10/25 - 11/1

October 25th - November 1st

Officer Bonds aids in Dogwood’s PTA Donation Drive
PTA’s across the district often find creative ways to garner more participation in donation drives which offset the need for sales based fundraisers. Each year, staff members are seen doing all kinds of wild things as incentives for the sake of our PTAs, but last week School Resource Officer Randy Bonds may have taken the cake. To encourage participation in Dogwood Elementary’s PTA donation drive, Officer Bonds pledged to wear a tutu and dance for the student body if the exceeded 75% participation. Consequently, the students made it to an astounding 81% and Bonds, being a wonderful sport and a man of his word, led the student body in the Whip and Nae Nae while wearing this outrageous costume.

GMSD represents TN school leaders at the LEAD conference in Nashville
Hosted by the Tennessee Department of Education, the annual LEAD Conference gives school and district leaders a chance to share and discuss effective practices happening in Tennessee schools. The theme of this year's conference is "Making Sure ALL Tennessee Students are Promise Ready." GMSD had a strong representation amongst the TN leaders. District office staff members Melissa Hurt and Missy Abel were in attendance along with school administrators Liz Dias, Jessica Woody, and Michael Ruiz. GMSD Academic Director Teresa Price led a presentation along with Dr. Lee Ann Kight of Bartlett City Schools, while Susan Pittman and Heather Fischer, two administrators from Dogwood, also led a session together.  As one of twelve exemplary districts, we were expected to share some of our very best practices.
Another School Board Business Meeting is on the books
October’s board meeting honored winning students in the Big Read Art Contest (click here for those individual names and their winning works) as well as Antonio Scott, November’s Student in the Spotlight. Besides the usual business, it was also decided that Farmington and Dogwood Elementary School would be receiving an additional guidance counselor, shared between the two schools. Two staff members were also recognized at the meeting for pursuing “excellence, always”:
Mr. John Maness, English Teacher at HHS
A District Office staff member evaluated his classroom last week and witnessed an amazing lesson: Students in his class were experiencing Shakespeare through Hip Hop movement. This is high quality of innovative and exciting teaching happening in our classrooms.
Melanie Moss, SPED Coordinator at RES
Ms. Moss received so many awards last week that she was unable to attend the meeting—she was at City Hall that evening accepting “Teacher of the Month” from the Germantown Education Commission. Last weekend, it was also announced that she will be receiving the Lori M. Siegal Partners in Progress Award from the Mid South Down Syndrome Society. Her dedication to her students throughout the years is nothing short of exceptional. It is also worth mentioning that she serves as the teacher sponsor for the Riverdale Raiders Theater, who just closed on their amazing fall production, Into the Woods Jr.
Click here to view the Work Session (in which our board discusses the issues) here.
Click here to watch the Business Meeting (in which our board votes/decides on the issues) here.
Jenn Prather earns her National Board Certification
Congratulations are in order to Jenn Prather, who earned National Board Certification last week. National Board Certification is a well respected professional certification available in education and provides numerous benefits to teachers, students and schools. It was designed to develop, retain and recognize accomplished teachers and to generate ongoing improvement in schools nationwide. Prather is a teacher at Dogwood Elementary School.
Germantown Municipal Schools impress at Neighborhood Summit
Germantown’s annual Neighborhood Summit took place in the Great Hall last Tuesday. GMSD represented the neighborhood schools in full force. Superintendent Jason Manuel delivered a quick overview of some of the things that GMSD has done. Stephanie Brockway, Executive Director of the Germantown Education Foundation also delivered a good message about giving back to the schools. Then, the Houston Middle School Band delivered a fabulous performance to the crowd. Click here to watch the band’s performance. Or, click here to read more about the meeting via the Commercial Appeal.
GMSD Baby Boom!
The pitter-patter of little Dolphins will soon grace the District. Last week, DES hosted an unusual baby shower for four of their teachers who are all due the same week.
On the subject of new arrivals, Elissa Stratton, GMSD Director of Human Resources, recently compiled this slideshow of babies recently born to GMSD staff members. Prepare for adorable.

