Friday, August 12, 2011

TOP STORY > >In state’s hands, PCSSD starts over

Leader staff writer

The Pulaski County School District will get back to the business of learning on Monday for its first school year under the control of the state Education Department.

The state took control of the fiscally distressed district in June, removing the superintendent and dissolving the school board. Dr. Jerry Guess was hired to serve as PCSSD superintendent two weeks after the takeover.

“The most im-portant thing we have been working on in the past six weeks is getting ready for our first day of school. We have to have a great first day, and then do that again 177 times, which is the length of our school year,” Guess said. “We have some fantastic new teachers in Jacksonville, some talented new administrators and buildings that are ready to open their doors for the 2011-2012 school year.”

District schools have five new principals at the reins. None of the principals are new to working in PCSSD.

Henry Anderson was hired as the new Jacksonville High School principal after former principal Bobby Pruitt announced his retirement at the school’s graduation ceremony in May.

“We are going to be where we need to be…we will return to being the center of excellence,” Anderson told the crowd at a school and community meeting Monday. “I hope you guys will join us as we shift in the right direction. Consistency and proximity are important in dealing with our kids. We all have a hand in that accountability. If your students succeed, they’re yours, but if they fail, they’re yours, too. You can’t fail if you keep trying to reach them.”

Anderson was hired in 2009 to lead the Crossett High School through a scholastic audit and standards visit. Anderson noted that test scores at Crossett rose substantially when he was there.

He was an assistant principal at Mills High School in Little Rock for two years, assistant principal at Robinson High School for one year, a PCSSD technology specialist for one year and an advanced placement English language and composition teacher at Mills for three years.

He earned his bachelor’s from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, his master’s from University of Arkansas at Little Rock and graduated from the educational specialist program for educational administration at UALR. He won the Good Apple Award from PCSSD in 2007 and the Who’s Who Among America’s Teacher Award in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.

Denise Rankin is the new principal of Pinewood Elementary School in Jacksonville. She served as instructional curriculum coordinator for PCSSD last year, as a principal for PCSSD and Cabot schools, as an assistant principal for PCSSD and as a PCSSD math specialist. She also taught in Lonoke, Lincoln and Forrest City School Districts.

Rankin received her bachelor’s and master’s degree from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.

Don Booth is the new principal of Jacksonville Middle School. He brings 32 years of experience to the position.

Booth served as principal at Harris Elementary School last year and as principal of Fuller Middle School for six years. He was an assistant principal in PCSSD from 1989 to 2004. He worked as a public school program adviser for the Arkansas Department of Education for two years before coming to PCSSD. He taught for Little Rock and North Little Rock school districts from 1979 to 1986.

Booth earned his bachelor’s from Philander Smith College in Little Rock and received his master’s from University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

Tracy Allen, the new principal for Sylvan Hills High School, graduated from there in 1990.

He was the principal of North Little Rock High School for two years. He was principal of North Pulaski High School for one year. He was an assistant principal at Jacksonville High School and at Mills, spending a year in that position at each school. He also coached the Mills Comets basketball team and taught physical education. Before that, Allen was a basketball coach and history teacher at Northwood Middle School.

Allen earned his master’s from ASU and his bachelor’s from UCA.

Sonja Whitfield, Jacksonville Elementary School’s former principal, is now leading Tolleson Elementary School in Jacksonville. Jacksonville Elementary School is now closed and its students will attend several area elementary schools.

In addition to new principals, approximately 60 teachers joined Jacksonville schools this year. A few administrators and staff were hired throughout the district. Sherwood schools also saw the addition of new faculty members.

Homer Adkins Pre-K School in Jacksonville welcomes assistant principal Melissa Morris, teacher Belinda Jarkas and paraprofessionals Ki Bowie and Kara Castle.

Bayou Meto Elementary School in Jacksonville added Sally Martin, who transferred from the closed Jacksonville Elementary School and replaced retiree Marty Hamrick as a speech teacher.

Warren Dupree Elementary School in Jacksonville added five to its ranks. They were third grade teacher Amy Souther, second-grade teacher Stephanie Breedlove, fourth-grade teacher Angela Sprow, special-education teacher Pamela Anderson, all who transferred from the closed Jacksonville Elementary School. Jodye Ferrell also joined the school from Pine Bluff School District to teach Alpha/gifted and talented students.

Oakbrooke Elementary School in Sherwood added community based learning teacher Laura DePriest.

Pinewood Elementary School in Jacksonville got four teachers from the closed Jacksonville Elementary School. They are second-grade teacher Cheryl Cleare, second-grade teacher Crystal Kinsey, fifth-grade reading teacher Terra Pilkinton and kindergarten teacher Rhonda Smith. Tasha Middaugh, fourth- grade reading teacher, and Lisa Brown, once-a-week art teacher, were also hired.

Murrell Taylor Elementary School in Jacksonville added instructional facilitator Becca May, fourth-grade teacher Valencia Rochelle, community- based instruction teacher Julie Barber, third-grade teacher Sonja Heard, fifth-grade teacher Marcia Martin and art teacher Melissa Lashbrook.

Tolleson Elementary School in Jacksonville will have a new assistant principal, counselor and 12 new teachers. They are kindergarten teacher Mary Fischer, first-grade teacher Kimberly Goldsberry, second-grade teacher Georgette Sierra, third-grade teacher Roxanne Tapia, fourth- grade teacher Robin Dorey, fourth-grade teacher Patricia King, fifth-grade teacher John Birmingham, multi-age teacher Karen McDonald, multi-age paraprofessional Tami Mason, special education teacher Anita Williams, music teacher David Carter, art teacher Melanie Rodriguez, home school counselor Gregory Woods and assistant principal Claudia Curtis.

Jacksonville Middle School added assistant principal Vicki Gill, dean of students Ken Moore, health and physical education teacher Josh Nation, English teacher Jessica Hall, science teacher Katrina White and special education teacher Danielle Pelletier.

New to North Pulaski High School in Jacksonville are several coaches and teachers. They are Teodis Ingram, head varsity football coach and special education teacher; art teacher Sonya Ingram; Jeremy Brown, head baseball coach, ninth-grade basketball coach and science teacher; Jack Russell, assistant varsity football coach, basketball coach, ninth-grade football coach and math teacher; Roy Jackson, head varsity basketball coach and special education teacher; James Paul, EAST facilitator; English and photography teacher Natalie Larrison; chemistry teacher Brandon Ranaurd; math teacher Kathleen Smith, and counselor Virginia Abrams.

Sylvan Hills High School in Sherwood will have history teacher Charlene Bales, girls basketball coach Shelly Davis, special education Amanda Erickson, history teacher Gregory Frantal, science teacher John Hannon, literacy- instructional facilitator Phyllis Ray and math teacher Ricardo Souza.