Student Artists Featured at School Board Meeting

Three student artists from Clarke County were recognized by the School Board last night for success at the Virginia School Board Association’s Shenandoah Valley region art competition. Aislin Ogata achieved a second place ribbon while Mark Alexander and Abigail Rogers received honorable mention awards.

VSBA Art Winner Aislin Ogata - photo Edward Leonard

VSBA Art Winner Aislin Ogata - photo Edward Leonard

High School artist Abigail Rogers said that she had never been very good at art until she found a style that inspired her. “Soon after I started out I realized I wasn’t that good at drawing like other people were. Then I learned a technique called “micrography” where you create designs out of words related to the design. The micrography style really appealed to me.”

Clarke County art teacher Kathy Campbell described the recent art show held at the Burwell-Morgan Mill in Millwood showcasing the work of each artist who participated in the competition. “Each child was given an entire wall to display their work. It was really a fantastic experience” Campbell said.

The School Board also took time to recognize Clarke County’s excellent teaching staff in recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week and Clarke’s three school nurses for School Nurse Appreciation Day.

Dr. Michael Murphy presented flowers to school nurses Dorothy Clark and Jane Tavener (JWMS nurse Melanie Rosin was honored in absentee.)

Murphy then recognized Mr. Andrew Kiser, President of the Clarke County Education Association, saying “There is not enough that we can do to show our appreciation for the work that our teaching staff does. They are here all of the time working nights, weekends and summers. We have the most incredible teachers here in Clarke County.”

Murphy, just back from the National School Board Association conference in Chicago, said that the NSBA predicts that 275,000 teaching professionals across the country will lose their jobs this year. “We can’t afford to let a single teacher go here in Clarke County” Murphy said.

Later in the meeting the School Board pledged support for transitioning Clarke’s K-5 “specials” instructors from non-professional instructional aides to professional teaching positions. “Specials” include library, technology, physical education, art and music.

Clarke County Art Teacher Kathy Campbell addresses School Board - Photo Edward Leonard

Clarke County Art Teacher Kathy Campbell addresses School Board - Photo Edward Leonard

The cost for an instructional aide is approximately $15K, however, a professional teacher in the same position will cost $26K.

While the entire School board expressed support for the transition to professional teachers, several members offered caution due to recent budget cutbacks. “I’d like to see us go with teachers in all positions but I don’t think that we can support it under the current budget” said School Board Member Emily Rhodes (Buckmarsh). School Board Chairman Robina Bouffault concurred with Rhodes; “We have to stick with what we have for money reasons”

School Board Round-Up

Multicultural Advisory Committee

Mr. Farr provided a detailed review of the Multicultural Advisory Committee’s 2010 activities. Mr. Farr stressed the value of exposure to other cultures as part of Clarke County’s curriculum. “Exposing students to other cultures helps them to adapt more easily once they get out into the real world.” Farr said. Farr’s colorful description of the meals served at the MAC meetings was particularly painful to meeting attendees who had not yet eaten dinner.

Highly Qualified Staff

The School Board endorsed Dr. Murphy’s recommendation that future Clarke County paraprofessionals meet the federal definition of “highly qualified”. To attain “highly qualified” status an employee must have completed two years of college study, or have attained an associate’s degree or pass a rigorous local academic assessment. Dr. Murphy said that the School Board’s adoption of the “highly qualified” requirement “raises the bar for instruction at Clarke County Public schools.”

Temporary Teaching Trailers Become Permanent

Five mobile homes leased five years ago as temporary classroom space while the new high school was being built will be purchased for $75K out of “Fy-10 funds to be identified by the Superintendent”. According to Budgeting Director Tom Judge the purchase avoids a $5K fee for each mobile home if the buildings were returned to the leasing company, Modular Technologies.

Closed Session

At 10:00 p.m. the School Board entered “closed session” to discuss personnel resignations, and attorney/staff legal brifings.

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  1. Michelle says:

    It’s wonderful to see that our students are still provided with such opportunities and encouraged for their artistic endeavors in school. It’s sad that so many districts around the country have had to cut programs in the arts, I’m really proud that Clarke County sees the larger picture (couldn’t help that pun, sorry!) and has kept our arts programs alive in the schools!

    • Right Winger says:

      Sadly though, the arts students are the ones who generally stay out of trouble. Seems that other School Organizations have problems with bad apples that don’t want to follow the rules.

      • Lonnie Bishop says:

        Ummm…don’t be so quick to judge one set of students over another. While there might be a place and time to discuss the darker side of student life amongst our high school students (and some poor choices some of them make), this isn’t that forum. The point is to celebrate the skill of some of our students.

        • Right Winger says:

          I’m merely lamenting the fact that the arts seem to be treated as “the red-headed-stepchild”, while other organizations seem to have the same type of problems year after year, yet their funding/sponsorship is never “on the chopping block”.

          • Lonnie Bishop says:

            Choices students make to participate in stupid activities (like underage drinking or bashing in mailboxes or whatever) has nothing to do with the funding of these programs. Honestly…look at what you type into pixels before you send it.

            Funding for the arts, in this case art classes, is seperate from some of the after-school activities you’re referencing. It’s not adequate – neither from a space perspective, nor staffing, nor resources. Still…this ain’t the forum for the weak link you’re trying to make.

          • It is wonderful to celebrate the artistic achievements of our students (thanks to the School Board for giving art teachers the opportunity to share, and to the CDN for reporting the good news!) Thankfully the visual arts seem to be doing ok in Clarke County Schools, but we need to take care to continue to support all of the creative program offerings for our students, both in visual and in the performing arts. We could stand to strengthen the elective offerings in our schools so more students have the opportunity to develop their creative strengths and build life skills that will serve them well in a variety of areas. And although I agree with Lonnie with regard to this particular forum, I completely understand where RW is coming from… well-funded yet poorly supervised after school activities have recently put teenage students at risk – and certainly continue to perpetuate inappropriate behaviors. Time to use our creative efforts, local funding and community support to improve elective programs during the school day so the entire student community can benefit.

  2. Jim Gibson says:

    It’s always a good thing to hear that students are getting praised for their hard work. It’s also encouraging to hear the staff get duly recognized for their long hours, commitment, and passion for their students.

    I also applaud the Board’s willingness to put “highly qualified” instructional assistants into the classrooms to assist teachers who work with special needs students, and to move the elementary specials positions to all being taught by licensed teachers. This “instruction bought on the cheap” policy rightfully deserves to end. A quality education requires quality funding. Period. It’s good to hear the SB begin to step up and determine to invest more in the children in these formative younger years.