Central Office Staff samples cafeteria food
In their first of the “Power Lunch” series, the central office staff began visiting the schools last week and will make the rounds over the next few months—visiting each of our revamped cafeterias. They visited Houston High School to sample the new pizza and taco bar facilities last week. “I’m still dreaming about pizza and fresh garden salad, and I suffered from some food envy!” said Elissa Stratton about wanting to go back to try out the taco bar. The next “Power Lunch” is tentatively scheduled for November 12th at Houston Middle School.  To view full photo album, click here.

Math Night rescheduled to December 3rd
Math teachers across the district have united to present the merits of Eureka and Springboard Math to our stakeholders. The change to the new TN math standards as well as our adoption of new textbook series has presented us with the challenge of fully developing conceptual understanding along with procedural fluency and application. In an effort to explain the changes and inform parents of all of the available supports, many teachers have rallied and are excitedly planning Team Up For Math, a district-wide, tailgate themed curriculum night devoted to mathematics. After some general presentations, attendees will be ushered into grade level groups being led by exemplary teachers and students in math exercises that best demonstrate some of the innovative strategies in both Eureka and Springboard. Teachers who are interested in joining the team should contact Melissa Hurt  to become involved. PD credit is available for those who attend planning meetings/the event. Please help spread the word to your K-8 students about the opportunity.
The Manipulatives are in!
In other math news, the manipulatives have arrived. The curriculum department spent the week delivering all of the new math materials—something like a mathematical toy bonanza.
Melissa Hurt models the one of the new manipulatives, “The Rekenrek—not your grandma’s abacus”.
Big Read 3-D Art Contest Winners announced
In conjunction with the Big Read, the GMSD Technology Department offered a 3-D printing design contest. Congratulations to Bjarka Ciaramitaro, Jordan Dawe, Kate Ellery, Caroline Guild, Yuka Kimura, Ali Marie Randolph, and Madison Skaggs of Houston Middle School. The winning designers were able to see their schematics come to fruition.
State-Level Recognition for some of our GMSD family last week
Jessica Minton, a teacher at Riverdale, was announced as one of five state finalists for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.
At the 2015 Tennessee Association for Health, Physical Ed, Recreation, and Dance (TAHPERD) Convention in Nashville, two of our own were awarded a plaque because Dogwood was 1st place in donations for Jump Rope for the Heart in all of Tennessee. Dolphins, Angela Duke Martin and Dana Dunn Guntharp, were honored for raising $27,550—a staggering $9,398 more than the second place winner.
Scientifically Scary Pumpkin Patch
“You won’t even recognize it,” says HHS Librarian David Underwood about the library. Each year, he and science teacher Imogene Canady transform the circulation library at the high school into a spooky pumpkin patch. “Science teachers get together and create content-related assignments for their students in the form of a pumpkin carving,” explains Underwood. Anatomy students may carve the heart and all of its chambers—or an anatomically correct ribcage. Meanwhile, Canady’s chemistry students carve a pumpkin to accompany a report about a specific element on the Periodic Table. In another science class, students use the pumpkin-carving event to represent a famous scientist—complete with a research board as well.
“This pumpkin patch is such a fun, reoccurring event,” says Principal Kyle Cherry. The pumpkin patch was open all day for students to stop by. For a small fee, individual students could tour the library. At half of the price, each student in an entire class could tour the library. The proceeds are then donated to St. Jude. This year, the SGA and science department generated $630 in charitable funds. In conjunction with the school wide effort to Rally for Allie, St. Jude was chosen as the charity this year.  For a full picture album, click here.
DES Book Fair hosted its annual book fair last week
The theme of their annual book fair was, The Magic of Reading. Based on the City of Germantown's big read, The Wizard of Earthsea, magic seemed to be a great fit. Prior to the fair, students participated in Scholastic's All for Books program. This is a charitable event where the students donate change benefitting both Dogwood and providing books to children and schools in need. This year, the Dolphins held a spirited competition between the girls and boys and raised about $2,500.00!
Evening activities included a performance by the fabulous Splash Choir, a quest for treasure, as well as dinner provided by local food trucks. Sales from the evening totaled approximately $23,000.00.
DES hosts its annual Mad Science Day
In another Halloween and science pairing, Dogwood fifth graders were treated to an afternoon of “science lab classics” around the school. Creating slime, bridge structures with toothpicks, bubble-ology, hair-raising static electricity, and Mentos bottle geysers filled the cafeteria.
