruction. We are excited about the skills, abilities and knowledge our new staff members bring with them and feel strongly that they will play key roles in our future success.

Middlesex County Public School System has identified four focus areas for the upcoming school year. As always, our primary focus is increased student achievement. Specifically, we aim for each of our schools to attain state accreditation standards and the benchmarks mandated by NCLB.

Additional focus areas that will support our instructional program are continuous school improvement and organizational development and enhancement. Within these areas are several large projects including a review of our current grading policies and procedures, development of a division-wide pay plan, and the development of our comprehensive plan. 

Our last focus area will be resource conservation. During this time of rising fuel/energy costs and economic uncertainty, it is imperative that we concentrate on operational efficiency and resource conservation.

“Pursuing Excellence” At MHS - by Chris Valdrighi, Principal Middlesex High
It has been an exciting summer at Middlesex High School as we have been preparing for the upcoming 2008-09 school year. The theme at Middlesex High this year is “Pursuing Excellence” as we all work hard to build on the tremendous successes our teachers and students experienced last year.

Preliminary results indicate that MHS will be “fully accredited,” both by Virginia accreditation standards and the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards mandated by No Child Left Behind.

Teachers and students worked very hard last year within our newly implemented 4x4 [block] schedule to raise our Standards of Learning scores and to ensure that every student maximized their opportunities and potential for success. 

While we are thrilled with our successes last year at MHS, we are even more excited about the upcoming year. To further assist our students we have implemented a new mentorship program to ease the transition of some students who might otherwise struggle as they move into the high school environment. These students will be assigned teacher mentors who will monitor their academic progress, offer support and encouragement, and serve as advisers. We are also very excited about our new staff members and believe that they will bring even more enthusiasm, expertise, and energy into our building. 

Not only was 2007-08 an outstanding academic year, but MHS students excelled in a number of different arenas. For the third consecutive year, Middlesex High School was recognized by the Tidewater District for outstanding sportsmanship. MHS also captured its second straight Wachovia Sportsmanship Award from the Virginia High School League, recognizing great sportsmanship on the state level. 

Six MHS teams advanced to the state playoffs last year and we expect to field very talented and competitive teams this year as well. Our fine arts department represented MHS very well, winning numerous awards across the region and displaying their outstanding talents at the Annual Fine Arts Festival. In fact, our band was hard at work over the summer and represented Middlesex County by taking part in the Norris Bridge Celebration Program. Our volleyball team, golf team, cross-country team, and football team have all been hard at work already to prepare for success in the fall. We encourage you to come out, support your team and classmates, and get prepared for another great year at MHS!

Back to School Night is scheduled for Wednesday, September 24, at 7 p.m.

Public Invited To Monthly Talks With New Middle School Principal
St. Clare Walker Middle School is off to a great start for the 2008-09 school year! The news this summer is the arrival of the new principal, James Lane, who has many great ideas about how to help St. Clare Walker become the best middle school in all of Virginia. 

One of the major initiatives at SCW is a change in the schedule to give students more time in mathematics, which will help them greatly as they prepare for courses at the high school level and beyond.
The middle school is also working hard to get parents excited about the school year.  Parents will have a chance to meet all of their children’s teachers at Back to School Night on Tuesday, September 16, from 7 to 9 p.m. 

All school community members and parents are also invited to come to the school to meet and chat with the new principal during his first monthly “Principal’s Coffee Talk” on Tuesday, September 23, at 9:30 a.m.

“Charged Up” And Ready At MES - by Joanie Banks, Principal Middlesex Elementary
The teachers and staff of Middlesex Elementary School are “charged up” and ready to assist in teaching our students to be life-long learners. 

Our building, inside and outside, is clean and attractive. We appreciate our custodial staff for their diligence in making our building ready for our students. Our office staff has been meticulous in the details of what they do to make MES an inviting place to be. Our doors are open to serve our parents and students.

MES teachers have put up bulletin boards, classroom rules, reviewed and modified their pacing guides and assessment materials, and are creating their first week of lesson plans. The goal this year is to “Step Up Our Pace!” We are striving to make the standards of learning accessible for all of our students.

There are several changes this year. Our kindergarten classes will have the assistance of para-professionals in their classrooms for several hours each day. 

Every grade level has a time for enrichment or review of SOL material built in their schedules. Students who need extra reading instruction beyond their regular instructional program or Title 1 services will be serviced.

Third grade has an additional fifth teacher to meet the needs of their students. Fourth grade students will rotate between two teachers. Our teachers will team teach. 

Two teachers will teach math and science and the other two teachers will teach reading, English, and Virginia History.

Fifth grade students will rotate to each of the four teachers. They will study U.S. History this year.Each teacher will teach writing during first period and for the rest of their periods they each will be responsible for one subject area.

Our instructional emphasis this year will be to utilize various strategies (interactive notebooks, Smart Boards, etc.) to facilitate gains in reading and math. This year, our third grade students will receive their SOL assessments online.

Our PTA is seeking volunteers and will be present to solicit the participation of parents at our Back to School Night on Thursday, September 18, at 7 p.m. Anyone who is interested in volunteering at Middlesex Elementary is encouraged to stop in and speak to our administration. We have many areas where your service will be utilized and appreciated.

Parents who will be transporting their children home on a regular basis must stop by our “Car Rider” table during Open House to sign up if you did not do so last year.

Middlesex Elementary staff and teachers look forward to a very productive year.

posted 08.29.2008

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