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Jackson R-2 School Board looks at Parents as Teachers program

During its Nov. 12 meeting, the Jackson R-2 School Board approved an evaluation of the District’s Parents as Teachers program, which has continued to grow since the program was last evaluated in 2017.

The program consists of three full-time parent educators who visit children at their homes before they are enrolled in kindergarten. The parent educators check for various developmental delays in the children and provide parents with guidance to best prepare their children for success in school and in life.

Parent Educators Keely Martin, Cathlin Hayes and Heidi Crowden spoke to the Board about their program and brought parents and children who participate in the program. The parents spoke about how their children always look forward to the visits and how they appreciated having someone give them tips on how to correct potential delays before they hindered their children’s lives.

During the 2018-19 school year, the parent educators served 316 families and conducted 1482 home visits. Since the start of this school year, the program has added more than 25 new families. Hayes said there is at least one new family every week, and they average five visits a day.

“We do not have a waiting list,” Hayes said. “We take everybody that wants to be in our program, so we are not able to see families as often as we want to or need to, but we definitely do our best.”

The program also includes mass screenings at East Elementary every month to check children’s vision, hearing, dental, cognitive skills and motor skills. “It has actually caught quite a few problems of kids coming in at that preschool age with vision and hearing concerns and we refer them right then and there,” Crowden said.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Beth Emmendorfer was asked by the Board to look into what it would take to add a fourth parent educator to allow for more frequent visits as the program grows. Emmendorfer said it might be beneficial to look into adding a part-time parent educator who could help with evening visits, and she would present a proposal to the Board in the near future.

Superintendent Dr. John Link said some of the strain on the program is due to the limited space in the District’s early childhood program. “In the early future, we have to look at expanding our early childhood program,” he said. “We have a great early childhood program in place right now, but it only serves so many kids.”

In other action:

• Donna Doty from CliftonLarsonAllen Wealth Advisor presented the District’s 2019 audit report, saying it had a clean opinion. The Board approved the 2019 audit report and a corrected 2018 report. The 2018 report needed to be updated because the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant was not included in one of the lists of federal expenditures. The grant was included elsewhere in the audit.

• The Board scheduled a special Board meeting for 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 4, in the high school Ignite Center. The meeting will include opening and approving bids for the junior high expansion project, as well as completing member training for the Board.

• The Board approved dates and times for candidate filing for three School Board positions that are up in 2020. Each of the elected positions are three-year terms. The filing will begin at 8 a.m. on Dec. 17 and will close at 5 p.m. on Jan. 21, 2020. People interested may file at the District’s Board Office.

• East Elementary Principal Jessica Maxwell and Assistant Principal Shauna Criddle spoke to the Board about the school’s new student connection program. Maxwell said studies have shown that changing schools traditionally set students back almost a year in academic growth, but if the students form meaningful relationships early on at their new school, the negative effects of moving can be negated.

Whenever a student transfers to East Elementary, an e-mail is sent to all school staff who would interact with the student, encouraging them to communicate with them during the first day or week the child is at East.

The new students are also assigned an adult connector and a student connector who eat lunch with the student during their first week and check in with the new student monthly. “If kids know that you know their name, it makes them feel special,” Criddle said. The students also attend a new student reception if they started at East in August or attend a new student luncheon if they joined during the school year.

Maxwell also calls and e-mails parents after the student has been at East for two weeks to check in on how the student is doing and answer questions. She said the program helps them get to know these students better and helps students adjust quicker.

• The Board accepted a bid from Holloway Carpet One Floor and Home in the amount of $17,738 to replace the carpet at the Board Office. It was the lowest of four bids.

Assistant Superintendent Keenan Kinder said District staff members are doing most of the project, but some things like new flooring and windows are being contracted out. The Board Office project is aimed to revitalize the office and provide more private areas for confidential employee meetings.

• The Jackson High School girls golf team was recognized for winning the Class 2 District 1 Tournament and placing third at the state competition. A banner will be added in the high school’s event center to highlight the team’s accomplishment.

Senior Taryn Overstreet, sophomore Jacie Pattengill, sophomore Ella Overstreet, sophomore Kaydi Rhodes and freshman Maggie Davey spoke to the Board about their experiences at state. This was the first time in the program’s three-year history that the team made it to the state tournament.

“I’m proud of all of them,” head coach Carrie Korbecki said. “They went out and played their best game. They represented Jackson well and we’re excited to continue.”

Korbecki mentioned that the two teams that beat them at the Class 2 State Tournament were private schools, making Jackson the highest-ranking public school at the competition.

Taryn Overstreet was also recognized as the program’s first golfer signing with a college. She will be attending Drury University in Springfield next fall.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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