Area schools celebrate each district's achievements

Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The Wheaton School District is this year's Making Learning Coming Alive Award winner for a series of ACT workshops put on by the district. The Southwest Center for Educational Excellence recognized Wheaton's ACT workshops by presenting the district with the award Nov. 10 during the 16th annual Celebration of Schools banquet at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin. Those pictured include, from left, front row: Jessica Yang, resource instructor; Billie Jo Hardy, music teacher; Deanna Carter, family and consumer science teacher; Savanah Traylor, art teacher; Heather Senseney, junior high school science teacher; Jennifer Trent, high school math teacher; and Michael Evans, principal of Wheaton Junior and Senior High Schools. Second row: Jason Navarro, workshop coordinator and high school history teacher; Kristi Dunlop, paraprofessional; Terra Harper, paraprofessional; Holly Lacey, high school science teacher; Debbie Hoenshell, high school language arts teacher; Jodi Arnold, business teacher; and Becky Christman, junior high school math teacher. Back row: Eric Roller, VoAg instructor; Mike Austin, athletic director; Dale Forgey, secretary at junior and senior high schools; Darrell Crane, junior high school language arts teacher; Jonathan Branscum, junior high school social studies teacher; Jessica Lombard; high school girl's basketball coach and physical education teacher; and David Bolton, VoAg instructor. Contributed Photo

Wheaton honored with Making Learning Coming Alive Award

Cassville, Monett and Wheaton school districts attended the 16th annual Celebration of Schools banquet with other southwest Missouri schools to recognize their boards, teachers and staff.

Wheaton received the Making Learning Coming Alive Award for its series of ACT workshops, which the district started in 2009. Michael Evans, principal of Wheaton Junior and Senior High Schools, and Jason Navarro, workshop coordinator and Wheaton High School history teacher, accepted the award from the Southwest Center for Educational Excellence during the celebration at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin.

"The workshop is truly an all school event," Evans said.

Each December, the three-day workshop is an exercise in test taking strategy and simulation, Evans said. It coincides with an ACT test date to ensure that the lessons learned are immediately applicable. The four core teachers (English, mathematics, reading and science) provide the instruction. Paraprofessionals help grade the practice tests, and administrative assistants gather materials and bring lunch to the students.

The business teacher helps students get registered for the actual test with an assist from the counselor who also facilitates the practice test, he said. Countless other teachers and staff provide support in preparing the materials. Elementary teachers provide cards and messages of support. Coaches give motivational speeches during lunches. The cafeteria staff prepares breakfast for the students on the morning of the real test before the transportation director takes the students to the testing site as a group. Finally, the administrators provide financial support to keep the project going.

"This large commitment is designed to show our students that we believe in them and to inspire them to achieve to the best of their ability," Evans said.

Student response to the workshop has been overwhelmingly positive, he said. Many credit the workshop with helping them achieve those last few points needed to get into the college or career of their choice.

"Participation in the program has reached enormous levels for a school the size of Wheaton," Evans said.

Navarro said the district appreciates the Wheaton Southern Baptist Church for offering its facilities for the workshop.

"The annual award is presented by the Southwest Center for Educational Excellence to one of its 44 southwest Missouri member districts to honor a special program that goes above and beyond normal expectations to enhance student achievement," he said.

The celebration recognized citizens with more than 20 years as board members, which included Greg Allen and John Sullivan -- who have served on the Cassville Board of Education for 21 and 28 years, respectively.

Jonathon Apostol, Monett Middle School principal, received the Principal of the Year-Middle Level Award from the Southwest District of Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals.

The celebration also acknowledged Teacher of the Year Award recipients Sandy Fitzpatrick and Patti Daniels from Cassville; Amy Green, Justin Semerad and Beth Nation from Monett; and Kathy Henry and Deanne Carter from Wheaton.

Area members of the Webb City-based Southwest Center for Educational Excellence include Cassville, Exeter, Purdy, Monett, Southwest and Wheaton School Districts.

Richard Asbill, superintendent of the Cassville School District; Brad Hanson, superintendent of the Monett School District; and Lance Massey, superintendent of the Wheaton School District, sit on the center's board of directors.

"The Southwest Center is a collaborative groups of school districts who have joined together to provide high quality professional learning, advocacy and student learning support for school districts in southwest Missouri," Asbill said. "The Celebration of Schools is one of the events that is hosted to highlight our local school achievements and the the work being done in local communities through awards like, Making Learning Come Alive and 
Friend of Education."

U.S. Rep. Billy Long and four state legislators attended the celebration, said Jim Horton, executive director of the Southwest Center. State Sen. David Pearce, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, gave the keynote address.

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