Schools director receives positive assessment from board

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright’s annual evaluation was presented to Wilson County Board of Education last week at its January meeting.

The school board members were the participants in the evaluation. They heard comments from the principals and assistant principals within the district, per Wright’s suggestion.

There were four surveys within the evaluation and multiple questions within each survey. The total of all answers was 100 percent per question, and each board member represented 14 percent. For each question, respondents were asked to respond as to whether they strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree or did not observe.

The first survey was about mission and vision. That is how Wright “promoted the success of all students by facilitating the development, articulation, implementation and stewardship of a vision of learning that is shared and supported by the school community,” according to the evaluation.

There were six topics under the heading. The first was “establishes and communicates a clear vision for school improvement.” Seventy-two percent of the board said it strongly agreed, while 14 percent agreed and 14 percent were neutral.

Under the heading “in collaboration with others, uses appropriate data to establish rigorous, concrete goals in the context of student achievement and instructional programs,” 58 percent strongly agreed, while 28 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed.

The next category was “uses research and/or best practices for improving the education program.” Fifty-eight percent voted they strongly agreed, 28 percent agreed and 14 percent were neutral.

The fourth category was “articulates and promotes high expectations for teaching and learning.” In that category, 72 percent strongly agreed, 14 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed.

The next statement they were to respond to was, “aligns and implements the educational programs, plans, actions and resources within the district’s vision and goals.” In that area, 43 percent strongly agreed, 43 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed.

The final category under this survey was “provides leadership for major initiatives and change efforts.” In that category, 58 percent strongly agreed, 28 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed.

The next survey was instructional leadership. That is “to provide all students with the opportunity to attain increasing levels of individual achievement that [prepares] them for success.”

There were eight statements, or categories, under the survey.

The first was “recommends to the board, for its adoption, all courses of study, curriculum guides and major changes in tests and time schedule to be used in the schools.” Forty-three percent strongly agreed and 43 percent agreed with the statement. Fourteen percent disagreed.

The second category, “oversees the timely revision of all curriculum guides and courses of study.” In that category, 43 percent strongly agreed, 43 percent agreed and 14 percent were neutral. The third category, “develops guidelines and direction for monitoring the effectiveness of existing and new programs.” Fifty-seven percent strongly agreed, 29 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed.

The fourth category, “keeps board informed regarding developments in other districts or at state and national levels that would be helpful to the district.” Seventy-two percent agreed while 14 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed. The next statement was, “provides a laser-like focus toward identifying and meeting system-wide goals.” Fifty-seven percent agreed, 29 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed.

The sixth statement was, “recruits employees and trains such personnel as may be necessary for increased student achievement.” Twenty-nine percent strongly agreed, 57 percent agree and 14 percent disagreed.

In the next category, “holds meetings of administrators, teachers and other employees as necessary for the discussion of matters concerned increased student success,” 57 percent strongly agreed, 29 percent agreed and 14 percent were neutral.

The final statement in the survey was, “prepares and recommends short- and long-range plans for board approval.” Forty-three percent strongly agreed, 43 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed.

In the community-public relations” category, which was “[building] effective partnerships with all stakeholders,” there were five categories.

The first was, “promotes community and parental support of the schools. Interprets district programs, services, reports, etc.” Fifty-seven percent strongly agreed, 14 percent agreed, 14 percent disagreed and 14 percent did not observe.”

The next was, “identified available community resources.” Forty-three percent strongly agreed, 43 percent agreed, and 14 percent disagreed. Following that category was, “maintains contact and good relations with the local media.” Seventy-two percent strongly agreed, 14 percent agreed and 14 percent were neutral.

The next statement was, “communicates well with the Board of Education.” Fifty-seven percent strongly agreed, 29 percent agreed and 14 percent strongly disagreed. The final statement was, “ensures that district interests are represented in meetings and activities of city, county and other governmental agencies. Seventy-two percent strongly agreed, 14 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed.

In the financial management” area, which was “to monitor and adjust [the] district budget to ensure solvency and optimum benefit for funding sources,” there were four categories.

The first was, “provides direction to and supervision of school business functions.” Fifty-seven percent said they strongly agreed, 29 percent agreed and 14 percent were neutral. The second statement was, “encourages development and strong implementation of sound business practices and assess those practices to achieve efficiency.” Fifty-seven percent said they strongly agreed, 29 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed.

The third category was, “annually prepares budget for board’s approval, and subsequently presents the approved budget to the appropriate committees and county commission for adoption.” Fifty-seven percent said they strongly agreed, 29 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed.

The final category was, “ensures that funds are spent prudently by providing adequate control and accounting of the district’s financial and physical resources.” Fifty-seven percent said they strongly agreed, 14 percent agreed and 14 percent disagreed. Fourteen percent did not observe that action.

The participants were allowed to make comments. They were anonymous.

“This past year have proven our Director of Schools Dr. Donna Wright continues to navigate the growth of our county in experience, protecting the strength and integrity of the system as a whole,” said one board member. “She has proven to be a leader in all facets from the [board of education] to the students.”

A second board member said she “communicates well with some of the board.”

Another comment was, “Dr. Wright is a pleasure to work with. She promptly answers questions and follows up to ensure understanding.”

“Dr. Wright continues to move our school system forward academically by focusing on student learning and positive outcomes,” a fourth board member said. “She provides superior leadership while continuing to meet the needs and challenges of our school district during a time of unprecedented growth.”

“I think Dr. Wright is doing an outstanding job,” another board member said. “She is extremely supportive of our employees, and she truly cares about the people we serve.”

The last comment said, “One of Dr. Wright’s strengths is her vision of success and high expectations to achieve them. Most of the highly motivated administrators and teacher work well with these expectations. After interacting at some statewide, I am even more thankful to have Dr. Wright leading our county and am thankful for the team she has assembled.”

School board wants to replace TNReady test with ACT Aspire

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

The Wilson County Board of Education discussed the replacement of the TNReady student assessment with ACT Achieve testing for the next school year Thursday night at its meeting.

Officially known as the Wilson County Board of Education Assessment Act of 2019, the measure, which will still fall under the federal government’s Every Student Succeeds Act, permits local education agencies to administer a locally selected assessment in lieu of the state-designated assessment as long as the locally selected assessment is a nationally recognized assessment approved by the state.

TNReady is the current testing program and is part of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, which is given to students from third through eighth grades. It is designed to assess true student understanding, not just basic memorization and test-taking skills.   

According to Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright, the TNReady tests are designed to assess what students know and what can be done to help them succeed.

“The [TNReady] has been plagued by issues that have resulted in assessment results being inconsistent and invalid,” she said.

In the past four years the TNReady tests were given, the program came under fire because of software problems that often slowed the test results or made them unavailable.

Wright said the American College Testing is a nationally recognized high school assessment approved for use by the state.   

“The ACT provides consistent and valid assessment results that measure true student understanding in furtherance of the goal of the,” she said.

“Utilizing the ACT will provide Wilson County Schools with the ability to compare the growth and achievement high school students from year to year. ACT assessment results will provide invaluable information for Wilson County teachers regarding what can be done to help every student succeed.”

While the ACT is given to high school students as a requirement to get into some colleges, a program that branched off the ACT is the ACT Aspire, which offers a system of “aligned summative assessments that can be implemented at a state, district, or school level,” Wright said.

“ACT Aspire provides classrooms, districts and states aggregate growth statistics to measure how much growth occurred in each growth category.”

Wright said ACT Aspire data could be used as an indicator for program effectiveness. 

“ACT Aspire provides a standards-based system of assessments to monitor progress toward college and career readiness for grades three through early high school,” Wright said.

She said both the ACT Aspire and the ACT measure student development of knowledge and skills in English, mathematics, reading, science and writing for third graders through seniors.   

The TNReady test measures knowledge in English-language arts, math, science and social studies.