Students, dressed as scientists with crazy hair and lab coats, have been looking forward to the event for years. An annual tradition at DES, students anticipate to fifth grade year in which the fabled Mentos explosion takes place!
SGA hosts West TN Leadership Conference
Student councils, student governments, and other student leadership teams from all over West TN gathered once again to attend this year’s West TN Leadership Conference. For the second consecutive year, Houston High School’s SGA hosted the event.
Housed in the youth facility of Bellevue Baptist Church HHS students (in celebration of Halloween) wearing costumes greeted all of the arriving students. Olivia Brommer, an HHS senior officiated the entire event. Read more about the event and Brommer by clicking here.
Over the Weekend
Mustang Girls soccer takes the state championship
In probably the best opening line in light of the history--the Commercial Appeal when describing our HS girl’s soccer team states, “Vengeance, thy name is Houston High”. The girl’s soccer team, under the direction of Coach David Wolff, has garnered six state championship titles. For the past three years, the girls have only lost one game. That game, as it so happened, was lost to Maryville last year at the state championship. This year, they faced off with Maryville for a second this time—this time defeating them and returning home with the championship.  Click here to read the story in the CA.
Coach Wolff, also this weekend, was named one of six coaches for the All-American Girls Soccer Team. A huge national honor for this dedicated coach and teacher—he was so humble about it he preferred we keep the focus on “the girls” who are the reason, he says, behind his success.
Gabby Little, senior and HHS soccer player for the now No. 1 team in the nation (according to MaxPreps), also joins Coach Wolff on the All-American team in December. One of forty of the nation’s elite girl’s high school soccer players from the fall season—she was chosen to represent the Mustangs and will make the journey to Raleigh, NC for the Annual High School All-American Game.
Cross Country sweeps Region 8-AAA championships
The Houston High Girls and Boys Cross Country teams both took first place in the regional meet at Shelby Farms over the weekend. Congratulations to Michelle Myers with a time of 18:57, and to Christopher Rayder, who finished with a time of 15:39. With the victory in tow, both teams advance to the State Championships in Nashville next weekend.  Read about all of their success in the Commercial Appeal.
Falcon Fest pulls out all the stops
Farmington Elementary celebrated the fall semester with their fourth annual Falcon Fest. Several vendors and a large silent auction sold wares in the gym while games and activities took over the parking lot. All in the name of raising money for the PTA, a good time was had by all. Especially popular in the parking lot, the children could donate tickets to Silly String their favorite teachers and administrators. School Board member Natalie Williams stopped by the event and had this to say, “What an incredible event! We had a great time. [This event] is always a team effort with great leadership. The balloon animals and all the new games were a huge hit!
Cheer and Pom compete at regionals over the weekend
HHS Pom took second place, and was proud of the hard work all of the girls invested. Pom squad member Heather Foreman remarked, "When we walked off the floor, we were all hugging each other. We danced so hard and gave all we had and even everybody in the stands could tell". The squad, she says, is now tweaking their routine in preparation for the big state competition.  Meanwhile, HHS Cheer took first place in their division. Lisa Williamson, a parent supporter said, “This year has been a great start. We have our returning coach Chris Crabtree and a new co-coach Ryan Jackson. With such great coaches and a strong team, it looks like this year will be a great cheer year”.  The cheer squad advances to MTSU in November for the TSSAA state competition.
At the middle school level, both the HMS Pom and Cheer squads also took second place at the regional competitions. All of the GMSD teams have earned bids for the State and National competitions. Teacher sponsor Betsy Spurlock said, “The Germantown area really produces some amazing children. We have so much talent on our team—and we are fortunate to have amazing coaches”.
November’s Spotlight on Excellence now online
The District’s monthly television show, filmed and produced in the state-of-the-art HHS television studio, is undergoing a format overhaul. The show will now feature one exemplary student in the “Student Spotlight, one above par teacher in the “Teacher Feature”, and highlight one program in the district.
Our November installment features HHS student Ben Leonard in a discussion of STEM programming, Farmington Elementary third grade teacher Ashley Rotenberry on the merits of the Eureka Math series, and an examination of the changes in the mathematics curriculum with GMSD Director of Academics, Teresa Price. If you have any suggestions for future Student Spotlights, Teacher Features, or Programs, please email Kate Crowder.

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