Three hour executive session leads to doubt for Pickens Superintendent

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Superintendent

JASPER, Ga. – Pickens County could be seeing another chapter in its ongoing Superintendent troubles over the years after a three-hour-long meeting was held almost entirely in Executive Session.

On January 16, 2021, the Pickens County Board of Education held a special called meeting posted to host both an Executive Session and General Discussion items on the Agenda.

During the meeting, it was said that the general discussion was originally put in to discuss a different topic. However, some citizens present said they were present to “show support” for Superintendent Dr. Rick Townsend.

Pickens County Board of Education, Superintendent

Rick Townsend, Superintendent of Pickens County Schools

While the Board of Education spent almost all of the three hours in Executive Session, Dr. Townsend was not present for a large part of the meeting as he was seen exiting the room where the executive session was being held.

The only results of the meeting that were publicly stated as the Board returned from their executive session was the calling of yet another Special Called Meeting for this Monday, January 18, 2021.

However, sources have messaged FYN saying they are expecting the School Board to be dismissing or firing Dr. Townsend on Monday.

The board said in their Friday meeting, “We will have a Called Meeting on Monday at 3 p.m. It will be published over the weekend.” This means they will be meeting on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, although there is yet to be an agenda or meeting placed on the Pickens Calendar on their website as of the writing of this article.

Governor Lee Calls for Special Legislative Session on Education

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Special Legislative Session

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced a call for the Tennessee General Assembly to convene for a special legislative session on January 19, 2021 to address urgent issues facing Tennessee students and schools in the 2021-22 school year.

Preliminary data projects an estimated 50% decrease in proficiency rates in 3rd grade reading and a projected 65% decrease in proficiency in math. This loss only exacerbates issues that existed prior to the pandemic, where only one third of Tennessee third graders were reading on grade level.

“We know that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused immense disruption for Tennessee’s students, educators, and districts, and the challenges they face must be addressed urgently,” said Gov. Lee. “Even before the virus hit, and despite years of improvement, too many of our state’s students were still unable to read on grade level. I’m calling on the legislature to join us in addressing these serious issues so we can equip our hardworking educators and districts with the resources and supports they need to set our students on the path to success.”

“As we have heard from districts since March, students need their teachers and schools like never before,” said Department of Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “No child’s future should suffer academically because of COVID-19. Not only as commissioner, but as a mother of two school-aged children, I am grateful for the bold solutions that our governor and legislature will provide for our students and schools across the state and the department stands ready to work together to accomplish this mission-critical work.”

“In addition to presenting a public health crisis and disrupting our economy, the coronavirus also created enormous obstacles for our parents, teachers and students. Tennessee has made tremendous improvements in education over the last decade. The virus has begun to put all of that at risk,” said Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge). “It is of paramount importance that we take steps to reverse the learning loss that has taken place and prevent any further erosion of our progress. I appreciate Governor Lee calling this special session to draw our focus on the pressing needs of education in this state. The Senate will work with the House and the Administration to address these issues in an expeditious and efficient manner to the benefit of our students and our teachers.”

“I support Gov. Lee’s call for a special session on education,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville). “The pandemic has caused considerable disruption for our students, teachers and schools.  Our goal is to make sure students are learning in the classroom, teachers have the resources they need, and our students have additional assistance in their educational journeys to improve their chances of success.”

“Over the past few years Tennessee has seen exciting growth in student achievement and we must take all necessary steps to make sure our students continue to learn through this ongoing pandemic,” said Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R-Franklin). “I salute the governor for calling us into special session to address this important problem and thank him for his continued commitment to education.”

“As a parent of two children in the public school system and a Representative of so many thousands of other families, I know it is critical for us to have the best education system in the nation,” said House Majority Leader William Lamberth (R-Portland). “I appreciate the Governor calling us into Special Session to ensure our children and teachers have the support they need in these difficult times.”

During the special session, the legislature will be tasked to take up five key education issues: Learning Loss, Funding, Accountability, Literacy, and Teacher Pay. Details on each proposal will be released by the Department of Education in the near future, in addition to the department’s plans to implement a new literacy program, “Reading 360.” The program will leverage one-time federal relief funding to support a phonics-based approach to literacy and will ensure Tennessee districts, teachers, and families are equipped with tools and resources to help students read on grade level by third grade.

stART and CS4GA Computer Science Capacity Grants

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Gilmer County Schools has been awarded two competitive grants totaling $25,000 from the Georgia Department of Education.

According to Director of Federal Programs and Title IX Coordinator Lindy Patterson, the funds will support the Gilmer High School band and the district’s computer science programs.

