Pelham Board of Education approves next two academic calendars, focuses attention on recent successes

Published 12:44 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2024

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By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

PELHAM – During a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 27, the Pelham Board of Education unanimously approved the 2024-2025 and the 2025-2026 academic school year calendars.

“This year, the committee’s process was a little bit unique when compared to past years,” said Floyd Collins, assistant superintendent of Pelham City Schools. “This was an opportunity for us to help our community with better planning not only for the upcoming school year but the year after.”

The calendar making process involved input from principals and teachers at PCS and focused on receiving input ahead of time rather than after first drafts of the calendars to ensure that the process was more expedient and smoother than in previous years.

“There was a lot of dialogue back and forth and a lot of give and take,” Collins said. “Overall, the process was very good. I was very pleased with the process and would like to thank Dr. Ledbetter for the opportunity to try a new and unique challenge.”

Both calendars were unanimously approved by the Board, with the only provision being that edits to the 2025-2026 calendar will be required when the state releases future testing dates.

“I know this was a new process to do two years at a time, but it does give our parents the opportunity to make long term plans for things like vacations,” Superintendent Chuck Ledbetter said. “(It helps) knowing when kids are out of school so that they can get better pricing and things like that. I think it’s good and user-friendly for our parents.”

A new position was also created as the result of a vote during the meeting for the role of student services supervisor. Previously, aspects of the role were filled on a part-time basis by “operations and facilities point of contact” and former PHS Principal Bob Lavett who is retiring.

“Words cannot express my gratitude toward this man,” Collins said. “First of all, he is the one that hired me as an assistant principal some 12 years ago at Pelham High School. I want to thank him for changing the trajectory of my life.”

Collins described the job that Lavett had been filling as having grown more detailed and warranting of a full-time position with the school system, a sentiment that Ledbetter also shared.

“While this is a new position it is an expansion rather than a new job,” Ledbetter said. “The position will be posted after the position is approved, then we will go through our hiring process after it has been posted for 14 days.”

Additionally, the Board moved to approve an amendment related to pricing as part of the agreement for educational staffing and substitute services provided by Kelly Services, Inc.

Throughout the course of the meeting, the Board also received three presentations from members of Pelham City Schools, with the first focusing on Panther Pride. That first presentation, presented by Nicole Knight, communications manager for PCS, focused on recent successes the school system has seen in the realms of leadership, academics, arts and athletics.

Student leaders of the month were shown and recognized from Pelham Oaks Elementary School, while the Pelham Ridge Elementary School Pawsitive Leaders of the Month were also recognized. Pelham Park Middle School contributed photos of their student honorees and Pelham High School displayed their Pelham Way Leaders of the Month.

“Those (recipients) are nominated by anyone in the school,” Knight said. “They see good things happening and can highlight people that are exhibiting characteristics of the Pelham way. They can be nominated and have them chosen for these awards.”

Knight also highlighted Pelham High School’s Green and Gold program, which received its own presentation later in the evening presented by Sabrina Tutchtone, assistant principal of Pelham High School. That program was recently recognized by the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools through their recognition of Pelham High School with the Banner School Award.

“We had a great opportunity for our Pelham High School administrators who were able to go to San Diego this past month and present our Green and Gold program to a national audience of superintendents from across the country at the Superintendents Association Conference,” Knight said. “We are really excited for them having that opportunity.”

The Green and Gold Program serves to create greater educational value for students that extends beyond the classroom by preparing students for college and future careers. It offers a focus related to soft skills development and seeks to give students the competitive edge as they enter the workforce and potentially pursue higher education.