“The Wilson County Board of Education is committed to maintaining student achievement and growth at the highest level possible,” Wright said. “The ACT Aspire and the ACT will be appropriate and reliable methods of assessment for students. The Wilson County Board of Education shall administer ACT Aspire and the ACT in lieu of the state-designated assessment for students beginning in the 2019-2020 school year. The assessment results shall fulfill the testing accountability requirements under the [TCAP] and the Every Student Succeeds Act.“

There is a cost to the ACT Aspire test, and board member Wayne McNeese asked how the school system would recoup the cost.

“We’re not the only county to do this,” Wright said. “Two years ago, there were seven systems that did this exact same thing. We would ask, if approved, that the cost that would have been expended on TNReady [be used for the ACT Achieve]. That will be part of the request. It’s just not in the resolution itself.”

McNeese asked if the testing is changed, “can we get away from merit-based pay [for teachers]?”

Wright said, “I don’t see that that will be something teachers will look at what they see in their performance pay. It will still measure teacher effectiveness. I think that’s something the board will have to determine that we want to get out from performance pay and what would be the will of the teachers. Those aren’t bonuses.”

Some teachers opted out of the performance pay. Those teachers said they didn’t want the scores to be used against them. More than 400 nullified their scores.

The measure passed unanimously. The resolution will be submitted to the Wilson County Commission’s Education Committee, which will consider it and potentially present it to the full commission.

“[We want] them to acknowledge that this is the right step,” Wright said.

The commission would then present it to the Wilson County legislative delegation, and Wright hopes they would sponsor it as an act in the Tennessee General Assembly for approval. With changes in state leadership, she said she hopes the ACT and ACT Aspire are still viable options for testing.

“I’m hoping there’s still interest in moving this forward as a private act and allowing Wilson County to be able to step out,” Wright said. “Again, we’re not trying to get out of assessments. We’re just looking at something we see as a better model and will give us much-needed information.  Really, [the ACT and ACT Achieve] are parallel to TNReady testing.”

School board OKs resolution to oppose voucher program

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

A voucher program, which would allow students to use public funds to pay for private school tuition is before the Tennessee General Assembly.

Voucher programs also are known as “opportunity scholarships,” “education savings,” “tax credits” or similar terms. The Wilson County Board of Education voted Thursday night to send a resolution to the General Assembly that opposed the voucher program. The board said it would take money away from public schools.

“Proponents have spent millions to convince the public and lawmakers of their efficiency, yet, more than five decades after introduction, vouchers remain controversial, unproven and unpopular,” said Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright.

“In every legislation since 2010, there’s been a voucher bill. Sometimes multiple bills have been put forth. We’ve been told that there are multiple bills that will be put forward this year. Gov.-elect Bill Lee said he is open to supporting vouchers, as well.”

Several lawmakers support the voucher system, including Lee, a Republican, and newly elected House Speaker Glen Casada, R-Thompson’s Station.

The Constitution of the state of Tennessee requires that the Tennessee General Assembly “provide for the maintenance, support and eligibility standards of a system of free public schools,” and the state has established nationally recognized standards and measures for accountability in public education, according to the resolution

“Vouchers eliminate accountability, by channeling taxes to private schools without the same academic or testing requirements, public budgets or reports on student achievement, open meetings and records law adherence, public accountability requirements in major federal laws, including special education laws,” Wright said. “Vouchers have not been proven effective at improving student achievement or closing the achievement gap, and vouchers leave students behind, including those with the greatest needs, because vouchers channel tax dollars into private schools that are not required to accept all students, nor offer the special services they may need.”

Wright said vouchers would only pay for part of the tuition, not the full amount. That would affect students in need, she said. Unlike public schools, the private schools do not have to offer spots to every student who wants to go to the school, she said.

The school systems are paid by the state for each student in the school system. With the voucher system, students would attend a private school. Therefore, the Wilson County school system would not receive money for the students.

Wright said underfunded public schools are less able to attract and retain teachers, and vouchers give choices to private entities, rather than to parents and students, since the providers decide whether to accept vouchers, how many and which students to admit and potentially arbitrary reasons they might dismiss a student.

Wright said she is concerned about the fact vouchers divert critical funds from public schools to pay private school tuition for a few students, including those who already attend private schools.

“Vouchers are inefficient, compelling taxpayers to support two-school systems, one public and one private, the latter of which is not accountable to all taxpayers supporting it,” she said.

The resolution said the Wilson County Board of Education “opposes any legislation or other similar effort to create a voucher program in Tennessee that would divert money intended for public education to private entities.”

The resolution passed unanimously. A copy of the resolution will be delivered to the governor, each member of the Tennessee General Assembly and Wilson County Commission, as well as the state education commissioner.

School board discusses how it follows policies

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Mt. Juliet parent Kristi Dunn accused the Wilson County Board of Education of not following its policies and procedures at its January meeting Thursday night.

“Per the [Tennessee School Board Association] website, policies are guidelines adopted by the board to chart a course of action,” she said in a prepared statement. “They indicate what the board expects and may include why and how much. School board policies are official and legally binding only when approved in an official meeting of the board and written on the minutes.”

She gave the local school board examples of how she believed the board didn’t follow its own policies.

“On Oct. 23, 2018, we had a special-called board meeting requested by our high school principals to solidify a class ranking system and to adopt a grading system to put us in compliance with the state, according to Monty Wilson per The Lebanon Democrat,” she said. “This was not published on our school website in its usual place per board policy 1.402.

“It has come to my attention and others that the exam exemption policy was stricken from the record at the meeting. It also violated policy 1.402 in which the purpose of all special-called board meetings are to be stated. No longer is the exam exemption policy in the written student agenda, handbook or board policy 4.6 that we can find, or central office staff can find. It doesn’t exist.

“In the past few months, we have also ignored policy 1.8 pertaining to the school calendar. The board is to appoint a calendar committee, policy 3.210 the naming of a school. The board is to vote on the name of a school and did not vote on the name of the new middle school. Policy 1.108 ethics: We have an ethics committee that has yet to meet or name a chair or secretary.”

Concerning the exam exemption policy, Dunn said, “We say we are honoring the exam exemption policy, but with these policies having been ignored and no written record, how are parents to trust the board or the district? It is the job of the board to set policy and enforce policies, and if there is a policy you don’t like, then you vote to change it. You don’t ignore it or just don’t follow it or let others ignore it or not follow it. You have your students and parents sign a contract in the handbook at the beginning of the year that we will abide by your policies you have created. But, yet, you yourself don’t. Shouldn’t we expect the same from you?”

According to the Tennessee School Board Association, “When a policy is violated, the board must insist on consequences for the violator. The board can never turn its head and allow its policy to be violated. Certainly, the board must never violate its own policy. It may change or abolish the policy, but never violate it.”

It continues, “Like the law, it is mandatory, not optional that the school board policy be followed. Also like the law, school board policy does not enforce itself. It is imperative that the school board insist that the policies be followed and failure to follow policy results in consequences.”

Wilson County Schools is a member of the TSBA, according to Wilson County Schools spokesperson Jennifer Johnson Currently, 126 of 141 school districts in Tennessee are members of the TSBA.

Board member Wayne McNeese brought up the issue at the end of the meeting.

He said the board has never appointed a school calendar committee to make up the official calendar for the 2019-2020 school year. However, a calendar for that year was presented to and approved by the board. In addition, the board also approved a calendar for the 2020-2021 school year, which McNeese said was against board policy.

“There are several things that we should have done on that policy that we did not,” he said, adding the calendar committee members are recommended by the director. “The first line says that, ‘no later than the end of each school year.’ That means we have to do this every year. We cannot, by board policy, do a two-year, three-year or four-year [calendar] in advance, as we have in the past.”

