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Patrick County schools to involve parents more
Thursday, August 9, 2012
By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
(Editor’s note: This is the second part of a series of stories previewing the opening of schools next week.)
Patrick County schools are putting more focus on parents and making it easier for them to be involved in their child’s education in the new school year that will start Tuesday.
First, a new parent portal will be launched this school year so parents can view their child’s grades online, according to Dean Gilbert, assistant superintendent for Patrick County schools.
The parent will be able to access only their child’s information, he said.
The portal will allow for better communication between the student, parent and teacher; if a parent is aware of his child’s grades, then he is more likely to intervene if the grades begin to drop, he added.
Tammy Wood, kindergarten teacher at Meadows of Dan Elementary School, said she feels the new parent portal is important because “we want parental involvement, and we want them to be an active partner” in their child’s education, she said. “We need to be a team.”
Parents who homeschool their children are receiving more attention this year as well. The school system is piloting a virtual school program called Patrick County Virtual Academy, which offers online courses for kindergarten through second-grade homeschooled students, according to Robin Ferguson, instructional specialist and administrator for the program.
The school system will be reaching out to parents of homeschooled children across the state to enroll them. The goal is not to take away from the traditional public school setting but to get homeschooled students back into public school criteria and curriculum, Ferguson said.
Students in the program will have a comprehensive curriculum. To enroll, each student must meet the same state criteria that is required of Patrick County students, such as physicals and proof of residence. The school system will provide the student with books needed for the courses, and a licensed teacher is assigned to each student to provide support and guidance, according to Ferguson.
The online school is in partnership with K12 Inc. Students are being recruited for the program, and the goal is to have 150 students signed up by the end of the first week of school, Ferguson said.
Also this year, there will be a new teacher evaluation system in which 40 percent of a teacher’s rating is based on their students’ achievement, Gilbert said.
In addition, demolition has been completed on Meadows of Dan Elementary, which was destroyed by an electrical fire two days after classes started last August. Construction of a new 26,000-square-foot school is expected to begin this fall.
Until it is completed, students will continue to attend classes in mobile units, according to Dr. Karen Wood, director of instruction for Patrick County Schools.
Tammy Wood found that watching the demolition was bittersweet, but she knows it will lead “to something better,” she said.
“We can’t wait to start seeing the new school go up,” she added.
Wood said she is excited for the school year to start because she feels that teachers and staff are now more used to teaching in the mobile units and are more adjusted to the changed routine.
No other construction or renovation projects were done over the summer and no more are planned for the school system, Karen Wood said.
This year, the school system has hired 15 new employees, including teachers, maintenance workers, speech therapists and guidance counselors, Gilbert said, adding that the school system still is interviewing to fill 11 other positions.
All teaching positions will be filled by the time school begins, Gilbert said.