Patterson released a statement for Gilmer Schools stating, “To promote and further strengthen the award-winning band, stART grant funds will be used to purchase sound and amplification systems for the band hall and outdoor concerts and events. The computer science capacity grant funds will be allocated for the professional growth of teachers working in the computer science field.”

Upon receiving notification of the stART grant, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs stated, “The Arts are vital to the development of the whole child. The importance of the Arts is clear: while stimulating imagination and self-expression, the Arts hold a significant role in the development of critical thinking, responsible decision-making and cultural awareness. We’re delighted to receive this grant to enhance our overall program for our students.”

Throughout the year, the Georgia Department of Education awards grants through a competitive application and review process.

Gilmer BOE updates code, meeting dates, and handbook in December

News

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Preparing for the new year and new board members, Gilmer Schools updated their students code and handbook as they hit their mid-year meeting and prepare for the return for the second semester in January.

Coming late in the year, changes to the student handbook were approved this week in order to provide for students needing certain credits for graduation. Adjusting specifically a world language instead of certain CTAE courses in graduation requirements, this change comes, according to Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, as the virtual academy is not able to do those courses online.

Because of this and because some students need to adjust and cover this requirement in their final semester of high school, the Board approved the change to support this digital students as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to require adjustments and changes from organizations moving into the future.

meetingAdditionally, the board is changing an official job title adding a Title IX Director for Lindy Patterson, who is already the school system’s State and Federal Programs Coordinator.

The Board is also looking at new meeting dates next year. They have looked at the dates since November, adjusting and changing as needed. The board of education usually approves these meetings in January of the year, approving the 11 months of that year along with the January Meetings for the following year.

This means that the Board’s two newest members, Joe Pflueger and Michael Parks, will have the opportunity to vote on these in their first meeting of the new year.

The Board is updating its Student Code of Conduct to incorporate new needs as the school shave reached a point when students have Chromebook for use throughout their grade levels. Incorporating information gained through use of a program monitoring what students are typing and reading through the Chromebook. This new update will incorporate the new screenings that the school is using along with protections on the Chromebook usage.

 

BOE updates Distance Learning and Calendar Survey

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Learning

JASPER, Ga. – With focused consideration for students “not on track” in classwork, the Pickens County Board of Education heard an update on Distance Learning from Curriculum Director Anita Walker.

Pickens is returning as many students as possible to in-person learning rather than virtual learning. Walker noted that they have had students “not-on-track” returning to in-person for multiple reasons varying from a dislike or disconnection with the Pearson program, including some technical issues the school overcame in the first part of the semester, to issue with difficulty of use and focus to scheduling conflicts with younger children who need parental help with the programs while the parents might be working full-time.

While the schools have some experiencing difficulties, many others are succeeding and progressing in the virtual learning. More success was seen in lower grades, Kindergarten to 4th Grade.

Walker did note, however, that she felt that in-person is usually going to provide better educational experiences for the majority of students.

During her presentation, Walker pointed out some details that may be contributing to those not on track with the program including time spent with the program. She broke down data specifically focused on those in that category based on grade levels and compared them to the number of students spending more or less that 30 hours a week on the program.

Touching on support for the program and changes to bolster their efforts to support students and families choosing virtual learning, Walker noted the teachers efforts such as a tutoring program that virtual and in-person students can take advantage of. They are also putting extensions on some class work to aid in students needing that.

On the other side, with about 60 students moving from in-person to virtual learning for various reasons, Walker said the school encouraged students and families to come in a go over the program so that they would no and understand all of the requirements and needs involved with the program before fully committing to virtual learning.

Distance learning was not the only discussion for the day, however, as the board looked closer at results from a survey over the school calendar for 2021-2022.

Learning, Calendar, EducationNearing the mid-point of the school year, early discussion is already coming in for the next school year as Pickens County is going through the lengthy process of adopting a school year calendar.

According to Superintendent Dr. Rick Townsend, a survey was taken with input from students, parents, employees, and residents/business owners.

Of the 1209 replies to the survey, the boards report indicated that 500 were parents, 298 employees, 60 students, and 39 residents/business owners.

The vast majority emphasized a great importance on Thanksgiving and Christmas and not changing those breaks.

Additionally, 70% of the response said they would prefer a digital learning day for snow days or inclement weather rather than making those days up during winter break.

Many comments supported moving back the start date of school into mid to late August, but the board was told that hey would have to do away with several breaks to incorporate that change.

While the recommendation is set to be the same calendar as previously recommended, the board will be voting on the calendar next Thursday, December 10, 2020.

CCMS shuts down 6th Grade in response to COVID-19

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CCMS Clear Creek Middle, Grade

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Starting today, Gilmer County Schools has shut down the 6th Grade of Clear Creek Middle School to attempt to stem a rise in numbers of positive cases within the grade level.