He said the board, “ought to go by policy or we do not, because we did not follow this policy, as far as a calendar committee. Some of the other things that we should have done in here, I want to make a motion that we abolish our current calendar for the 2019-2020 year, because we did not do it per board policy.”

The motion failed 5-2. Board members Linda Armistead, Chad Karl, Tom Sottek, Bill Robinson and Larry Tomlinson voted against it, and Kimberly McGee and McNeese voted for it.

Sottek said the ethics committee should meet to appoint a chair, vice chair and secretary. After discussion, the board decided to meet Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. before the next board meeting. He asked county attorney Mike Jennings what would constitute an ethics complaint that the board would discuss.

“The ethics committee is for someone who has committed an unethical act,” Jennings said, [such as], accepting a gift that is improper.”

Sottek said he wondered about how to examine the board not following policy.

“I guess I’m confused as the purpose of an ethics committee,” Sottek said, asking about following board policy. “I’m wondering if not following policy is something that we should discuss and then bring before the school board.

Jennings said, “You have no choice. You have to follow board policy. But that’s not typically what [is discussed by the ethics committee]. Typically, you think of something illegal or immoral. A difference of opinion is not something that you’ll discuss. It’s not something you use as a political tool.”

McNeese said he agreed with part of that.

“A difference of opinion has nothing to do with this,” McNeese said. “It’s pretty black and white as far as the calendar committee.”

Director of Schools Donna Wright admitted there was no calendar committee, but she said, “We had input from different [people] and had a public information meeting that was not well attended.”

Board chairman Larry Tomlinson said in the past, people on the calendar committee were asked why there is a committee “when [board members] don’t follow it anyway. I’ve always said, ‘I’m going to vote for the calendar the committee recommended,’ and I’ve always done it.

“If it says in the policy that it needs to be a one-year [policy], then that’s what we need to do. If we need to go back and change some policies, then that’s what we need to do.”

Jennings said as far as policy, “It’s got to be followed, and it’s up to the board members to call that out if the board is not following policy.”

McNeese agreed.

“That is correct, and I think it’s time we follow board policy,” he said. “I don’t mean to bring this before the ethics committee. If somebody stole some money, that’s what the ethics committee is for.”

He said he brought up the fact that the board didn’t follow policy when positions were filled.

“It’s up to the board to create positions,” McNeese said. “There is a financial implication to that.  We did nothing when I brought it up before, and I think it’s time that we abide by board policy or make a motion that we do away with all of these policies and start from scratch – one or the other. We’ve got to abide by board policy.”

Friendship Christian School basketball homecoming court

Friendship Christian School will celebrate basketball homecoming Friday. The ceremony will take place at 5:30 p.m. prior to the games with Davidson Academy.

The homecoming queen is Bayley West, daughter of Bill Bob and Kimberly West, of Lebanon. The homecoming king is Jake Blair, son of Rick and Kristen Blair, of Mt. Juliet. The senior attendant is Cameron Burton, daughter of Terry and Renee Burton, of Lebanon. The senior escort is Landon Crecelius, son of Stephen and Renee Crecelius, of Lebanon. The junior attendant is Mallory Dean, daughter of Jennifer and Charley Dean, of Lebanon. The junior escort is Jaheim Robinson, son of Adam and Kimberly Tune, of Lebanon.

The sophomore attendant is Khia Nicole Young, daughter of Kera Dye and Jerry Young, of Lebanon. The sophomore escort is Cole Cottrell, son of Renn and Nancy Cottrell, of Lebanon. The freshman attendant is Nishika Shah, daughter of Vick and Mona Shah, of Lebanon. The freshman escort is D.J. Rogers son of Amy Flippin, of Gallatin. Pictured (back row, from left) are Rogers, Robinson, Blair, Crecelius, Cottrell, (front row, from left) Shah, Dean, West, Burton and Young.

Wright tells Education Committee about state mentorship program

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

There was no business to vote on at Thursday’s Wilson County Education Committee meeting, so chair Commissioner Annette Stafford asked Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright to give the committee an update.

Wright discussed a number of items at the meeting, but one of the highlights was that Wilson County has 100 percent participation in a state mentoring program.

“With Tennessee Promise, Tennessee Achieve, it’s always been something for students to access. Many of them are first-time college and having to be able to navigate [the scholarship process],” Wright said. “About three years ago, the governor’s office launched a program to get mentors for students. They could go through all the things they needed to go to as far as college.

“In Tennessee, if you go through the resources they have and make a 21 or better on the ACT, you can more or less go to college. Two years or four years [is] essentially free in the state. Many districts around the state are struggling to get mentors. But we’re one of 21 school districts out of 140 high schools that has met 100 percent goal. We have someone for every student that’s going through the process of Tennessee Achieve, so that’s good.”

She also mentioned state testing, which is the end-of-course testing for high, is winding down for the first semester.

“There’s not been any of the historical glitches that have been newsworthy,” she said. “It doesn’t happen in the fall, because it’s limited to high school testing. It’s going to be interesting when everybody goes online in the spring, elementary, middle and high, and East Tennessee goes online an hour earlier, so we’ll see.”

She said Bethany Wilson was named the new principal for Gladeville Middle School that will open next fall.

“We had a panel interview and went through multiple rounds,” Wright said. “She’ll start on Jan. 3. Dr. Donna Shaffer is the principal at Watertown Elementary, and Angie Pulley is going to be the assistant principal there.”

Flyers that went out to the public for the sales tax referendum, was a $70,000 project that was split 50-50 between the county and the school.

“There was a reimbursement of $50,000 that came back,” she said. “It was split 35-15.”

The majority went back to the county, county finance director Aaron Maynard said. “That’s because [Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto] was able to make “a deal for assistance for funding from [Eastern Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors.]”

Wright said, “We entered into it willingly, because the benefit would have been to the school district. Unfortunately, it didn’t play out as we were hoping, [the referendum failed by] 2,200 votes. I’ve heard many people say if they had known about it earlier…they would have thought about it differently. We’ve heard that over and over.”

She also said the semester is “winding down for the holiday, and I’ve already been informed by one middle school boy not to let it snow during Christmas [break], because that is a wasted day. He was saying it’s got to snow while we’re in school, so we can get out.”

Wilson, Lebanon schools receive new state report card

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Wilson County Schools and Lebanon Special School District received a new, redesigned state report card for 2017-18 from the Tennessee Department of Education this week.

The new report card was developed in the past year with educators, parents and community organizations and includes a number of new features based on the feedback, including school ratings, a Spanish translation of the site and additional new data about the performance of different student groups.

The school information was broken down by achievement, growth, chronically out of school, proficiency in English language, ready to graduate and graduation rate.

Scores were given to different group and subgroups, such as race, economically disadvantaged, English as a second language students and those with disabilities. The scores were rated 1-4, and four is the highest score.

The new report card is intended to help families better understand school performance and support student success. The updated design of the report card and information included in the tool, including the new rating system, is based on input the department received as it developed a plan to transition to the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, and has several components unique to Tennessee.

This is not the first time the department has published a report card, but this is the first time the report card provides schools with ratings on up to six indicators designated in Tennessee Succeeds, the state’s ESSA plan. These indicators capture different aspects of school performance and include academic achievement, academic growth, chronic absenteeism, progress on English language proficiency and graduation rate. The report card also includes a new measure called the Ready Graduate indicator that looks for students’ readiness for college and career to let families know how well students are prepared for life after graduation.

Ratings are based either on how well the school did overall or how much it improved over the last year; the school receives the higher of the two. The report was also translated into Spanish.

Wilson County

Wilson County’s 20 elementary, middle and high schools were among those on the report card.

“I’m pleased by the performance our district, but we will use this data to identify any areas that need to be worked on,” said Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright. “Ultimately, a quality education is about more than a score, but any information we receive helps us to become better.”

Elementary Schools

Carroll-Oakland School’s overall scores were a 1.7 in achievement, 1.9 in growth, while it scored a 3.1 on chronically out of school and 3 in proficiency in English language.

