Carter Board hears raves over new K-2 reading success

John Thompson • Mar 9, 2017 at 9:54 PM

ELIZABETHTON — For the second time in recent weeks, the students of the Carter County School System will enjoy a longer weekend than planned because of epidemics that have led to high rates of absences for both students and faculty and staff.

Director of Schools Kevin Ward informed the School Board that schools will not be in session Friday and Monday. The plan is for the schools to reopen on Tuesday.

Ward said the decision was made on Thursday after the attendance rate fell from 84 percent in the morning to 80 percent in the afternoon. He said the new bout of illnesses is a combination of flu and strep.

Even with the two long weekends, the school system still has a stockpile of extra days that are normally needed to cover closings because of icy roads. Ward said the state Department of Education has said the school system can convert two of those stockpiled days into professional development days. He said the deadline for informing the state department of any converted days is April 15. He said a decision will be made late in March to make sure there are no more snows or ice storms to close the schools.

The board heard some good news on the guided reading instruction program that was instituted this year under the direction of contractor Beverly Tyner.

Enthusiastic teachers and principals told the board about the program’s success in improving the reading abilities of K-2 students.

Shelley Gouge, a first-grade teacher at Happy Valley Elementary School, said it was “an excellent program.”

Mike Miller, elementary supervisor for the school system, said he was worried at the start of the school year, as the program was just starting. 

“I thought this was going to be the worst year of my career,” Miller told the board. Instead, it has been one of his most pleasant.

Tyner presented the board with a report. She said she found the students to be smart and told the board they had “very good teachers.” Tyner said one thing that has amazed her is that she has not found one behavior problem with any of the students during her year in the school system.

Tyner said she has visited with each of the kindergarten, first- and second-grade teachers several times this year. During the earliest visits, she provided a model by teaching the classes. She has then coached the teachers and provided guidance.

Tyner will be back to conducting more visits next week, although Monday’s postponement will have an impact on her schedule.

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