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March 22, 2012 Issue

DAR seeks help
Georgia schools released from “No Child” rules
Collins named Glascock’s STAR student

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DAR seeks help

By Parish Howard
Editor/Publisher

In large part, it was their dedication to historical preservation that earned the John Franklin Wren Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution the deed to Milo Howard’s house 13 years ago.

Constructed in 1884, Howard Manor, located on U.S. Highway 1 in downtown Wrens, was the first residence built in the city after it incorporated.

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And while the structure remains one of the city’s few striking reminders of the past, the elements have not been kind to the house.

In 1907 the home narrowly escaped a neighboring fire, saved only by the efforts of a small boy who spread wet blankets across the roof, or so the story goes.

The Howards purchased the house in the 1920s and their son, Milo Jr., began hosting and catering the DAR chapter’s meetings shortly after it was formed in the 1960s.

Howard was a close friend of Emily Stone whose granddaughter, Beth Usry is the club’s current secretary.

“He basically left the DAR his home in her memory,” Usry explained. “He understood the club’s interest in preserving historical landmarks and sites and felt the house would be in good hands. Milo and my grandmother both shared a passion for antiques, historical preservation and patriotism.”

In 1999, just a few months after taking over upkeep after Howard’s death, another fire gutted the dining room and caused extensive smoke damage throughout the downstairs.

The club went to work immediately and remodeled the inside rooms. Several members lent a hand cleaning and repairing the home where they could.

For the last decade the club has held meetings and hosted gatherings at Howard Manor, which overlooks downtown Wrens.

But, both time and the weather take their toll on old homes like these, and now, this organization, which prides itself on supporting the preservation of historical documents and structures, is finding it hard to secure the financing needed to protect their own property.

According to Dollye Ward, the chapter’s first vice regent, its insurance provider has given notice that unless certain improvements are made, it stands to lose its liability coverage.

The work needed applies primarily to the exterior of the home, Ward said.

“We just literally haven’t had the funds to work on the outside of the house,” Usry said. “And now the average age of our members is 70-something. We just can’t get out there and do the work, paint and help out like we could even 10 years ago.”

Ward said the issues pointed out by the insurance company include the side porch, which has rotted through. Caution tape currently blocks off that entrance.

“We’re finding the foundation needs to be undergirded and propped up,” Usry said. “We need hand rails installed and the banisters need to come up to code. There is some brickwork that needs to be fixed.”

The porch’s flooring, both the plywood downstairs and the tongue in groove upstairs, needs to be replaced as it is falling apart and buckling in places. And while the house itself appears to be in good shape, the paint is falling from the porch’s banisters and ceilings in large, curling chips.

“It’s all for safety reasons,” Usry said. “Most of our members use the back door, but visitors when we hold other functions come in the front.”

Both Usry and Ward, and the club as a whole, feel that the porch of any grand Southern home is a key feature.

“In a small town, the porch is an important part of a house,” Usry said. “It’s where you sit and watch the world go by. It invites people in. It’s what lets you know if you want to come in or not. It’s where memories are made and where you meet with people and sit and solve the world’s problems.”

The insurance company has given them time to make the improvements in the good faith that they will work on it and they have started taking bids.

Usry said it appears the work required, if left entirely to professionally paid contractors, is likely to cost the club between $10,000 and $25,000.

“The majority of our dues go towards national and state dues,” Usry said. “We also have community projects we support and we don’t want everything we do to go towards keeping up the house. Right now, we just need help. Donations of money, labor, time, materials, whatever, we’ll take it.”

As the club has 501c3 status, Usry said any donations would be tax deductible.

Financial donations should be made out to the chapter and mailed, in care of Beth Usry, to 107 Quaker Road, Wrens, GA 30833.

Anyone interested in donating time, materials or labor, or with other questions, should contact Sharon Fleming, the chapter regent, at 706-547-6749.

On the national, state and local levels, the club supports a number of projects for veterans, education and historical preservation. The local club sponsors good citizens and essay contest that promote patriotism and citizenship.




Georgia schools released from “No Child” rules

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Pres. Barack Obama recently freed Georgia and nine other states from the strict and sweeping requirements of the No Child Left Behind law, giving leeway to states that promise to improve how they prepare and evaluate students.

