9/21 - 09/27

September 21st - September 27th

Julie Lythcott-Haim delivers a pertinent message
Last Monday at Houston High School, parents poured into the auditorium for a very special event. Julie Lythcott-Haim, acclaimed author, stopped by Germantown on her nationwide book tour. Her message about the dangers of ‘helicopter parenting’ is one that hits home for many parents in the area. Read all about the people who made this event possible, by clicking here.

I.C. Hope, a unique duck puppet, visits Riverdale
Sundra Harris from Mental Health America of Middle TN also made time to visit GMSD last week. Over a period of two weeks, Harris shared valuable information about positive mental health through storybooks with grades K-3rd at Riverdale Elementary School. In tow, her organization’s mascot, I.C. Hope—a duck with a band-aid—made the lessons more accessible to the students. I.C. Hope reminds the children, “ If there is a problem you cannot manage on your own, reach out for help and don’t DUCK mental health”. For more information on local mental health support groups, seminars for care givers, and up-coming diet, exercise, and behavior health seminars occurring locally, check out their website.
FES students elect their future leaders
Fourth and fifth graders at Farmington Elementary School learned a valuable lesson in civic responsibility as they listened to campaign speeches orated by their classmates in preparation for a student council election. Platforms ranged from more heavy hitting issues like school start times and locks on the bathroom doors. Read more about the elections here.
School board meeting honors students and teachers
September’s School Board Business meeting took place at Riverdale Elementary School. Click here to view the agenda from the meeting. Or, click here to view the video recording; Part 1 and Part 2. Jayna Choi, Khushi Patel, and six National Merit Semi-finalists were recognized for being the outstanding students of the month.
Click here to read the full report about this month’s outstanding employees. Andrea Little, Rob Legault, Dana Washington, Michael Ruiz, and the twenty-five teachers who recently received tenure were all honored. To view the photo album, click here.

FES art takes home 2nd place at the Delta Fair
FES art teacher, Bekah Laurenzi, closes all of her emails with this quote:
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up,” said Pablo Picasso.  How true that is! Take some time to appreciate some of the art coming out of Farmington that goes above and beyond.

Ava Goings took 2nd place at the fair for this painting. Click here to view all of the works.
Grizz visits Riverdale
Students in Lauren Owsley’s fifth grade homeroom found a pleasant surprise at school Thursday morning. Katie DeRosia, the recent winner of a “Grizz Appearance” from a raffle charity decided to use the prize appearance for her son’s entire classroom. “She wanted to surprise her son Drew, who is in our class,” explains Owsley. “She wanted to share the opportunity with more children, which is why they chose to host the event during the school day.”

The Grizz stopped by and signed autographs and t-shirts following a speech about the importance of school attendance and community spirit.

Owsley believed the experience itself to illustrate the latter perfectly. “He connected our students and our school with the larger Memphis community—which is important to expose them to.”
After the event happened, Sunday afternoon, Owsley sat down to catch up her emails. “The mother of another student had nothing but positive things to say,” she said, “The excitement of his appearance had lasted all through weekend for that particular student, and that is what we want—for our students to go home talking about how amazing school is.”  To view more photographs from the visit, click here.

Service Leadership—Cathey and Woody in the cafeteria
Joshua Cathey, our Chief of Operations, and Jessica Woody, assistant principal of HMS, had something in common last week. In a pinch, both persons grabbed a hair net and headed into our cafeterias to assist in a time of need. Cathey, a graduate of Christian Brothers University, is a happy steward of their ‘Service Leadership’ teachings. “A good leader is there to serve,” he says. On Thursday, the cafeteria in Farmington Elementary School was understaffed so didn’t hesitate to jump right in.

Simultaneously at Houston Middle School, the cafeteria staff also found themselves short staffed. Woody noticed that the sixth grade lunch line was “exceptionally long”. Taking matters into her own hands she decided to assist by working the slushie machine—requiring gloves and a hairnet. “It takes a village, right? I had a great time serving our sixth graders!” echoes Woody.
HHS Choir Performance
Last Thursday, after weeks preparing students for an upcoming choir competition, Dr. Billy Rayburn and Houston High hosted an evening with the choirs.
"It was a nice crowd. The performance showed the depth of the choral program as selections ranged from "The King Shall Rejoice" by Handel all the way to an Acapella arrangement of current pop tune "Honey I'm Good", says audience member Ann Lowery.
Over the weekend, students from the program battled it out at All-West Auditions. See the list of the selected students by clicking here.
HHS Big Orange Bus Tour
University of Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek visited Houston high school Friday. The visit to HHS mirrored a pep rally, complete with free UT T-shirts and oversized cutouts of Tennessee coach Butch Jones' and former Vol Peyton Manning's heads. Click here to read more about the event.

