Last week, on May 3, 2013, the Lonoke Public School District recognized the hard work of the nursing staff. Nurse Stacy, Nurse Julie, and Nurse Katrina assist our students and staff daily in helping to take care of their health and well-being. We appreciate all the knowledge, support, guidance, and responsibility that they provide. As we have more and more children being diagnosed with health conditions, it is important for us to have a qualified and responsible nursing staff. We are fortunate to have these ladies!

The week of May 6-10, 2013, is Teacher Appreciation Week. We are proud of the teaching staff at Lonoke. These ladies and gentleman work hard each day to enrich the lives of our youth and prepare them to become tomorrow’s leaders. Teaching is much more than an 8-3:30 job; it is a chosen professional career. There is much time involved in being an effective teacher. Teachers must obtain 60 hours each year of professional development in a variety of professional areas. Technology is changing constantly, and the teachers have to participate in training so that they are able to provide the skills to the students effectively.

We, at Lonoke School District, value our new teachers, and have offered support and encouragement along the way. This year, district personnel have met with the new teachers at least once a nine weeks to offer professional development and answer questions that arise during the first year. The first year of teaching brings challenges to a teacher that they have never experienced. We have had a great set of mentors that have spent time above and beyond to guide and foster development in the teaching profession. We want all our teachers, new and experienced, to know that they are supported and appreciated.

A new teacher evaluation system will begin at our school system next school year. It is called the Teacher Evaluation Support System (TESS Model). This model of evaluating teachers came from the work of Charlotte Danielson, a well-known national author of teacher evaluation. The state of Arkansas has adopted this model, and placed it into law beginning with the 2014-15 school year. The Lonoke School District has decided to jump in full force with the required 24 hours this summer that the teachers must take and begin the new evaluation process next school year. Principals must participate in the training process for administrators and pass an exam in order to evaluate the teaching staff. There is no required exam for the teachers, only the training and presentation of artifacts to prove that they are meeting the requirements of the evaluation model. This model will require principals to be in classrooms more than ever so that they can gather evidence and provide feedback to the teachers to help support improved teaching and learning. It is not a requirement for the superintendent to pass a test or go through the training modules in order to test, but I will be taking the test along with my principals in order to help guide them and to be aware of the process for evaluation. The school district will be responsible for providing the appropriate technology and resources that is required to perform these evaluations using this new system.

Accountability is at an all-time high for teachers across Arkansas. In today’s teaching profession, teachers must do much more than just teach. There is more preparation in order to provide the students with career and college readiness skills, more time must be devoted for meetings to plan together as a team of educators to meet the needs of the students, more involvement is necessary from the teachers to be active in the community and work with parents, and training takes up a large part of what teachers, in years past, use to call their summer break. We appreciate those that have chosen this special career and to work for us at Lonoke Public Schools. Teachers touch the lives of students every day. Thank you to our nursing staff and teaching staff. You are greatly appreciated for what you do!