During Tutchtone’s presentation, she detailed how the Green and Gold Program distinguishes 10 indicators that the school works toward to achieve success in their students:

  •  Attendance – Students should seek to have no more than 5 absences per year.
  •  Behavior – No Class 2 referrals per the code of conduct.
  •  GPA – Students should attain a 3.0 GPA or higher.
  •  Rigorous Coursework – Students should pursue the advanced academic diploma.
  •  CTE Credentials/CCRI – Students should attain a CTE Credential during schooling.
  •  Extra Curricular – Every Student should be involved in an extra-curricular activity.
  •  Clubs – All students should join a Green and Gold club at PHS.
  •  Work Experience – Students should hold a job before graduating from high school.
  •  Military – If not planning to join the work force or seek higher education, students can also join the United States military.
  •  Testing Qualifier – All students should attain a benchmark ACT score, AP qualifying score, dual enrollment qualifier, etc.

On the instructional front, Knight also detailed that PCS instructional team members recently participated in the Coaching to Increase Engagement course as part of the system’s involvement with the Schlechty Center’s Standard-Bearer School District Network.

“This is an initiative and program that is highly focused on developing coaching skills and mindsets for the purpose of supporting the growth of teachers and staff,” Knight said. “It is a very intense program with 21-plus hours over the course of seven weeks. Pelham City Schools was the only Alabama system selected for involvement in this spring cohort.”

In the area of academics, PCS’ efforts toward career and technical education were specifically highlighted for a number of successes that included 25 second-year health sciences students earning their OSHA-10 certifications and 10 fourth year health sciences students earning their National Patient Care Technician certifications.

“We’re really excited that those (10) students have now begun their internships at local healthcare centers,” Knight said. “That program is continuing to grow and moving in the direction that we want it to.”

The school’s television production class was also highlighted for receiving several first, second and third place awards at the Alabama Scholastic Press Association’s state convention. Those students received awards in categories such as Creative Broadcast Video, Broadcast Directing, Sports Broadcast News Anchor, Broadcast News Anchor, Broadcast News Story and several others. The overall broadcast of Panther Playback also received honorary recognition at the event.

Other successes highlighted in Knight’s presentation were:

  • The school’s engineering CTE program achieving recent success, with the boys and girls teams making it to the quarterfinals.
  • Third grader Joelle McCord winning the Pelham Ridge Elementary spelling bee and going on to compete in a regional competition against 8th graders.
  • Fifth grader Pablos Aragon, from Pelham Ridge, winning first place in the local and district Cahaba Valley Elks Lodge Essay Contest for his essay on Americanism.
  • Sophomore Lucas Kalba of PHS winning both the area and district level American Legion Oratorical Contest competitions.
  • PHS’ Scholars Bowl team winning the district tournament with a 5-0 record and Senior Conner McDonald achieving the highest score of all players in the tournament.
  • Hadley Walker of Pelham Oaks achieving third place in category 2 of the K-2 division of the State Superintendents Art Show. Santiago Manriquez achieved honorable mentions in the same competition.
  • PHS students making up five of the 50 students represented in the Alabama District and All State Bands. And 19 students being selected as part of the University of Montevallo’s Honor Band.
  • PHS wrestling achieving fifth place in the South Section Tournament with six wrestlers qualifying for the state tournament.
  • The PHS girls basketball team making it to the Elite 8 for the third year in a row.
  • Tyler Mason and Will McGough’s performances with the PHS track team.
  • Individual girls and boys All-State accomplishments in several indoor track events.

Following the conclusion of Knight’s recognitions, Chief Academic Officer Shannon Bogert also provided a presentation that highlighted the great deal of progress that had been achieved in Pelham in the decade since the school system’s inception.

“Miss Knight was worried that the presentation would take too long,” Ledbetter said. “I told her that we are always happy to take time to see the good things that are happening (in our schools).”

Knight further described the long list of successes seen over the past few months as “the tip of the iceberg.”

“It speaks to our teachers and our administrators and all of the opportunities that our students have been given,” said Angie Hester, president of the Pelham Board of Education. “It just makes my heart so full to see how much they are thriving. The community outreach and the volunteerism at the elementary level is beautiful.”

During the meeting, the Pelham BOE also accepted 10 personnel actions that included five resignations, four employments and one personnel action that were not expounded upon during the meeting.

Also covered in the meeting were construction updates provided by Collins which included work being done on Pelham Oaks’ new playground, which is expected to be completed by the end of spring break.