By: Scott Emigh, Editor-in-Chief
The Sand Springs Board of Education met in a regular monthly meeting Monday, December 5th to conduct business and issue several awards and recognitions. Elijah Warren and Josh Taber were to be recognized for attaining National Merit Scholar commendations, but were unable to attend. Their awards were later delivered to them. All-State softball players Jessica Collins and Sydney Pennington were awarded Sandite Spirit Awards, as was Cross Country State Champion Cheyenne Walden. Administrative Assistant Beth Shope was presented with the Pacesetter Award, and Band Director Kyle Wright received a Coin of Excellence.
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Shope works as an assistant to Assistant Superintendent Kristin Arnold and deals with Federal programs. "I have never seen anybody work so hard or learn so fast as Beth Shope," said Superintendent Sherry Durkee. The Pacesetter Award honors Sand Springs Public Schools faculty and staff members who have gone above and beyond expectations in representing Sand Springs.
The Charles Page High School band recently received Superior ratings at the OSSAA East Regional Marching Contest and was invited to lead the Tulsa Veterans' Day Parade. "I wouldn't want to do this with anybody else," said Wright. "When they do well they get the credit. When things don't go well, I'll take the blame."
The Sand Springs Education community recently lost a long-time advocate in Director of Technology Danny Wasson, who passed away December 3rd. The 61-year-old was honored throughout the meeting. "I've never met a person more committed to work and the Sandite community," said Durkee.
Tulsa Technology Center Associate Superintendent and former Sand Springs Assistant Superintendent Robert Franklin addressed the crowd to announce that the Tulsa Tech Board will soon be voting to return a long-defunct pre-engineering program to Charles Page High School. According to Franklin, more than forty schools asked Tulsa Tech for the program but Sand Springs was selected, pending board approval. The program will also come with Tulsa Tech funding for a new teacher.
CPHS Principal Stan Trout spoke to the crowd about a new Response to Intervention (RTI) initiative enacted at the school. The program recognizes three tiers of students. Tier One represents the 80% of students who are able to progress in their learning through core instruction and traditional class structure. Tier Two represents the 15% of students who require extra attention and supplemental instruction. Tier Three represents the 5% of students who require intense intervention, including but not limited to special education students and students with disciplinary issues.
The fundamental belief of RTI is that schools shouldn't wait until students fall far enough behind to qualify for special ed or drop off the grid altogether before intervening.
CPHS has also introduced a program called Inspire Challenge Empower (ICE). This is the second year of the program, which gives students an extra class period to pursue their own interests. On Tuesdays and Thursdays students are given time to visit teachers for extra help, work on makeup assignments, pursue hobbies and extracurricular activities, etc.
ICE was created in response to the school's restriction of off-campus lunch to upperclassmen. With split lunch periods, students were no longer able to hold club meetings and take makeup tests at the same time. Students have complete freedom of movement during ICE time, but are required to participate. Each student has an ICE card that is stamped by whatever teacher they visit and checked by their next hour's teacher. Dozens of teachers host different sorts of activities that are posted online for students to view ahead of time.
Trout invoked a quote from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. "Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn't, do something else." "We wanted to tie this in to our school culture," said Trout. The acronym references the school motto of "Challenge mind, inspire hearts, empower a community of learners."
The Board also approved the hiring of a Title 1 Paraprofessional at Garfield STEAM Academy and a teacher at the Early Childhood Education Center.