Grade, Shanna Downs, Superintendent

Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs

Those numbers are coming from both students and staff according to a letter from Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs stating that they would be closing due to the increase.

Effective until November 4, 2020, students will be at home with learning devices as a part of the distance learning platform that the school has had in use since the early spring outbreak of the virus. However, it is not exactly the same program as the school system has since improved and evolved their distance learning programs with added software and procedures.

Since August, some students have already been a part of the virtual classrooms and students in school have received instructions on using Google Classroom as well.

At this time, Downs states that all of the system’s other schools and grade levels will keep operating as they have been, remaining open for students.

In a letter to parents, Downs said, “Recognizing the challenges closures pose for many families in our community, we are making this decision with a heavy heart but for the greater good. Our priority is always the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”

As of last Friday, October 16, 2020, the school system had 7 students absent with positive tests for COVID-19 and 133 students quarantined for possible exposure.

According to the school system’s website;

  • 4125 – Students enrolled in GCSS

  • 7 – GCSS Students Absent with a Current Positive COVID-19 Status

  • 133- GCSS Students Quarantined for Possible Exposure

  • 526 – Total Number of GCSS Employees

  • 7- GCSS Employees Absent with a Current Positive COVID-19 Status

  • 32 – GCSS Employee Who Has Been Exposed and is Quarantined or Reporting to Work as an Essential Employee*

The Board of Education is holding meetings this week as their regularly scheduled monthly meetings. FYN will update new stories if new information becomes available.

Teacher’s arrest causes tension as BOE considers resignation

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ELLIJAY, Ga. – Last week’s news of a teacher’s arrest on charges of allegedly carrying out an inappropriate relationship with a student resulted in the following day a letter of resignation submitted to the Gilmer County Board of Education.

This culminated at the Board’s meeting when voting on personnel. Nathan Sutton’s, the teacher in question, resignation was a part of the agenda item.

Board member Ronald Watkins asked to vote on Sutton’s resignation separate from the other personnel changes. While the general personnel passed without issue, Sutton’s resignation was questioned.

Watkins said he wanted the Board to not accept his resignation as it allows him to part from the school board with a letter of resignation rather than being fired for the incident. Watkins referenced another recent resignation, saying it was similarly a situation of allowing a resignation before an investigation could prove any improper behavior.

While the Board was originally split with Board member Tom Ocobock saying he agreed that he wanted it to say on record that he was fired. Ocobock also indicated that he didn’t want Sutton “let off” with a resignation after the alleged incident. This was stressed even further as they both noted Sutton’s alleged confession.

resignation

Gilmer County Board of Education, Board Member Ronald Watkins

However, Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs suggested to the board that the school system would proceed with whatever they voted, she counseled them to accept the resignation on the grounds that the if the Board wished to proceed with firing him instead, they would reject the resignation and continue paying Sutton as a teacher and keeping him as an employee, at least on paper, until the proceeding could go forward with the schools firing policy. With the investigation and the school board’s process to fire him. It could take up to a couple months or even 90 days was suggested as an extreme possibility.

Some of the complicating factors revolved around the victim not being a student anymore, new policy updates for Title 9 with the schools, and proceeding with the termination in face of a resignation letter.

Downs said that she has already filed paperwork with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) for an ethics complaint on record regarding the incident, and that the police would be moving forward with their investigation. The complaint with the GaPSC also requested to pull Sutton’s certificate for education.

According to the GaPSC website:

Title 20, Education, of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.), outlines the legal guidelines, which govern the state education program.

Title 20 creates the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) and assigns it responsibility for providing a regulatory system for “certifying and classifying” professional employees in public schools. Title 20 also requires the professional employees of all Georgia public schools to hold state certification.

Downs added that the resignation allows the board to separate from Sutton immediately without the full process of investigating themselves and firing Sutton on those grounds. She said that as far as him going to another school or getting another job, there was little difference in firing Sutton or accepting the resignation. The difference was in paying him until they could fire him or terminating the contract now.

resignation

Gilmer County Board of Education, Board Member Tom Ocobock

Ocobock said that he still wanted him fired, but with Downs saying she had filed the complaint and as long as he could not go to another school for a job, he was okay with the resignation path of separation.

However, Watkins still pushed for the official process saying that he was really discouraged that he has had two people know that will be allowed to resign instead of being fired. He stated, “I want to know how bad something has got to be to where I can fire someone.”

Indeed, with a motion on the floor to accept the resignation, Watkins made his official motion to proceed with the firing process. The motion did not receive a second and died. However, the Board then proceeded with approving the motion to accept Sutton’s resignation 4-0 with Watkins abstaining.