Gladeville Elementary School’s scores were a 2.8 in achievement, 0.5 in growth, 3.3 in chronically out of school and no score in proficiency in English language.

Lakeview Elementary School’s overall scores were a 3.2 in achievement, a 1.3 in growth, while it scored a 2.7 on chronically out of school and no score in proficiency in English language.

Mt. Juliet Elementary School’s overall scores were a 3.6 in achievement, a 0.5 in growth, while it scored a 3.9 on chronically out of school and a 4 in proficiency in English language.

Rutland Elementary School’s overall scores were a 3.7 in achievement, a 1.7 in growth, while it scored a 2.9 on chronically out of school and a 2.6 in proficiency in English language.

Southside School’s overall scores were a 2.6 in achievement, a 1.7 in growth, while it scored a 2 on chronically out of school and no score in proficiency in English language.

Stoner Creek Elementary School’s overall scores were a 3.5 in achievement, a 3.8 in growth, while it scored a 3.2 on chronically out of school and a 4 proficiency in English language.

Tuckers Crossroads School’s overall scores were a 1.4 in achievement, a 0.4 in growth, while it scored a 2.1 on chronically out of school and no score in proficiency in English language.

Watertown Elementary School’s overall scores were a 2.8 in achievement, a 2.5 in growth, while it scored a 1.1 on chronically out of school and no score in proficiency in English language.

West Elementary School’s overall scores were a 3.3 in achievement, a 3.6 in growth, while it scored a 2.5 on chronically out of school and a 4 in proficiency in English language.

W.A. Wright Elementary School’s overall scores were a 3.1 in achievement, a 3.6 in growth, while it scored a 2.5 on chronically out of school and a 4 in proficiency in English language.

Elzie D. Patton Elementary School’s overall scores were a 3.7 in achievement, a 3.7 in growth, while it scored a 3.8 on chronically out of school and a 4 in proficiency in English language.

Middle Schools

Mt. Juliet Middle School’s overall scores were a 3.2 in achievement, a 0 in growth, while it scored a 2.4 on chronically out of school and a 0 in proficiency in English language.
Watertown Middle School’s overall scores were a 1.8 in achievement, a 2.3 in growth, while it scored a 1.6 on chronically out of school and no score in proficiency in English language.

West Wilson Middle School’s overall scores were a 3.5 in achievement and growth, while it scored a 2.6 on chronically out of school and 0 in proficiency in English language.

High Schools

Lebanon High School’s scores were a 1 in achievement, 3.5 in growth, 3.8 in chronically out of school and a 1 in proficiency in English language. It also received a 2.2 in ready to graduate and a 2.2 in graduation rate.

Mt. Juliet High School scored a 3.2 in achievement, 4 in growth, 2.1 in chronically out of school and no score in proficiency in English language. It also received a 3.6 in ready to graduate and a 3.9 in graduation rate.

Watertown High School scored a 2.6 in achievement, 3.9 in growth, 2.1 in chronically out of school and no score in proficiency in English language. It also received a 3 in ready to graduate and a 4 in graduation rate.

Wilson Central High School scored a 1.6 in achievement, 3.2 in growth, 2 in chronically out of school and a 1.8 in proficiency in English language. It also received a 3.6 in ready to graduate and graduation rate.

Lebanon Special School District

Lebanon Special School District’s six schools were also counted.

“Our administrators, teachers and students across the system work so hard. It is a major accomplishment to have half of the schools in the system recognized by the Tennessee Department of Education as Reward Schools and for the system overall to be classified as exemplary for the second year in a row,” said Lebanon Special School District Director of Schools Scott Benson earlier this year. “I am extremely proud of everyone involved. We will continue to focus on areas of improvement and at the same time celebrate success with our students and teachers.”
Benson said the achievement area was the success rate of English language arts, math and science combined. LSSD officials tallied the numbers and discovered with a 51.9 rating, it had the highest achievement rate from any district in the counties that surround Wilson County.

Elementary Schools

Byers Dowdy Elementary School’s overall scores were a 3 in achievement, a 3.8 in growth, while it scored a 2.8 on chronically out of school and a 3.9 in proficiency in English language.
Coles Ferry Elementary School’s overall scores were a 2.4 in achievement, a 1.8 in growth, while it scored a 2.9 on chronically out of school and a 3 in proficiency in English language.
Sam Houston Elementary School’s overall scores were a 3.6 in achievement, a 2.3 in growth, while scoring a 2.7 on chronically out of school and a 4 in proficiency in English language.
Castle Heights Elementary School’s overall scores were a 3.3 in achievement, a 1.4 in growth, while scoring a 2.3 on chronically out of school and a 4 in proficiency in English language.

Middle Schools

Walter J. Baird Middle School’s overall scores were a 3.8 in achievement, a 3.7 in growth, while scoring a 2 on chronically out of school and a 1 in proficiency in English Language.

Winfree Bryant Middle School’s overall scores were a 2.3 in achievement, a 1.8 in growth, while scoring a 2 on chronically out of school and a 1 in proficiency in English Language.

To view the full report, visit

Cook’s Cantata expects to be traditionally nontraditional

Staff Reports

Just because a Christmas cantata is traditional doesn’t mean there isn’t room outside the gift box for a little creativity. 

Cook’s United Methodist Church choir members plan to color outside the lines Sunday and put a little extra bit of themselves into the 9:30 a.m. Christmas chorale service.

This will be a world premiere, as the lyrics for five of the six songs in the cantata are written entirely by Cook’s choir members with music added by choir director Rick DeJonge. The Cook’s choir will expand for the event, swelling to 28 voices, which will be backed by a 15-piece orchestra.

“I love writing music, but I’m not as strong lyrically,” said DeJong, who has had songs recorded by Willie Nelson and Liza Minelli, which demonstrates quite a range of his own. “This was a chance to get others in the choir involved. We were able to tap into some hidden talent.”

A phenomenon was witnessed by some of the amateur songwriters, as some songs seemed to write themselves without the need for a cocktail napkin on which so many songs were written in Music City.

“I’d never tried to write a song before despite having a long background in music,” said Ed Watson, a former Top Gun fighter pilot and retired CEO of the Barbershop Harmony Society. 

Watson’s writing topic was Joseph, and he wasn’t sure what to say at first. 

“I woke up at about 5 a.m. one morning and wrote my piece in about 30 minutes,” said Watson.

Sally Swaney and Sandy Wright also admitted they had the writing process go much faster than anticipated when first given their assignment.   

Wright also has a strong barbershop harmony background but found a home in the Cooks choir after moving from Pennsylvania.

“My topic was the shepherds, and I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about them,” Wright said. “It turned out to be much easier once I imagined their point of view, how scared they must have been by the star. It then went pretty quickly.”

Swaney also woke up one morning and wrote most of her assignment about the star, but then reached out for a little help.

“I called my sister, Susan, in Michigan, and she helped me polish some parts,” Swaney said. “She probably should get some writing credit.”

Maybe divine inspiration doesn’t require a napkin but sometimes needs a sister.

Erin Cervenansky has the most experience writing songs, as she loves mixing lyrics and music. She had a more measured approach to writing her topic, which was “waiting for a savior.”

“The chorus came to me pretty quickly,” Cervenansky said. “For the story portion of the lyric, I looked in the Bible for the prophesies for inspiration.”

Joyce Gaines had a centerpiece topic with Mary in “The Handmaid of the Lord.”

“Writing the lyrics challenged me to think about Mary’s story from the perspective of a young teenage girl,” said Gaines. “She thought she knew what her future would look like, then her world got rocked by the angel. The story in the song is the same, but perhaps it’s told in a different tone.”

The Cook’s choir includes DeJonge’s talent and originality. He writes the music for Disney World’s Thanksgiving parades each year. He was conductor of the Wilson County Honor Band last year and the Rutherford County Honor Band this year. 

