All three principals in the Thomasville City Schools District gave updates Sept. 8 to the Thomasville City Board of Education.
The board meeting was held in the Thomasville High School library.
With the current coronavirus pandemic, “it’s been a little different school year than we are used to,” said Garth Moss, Thomasville school superintendent. “There are still some questions and concerns out in the community.”
Officials at Thomasville Elementary School presented a day in the life of the school video. The faculty leadership team from TES was also present at the board meeting. “My job is fairly easy because…they (the leadership team) are awesome,” said Vickie Morris, TES principal. “…These people are the ones who make it work.”
The video was a way to show how “the teachers, staff and students have adapted to the new normal. We tried to capture the following things in our video:
• Arrival procedures (checking temperatures) at car rider and bus entrances;
• The librarian traveling to classrooms for student book check outs;
• Breakfast and Lunch in the classroom;
• Extra cleaning measures by custodial staff;
• PE classes and PE teachers new cleaning equipment;
• New dismissal procedures using Google Docs;
• Teachers teaching traditional and virtual students.
“Things are going extremely well at TES,” Morris said. “We are looking forward to a great rest of the year.”
Likewise, “my team has done so much to help me to prepare this year,” said Ashley Allen, principal of Thomasville Middle School. “My motto is not ME; it’s WE. Everything that we do – we’ll do it together.” Preparations to reopen TMS began in the summer, and faculty members came early to prepare. “I knew then what kind of team I had then.”
A virtual tour video of the school will be released soon to social media and the website, Allen said.
A Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO) has been reestablished at the school, and there are already 25 members. “We already have a lot of things planned.”
Allen has his morning and afternoon announcements on video and posted to the “TMS Excellence” Facebook page. He tells the students “I love you…and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.”
The TMS principal also reported that there are only five bells that ring during the school day to allow for more uninterrupted instruction.
Juniors at Thomasville High School, who are in Advanced Academic Endorsement, are required to take the PSAT (Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test), said Kyle Ferguson, THS principal. Other juniors are also allowed to take it. “We really feel like we need to push our juniors…because it does lead to scholarship dollars and qualifications for National Merit Scholarship money.”
Teachers continue to work with the new Schoology software platform for virtual instruction. “It has been a stressful transition because there is a lot to learn,” Ferguson said. “…This has all happened real fast.” Ever since the pandemic forced the need for virtual instruction in the spring, administrators and faculty have had to be flexible, he said. “You take great pride in what you do, and you want to be great at it.”
Different days of the school week, teachers in specific departments (math, history, language arts, etc.) are provided with professional development. “It’s a big shot in the arm for them,” Ferguson said.
A new art club program has been established at THS, and the first class with 25 students was held on Sept. 9.
Ferguson stresses to students the necessity for masks and social distancing. “Our kids have been phenomenal – they things we have asked them to do,” he said. “They have bought in to it. This is what I say…'guys, you want to come to school every day? You want to play football? volleyball? You want to be in the band? This is what we have to do.'" Adhering to the COVID precautions is making in-school instruction possible.
Ferguson praised the work of his teachers, CNP (Child Nutrition Program) staff, and custodians. He also noted the support of the PTO members, which have provided breakfast for the faculty and staff on two occasions.
Moss remarked at the amount of planning and teamwork necessary to begin the school year during a pandemic. “Everybody had a role to play,” he said, from administrators and teachers to child nutrition works and custodians. “Everybody has stepped up to the plate.
“…Our folks love our kids and they want to do what is best for them. …This year is different. We had to rethink so many things. …Every decision that you make - you better think it out three or four times – because it is affecting something else.”
Approximately 40 students were allowed to return Sept. 8 for traditional instruction, Moss said. Twenty were allowed in last week. In this unusual school year, that decision causes waves because CNP needs to prepare food for more students or administrators must consider how to socially distance with more students.
“Hats off to our folks and the job they have done,” the superintendent said.