Watkins did make one comment saying he felt he was appearing like “the bad guy” because he abstained from the resignation, but was reassured by other Board members. Ocobock told him he wasn’t the bad guy saying, “You’ve got to think about what it’s going to cost the school and the disruption in the high school where now we’ve got to find another teacher to replace him.”

Board lowers Bond Millage with final approval of rates

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Millage Rate Meeting

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A unanimous vote on Monday, August 24, 2020, saw the Gilmer County Board of Commissioners follow up on statements from last year where they discussed lowering the Bond Millage Rate in the county.

While they did not approve lowering the rate in 2019, many citizens have continued discussing and pushing for the reduction this year. A few have very vocally called for the reduction of the “extra half mill” that was put on the Bond Millage rate raising it from 1 to 1.5 mills. Additionally, the viral outbreak and subsequent shutdowns of counties and states cast a dark shadow on local economies and doubt for the financial future of Gilmer.

The Commissioners halted capital spending and major projects as they watched and waited to see just what kind of impact it would have, even delaying their pool project that has been underway for over a year now. The pool was closed at the beginning of May in 2019.

However, the last two months have shown quite the difference. Despite the cancellation of major events in the county and increasing numbers from the virus, recent reports show an increase in collections from tourism and SPLOST.

Whether this played a role in their decision, the commissioners did not say, but they did approve a drop in the bond millage rate by .25 mills, taking it from 1.5 to 1.25 mills.

The School-Board-approved millage rate of 13.963 was approved to be implemented by the Board of Commissioners. This is the Rollback Rate calculated for Gilmer County Schools as they have advertised over the past month since the July meeting. The Board of Education approved this rate last week during their regular August meeting.

They also moved forward with approval of the county’s M&O (Maintenance and Operations) Millage Rate of 6.783 mills. This is also a Rollback Rate calculated for the Board of Commissioners and advertised for the past month since their July Meeting.

North Carolina rural educators get support for remote learning

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North Carolina Rural Educators

RALEIGH: More than 1,300 educators from rural North Carolina participated in a virtual conference focused on remote learning to help them be better prepared to teach throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Governor Cooper opened the REAL(Remote Education and Leadership) Conference and gave the welcoming remarks via a video message.

“When we had to close schools for in person learning in March, you were quick to adapt, staying connected to your students and making sure they continued to get the best education possible,” Governor Cooper told the participating educators. “I appreciate your efforts to help address the challenges to remote learning and help students get connected to stay on track in their studies.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic schools across North Carolina switched to remote learning in the spring and many students will continue to learn remotely as the new school year begins. Remote learning can be especially challenging in rural communities due to a lack of internet access and other technology resources and funding challenges.

The REAL Conference offered a professional development opportunity for rural educators designed by rural educators. At the conference, rural educators got the opportunity to learn best practices in remote learning and discuss how to addressing unique challenges faced by rural educators.

Participating educators chose from over 40 sessions throughout the day covering all grade levels. Sessions provided first-hand experience of remote learning tools and best practices. Topics included: Virtual STEAM: Hands-On Learning at Home; Digital Tools to Support Distance Learning; Accessible Remote Learning for Exceptional Learners; Connecting with Disconnected Students; Mindfulness-Based Social Emotional Learning; How to Assess Learning Games; Ed Puzzle: Actively Engaging Students with Videos; Bitmoji Interactive Lessons in Google Slides; Museum Learning Opportunities; and multiple topics on Google Classroom. Dr. Mary Hemphill, former superintendent of Scotland County Public Schools and current director of K-12 Computer Science at the NC Department of Public Instruction, gave the keynote address.

Educators and parents can view the recording of the REAL Conference HERE.

Conference hosts included the North Carolina Business Committee on Education (NCBCE), a nonprofit housed in the Governor’s Office, along with Governor Cooper’s Hometown Strong initiative for rural North Carolina, the Department of Public Instruction and the NC Virtual Public Schools.

When schools transitioned to remote learning, NCBCE partnered with Hometown Strong to launch the Remote Learning Working Group) to help improve remote learning in rural counties by getting more students connected to the internet and helping educators adapt to teaching remotely. The Working Group includes experts in education and technology from the public and private sectors.

Content for the REAL Conference was developed by the Remote Learning Working Group as well as a team of educators from rural North Carolina: Joseph Hayes from Edgecombe County Schools, Sonia Boone from Halifax County Schools, Kristy Marslander from Hyde County Schools, Heather Herron from Swain County Schools and Wendy Harrell and Phyllis King from Robeson County Schools.

