The Martinsville City School Board recognized the efforts of several in a series of awards to staff, schools, and students throughout the district.
The first awards – from the Virginia School Board Association (VSBA) – were presented by Miyana Smith to board members.
The Award of Honor is “for the school board members who have received more than 66 credits but less than 83 credits in two years. The awardees will receive a certificate for the Award of Honor and a gold pin,” Smith said, and presented awards to Donna Dillard and Yvonne Givens.
The Award of Achievement is “for the school board member who’s received more than 24 credits but less than 47 in two years. The awardee will receive a certificate for the Award of Achievement and a bronze pin,” she said, presenting the award to Schools Superintendent Zebedee Talley Jr.
The Virginia High School League (VHSL) “Stay in the Game” award was presented by Athletic Director Tommy Golding.
“This award … is something that we’ve been after for quite a few years,” Golding said, noting the school division last received the award given to school systems that have not received ejections at the varsity level across all sports, in 2009.
“Basically, that means that we had no ejections last year on the varsity level and it’s the first time we’ve had it in a long time,” Golding added.
“That’s the award I’ve always wanted,” Talley said. “Championships are good, but when people look and say, ‘Your young people behave and they don’t get kicked out of games,’ I love it. I want that every year. Awards follow good leadership. I just want to thank you. It’s a very important award.”
The board then recognized the Virginia Naturally Recognized School accolade received by Albert Harris Elementary School for its commitment to environmental education.
STEM teacher Laurie Witt discussed the award and the steps required to obtain it.
“Working with our community partner, the Dan River Basin Association, our students are learning how they can have a positive impact on the natural world around them,” Witt said, and cited examples of the ways students incorporated the lessons into actions.
“Students have worked to create solutions to problems they see on their campus such as the vegetable garden, which reduces erosion on campus. Our second graders created and maintain a monarch butterfly waystation, which benefits not only monarch butterflies, but all the pollinators in our community,” she said.
Witt said the lessons align with Virginia’s Standards of Learning, along with giving students real work applications for lessons learned.
“Environmental education lessons align with the scientific and engineering practices found in our Virginia Science Standards of Learning and they benefit all of the students at Albert Harris,” she said. “We were very excited to win this and we’re very excited to share what our students are doing at Albert Harris.”
In other matters, the board:
*Heard a presentation from Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Angilee Downing, who recently presented her dissertation research work at the Virginia Educational Research Association’s annual conference.
Her research focused on “disproportionality in office discipline referrals for disruptive behaviors” and how gender, race, academic ability, and more correlate to these trends.
“The reasoning behind that, why it’s such an issue, when you look at the research on suspensions: students who get suspended are three times more likely to drop out of school, which causes them to be three times more likely to be incarcerated,” Downing said, adding that over 50% of inmates do not have a high school diploma, indicating the school to prison pipeline.
She said suspension leads to a lack of social and educational development, which is not what the school system wants.
“When it comes to school, there’s a social curriculum and an academic curriculum, and if we are pulling students out of school, we’re limiting their access to both,” Downing said.
Commenting on the dissertation and how it relates to the school system’s six-year plan, Talley said “this is why the 10 percent reduction in suspension is always in our plan, which is connected to our six-year plan, because in fact you just don’t only lose days. You lose the social status and the teaching of young people, because I believe behavior can be taught, too,” he said.
* Heard an update from STEAM Coordinator Shauna Hines on student internships, the upcoming CTE Expo, CTE programs, and the Performing Arts Academy.
* Appointed the list of members to the Special Education Advisory Committee.
* Approved the consent agenda as presented.