The Cook’s Cantata is open to all Wilson County residents and will be held in the friendship hall at the church at 7919 Lebanon Road in Mt. Juliet.

There are also provisions underway to simulcast the event on the web and in Cook’s newly renovated sanctuary in the event of an overflow crowd. 

Orchestra director ranked among top 50 nationally

Staff Reports

School Band and Orchestra magazine recently presented its annual list of 50 directors who make a difference for the past two decades, and Mt. Juliet High School’s Sherie Grossman was selected to represent Tennessee this year. 

The list is designed to focus a spotlight on one outstanding music educator from each state. Honored directors were nominated by students, colleagues, band parents, administrators, friends and sometimes even the spouse of a director who’s witnessed their ongoing dedication on a regular basis. This year, the magazine pored more than 880 nominations before it arrived at its final 50. 

Once the selections were made, each director was asked reflect back on their career and answer a host of questions. The following is what Grossman had to say about her 16 years of teaching.   

What is your proudest moment as an educator?

“I have had many proud moments, from former student successes to the current student playing a passage for the first time correctly,” Grossman said. “But something that makes me very proud is the startup and success of the orchestra program at Mt. Juliet High School. It is the only orchestra program in Wilson County, and I’m amazed at the students’ progress.”

How do you hope to make a difference in your students’ lives?

“I try hard to open as many doors of opportunity to my students by encouraging them to audition for outside music groups, take lessons and bring in guests to work with them,” Grossman said. “I want them to be inspired and instructed by more than just me and to have unique experiences in their music careers. I also want them to have high expectations and reach further than they think they can.”

What’s the most important lesson that you try to teach your students?

“I try to instill a love for music and a feeling of camaraderie within my students,” Grossman said. “I know they all won’t be professional musicians in the future, but I hope they will be consumers of music, appreciating all genres. I also teach them that this is the one and only time their particular group of people will ever get to create art together. Every group is unique, and we all need to appreciate that uniqueness.”

To see the full list of educators who made this year’s list, visit

Schools debates student transfers

By Matt Masters

[email protected]

The Wilson County Board of Education debated changes to student transfers within the system and heard from three middle school students who had some issues with how teachers are treated and represented in the district at its Monday night meeting.

The board approved on final reading a policy regarding student transfers within the school system, something Zone 1 board member Wayne McNeese spoke out against. He said the policy change took away an option previously open to parents of Wilson County students who are also school employees.

The policy previously allowed students of teachers and school administrators to attend whatever school the parents wanted, but was changed to say the students of teachers and administrators should stay in the feeding pattern of the schools where the parent works.

The policy also shortened the application period from Feb. 1 through March 31 to Feb. 1-28 for the next school year. The change was reportedly made to get students information and classes in order by March for the next school year. School principals, who felt the timeline for transfers should be shortened to get students prepared for the upcoming school year, brought up and supported the change.

The changes passed 4-3. Board members Bill Robinson and Tom Sottek voted against the policy, along with with McNeese.

Three Mt. Juliet Middle School students also spoke to the board about concerns regarding teachers’ salaries and unpopular changes to fall break.

“As many may know, teachers in Wilson County don’t receive the proper salary they work hard for and deserve in this district. Teachers are underpaid, ignored and underappreciated,” said Mark Habashi said as he spoke to the board, along with fellow eighth graders Kaitlyn Davenport and Madison Lachowicz.

“Teachers, especially in Wilson County, work their absolute tails off every single day to make sure that students like us receive a proper education. Time and time again, teachers’ needs have been ignored by the school board and central office. Statistics show that Wilson County teachers are better off in Williamson County, Rutherford County and Davidson County where they make a higher salary than they do here,” Habashi said.

In an email with The Lebanon Democrat, Habashi said he and the other students’ motivation to speak at the board meeting and have further correspondence with board members was to make sure their teachers’ concerns and needs were heard and understood.

“We started by wanting to make changes to our school then learned about the bigger issues in the district, and we wanted to see if we could make a difference in our community. Teacher pay, unions and fall break were all issues brought up by teachers and parents several times, which made us take notice and address those issues to the school board,” Habashi said.

While the board was impressed by the group and commended their willingness to speak, they were not exactly supportive of the assertion teachers weren’t treated well or were underappreciated, something in which Habashi said the group was disappointed.
“We were hoping for more of an open and positive reaction from the school board. Most of there reactions more or so encouraged us to do ever more to make sure teachers’ needs are fulfilled,” Habashi said.    

Phil Wilson with the Bridge Fellowship church asked the board for a two-year extension for the continued use of Watertown Middle School for church functions, which the board approved.

Director of Schools Donna Wright detailed a few issues with testing. She said Wilson Central High School students whose ACT tests were nullified last month were given another chance to take the test Dec. 4.

Wright said students in need of meal assistance are eligible for backpacks with food. The board discussed ideas of how to serve less-fortunate students without bringing unwanted attention to them.

Wright also said the district is in talks with a local church that may donate a traveling food bus and traveling classroom, which could be operational in May.

Wright said the district plans to hold a site visit of 40-50 superintendents to see how Wilson County Schools operates in July.

Wright also announced that Wilson County Schools was one of 20 districts that met its goal for TN Achievement.

Mickey Hall, deputy director of schools, said construction on the new Gladeville Middle School and Green Hill High School were both coming along well. He said the district is currently hiring staff for Gladeville Middle School.

The board unanimously approved a bid on school buses by Mid South Bus Sales. It also approved a bid for digital transformation of good and services awarded to Dell Technologies by a 6-0 vote, with McNeese abstaining. A mini bid was awarded to CDW Government LLC for wireless technology.

The board unanimously passed a voluntary early retirement incentive, along with the final reading of personal, professional and bereavement leave, which featured no changes to last year’s policy.

The board also unanimously passed a policy on district water testing, which said all district facilities built before Jan. 1, 1998 will have their drinking water tested every two years.

Students from Stoner Creek Elementary School also treated the board to a presentation of Christmas songs.

Cook to participate in Governor’s Academy for School Leadership

Staff Reports

NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam announced the participants selected for the 2019 Governor’s Academy for School Leadership, a one-year fellowship program to cultivate and develop future school leaders across Tennessee and improve school effectiveness and student performance.

Rachel Cook, assistant principal at West Elementary School in Mt. Juliet, is among the participants.

It marks the fourth year of the academy, a unique partnership between the state, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College and local school districts, to provide an opportunity for exceptional assistant principals to increase their leadership skills.

“The success of our students and our schools starts at the top, so it’s critical to identify and build future school leaders ready to guide our students and teachers to greatness in the classroom,” Haslam said. “We’ve made record investments in K-12 education, raised our standards, and increased accountability, and, while our students and teachers are rising to the challenge, we must have strong principals to support them and continue the momentum.”

The performance of Tennessee’s students in math and reading remains among the fastest improving in the nation, and they have demonstrated historic gains in science, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly known as the Nation’s Report Card. Additionally, for the fifth year in a row, Tennessee had a record high school graduation rate – 89.1 percent in the 2017-18 school year.

A total of 29 participants from the first three cohorts were promoted to principal. The academy’s goal is for all participants to be promoted to principal within three years of completion. The program has impacted 32 partnering school districts that represent all regions of the state. 

Each assistant principal selected for the 2019 GASL class will be paired with an experienced principal mentor, attend monthly group training sessions and a week-long summer institute at Vanderbilt and will intern three days a month at his or her mentor’s school. Upon completion of the academy, participants will be expected to pursue placement as a school principal in their districts or regions.

Participants were nominated by their district’s director of schools and selected through an application and interview process conducted by representatives from Haslam’s office, the Tennessee Department of Education and Vanderbilt University.