Thanks to Google, Smithfield Foods, AT&T, Fidelity Investments, Dell, American Tower, and Tony Brown of Public Consulting Group for their sponsorship of the REAL Conference through NCBCE.

Quote from members of the Remote Learning Working Group:

“Google is excited to help facilitate this important conversation between educators, the business community and state leaders regarding remote learning—a challenge that is top of mind for nearly everyone as we approach a new school year,” said Lilyn Hester, Head of External Affairs – Southeast, Google and leader of the Remote Learning Working Group. “We look forward to discussing solutions to ensure our children have the connectivity required to keep their education on track.”

Dr. Eric Cunningham, Superintendent of Halifax County Schools said, “The REAL Conference, the remote learning conference focused on supporting North Carolina’s rural educators provides a much-needed benefit for rural school systems. Halifax County Schools will benefit greatly. Our teachers are excited and ready to participate.”

Dr. Steve Basnight, Superintendent of Hyde County Public Schools said, “I want to thank all the fantastic educators who worked to make the REAL Conference a reality. This will provide a tremendous opportunity for our staff to receive professional development on remote learning and collaborate with other educators right before we begin our teacher workdays to open the new school year!”

About the North Carolina Business Committee for Education:

The North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) is a business-led, education non-profit (501-c3) that operates out of the Office of the Governor. Since 1983, NCBCE has provided a critical link between North Carolina business leaders and the state’s education decision makers, helping to create connections between the education curriculum and the overall work readiness of citizens across the state. Learn more at ncbce.org.

About Hometown Strong:

Governor Cooper created Hometown Strong to build partnerships between state agencies and local leaders to champion rural communities. The effort leverages state and local resources, identifies ongoing projects and community needs and implements focused plans to boost the economy, improve infrastructure and strengthen North Carolina’s hometowns.

UCS awarded $3 million grant for college and career academy

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college and career academy

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Union County Schools (UCS) was one of three districts in the state to receive the College and Career Academy (CCA) grant for $3 million. The school will establish the first multi-state CCA in Georgia.

UCS has several similar program initiatives with its Career, technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) efforts, but the grant money will allow them to expand their offerings. Students will also have opportunities for dual enrollment through some of the CTAE programs.

CTAE Director Josh Davis explained why UCS decided to apply, “After researching the grant process last summer and discussing with our stakeholders, we realized we already had many of the CCA best practices in place. We decided to write the grant and go through the grant process, and all of our business, community, and post-secondary partners played a big role.”

It’s a reimbursable facility grant, and the school will move forward with the College and Career Academy with the board of education’s guidance. The grant was appropriated through the Georgia legislature and gives a school system five years to spend the allotted funds.  The first year will focus on planning and strategy to identify the best path forward.

CTAE Director Josh Davis spearheaded the CCA grant process.

As for the area of focus, Davis added, “Initially, we will utilize our current program offerings including automotive technologies, computer programming, construction, cybersecurity, engineering, entrepreneurship, nursing, sports medicine, and welding. We will develop new programs if needed as local workforce needs change and resources are available.”

The skilled training provided by a CCA allows students to seek out specific high demand, high wage jobs available within the region, which will enhance their employment opportunities. It’s a win-win for students and regional employers.

“We’ve had wonderful support from our business community. They’re hungry for employees,” explained Superintendent John Hill. “They’re a lot of employers that need employees in their high skilled, high wage jobs…Now some go to college, but a bulk goes to technical school and receives some really good training, and a lot of it, we can do in-house here.”

Chairman Hunter spoke with Technical College System Project Manager Frank Pinson over the phone.

Current Union County business partners include Advanced Digital Cable, Bank OZK, Chick-fil-A, Corrugated Replacements Inc., Lamin-X, Nelson Tractor, Panel Built, Pat’s Hallmark, The Saw Mill Place, Union General Hospital, Union County Chamber of Commerce, Union County Economic Development Authority, United Community Bank Inc., and WJRB Radio. Community partners from neighboring counties and North Carolina include Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, Brasstown Valley Resort, Moog Industries Inc, and Snap-On. North Georgia Technical College, the University of North Georgia, and Young Harris College are the post-secondary education partners.

Technical College System of Georgia Project Manager Frank Pinson called into the July Board of Education meeting to congratulate UCS and expressed his enthusiasm for the school’s initial idea.

“You’re going to establish Georgia’s first multi-district model that extends across state lines…we had the privilege way back in March of coming up and visiting with them. John and Josh took us over to neighboring counties that you’ll be partnering with. We just couldn’t be more excited about Union County and everything that you’re going to be able to accomplish up there,” Pinson expressed.

