Bradley County teachers start year marked with changes

Bradley County teachers start year marked with changes

August 2nd, 2011 by Randall Higgins in News

Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel spoke to the first session Monday of the Bradley County Schools System's in-service training for teachers for the new academic year. Along with the aftermath of the April 27 tornadoes, McDaniel told teachers legislation and rising academic standards make this a year of change.

Photo by Randall Higgins/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- From the aftermath of the April 27 tornadoes to new state legislation on education, the new school year is filled with changes, Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel said Monday.

"Our job is about teachers teaching and students learning," McDaniel told more than 1,000 teachers attending the first day of the school system's in-service session at North Cleveland Church of God.

Schools resume Monday in Bradley County.

Theirs is a noble profession, North Cleveland pastor Mitchell Maloney told the teachers.

"You don't know who you are teaching or what they are going to be," he said.

The school system had 12 elementary schools as it neared the end of the 2010-11 school year. Now it has 11, with one of those undergoing renovation after the spring tornadoes.

Bradley County's Blue Springs Elementary School was hard hit by the April 27 tornadoes.

Photo by Randall Higgins/Times Free Press.

Displaced students from the destroyed Blue Springs Elementary School will attend either Waterville Community or Black Fox elementary school.

Legislative changes include new rules for getting tenure and the end of teacher negotiations for contracts, something the county system, but not the Cleveland city system, took part in. Now such negotiations are a collaborative effort among various education groups and the school system.

But whatever system is in place, "good teachers never have to worry about keeping your job," McDaniel said.

Victoria Dawn Pritchard, homebound instructor for the Cleveland School System, is the 2010 recipient of the Lillie F. Fitzgerald Execellence in Teaching Award from the Cleveland/Bradley Public Education Foundation.

Photo by Randall Higgins/Times Free Press.

As part of the program, the Cleveland/Bradley Public Education Foundation announced that Victoria Dawn Pritchard, homebound instructor for the Cleveland City Schools system, is the Lillie F. Fitzgerald Excellence in Teaching Award recipient for 2010.

Rodney Fitzgerald, speaking for the Public Education Foundation and presenting the award named for his mother, introduced Pritchard, the fifth recipient of the annual award.

"Education is a diverse profession with lots of gifted professionals in a variety of roles," he said. "A homebound teacher provides instruction for any student unable to attend school due to a certified, medically diagnosed health or emotional condition."

Pritchard's teaching days often include stopping to see students and their families when they are in hospitals, Fitzgerald said, including one little girl who wanted her teacher present during her last days.

Pritchard said she already was working in home health care when she became a teacher to the homebound.

"So two things I love correlated," she said.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.