The Woodward News

June 11, 2014

School board fills positions, hears report on Gear Up

Rachael Van Horn
Woodward News

Woodward, Okla. — A new Deputy Superintendent of Instruction and Technology as well as numerous other hiring actions were approved Monday night at the regularly scheduled meeting of the Woodward Board of Education.

Jerry Burch began his teaching career in Western Oklahoma, according to Interim Superintendent Kyle Reynolds. He has been teaching in Woodward for the last year and was tapped for the Deputy Superintendent of Instruction and Technology role because of his past experience phasing in the same one-to-one laptop or iPad initiative Woodward schools are phasing in at present, Reynolds said.

“What’s critical about him is that he’s been a superintendent at schools where they have implemented the one to one iPads and laptops and he brings with him a lot of policy that he has already developed over the years regarding that,” Reynolds said.

School board members approved the temporary appropriations for fiscal year 2014-2015, and also approved a transfer from general fund to cover expenses related to alternative school, usually covered by state funds.

“Basically after school was out, the state department sent us notification that they had cut the funding for alternative school,” Reynolds said. “But we had already encumbered those funds and so we had to get our auditor to approve of us shifting money from general fund into the account to pay for alternative school.”

According to Reynolds, anywhere from 15 to 20 students per year, who might not have graduated from high school, do so under the alternative program.

 In other business, a newly established parent organization called Gear Up was on hand Monday night to inform the board of their goals for the coming school year and how they plan to interact with other parents and primarily 7th graders, who they say are at a critical learning stage before heading into high school.

Gear Up is a statewide organization through the State Board of Regents (higher education), according to Local Gear Up spokeswoman Caryl Parsons. Vice Chancellor of Oklahoma Board of Regents JoLynn Horn was also on hand in the meeting.

Gear Up’s aim is to involve the community, educators, students and parents in projects that help 7th graders become successful and feel empowered when it comes to English, math and science, Parsons said.  Ultimately the goal is to help every single Woodward student be prepared for college and have that as a choice.

“Even if they don’t plan on going to college, everyone deserves an education and everyone needs to be educated,” Parsons said. “It simply makes more choices for a kid. Some may go to career technologies  and become a mechanic, but they still need to know math.”

Parsons and her team members, Krista Yadon, and Russell Sears, were asked to attend a six day conference recently, which was parsed into two days of course work for 90 days, Parsons said.

Some of the work included getting acquainted with Woodward students through a full set of statistics gained through test scores.

“We decided we would be focusing on the 7th graders, because we began noticing that by 8th grade, that is when the math and science problems are showing up,” Parsons said to the members of the Woodward Board of Education.

Parsons said at present, the local Gear Up team is actively working in meetings with educators in Woodward Middle School about how they will roll out their program in the coming school year. While they are still in the planning stages, Parsons said the goal is to reach each and every parent and include them by helping to give them access to easy-to-include practices that each parent can employ to help their children.

“We want to start this at the community level and give these parents access to Gear Up ideas,” Parsons said. “And we need to reach out to all the community parents, not just a few. We need to touch every parent because if the community, parents, students and educators all hold hands with Gear Up at the center, we feel strongly that this is a true recipe for success.”

The board also acted on numerous hiring decisions, including

Woodward High School Ag Education Instructor – Emily Sewell; Alternative Education English teacher – Alexis Peterson; Cedar Heights custodian – Veronica Villegas; Cedar Heights third grade teacher – Brook McKeown; Early Childhood Center (ECC) cafeteria worker – Jerrie Jackson; ECC Special Education teacher – Meagan Lasley; ECC secretary -  Nicole Graf; Woodward Middle School part-time custodian – Reagan Benton and Boomer Kids Club worker – Abbagail George.