“We’re equally excited about this. I can’t wait. Once we get this going, you’ll be able to take a tour of our facilities again and see what we’ve done with the good taxpayer monies that we’ve been able to secure from you guys,” said Chairman Tony Hunter.

Evans and Appling County were the other two school systems to receive the CCA grant.

Feature image from Georgia Career Academies Facebook.

EDUCATION SHOULD BE RUN BY PARENTS AGAIN

Opinion

One of the key issues today is education.  Everyone should be interested in all children getting the best well rounded education available. Children are the future and it is concerning to have a growing populace that purposely remain ignorant due to the cookie cutter approach to public schools.

My question is why have the American people allowed education to become a government led agenda?

Initially, when America was young, there was no guideline for schooling. In England, schools were available for the privileged, but not the masses. 

The American spirit formed its own brand of education. Children were taught at home or in the homes of neighbors. As communities grew, the one room schoolhouse was brought into play. This building housed the school, served as a community center and often a church on Sunday.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-room_school

There was usually a home or a “Teacherage” close to the schools, so that male teachers’ families were close to the school and able to assist the teacher with his duties. Unmarried female teachers were usually boarded with someone in the community. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the “Little House” books, became a schoolteacher two months before her sixteenth birthday. She taught in a one room schoolhouse.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laura_Ingalls_Wilder

The one room school system allowed for the parents and the community to decide on the curriculum and the values taught in the schools. The community that sponsored their own school would have been up in arms if anyone from the government had tried to interfere with their wishes. They accepted some guidelines, but interference would not have been tolerated.

The one room school allowed for a child to go further than his or her own age level. If the child was advanced, they could finish their lessons and listen to the next age level’s work. The community school usually only went up to the eighth grade. This provided basic education.

 If a student wanted further education, they could go to a central high school within the county or state. 

Standardized tests did not come into play until much later, if you went to school and attended and passed all of your classes, you could graduate. 

This system spawned many a leader within the United States.

My maternal Great Grandfather John Thomas Jones donated land for a two room schoolhouse here in Paulding County, Georgia. My Grandmother Clara M. Jones and her older brother Hershel Jones taught there for a period of time.

Though his scholastic career was interrupted by family needs on the farm, my Uncle Herschel returned to school later. He later completed all of his studies and graduated from Oglethorpe University. He went on to be the principal in the Paulding County school system.

Herschel Jones Middle School in Dallas, Georgia is his legacy to education, and a tribute to the power of the one room school.

Instead of relying on the government to educate children, parents need to be in charge of the local educational system. More thought needs to be given to how each parent is personally is going to provide education to their children. In this way, the values of the parents, not the government are instilled

Taking back the power of education is key to developing free thinkers.

The Federal Government’s interference has led to teaching to tests and leaving students behind on important basics, especially American History. It is an indictment of the public school system every time some reporter asks college age students questions, like who is on the $ 20 bill. The school systems have taught our young people to be ashamed of our great nation and have misled them on how our country was founded.

When school systems insist on teaching values that are contrary to the values taught at home, it is unacceptable.

It is time to take your children and their education back from those who are running their own agenda.

 

Gilmer readies to “Stuff the Bus” for school

Community

EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – This weekend, citizens will find the Optimist Club and their school bus in front of Wal-Mart in East Ellijay as they collect final donations and celebrate the county’s return to the school year.

The Gilmer County Optimist Club’s 7th Annual school supply drive still has collection boxes located throughout the county in several businesses. However, for those last minute shoppers, financial donations, and collection box turn ins, this event will host volunteers and club members ready to accept those donations.

The same bus that citizens saw parading through downtown during the July 4th parade will be parked in front of Walmart on August 2 and 3, 2019, as a beacon to show citizens exactly where to go to provide for the supplies drive.

According to the Optimist Club, the drive is to literally “stuff” that yellow bus full of supplies for students in the county who may not have everything they need for their studies. The drive turns in the supplies collected to the school system who, in turn, delivers the supplies as needed to the children.

Sarurday will also see Optimist Club members going through a list of needs provided by the school, and for those things they may not have as much of, they will use the financial donations given to fill in the needs that are lacking. This way, every donation goes to help the students of the county, and the club is able to spread the provisions evenly.

2019 STATEWIDE TURKEY HUNTING SEASON OPENS MARCH 23

Outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


2019 STATEWIDE TURKEY HUNTING SEASON OPENS MARCH 23

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (March 18, 2019) – Georgia turkey hunters are ready for the season to open on Saturday, Mar. 23. The 2019 turkey hunting season should be a fair season, similar to 2018, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.  

“Reproduction in 2017 was lower than the four-year average, so that could mean a lower than usual supply of 2 year-old gobblers across much of the state in 2019,” explains Emily Rushton, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator. “However, that lower average comes between two better years, so hopefully other age classes will remain plentiful.”