Mt. Juliet student among region’s top high school chemistry students to earn awards at MTSU tournament

Staff Reports

MURFREESBORO – Many of the brightest young minds in chemistry from high schools across the region participated in the recent Middle Tennessee State University Department of Chemistry Scholarship Tournament.

MTSU chemistry officials revived the tournament, which was last held in 2015, and conducted once again in the science building.

The event was an effort to recognize nearly 30 outstanding chemistry students from Rutherford and surrounding counties and get them to consider MTSU as their college choice. Participants included seniors who had completed a year of chemistry and qualified juniors.

Incentives included special awards – scholarships to attend MTSU and cash – to the top three finishers from the about 90-minute exam “based on general chemistry that a high school student would have covered,” said professor Norma Dunlap, who oversaw the running of the event.

College of basic and applied sciences dean Bud Fischer presented scholarships and checks to first-place Faith Viers ($2,000 scholarship and $500) with Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro, runner-up Callie Hall ($1,500 scholarship and $300) with Central Magnet and third-place Daniel Bergman ($1,000/$100) with Mt. Juliet High School.

The students toured the 250,000-square-foot Science Building, including research labs, that opened in 2014 and learned about the program from current students Myranda Uselton, 2015 tournament winner; Kayley Stallings, 2015 participant; Avraz Anwar; and Daniela Taylor.

The visiting students observed research posters that were presented by MTSU students at regional and national meetings. The chemistry department provided gifts for the students and their teachers.

“Our intention is to make this a yearly event,” Dunlap said.

MTSU has more than 300 combined undergraduate and graduate programs.

New principals named at Wilson County schools

Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright tapped two new principals and one assistant principal Tuesday at two different schools.

Bethany Wilson, assistant principal at West Wilson Middle School, was named principal at Gladeville Middle School when it opens next fall. 

Also, Donna Shaffer removed the interim from her principal’s title at Watertown Elementary School, according to Wright. Angela Pulley, a longtime teacher and administrator, replaced Shaffer as assistant principal.

Wilson has worked for the district for more than eight years. She was hired in 2010 as an English teacher for Wilson Central High School. In 2015, Wilson was named assistant principal at West Wilson Middle School.

Prior to coming to Wilson County, Wilson served as an English teacher for Franklin Road Academy and Metro Nashville Public Schools. 

As a 2017 graduate of the Governor’s Academy of School Leadership, Wilson will be an asset to Gladeville Middle School, Wright said. 

“It is a great honor to be selected to serve as the first principal of Gladeville Middle School,” Wilson said. “I am excited for the opportunity to work alongside teachers, parents and students to establish a learning environment where students are our focus, and academic excellence is our main pursuit.”

Wilson will start her new position Jan. 3, and a search will begin for her replacement at West Wilson Middle School.

Wright described Shaffer as a seasoned educator with more than two decades of experience as a teacher and administrator in the Lebanon Special School District.

Wilson County Schools hired Shaffer as assistant principal at Watertown Elementary School, and she served in that capacity until Sept. 25, when she was named interim principal due to former principal Anita Christian’s unexpected retirement. Shaffer was previously assistant principal at Castle Heights Elementary School, a position she held for several years.

“I’m honored that Dr. Wright has entrusted me with guiding the direction of Watertown Elementary.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know these students over the past four months, and I look forward to working with the dedicated staff to continue providing a strong educational foundation for them in the years to come.”

Pulley has worked for the district since July 2008, when she was hired to be a teacher at Southside School. In 2017, Pulley was promoted to assistant principal at Southside. Prior to her work in Wilson County Schools, Pulley was a prekindergarten teacher.

Mt. Juliet High School students soar in choir

Staff Reports

The Middle Tennessee Vocal Association played host to the All-Mid-State and All Freshmen Honors Choir event Nov. 12-13 at Christ Church in Nashville, and several Mt. Juliet High School students took part in the event.

Mt. Juliet High School students auditioned Oct. 19-21, along with about 1,600 students. The top-scoring students earned their way into the honor choirs. Out of the 420 Mid-State Choir students selected, Mt. Juliet High School had 30 participants. Out of the 160 Freshmen Honor Choir students, Mt. Juliet High School had 22 freshmen participate.

Students rehearsed and performed with clinicians from the University of Memphis, Middle Tennessee State University, Tennessee Tech University, Chattanooga Boys Choir and Austin Peay State University. The students not only had a great experience, but they also made themselves scholarship eligible for several colleges and universities.

Mid-State Choir members from Mt. Juliet High School included Margaret Adkins, Rachael Baldwin, Madison Burnette, Madison Campbell, Anthony Cash, Logan Casto, Bryton Cole, Landon Collins, Hunter DaBell, Noah Dillon, Delaney Eaves, Macey Fee, Sam Ford, Caitlin Garrett, Kyle Hacker, Tatum Hazel, Takiah Ledo, Avery Leggett, Celeste Maas, Nikko Manipis, Ella Mercer, Neville Riley, Matt Porter, Evan Reavis, Macy Ruggiero, Gracie Shaddox, Molly Smith, Addie Stafford, Alexia Stotsenburg and Brad Thompson.

Freshmen Honor Choir members from Mt. Juliet High School included Lindsey Armstrong, Ally Barnett, Alexis Bumbalough, Jarrett Buskirk, Isabelle Cosby, Halli DaBell, Olivia Ellis, Hailey Hraba, Avery Johnson, Rachel Joyce, Kassi Pape, Cadence Perry, Halle Pollei, Taylor Powell, Ava Rainey, Tess Raney, Jordan Rehm, K’Miyah Smith, Karissa Szarek, Kayla Taylor, Abby Taylor and Sydney Welch.

Wilson Central High School students’ ACT tests nullified

By Matt Masters

[email protected]

The parents of 391 students at Wilson Central High School received letters recently that said the students’ ACT scores were nullified after they took the test in October.

Wilson Central principal Travis Mayfield sent the letter to parents to explain and apologize for the issue. He said the issue was due to several factors that stemmed from an Oct. 2 ACT security breach.

Due to the security breach, ACT officials rescheduled the test for Oct. 16, which fell during Wilson Central’s fall break. The students’ were scheduled to retake the test Oct. 30, but the test wasn’t returned in exchange for tests with the new test date, something ACT officials require for security reasons, which all resulted in the students taking the wrong tests.

Mayfield said students who took the ACT with accommodations were not affected and would receive their scores.

Students will have an opportunity to take or make up the ACT on Dec. 4 at Wilson Central.

It is not clear whether the rescheduled test will have any negative impact on students who plan to apply for college and meet deadlines to turn in applications. Wilson County Schools public information officer Jennifer Johnson said students’ college applications shouldn’t be impacted by the testing delay.

Wilson County school board discusses countywide rezoning

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

A rezoning plan for most Wilson County and Lebanon Special School District schools for students headed to middle and high schools was expected to be the main topic of discussion at Monday’s Wilson County Board of Education meeting.

The only school not part of the zoning map, created by the county’s transportation department, is Tuckers Crossroads School. There was recent controversary about plans to turn the school into a kindergarten through fifth-grade school and bus sixth- through eighth-grade students to Watertown Middle School.

But according to Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall, that will not be on the agenda Monday night. There is expected to be no further discussion of the matter, Hall said.

Hall led the discussion about the different areas of the county and where each of the schools could potentially be a feeder school for the middle and high schools. The map was created to balance out the schools in population.

For his presentation, Hall included dozens of pages with addresses and notifications of the school the respective students would attend. He said the school system did not want to separate subdivisions or streets, where students on one side of the street attend one middle school and students on the other attend another.                                

During his talk, Hall outlined streets that outlined an area that would be a middle school zone and explained what high school those students would attend. In some cases, the middle school and high school would change from what it is currently, he said.

