It’s 2:15 on a Friday afternoon, a time of day when most students have begun to anxiously watch the clock in anticipation of the 3:15 bell, yet in Kathleen Bryant’s classroom all eyes are on the center of the room.
But this is nothing new for Morgan County’s System Wide Teacher of the Year. For five years, Bryant has been capturing the attention of students at Morgan County Middle School. As the resident drama and theatre teacher for all grade levels at MCMS, being a self-described “natural born performer” has come in handy.
At this particular moment, her students are Late for Work, or at least they’re pretending they are. Late for Work, along with Snapshot, Dating Service, and the Question Game, is just one of the improv games Bryant uses to sharpen students’ abilities to react when performing.
Seated in a small circle in the center of the room, they’re eagerly watching and waiting to see what quips and one-liners each other has come up with. Occasionally Bryant offers direction as she walks around the circle, attentive and making sure every student is involved.
The bell rings signaling a class change. Seventh and eighth grade students in Bryant’s Pro-Time class, an advisement-like period, file into the room. Lacking normal end of the week weariness, they bustle around the room, grabbing scripts to run lines with.
“Can I see page 48?” one student calls out. “What script are we doing?” asks another.
A small chorus of giggles can be heard from the back of the room, students just coming in toss their book bags aside and grab a script, and a set of boys in the front are playfully joking around.
“Ok, Callie, go! Read!” Bryant beckons a girl towards the front of what has now become a semi-circle.
Special to the Citizen
Students from Morgan County Middle School took second place in the second annual K”NEX Bridge Building Competition, which was held at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville on Monday, Oct. 26. The contest took place in the auditorium of the Lounsbury College of Education, and students from four area middle schools were invited to compete. Students from Morgan County designed and built two bridges for the contest.
In preparation for the competition, eighth grade science teachers Shannon Collier, Sherry Davis, and Karen Vanderheyden jointly designed a differentiated unit on Force and Motion, and students investigated how forces and motion related to bridges. Students concentrated on various aspects of bridge building, bridge forces, and bridge research, while science teacher Karen Vanderheyden and paraprofessional Carla Johnson closely monitored their progress. Eventually, several students were selected as bridge builders and alternates.
The students who represented Morgan County Middle School at the competition were Dustin Grant, Chan Courchaine, Allan Peart, Cain Bentley, Dillon Riedlinger, Savannah Stell, Jack LeClair, Cameron Busbee, Valerie Hawk, Clark Owen, Jacob Jarrard, and Ben McMichael. Alternates included Ben Shytle, Zack Jenkins, Garrett Gardner, Dalton Sumner, Hunter Lane, Rebecca Huckaby, and Sam Cooper. Pictured with the students are GCSU Professor Dr. Victoria Deneroff, who sponsored the contest, and science teacher Karen Vanderheyden, who accompanied the students to the event.
Story and Photos by Kathryn
This past week four shocked Morgan County teachers were told by friends and colleagues that they were the Teacher of the Year for their respective schools.
Each honoree has gone through the process of being nominated, and then voted for by their peers. State guidelines for Teacher of the Year declare that the nominees and winners must be certified and be, “exceptional, dedicated, knowledgeable, and skilled.”
According to Assistant Superintendent Sarah Burbach, after the winner from each school is interviewed the county-wide Teacher of the Year will be announced on Nov. 13. The system-wide winner then has a month to prepare their application for state Teacher of the Year.
“They keep changing,” Butler says of the Accounting, Business Essentials, and Web Design classes she teaches to ninth, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders. “So they keep my interest.” After seeing how much her college roommate enjoyed being an education major, Butler switched from Economics to Business Education. Of her 14 years in teaching, she’s spent four of them at MCHS. She considers, “seeing students not reach their potential,” to be the hardest part of teaching.
Barrett began her teaching career at MCES in 2005. She is a fifth grade Math, Science, and Social Studies teacher. To be an exceptional teacher, Barrett thinks you should, “have a love for it, listen to students, make learning fun, and make kids responsible for their learning”.
Her students said Barrett is a great teacher because, “She is cheerful and happy all the time.” Another student added, “She takes us to Chop House for good behavior!”
By Kathryn Schiliro
Photos by Angelina Bellebuono
Each day of the school year, buses pull in and out of Morgan County High School.
Last Thursday, however, saw the arrival of one bus – not quite a yellow school bus – that brought with it about 70 visitors from across the state and as well as an honor. The school was one of six stops on the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s (GPEE) Annual Bus Trip Across Georgia.
The trip started 17 years ago “one, to celebrate achievement in [Georgia] public schools and, two, to share best practices,” according to GPEE Communications Director Bill Maddox, and allows around 70 “education stakeholders” – from educators to business people, legislators and community members – to experience the best of Georgia’s public schools.
Morgan County High School as well as Unity Elementary School, LaGrange; W.L. Parks Middle School, Atlanta; Amana Academy, Alpharetta; Centennial Arts Academy, Gainesville; and the Georgia College Early program at Georgia College and State University, Milledgeville were chosen out of more than 60 nominations as the schools to be featured on this year’s bus trip.
GPEE surveys each school’s student achievement numbers – like graduation rates, SAT scores, Adequate Yearly Progress – and culture before deciding which make the itinerary. According to Maddox, MCHS drew the attention of GPEE by its significantly increasing graduation rates and Principal Dr. Mark Wilson’s being named National Principal of the Year.
Robert Prior, Patrice Boswell, Andrew Pittman Spell, Lindsey Strozier and Katherine Key