The first 10 states to receive the waivers are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The only state that applied for the flexibility and did not get it, New Mexico, is working with the administration to get approval.

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A total of 28 other states, have said that they, too, plan to seek waivers.

No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math by 2014. Obama’s action strips away that fundamental requirement for those approved for flexibility, provided they offer a viable plan instead. Under the deal, the states must show they will prepare children for college and careers, set new targets for improving achievement among all students, reward the best performing schools and focus help on the ones doing the worst.

Last year, Obama called former Pres. George W. Bush’s plan admirable, but a flawed effort that hurt students instead of helping them. He said action was necessary because Congress failed to update the law despite widespread bipartisan agreement that it needs fixing.

No Child Left Behind was primarily designed to help the nation’s poor and minority children and was passed a decade ago with widespread bipartisan support. It has been up for renewal since 2007. But lawmakers have been blocked for years by competing priorities, disagreements over how much of a federal role there should be in schools and, in the recent Congress, partisan gridlock.

Many locally, statewide and nationwide have said that the 2014 deadline was unrealistic and unfair to students, teachers and schools. And it also showed that the United States is not close to the original goal, getting children to grade level in reading and math. With the rigid law, many schools were teaching to test and it also labeled many schools as failures. As the 2014 deadline approaches, more schools are failing to meet requirements under the law, with nearly half not doing so last year, according to the Center on Education Policy.

Under No Child Left Behind, schools that did not meet requirements for two years or longer faced increasingly tough consequences, including busing children to higher-performing schools, offering tutoring and replacing staff.

“It is a state waiver,” Jefferson County Assistant Superintendent Donnie Hodges said. “We are pleased about this. Now schools’ achievements will not ride all on one test.”

Hodges explained that it is that way for CRCT in elementary schools and the Georgia graduation test for high school.

“We feel it will give a better chance to show the whole picture than just one test,” she said. “Tests will still be in there, but there will be multiple measures to look at progress and growth. It is a fairer measure of our work and of what we are.”

The pressure has led to dishonest conduct in school systems as close as Atlanta, with cheating in the way teachers prepared students for tests.

“It takes the pressure off teachers and students to feel like everything rides on that one test,” Hodges said. “No Child Left Behind gave too much importance for that one test. If children are allowed to think critically with reading, writing and mathematics, then they will do well on tests.”

Hodges said the waiver was not easy to obtain, with the local school system receiving drafts of different proposals that the state was using in conversation with the federal government during the summer.

Around September, with the help of State School Superintendent John Barge, there was a final draft to submit to the federal government.

But the state is still in negotiations with the federal government on what changes will need to be made.

“We’re still getting things to them on how it all will work,” Hodges explained. “We are still not sure of what kind of report we will get this year. It is still a work in progress.”

Hodges did thank Barge, who she said was instrumental in getting Georgia’s waiver approved.

“He knew it would be difficult,” she said. “He seems very determined and has worked hard on this.”

“No Child Left Behind was a good beginning to accountability,” Barge said recently. “There are good pieces of No Child Left Behind, but there are also many shortcomings.”

Instead, the state this fall will begin measuring school success according to the College and Career Ready Performance Index. The accountability system will stop the teaching for the test mentality associated with No Child Left Behind, instead focusing on preparing students for the next level in their education and/or eventual career.

“Unintentionally, because everything rode on the test scores, we created an environment in many of our schools that the most important thing was passing the test,” Barge said.

The new index will be on a 0-100 scale, like a student’s report card. It is planning to be based on three individually weighted scores, student achievement which is 70 percent, yearly progress, which is 15 percent, and closing the achievement gap, which is 15 percent. The weights of each score are still unofficial.

Different indicators will be considered, focusing on whether a student is ready for the next level. In high school that may mean measuring how employable a student is. In elementary and middle school, it focuses on whether a student is ready for the next grade.

“We can teach children knowledge all day long, but unless we teach them what to do with that knowledge and how to act, then we haven’t prepared our children to be successful,” Barge said.

The biggest difference between the new index and No Child Left Behind, Barge said, is the way subgroups are counted. Previously, if a subgroup failed, then the whole school was subject to fail the Adequate Yearly Progress performance standard.

