This past Monday, bright and early in the morning, about 110 faculty and staff members of Franklin County School heeded the ringing of the school bell at 8 a.m. and anxiously gathered in the school’s cafetorium to kick off a brand new and exciting school year.
After briefly greeting familiar faces, welcoming new ones, and receiving a welcoming message from Principal Kris Bray and Assistant Principal Harolyn Walker, we enjoyed a delicious breakfast prepared by the Franklin County Teacher’s Association, a meal this professional organization under the leadership of Catherine Wood, has graciously offered for several years now.
With several new faculty members joining the Seahawk Family, as well as most of the veteran faculty and staff members not having seen each other since the close of the previous school year, Laura King, former elementary teacher and now our new intervention specialist, led us in a special welcoming activity. Through this icebreaker, we met and welcomed three new elementary teachers Carol Allen, first grade; Christy Thompson, second grade; and Helen Wilson, third grade.
In middle school, we’ve added Kendyl Hardy, eighth grade science, Kati Hathcock, eighth grade language arts, as well as Roy Carroll, math. This trio is no stranger to the Franklin County School district; Hardy is a 2010 FCS graduate, Hathcock graduated from the Apalachicola High School in 2007, and Carroll was previously a district-level employee and middle school math teacher just a couple years ago.
When Hardy was asked how it felt to return as an employee to a school she graduated from only four years ago, she said it was “surreal, but exciting” and she is really looking forward to it all. Hardy also commented that it is “a lot different teaching alongside teachers who were her teachers a few years ago” but I have no doubt that she, Hathcock and all the novice faculty members will be a fabulous addition to the Seahawk faculty and staff.
On the high school level, additions include James Chapman, math and science; Bruce Hubbs, ESE (Exceptional Student Education); Jason Luquis, Spanish; and Keilan McWhorter, science. Hardy and Hathcock will also be doing double-duty and handle some high school classes, too, with Hardy teaching ninth grade science and Hathcock teaching ninth grade language arts. The FCS returnees have already embraced the new Seahawks, and at the Meet & Greet event this Thursday afternoon, August 14 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m, you can do so, too.
One big change for the 2014-15 school year is the complete closure of the Franklin County Learning Center and the moving of its last tenants, the Alternative School and the HeadStart program, to the main campus. So for the first time since the Franklin County School opened for business, all students receiving a traditional public school education in Franklin County will get such on the same campus.
With this change, veteran teacher Angeline Stanley and her trusty aide, Wanda Brannan will now both be on the main campus, with Stanley assigned to the elementary segment. A brand new area for her, Stanley, with over 20 years of teaching experience, says she is “up to the challenge.” Also coming over with this closure is staffer Joy Towns, who will work in the front office area handling a multitude of tasks.
Another veteran teacher embracing a new area is Barbara Lee, long-time high school teacher, who will be working alongside Audrey Gay and Melanie Humble in fifth grade. Lee, who will soon add another grandchild to her personal fold, has worked in several areas as a Franklin County teacher and said of the upcoming year that she is “excited about it and looking forward to a great year.”
Several other changes include the expansion of the Credit Recovery Program, which adds Sharon Solomon, David Meyer now handling the Alternative program, Mike Todd working in high school math, Kay Cadwallader leaving pre-K and becoming the elementary reading coach, and Tammy Sasnett, formerly the ESOL (English as a Second Language) leader, returning to pre-K as its director.
Monday, Day 1 of Pre-Planning was spent primarily preparing ourselves for the eager children who will enter our classrooms next week and this was done using several methods. Thanks to tremendous help from Franklin’s Promise, one of these preparation methods was a poverty simulation activity, held in the multi-purpose building involving faculty, staff and some administrators. Facilitated by Franklin’s Promise staffer Desiree Trest, also a former Seahawk Class of 2009, and utilizing the message derived from well-known author Ruby Payne’s book “A Framework for Understanding Poverty,” the activity was an incredibly valuable learning experience that involved role-playing, allowing us to gain significant insight into the lives of some of our children and their families. Although it was pretending on our parts, the exercise gave us a powerful perspective that will help us even more so in our interactions with our students. Joe Taylor, leader of Franklin’s Promise, was assisted by members of this organization, as well as other community members and we greatly appreciate him and his team for this wonderful experience, which also included a follow-up debriefing and lunch.
After a day filled with informational meetings on a variety of topics, our official first day back concluded with Afternoon Tea, hosted by Nina Marks, our school superintendent, who was assisted by Debra Fletcher, our culinary department head. Marks and her sister had baked cookies, each iced with a Seahawk logo.
“I am excited about another great year,” said Marks. “I think everyone was pleasantly surprised that they returned to a more relaxing day then they’ve previously had on first days.” She further added that “we met and greeted our 10 new hires and they will fit right in with the faculty and staff, enhancing our wonderful Seahawk Family.”
Until next week, keep soaring.
Elinor Mount-Simmons is the Franklin County Schools’ public information officer.