With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from Mar. 23 through May 15 – one of the longest seasons in the nation – to harvest their bird(s).  

What should hunters expect this spring? The Ridge and Valley, Piedmont and Lower Coastal Plain should have the best success based on 2017 reproduction information. The Blue Ridge region had a poor 2017 reproductive season, but saw a significant jump in 2018, so there may be a lot of young birds in the woods. The Upper Coastal Plain saw reproduction below their five-year average for the past two years, so numbers in that part of the state may be down.

Cedar Creek and Cedar Creek-Little River WMA Hunters, take note! The 2019 turkey season will run April 6-May 15 on these properties. This is two weeks later than the statewide opening date. This difference is due to ongoing research between the University of Georgia and WRD, who are investigating the timing of hunting pressure and its effects on gobbler behavior and reproductive success. Through this research, biologists and others hope to gain insight to the reasons for an apparent population decline in order to help improve turkey populations and hunter success at Cedar Creek WMA and statewide.

Georgia Game Check: All turkey hunters must report their harvest using Georgia Game Check. Turkeys can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (www.georgiawildlife.com/outdoors-ga-app), which now works whether you have cell service or not, at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661. App users, if you have not used the app since deer season or before, make sure you have the latest version. More information at www.georgiawildlife.com/HarvestRecordGeorgiaGameCheck.

Hunters age 16 years or older (including those accompanying youth or others) will need a hunting license and a big game license, unless hunting on their own private land.  Get your license at www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, at a retail license vendor or by phone at 1-800-366-2661. With many pursuing wild turkeys on private land, hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting.

 

Conservation of the Wild Turkey in Georgia

The restoration of the wild turkey is one of Georgia’s great conservation success stories.  Currently, the bird population hovers around 300,000 statewide, but as recently as 1973, the wild turkey population was as low as 17,000. Intensive restoration efforts, such as the restocking of wild birds and establishment of biologically sound hunting seasons facilitated the recovery of wild turkeys in every county. This successful effort resulted from cooperative partnerships between private landowners, hunters, conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Wildlife Resources Division.

The Georgia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has donated more than $4,000,000 since 1985 for projects that benefit wild turkey and other wildlife. The NWTF works in partnership with the Wildlife Resources Division and other land management agencies on habitat enhancement, hunter access, wild turkey research and education. The NWTF has a vital initiative called “Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt,” focused on habitat management, hunter access and hunter recruitment.

“Hunters should know that each time they purchase a license or equipment used to turkey hunt, such as shotguns, ammunition and others, that they are part of this greater conservation effort for wildlife in Georgia,” said Rushton.  “Through the Wildlife Restoration Program, a portion of the money spent comes back to states and is put back into on-the-ground efforts such as habitat management and species research and management.”

For more hunting information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations .   

 

Photos courtesy of Brian Vickery. After watching his older sister have two successful seasons, 7 year-old Luke is able to take his first bird during the special opportunity youth turkey hunting season.

REVIEW TURKEY HUNTING SAFETY TIPS BEFORE SEASON BEGINS

Outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

REVIEW TURKEY HUNTING SAFETY TIPS BEFORE SEASON BEGINS

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (March 18, 2019) – Before you head to the woods this Spring in pursuit of a gobbler or two, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division encourages all hunters to take some time to review important turkey hunting safety tips.

“Firearms safety knowledge is critical to keeping you, and others, safe while in the woods,” advises Jennifer Pittman, statewide hunter education administrator with the Wildlife Resources Division. “In addition to firearms safety tips, hunters should review and practice safety precautions specific to turkey hunting.”

Turkey Hunting Safety Tips:

  • Never wear red, white, blue or black clothing while turkey hunting. Red is the color most hunters look for when distinguishing a gobbler’s head from a hen’s blue-colored head, but at times it may appear white or blue. Male turkey feathers covering most of the body are black in appearance. Camouflage should be used to cover everything, including the hunter’s face, hands and firearm.
  • Select a calling position that provides at least a shoulder-width background, such as the base of a tree. Be sure that at least a 180-degree range is visible.
  • Do not stalk a gobbling turkey. Due to their keen eyesight and hearing, the chances of getting close are slim to none.
  • When using a turkey call, the sound and motion may attract the interest of other hunters. Do not move, wave or make turkey-like sounds to alert another hunter to your presence. Instead, identify yourself in a loud voice.
  • Be careful when carrying a harvested turkey from the woods. Do not allow the wings to hang loosely or the head to be displayed in such a way that another hunter may think it is a live bird. If possible, cover the turkey in a blaze orange garment or other material.
  • Although it’s not required, it is suggested that hunters wear blaze orange when moving between a vehicle and a hunting site. When moving between hunting sites, hunters should wear blaze orange on their upper bodies to facilitate their identification by other hunters.

