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School Board Meeting Report

Davidson Elementary School first grade teacher Skye James explained to school board trustees how she uses iPads in her classroom. She said the computer devices motivate her students to do well. – Photo by Jack Gurner

iPads Help Motivate Students To Learn

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – New technology is already making a difference for students at Davidson Elementary School, according to kindergarten through second grade teachers who made a presentation to the school board Monday.
The teachers are among the first at DES to receive iPad tablet computers thanks to donations from the community. Board trustee Casey Washington is credited with getting the project started by donating 25 iPads to the school.
Superintendent Kim Chrestman praised Washing-ton, who took a week off from his business, Valley Tool, Inc., to raise funds for the project. The goal is to get much needed technology into the local system faster so that students can prepare for the changing state standards.
First to speak was first grade teacher Skye James, who explained that youngsters in her class are motivated to complete their work so that they can use the iPads for other lessons. “It holds their interest,” she said. “It really helps them to stay focused. And, it motivates them to do well.”
James noted that she has obtained a number of educational applications from the Internet at no cost.
When she opened the floor for questions, Washington asked if iPads had the impact that she had hoped for. James enthusiastically said they had.
Washington also took a moment to recognize second grade teacher Christie Lowery, who originally put the idea out in the form of a request on Donors Choice. com, an online charity site that gives public school teachers from all over America a place to request help with classroom projects.
Kindergarten teacher Charla Stark was next and she emphasized that having the devices has made her students more responsible. They are learning their skills, she continued, and learning to take turns.
She added that this is only October and many of her students are already doing advanced work that last year’s students weren’t doing until January. “I really think it is going to help improve our test scores.”
The final presenter was second grade teacher Melissa Burrell who said that her students already know how to do the passcode, bring up the accelerated reading application, log themselves in and type in the title of their book. “They are much better at this than I am,” she joked.
“We’re in a technology age and it is changing constantly,” Burrell said and explained that some of her students don’t have access to a computer at home except for their parents’ phones and they are often on limited minutes. But, with the introduction of the iPads, they are learning how to use computers.
Another skill that the iPad is helping with is typing proficiency, according to Burrell. “They have to type in a story by the time they are fourth or fifth grade. Just typing their spelling words, they are getting experience.”
Board President Lamar Burgess thanked the teachers and said, “Your enthusiasm is just mind blowing. I do appreciate what you do. And, we really appreciate what Casey (Washington) has done to ultimately benefit the community.”
“Keep up the good work,” he concluded. “And, keep asking for stuff.”
Later in the meeting, the board accepted an additional $2,500 for technology from an anonymous donor.  
The project to acquire iPads and other advanced technology is ongoing and tax deductible contributions can be sent to:
WVSD Technology Fund
PO Box 663
Water Valley, MS 38965
Receipts will be mailed to the remit address, according to Washington.
For additional information, contact Washington at 473-3066 (Valley Tool, Inc.), or Superintendent Kim Chrestman at the school district office, 473-1203.

School Board Approves Transfers For Students Enrolled In Neighboring Districts

By Jack Gurner

WATER VALLEY – The school board has approved the transfer of 13 students from the district to schools in the surrounding area.
The transfers took place earlier in the year and were granted to students whose parents are employed by the other school districts, according to Superintendent Kim Chrestman. Mississippi Code 37-15-31 also requires that the transfers be approved by the board and spread upon the minutes.
Three of the students were released to attend school in the Lafayette County School District; eight were released to the Oxford School District and two to the Grenada School District.
The WVHS student handbook states that the Water Valley School District will not transfer students to another school district. The only exception, according to the handbook, will be if there is a medical condition that warrants the transfer. However state law states: “Upon the petition in writing of any parent or guardian who is a resident of Mississippi and is an instructional or licensed employee of a school district, but not a resident of such district, the school board of the employer school district shall consent to the transfer of such employee’s dependent school-age children to its district and shall spread the same upon the minutes of the board.”
By law, Mississippi Adequate Education Program funds leave the district and follow the student to the new district.
At the same time, board trustees approved the transfers from the local district, they also approved a transfer of one student to the district from Calhoun County.
Among other actions at the school board meeting Monday, Oct. 6, trustees heard the superintendent’s report. Chrestman told board members that Davidson Elementary School had their first character breakfast Oct. 3 with Larry Taylor, the new boys’ basketball coach at WVHS, as the keynote speaker.
The superintendent also reported that October is “Safe Schools” month. DES held a program in cooperation with the Yalobusha County Extension Service on Monday for 4th, 5th and 6th grade students about cyber bullying and the dangers of social media.
The Lady Blue Devil Volleyball team is on a roll with three, three-game sweeps in a row to add division wins to the season total, Chrestman noted.  “One more win secures a playoff spot for the Lady Blue Devils.  Congratulations to Coach Clouse, Coach Metzger and the girls as the season draws to a close.”  
The revival of cross-country at WVHS has been very exciting to team members, their families, the coaches and the student body, Chrestman said.  “Our Junior High runners have experienced a lot of success early own with four top finisher awards to date.  On Saturday Lillian Lindsey had a first place finish at the New Albany Dawg Trails meet in New Albany.”  
The superintendent thanked parents who attended Principal’s Questions last Monday evening, Sept. 29, where testing and examinations proved to be the topics of interest.  Principal’s Questions is scheduled again in January. Principal Glenn Kitchens is on Twitter @wvprincipal for school information regarding events and occasional information from the school day.
Chrestman also thanked everyone for their support over the last week as the senior class, student body and faculty worked through the process of preparing for life without Noah Smith.  
A final tribute was held on Friday evening before the Water Valley/Charleston football game with his family, the seniors and our community.  “Noah will be missed at WVHS,” Chrestman reported.

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