Bringing educators and business people together may not be done very often, but the Portsmouth City School district does its part in trying to bring those groups together at least four times a school year.
Portsmouth City Schools held its fourth Educational Forum this week. Scott Dutey, Portsmouth City Schools superintendent, introduced the guest speakers for the forum before each presentation. There were approximately 30 educators and business people in attendance.
First to speak on what they called the “Building Showcases” were Chrystal McCain and Anna Whitt, who were introduced by Principal Beth Born. These ladies spoke on their sensory room for students with multiple disabilities. In September, The Daily Times published an article about these two along with photos of their room. They spoke about how the room they designed and built has helped them as teachers and their students during this school year. The women raised the funds for this room. They talked about how much the students have benefited from the equipment they now use on a day-to-day basis. They said the students have been able to be mainstreamed more because they are able to use what they have in the sensory room, and then they can calm down and use what they have learned in the sensory classroom to be able to be in the regular classroom.
The teachers continued talking about how they are now more able to help those students who are mainstreamed with their studies due to the shared teaching they are able to maintain since the building of the sensory room. Because of this room, each student is also able to receive more one-on-one time each school day.
McCain and Whitt also spoke about how they have added a yoga aspect to the sensory room. They explained that they posted a GoFundMe Facebook page. Within two days, a corporation funded the entire project, and they noted how the addition of yoga is a great assist in helping their students learn how to calm themselves.
East Portsmouth Elementary teacher Laurie O’Brien then presented her fifth and sixth grade program, “The Lion King Kids.” The program has 47 kids in what they call the Trojan Express, which is a show choir. O’Brien spoke of how much it was going to cost to do the show and how she looked online where she found a grant called “The Lion King Experience.” The due date was the next day, yet she buckled down and wrote the grant and sent it in. About two weeks later, O’Brien and her class found out they had received the grant. O’Brien said the kids were able to see how to break down things and all the work that goes into the final show. She also talked about how the show could not come together without the help of the many people who volunteer to help with certain things needed to bring things together.
A final group to speak at the forum was the Portsmouth High/Junior High School Positive Rewards Committee, consisting of Emily Crandall, Krista Hayes, Jennifer Mitchell and Julie Sanders-Johnson. PHS Principal Amy Hughes explained how she believed the positive rewards project was needed, and that she approached the teachers, who jumped right in and ran with it. She said the teachers have done a wonderful job building confidence in their kids, rewarding kids for the good things they do.
Mitchell said some of the things they do include multiple field trips, nine-week honor roll and perfect attendance assemblies, and that they recognize their students for anything they do that is good, whether it be in school or the community. The students are doing all kinds of good things, and the teachers want them to know they are proud of them, while also enabling others to see that, while they may not have received positive feedback this time, but maybe they can next time.
Hayes thanked their administration for giving them the opportunity to run with the program, and said that if it weren’t for Hughes and Dutey, they would not be able to do what they do with the program. They sent out letters to businesses and places for help, and how the teachers get a lot of help within their own community.
“They have been amazing,” Hayes said. They try to build on their trips each year by grade level. They have taken grade levels to Dayton Air Force Museum, the State Capitol, the Columbus Zoo and the Wild’s Safari, and snow tubing at the Perfect North.
Sanders pointed out how the students start asking about the rewards toward the end of the nine weeks, and that they ask when they are going to do this or that. They have other assemblies also, not necessarily at the end of the nine-week periods.
Crandall summed up the rewards program with observations that the four teachers are big dreamers, and have identified many things they would like to do for the students of PHS, including taking students on college visits, and honoring as many students as possible, not necessarily just for academics, but for a multitude of reasons. She said the teachers look forward to motivating all the students each year.
Portsmouth City Schools hold such educational forums four times each year, and Paula Duncan, administrative assistant to Dutey, says all she does is organize what the superintendent wants for the forums. She was modest in describing all it takes to put the forums together, such as getting the food, contacting people and everything necessary to accomplish the forums.
Dutey says he tries to invite business partners and folks who are part of their school district to the forums, and that he enjoys presenting the forums to bring the community together in another way.
Reach Kimberly Jenkins at 740-353-3101 ext. 1928