For more hunting information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations .

BEFORE TURKEY SEASON BEGINS, DO YOU NEED A HUNTER EDUCATION COURSE?

Outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BEFORE TURKEY SEASON BEGINS, DO YOU NEED A HUNTER EDUCATION COURSE?

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (March 18, 2019) – Do you need hunter education before you head to the woods? You have options! Hunters in need of the Georgia hunter education course can choose to go completely online or attend a classroom course, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“In 2018, over 14,000 people completed the Georgia hunter education course – either online or in a classroom,” says Jennifer Pittman, statewide hunter education administrator with the Wildlife Resources Division. “I am glad that we can continue to offer both classroom and online options, as it gives students a choice of what works best with their schedules, especially those with time constraints.”

The four available online courses each require a fee (from $9.95 – $24.95) but all are “pass or don’t pay” courses. Fees for these courses are charged by and collected by the independent course developer. The classroom course is free of charge.  

Completion of a hunter education course is required for any person born on or after January 1, 1961, who:

  • purchases a season hunting license in Georgia.
  • is at least 12 years old and hunts without adult supervision.
  • hunts big game (deer, turkey, bear) on a wildlife management area.

The only exceptions include any person who:

  • purchases a short-term hunting license, i.e. anything less than annual duration (as opposed to a season license).
  • is hunting on his or her own land, or that of his or her parents or legal guardians.

For more information, go to https://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/huntereducation or call 770-761-3010.

Myth’s, Illusions or Truths?

Opinion

Most of our nation’s young people under the age of 30, are the products of some form of
government control. They enjoyed free meals at schools, health care, education, housing, etc..
The expected requirement of their acceptance was to obey teachers and school administrators.
The punishment that followed, if they deviated from the official dogma, was to be ostracized and
shamed. Through the collectivization of their thought process, they needed to only to know what
was taught to them and to ignore what they learn outside the school environment from their
parents, friends, relatives and Fox news. Attempts at original thought was/is discouraged.

Schools can’t proceed as they do without the political and financial support of politicians; the
very ones, the “Establishment Elites,” we are fighting today. It is they who organize the standard
dumb-down curriculum to ensure implementation of their socialist ideas without comment. All
propaganda and brainwashing. Don’t dare show up with a MAGA hat.

Unobstructed, politicians know that the more they lie the more we tend to believe them and
become more dependent on them. Without the constant barrage of propaganda, our attention
span would decline and they’ed lose control over our actions. The present predicament of the
Progressive sneaked up on ‘em and their supporters in the elections of 2012, 2014 and 2016.
The Democrat Elites lost control because believed their own nonsense and didn’t see the Trump
tidal wave coming. We see it often enough when we recognize otherwise smart folks acting
contrary to their own best interests without a second thought. That’s the power of propaganda
but, it must be a continuous daily drumming on the listeners’ senses if it is to stick!

Trump, like a breeze of fresh air, beyond all possible reasoning of media ‘pundents,’ confronted
them with a serious challenge to their belief system and their minds closed tight, because,
without a script or a firm belief that their dumbing down of the populous has really worked, they
don’t know what to do. Witness Sen. Elizabeth, the Indian Princess. Her defense of her
Pocahontas DNA tests was a fraud. That wee drop of native blood she says she has comes
from South America, from an illegal no doubt. Trump trolled her and, like a slippery fish bent on
absolution, she rose to the bait and now looks like a complete fool. It’s exactly the same for silly
Hillary who thinks she and Bill can tour the country, at $1000.00 a head, and draw the big
crowds like Trump does.

When challenged, progressives immediately go into avoidance behavior. They scream, holler or
’PooPoo’ the challenge as a “Vast Right-Wing conspiracy,” label it as stupid and unworkable and
move on to the next subject threatening dire punishment for any who dare question their truth.
Alinskites know that organized and sophisticated propaganda operates outside the normal level
of intelligence. So, without some reason to ask questions, as many intelligent people don’t, they
accept the lies and myths the same as the mass general population. Repeated often enough,
the propaganda then becomes conventional wisdom because, we rarely accept challenges to
conventional wisdom. Once belittled, it’s never considered again. Here is where they ignore
facts even when those facts support contrary knowledge, and embrace “stupid.”

When do myths, used to persuade people, become dangerous? When the people accept them
as ‘benefits. That’s the power of propaganda. Losing an illusion actually makes us wiser than
finding a truth.

Remember, freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em! (17Oct18)

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