Another new high school could be in the future of the county since “the city of Lebanon has told us that there could be 8,000 people living on the north side of Lebanon in the next 10-15 years,” Hall said. “The Lebanon Special School District is already proposing a new elementary school on the north side of Lebanon for Five Oaks east. That is a tremendous amount of people on the north side of Lebanon High School.”

As he explained the different high school zones, Hall said Wilson Central High School pulled students from different areas in the county.

“Wilson Central zone has always had the largest land mass of all our schools,” he said. In addition, now that the new zones have been proposed, students in the northern and southern part of the east section of the county would go to Watertown High School.

Board member Wayne McNeese was concerned about students north of Interstate 40 in the eastern part of the county traveling to Watertown High School.

“Couldn’t they be rerouted to Lebanon High School to make it shorter?” McNeese asked.

Hall said the buses would have to come to that area. Currently, the buses come to Tuckers Crossroads and then go on to the high school. If passed, all of those high school students would attend Watertown High School.

Hall said the data the county has in terms of the number of students in each high school was based on numbers as of Aug. 30. But the plan isn’t expected to take effect for two years when the new Green Hill High School opens in Mt. Juliet, he said.

Hall said with the proposed rezoning based on enrollment as of Aug. 30, there would be about 800 students at Watertown High School; 1,780 at Lebanon High School; 1,450 at both Wilson Central and Mt. Juliet high schools and 1,705 at Green Hill High School.

Hall told those who questioned the rezoning, “if you open Green Hill High School in two years, are you going to rezone Lebanon [High School] or are you going to let that fill up? What we’ve tried to do with this rezoning is to balance the schools out.”

Hall said the information was presented to the board at its request. Any changes requested during the meeting would be ready by Monday’s meeting.

West Elementary School principal’s list and honor roll

Principal’s List

Sophia Beimfohr, Elijah Booker, Adalyn Hensley, Maddie Hill, Jackson Krage, Annika Langford, Zoe Sloan, Jackson Waller, Aimi Bishop, Elijah Brent, Zoey Blackwell, Ellie Jackson, Landon Jenkins, Russell Marquis, Blakely Smith, Levi Wood, Anderson Jones, Lilli Kerney, Keaton Powell, Brielle Hill, Luis Shimamoto, Elijah Vaughan, Linley Wolfe, Jaxon Bragg, Calvin Opelt, Miracle Shehata, Tommy Travers, Kaden Ballesteros, Gunner Garcia, Sophie Garland, Wiley Linde, Savannah Napier, Andrew Pettinelli, Kyle Sleezer, Carter Williams, Grayson Bean, Georgianna Bice, James Clemons, Anthony Hoover-Thompson, Kaden Kreuger, Savannah Pullen, Josiah Spivey, Graham Branch, Blake Coffman, Riley Craddock, Addie Jo Hayes, Fiona Jones, Maddie Piper, Cameron Rood, Verina Salama, Noah Savley, Bronson Schauer, Kendall Bucher, Kailey Glover, Skyla Griffin, Justin Helm, Carter Lewis, Emma Long, Kate Plummer, Reese Staggs, Kailey Baird, Logan Crisp, Addy Embry, Ethan Odden, Nandini Rohit, Jacob Rotondo, Camren Warren, Brookelynn Aldridge, Halsey Beall, Lindie Farough, Anna Johnson, Cora Joyner, Silas Kendall, Jake Thompson, Danika Chan, Bella Free, Chloe Carter, Trevor Katzenmiller, Andrew Kistemaker, Bella Brewer, Braiden Cochran, Madison Davenport, Emma Tzompanakis, Bella Ashe, Tyler Bittman, Sabrina Larsen and Savannah Solomon.

Honor Roll

Michael Austin, Kavionna Felts, Violet Hughes, Kellen Lee, Malakai Mastello, McKinlee Stone, Jabari Thompson, Elliot Adams, Dawsyn Bain, Isabella Collier, Meredith Daniels, Jacob Farmer, Ellah Geist, Evan Krage, Chloe Lee, Lucas Mallory, Grace Moore, Joslyn Vaughn, Dylan Winter, Faith Porter, CJ Wood, Caleb Duncan, Margie Edinger, Jax Hampton, Samir Hashmi, Camden Johnson, Kynlee Johnson, Sam Kerney, John Miller, Dallas Morris, Audrey Owens, Charleigh Beck, William Casto, Julianna Inman, Kobe Johnson, Layne Perry, Austin Raethz, Liam Robertson, Antwain Saxon, Michael Thomas, Noah Wiley, Andrei Bratosin, Caleb Bullion, Nate Davenport, Mia Garland, Karen Gerges, Scarlett Joyner, Brylee Mahoney, Miriam Amin, Aynslee Bright, Payson Caduff, Aubrey Counce, Eli Griffith, Emerson Hubbard, Mckenna Kistemaker, Abby Matter, Olivia Peck, Hailey Schauer, Kaylee Williams, Max Weist, Chase Belew, Mackenzi Carter, Ava Crook, Benjamin Crook, Jaylen Ezell, Chloe Kelly, Damian McCright, Brendan Rivard, Kaden Schreher, Garrett Williams, Isabelle Amos, Ryan Bailey, Lily Bugg, Mitchel Castillo, Tyler Cox, Emma Earley, Briana Lynch, Laycee Stanfield, Atticus Waters, Houston Wheeler, Connor Bussear, Janiyah Ellison, Conner Gentry, Parker Harrison, Railynn Jones, Elie King, JP Lafaye, Jack Mclaughlin, Sabastian Rivard, Kaylin Scoggin, Graham VanCleve, Paul Shehata, Jack Bowen, Namyia Carico, Joelle Figueroa, Hite Hagar, Glen Lambert, Maizie Linde, Brycen Norris, Anna Owens, Giovanny Agaibi, Luke Carr, Cason Chapman, Manwila Demyan, Maddison Fisher, Bella Huckaby, Lilly Kittrell, Camille Mondragon, Keriakus Saber, Stephanie Williams, Layten Young, Alyssa Zielke, Ava Adams, Lily Hampton, Ashley Harris, Karina Keopf, Avery Maynard, Quinn Pare’, Jake Rainey, Matthew Swallows, Zeke Boyd, Briley Clark, Emily Davenport, Kyler Gatica, Makenna Holbert, Parker King, Bethany Lafata, Emory Martin, Cruz Ratliff, Jackson Sanders, John Binion, Henry Davenport, Shelby Diggs, Hunter Griffin, Anna Kate Hardin, Shelby Holladay, Keegan Maes, Ezra McMahon, Meret Meshreky, Kelly Nguyen, William Payne, Joshua Tidwell, Jacob White, Shanah Wilson, Cooper Maes, Corbin Nielsen, Jack Paradise, Emma Scott, Delaney Bonds, Delaney Hawkins, Addie Brown, Connor Dewald, Luke Fiscu, Gabby Hammond, Greer Gammon, Lauren Hollis, Rayna Lambert, Madyson Mayo and Thomas Tucker.

Lakeview students say no to drugs

Staff Reports

Lakeview Elementary School students recently participated in Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week is an alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention awareness campaign observed annually in October in the United States.

On Oct. 26, several students dressed as police and military to help school resource officer Deputy Caroline Keyes encourage students to be drug-free.

Mt. Juliet Elementary School principal’s list and honor roll

Principal’s List

Second Grade

Asher Adcock, Peyton Atkinson, Jolie Ayuk-Tabi, Greg Blackman, Lyndi Bolster, Evangeline Boys, Wyatt Carlson, Emberlynn Caves, Anniston Christopher, Jayden Coleman, Kaylee Compton, Liam Donovan, Reed Eastman, Everly Elekaili, Tomas Faragalla, Jack Fly, Lauren Felix, Ellie Grove, Adalynn Hagner, J’ki Hand, Abby Hawkes, Ava Hayek, Thomas Hite, Hudson Hopper, Adelynn Im, Karsyn Jenkins, Will Johnson, Tate Jones, Jackson Lord, Kalex Lowe, Emily Ludeman, Maxi Marroquin-Alfaro, Karter Mears, Christan Murphy, Jacob Murphy, Lili Neer, Nola Ordonez, Theoula Potka, Patrick Reyadh, Drake Rhodes, Christian Robinson, Ashtyn Samol, Abby Seifert, Makenzie Smithson, Nevie Stone, Mikaela Stott, Emma Strub, Oren Stueck, Sydney Sualog, Wendy Vanhoose, Matthew Vaughn, Fenmore Waters, Libby Watkins, Olivia Willms, Conner Wilson and Liliana Yohannes.