Subgroups are any 25 or more students within a school that share a common attribute including ethnicity/race, economically disadvantaged, disabilities and English language learners. Now, if a subgroup does not perform, it will be targeted and dealt with individually instead of reflecting on the entire school.

The state also will scrap the Georgia High School Graduation Test in favor of eight end of course tests.

Schools will still be categorized, based on how well they meet new standards.

The three federally mandated categories for the new way of schools being counted are as follows:

- Priority schools are in the bottom 5 percent based on student achievement. The schools must be classified as Title I.

- Focus schools are in the 10 percent of schools in the state that have the largest achievement gap between high needs learners and non-high needs learners. These schools cannot be on the priority schools list.

- Reward schools, also known as Title I Distinguished schools, are the top 5 percent of schools in the state.

The state also added one more category behind the federal mandate:

-Alert school, which can be a non-Title I school but shows poor numbers in one or more subgroups. Services and resources, both state and federal, can aid these schools along with priority and focus schools.

“If we were going to get a waiver, we needed to use their definitions for those three groups of schools,” Barge said.

Barge also recently released a list of Georgia Priority Schools, which does not include any school in Jefferson or Glascock counties, though schools in Richmond and Burke counties are.

Priority schools are a Tier I or Tier II school under the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program that is using SIG funds to implement a school intervention model; a Title I-participating high school with a graduation rate less than 60 percent over two years; or a Title I school in the State based on the lowest achievement of the “all students” group in terms of proficiency on the statewide assessments and has demonstrated a lack of progress on those assessments over three years in the “all students” group.




Collins named Glascock’s STAR student

By
Special Report

Ashton Marie Collins has been named the STAR student in the 2012 senior class at Glascock County Consolidated School.

The STAR student is the student in the senior class who scores the highest on the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test). The scores must also be equal to or greater than the national average on all three components of the exam, and the STAR candidate must rank in the top 10 percent of her senior class.

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In addition to being named STAR student, Collins was honored by her teachers this year by being chosen for “Who’s Who.” She was chosen by her senior class members as the “Most Creative” senior superlative and also serves as president of her senior class and editor of the yearbook staff. She is the reigning 2012 “Miss Panther.”

In addition, during her educational career at GCCS, Collins has participated in cheerleading, FBLA, FFA and Art Club. She was selected by the student body in both her 11th and 12th grade year to represent her class on the homecoming court. In her free time, she enjoys reading, drawing and tutoring younger students. She volunteers in a local food and clothing bank and participates in children’s outreach ministry.

Collins plans to attend the University of Georgia in the fall and study to become an occupational therapist. Her parents are Charles and Gina Roberts. She and her family reside in Mitchell and attend Holding Forth the Word of Life Ministry.

She chose Ann Cantrell as her STAR teacher.

“In the eight years that I have been at Glascock County Consolidated School, I have been guided, inspired and encouraged by many leaders,” Collins said. “There is one, however, that stands out the most; a leader whom I have grown to love, respect and cherish in my academic life, as well as my personal. She constantly strives to help students reach their full potential by going out of her way to provide what she believes is best for them. She always moves with great patience and seems to make time for everyone. This person exemplifies good character, along with a strong faith, and portrays that through her love and compassion for each student. These attributes, as well as many others, are why Mrs. Ann Cantrell deserves the honor of being named the 2012 STAR teacher.”

Cantrell taught Collins middle school science and has been in education for 18 years. For the past 13 she has been at GCCS, first teaching in middle school and now working as the guidance counselor and testing coordinator.

Cantrell received her undergraduate degree in middle grades education from Georgia College and State University and a Masters in school counseling from Augusta State University. She also holds school leadership certification from Georgia College and State University. She is married to Danny Cantrell, and they have three children- Aldon, Keri, and Allie- all who are students at GCCS.

“It has been such an honor working with Ashton watching her grow and mature into such a wonderful young lady,” Cantrell said. “When I first taught her in middle school she was very shy, timid, and unsure of herself. Now she is confident, bold, and determined. She is very grounded in her faith and is truly one of the most disciplined and unselfish young people I have ever known. It has been a real blessing for me to be a part of her life. I know without a doubt, that she will be successful in her future, and many lives will be changed for the better because of her influence.”







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