Lunch with Commissioner McQueen
An invitation only luncheon with Education Commissioner Candace McQueen included a who’s who of Memphis area politicians and educational leaders. Our Superintendent, Jason Manuel was included on the elusive guest list along with Teresa Price, Director of Academic Advancement, Germantown Alderman Mary Ann Gibson, School Board Members Natalie Williams and Linda Fisher, FES Past PTA President Paula Johnson, Farmington 3rd grade Teacher and SCORE representative Tammy Wilson, and State Senator Brian Kelsey.  McQueen used the luncheon as a platform to explain the new, higher rigor of TNReady.

HHS celebrates teachers at the Football Game
Houston High School Senior football players honored their favorite teachers underneath the Friday night-lights for their annual Teacher Appreciation Night. Each senior player selected a teacher who had been most important to him or her. The students' remarks were read to the fans between quarters as the teachers came onto the field and received a commemorative t-shirt.  In addition, HHS staff and faculty enjoyed a BBQ dinner from the Germantown Commissary.

Those honored on the field included:

Steve Bell
Tim Boyer
Leslie Brommer
Ashley Coates
Sue Domek
Drew Hamilton
Craig Juneau
Tom Kolodziej
Torie Jordan
Matt Parker
Martha Poole
Erin Purcell
Amy Ozment
Abigail Simone
Traci Spain
Chad Uhiren
Bike rodeo rounds up tiny future bicyclists
Saturday, teachers and members of our school board gathered to teach children about bicycle safety. The bike rodeo, an annual affair organized by Farmington Elementary School Assistant Principal Virginia Hart, accommodated 26 student participants. The students rotated through stations where they had their helmets and tire pressure checked. GPD Officer Mike Maggipinto was on hand to demonstrate the use of hand signals for cyclists. Popular stops amongst students were the obstacle course and the paper toss, which simulated what it would be like to be a newspaper carrier. During the last portion of the event, school board members Natalie Williams and Linda Fisher served the attendees water and popsicles!  Click here to view the photo album.

'Riverdale Cleanup' tidies up the campus, builds community
Each year, Riverdale Elementary hosts three “cleanup” days. “We have three per year, fall, spring and late July,” says Assistant Principal Michelle Bardos. Last Saturday, parents, teachers and several student volunteered spruced up things around the school. The team built a path and lined it with flower beds, pruned bushes, re-sealed picnic tables, and planted/tended the flower and vegetable beds.

“Houston High School Honors Academy and Key Club came out in full force to assist,” continues Bardos.Riverdale’s Environmental Club sponsors the outdoor workdays. The club sponsors are Joelle Dodge, Tanya Dodson and Stacy Stevens.

HHS Pom Squad cheers on St. Jude
“It was such a cool thing to be a part of this weekend,” says Madison Mewborn, an HHS pom member. The pom squad had a "cheer station" to cheer on the runners and walkers at the 5K event over the weekend.

"It was great to be there to show our support for our teammate, Allie Allen, and all of the other kids that St. Jude helps."

The pom squad cheering on the runners capped off a great couple of days in which the Houston High Student Government Association sold "Round 2" shirts to support Allie, and the Pom and Cheer girls walked the stands during the football game and collected around $1500 for St. Jude. “It is just wonderful to see our community "Rallie for Allie", beamed Mewborn.

The Houston Band named Grand Champions
Also over the weekend, The Houston Band was named Grand Champion, which is the overall winner, out of a field of 19 bands from around the region, at the Conquistador Classic in Olive Branch. Winning 12 other trophies, the high school band also earned; first place for drum majors, first place in their division, first place in their class, and first place in the Gold Division (several classes together). Houston had the largest band at the competition. Band booster Sherri Sands remarked, “We had quite a presence on the field!”

A little closer to home, Houston Middle Band Director Spencer Nesvick and his 7th and 8th grade Pep Band performed alongside the award winning band at the HHS football game. Getting ready for the transition from Pep to Marching Band next month, the 113 member band (92 players and 21 dancers) are preparing for a big performance in the Germantown Parade.
HMS staff Goes Ape!
“Our fearless leader gave us a challenge,” says Katoria Williams, a sixth grade social studies at Houston Middle School. Their fearless leader? Liz Dias, who made our District news last week for implementing a new motivator, “The Random Act of Cake Kindness (RACK)”, is at in again. This week, she encouraged her staff to participate in “National Live Life Adventurously Day”. Dias, accordingly, organized a weekend field trip to the local treetop/ropes course, Go Ape.

“A little boy on the ground encouraged me to take the leap while co-workers across from me on another platform added that the thrill is worth it and I should just go for it,” quips Williams.
Last Friday, these images of the HMS staff playing a giant JENGA game after school also went out on social media. Dias and her administration team are working hard to instill high morale and a real sense of community among the faculty.

“I think that often teachers forget how “comfortable” we are in our skin, our daily interactions with students. Yet, we ask, expect, and require them to do things that may be out of their norm or at least seems to be for them. Sometimes you have to do something different to get something different,” continues Williams.  See more photographs of the faculty ‘going ape’ here.

View text-based website