Third Grade

Avery Anderson, Sophie Anderson, Addison Bannach, Draken Beck, Jonathan Broyles, Emmy Burch, Katie Cecil, Kolton Edenfield, Kevin Freeman, Lily Griffith, L.J. Grimaldi, Keeton Hackman, Kaleigh Hanchock, Aimee Harper, Alaina Hines, Isaac Huitz, Victoria Im, Luke Landes, Reid McClain, Avery Milner, Troy Palte, Sinjan Sarkar, Will Sloan, Sarah Theriot, Nathan Tryon, Dominic Warner, Taylor Watson and Bennett Weiberg.

Fourth Grade

Ainsley Booher, Kingston Boyle, Kellen Gnann, Max Gregory, Olivia Harris, Nick Henley, Hayden Sheehy, Macy Shipley, Kaydence Smith and Colin Walker.

Fifth Grade

Hallie Anderson, Ben Bauman, Riley Bearup, Kylie Bess, Reagan Brown, Destin Chinoda, Hannah Compton, Tessa Cummings, Briahna DeCastro, Noah Dixon, Drew Eckel, Sarah Elgin, Megan Ephrem, Emma Freeman, Niko Hailu, Avery Hopper, Mark Mansour, Breckin McAnally, Luke Partin and Caleb Yohannes.

Honor Roll

Second Grade

Austin Abbott, Nahom Assefa, Roari Benson, Zach Brandon, Wyatt Bowles, Abigail Caldwell, Evelyn Cerroblanco, Skylar Coleman, Sophia Cregan, Isaiah Dominski, Sara Jenkins, Raleigh Martin, Chloe Ratliff, Chloe Reed, Dean Roller, Cali Schoell, Maggie Sloane, Natalie Williams and Alyssa Young.

Third Grade

Afomia Abel, Armia Adly, Grant Allen, Madeline Ashe, Sam Bauman, Luke Blevins, Drew Boerner, Emily Boswell, Beth Anne Broyles, Kamryn Butler, David Clemens, Zack Czerniak, Grant Dobbs, Jake Dwyer, Maddie Finney, Trey Formosa, Kylee Holleman, Namen Khetarpal, Madelyn Kim, Liam Linville, Catherine Lopez, Savannah Mattingly, Eliana Minton, Denver Munoz, Grayson Noel, Brayden Pilkinton, Norah Ratley, Loni Ratliff, Reagan Roccazzella, Althea Smith, Sophia Smith, Brayden Spohr, Landon Stacey, Elijah St. John, Ron Talbott, Isaac Thompson, Fedrick Torres, Chloe Truong, Jacob Tubberville, Noah Unland, Emery Wade, Isaac Wayne and Lucas Winfrey.

Fourth Grade

Kaleigh Amerman, Skylar Bolster, Claire Carlton, Laken Chinoda, Carter Clark, Julia Cleveland, Colt Cross, Jazzy Daniele, Chad Druen, A.J. Dungan, Taymor Elekaili, Benjamin Ellis, Michael Ellison, Matthew Fichtl, Adelaide Fly, Rohan Ganachari, Mayurika Girgis, Jackson Glascock, Kylie Golden, J’Kira Hand, Joseph Hawkes, Karsen Killian, Delaney Kutrip, Everett Lawson, Elise Lee, Sam Long, Katelyn Mallicoat, Miller Mayer, Ian Moore, Travis Moreno, Priti Patel, Jonathan Pesquera, Disha Pierce, Colton Redmon, Kiera Richardson, Lily Rowe, David Santini, Mia Sourignavong, Aubrey Stewart, Savannah Szyperski, Benny Taylor, Malachi Tinley, Ryan Walker, Lucas Waller, Charlotte Willms, Catherine Wilt, Conrad Wilson and Alex Wood.

Fifth Grade

Gomana Adli, Casey Ayuk-Tabi, Phoenix Baker, Jacob Barber, Hailey Bartlett, Abby Bauman, Paisleigh Bayless, Will Brady, Raistlen Burgenheim, Ethan Chapman, Jackson Crawford, Omeiza Daniyan, Charleigh Dick, Jaycie Dixon, Eden Dominski, Chris Farag, Riley Ford, Emerson Haley, Valencia Hibler, Jayla Hill, Vincent Huitz, Abby Johnson, Kaylee Kim, Destiny Layton, Ethan Lee, Savannah Mahoney, Rylee Marshall, Ronan McNamara, Jack McNulty, Joseph McNulty, Kiley Melton, Jordan Moore, Lydia Moore, Tyler Oakley, Braden Palmeira, Joey Phelps, Whitley Pleasant, Claire Pollard, Isaiah Powell, Lexi Reagan, Bret Robey, Julian Rotolo, Morgan Rowe, Autumn Scillian, Hannah Shell, Gracie Shewmake, Hailey Smoot, Sam Stafford, Robby Streszoff, Olivia Swierc, Ben Thomas-Short, Isabella Waters, Emmie Watkins, Abby Willoughby, Kira Wilson, Savannah Wilson, Jackson Wix, Molly Woods and Marly Yoshino.

Wilson Central assistant principal appears on ‘Ellen’

By Angie Mayes

Special to Mt. Juliet News

Fresh off her appearance with the Wilson Central High School dance team on Ellen DeGeneres’ television show, “Ellen,” Wilson Central assistant principal Ranesa Shipman was once again on the show, but this time, it was in person.

During her first appearance, DeGeneres invited Shipman to be an audience member during a taping of the popular talk show.

At Monday’s show, DeGeneres called Shipman down from the audience. Shipman called the experience, “unreal, phenomenal, outstanding. It knocked the breath out of me.”

With tissues in hand, Shipman told DeGeneres that DeGeneres was wonderful.

“I was mesmerized to be in the studio, to see people and her,” Shipman said. “What you see on TV, magnify that by 10 million. She is so pleasant, caring, loving and has a heart of gold. She has such generosity and care for people. I’m just grateful. It was a wonderful time, and I’m excited that my family and I had the opportunity. To think enough of us, to include us in the event, I’m humbled and grateful. It was a remarkable time.”

During the show, DeGeneres talked about Shutterfly’s previous gift of $15,000 to the dance team and another $15,000 to Shipman herself. At the show Monday, DeGeneres gave Shipman another $20,000 from Shutterfly to help pay off Shipman’s “secret” credit card bill.

“I’ve had it since I began teaching,” Shipman said. “There are a lot of other educators who do the same thing, especially when it comes to things needed in the classroom. We don’t want to be a burden to the parent, and the educators just get it. I don’t want to draw any attention to me. I’m not doing anything extra. I’m just doing what any other human would do to help out their brothers and sisters. I don’t want to be recognized. I just want to help people and be remembered as a loving person, who was upbeat, happy and energetic.”

She said with the $20,000, she hopes to create a nonprofit that will give back to others who need things for the school.

“I think a lot of the $20,000 will go for legal fees, but I want to start the process for creating a nonprofit,” she said. “I don’t want people to think I’m taking the money for myself. I’m giving back to the community.”

Shipman and her family were in Los Angeles for two days.

“It was a very short trip,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve slept in the past 72 hours. I had to come back, because there are people who depend on me.”