Whitesburg KY

Talk angers Jenkins parents

Charges made by teachers that many students in the Jenkins Independent School System either lack motivation or don’t have the ability to learn have been met with disapproval by parents.

Several teachers who were called as witnesses made the comments while testifying in the early morning hours of March 6 during the two-day demotion hearing of former Jenkins Middle-High School Principal Teresa Bentley.

Several parents attending the March meeting of the Jenkins Independent Board of Education last week said they read about the statements in newspaper accounts of the hearing and found them disturbing.

Board Chairman Durward Narramore Jr. told the parents that coverage of the comments was accurate and said the board is determined to see that every child is able to learn to the absolute best of their ability. Supt. Debbie Watts agreed.

“I believe all the children in the system can learn,” said Watts. “We will give them 110 percent effort. If they struggle we will help them. We want to make sure every student who graduates has the ability to go on to college if they choose.”

Middle-High School Interim Principal David Lester, a retired teacher and administrator from Pike County, said emphasis at the school is now on staff responsibility and student motivation. Lester said he sees tremendous potential in the students at Jenkins and has never been in a school that has a better student to teacher ratio. Narramore said that as long as the current board is in place the emphasis will be on the students.

Several ways to improve student learning were mentioned at the meeting. Among them was the possibility of scrapping the fourday school week and returning to the traditional five-day week. A state assistance team has already recommended against keeping the four-day week and said the more instructional time that could be given to students the better it would be.

Since the four-day week was implemented grades have declined and a rise in substitute teachers has been noted. Narramore cautioned that no plans have been made to scrap the four-day system and added that a hybrid could be implemented as well.

In other business, the board heard from Kristie Collett, assistant principal at McRoberts Elementary School, who said the school is now a beehive of activity. Collett said the McRoberts Campus had conducted an open house, a puppet show, and a spaghetti dinner with over 75 community members attending. She also said some students from the high school had come over to read Dr. Seuss books to the elementary students, much to the delight of the younger children.

“The kids at McRoberts feel like they have something that is theirs,” said Collett.

Collett also reported conducting a math and reading enrichment program and said AAU basketball will enable McRoberts students to interact with county students. She said a Career Day will be held on April 17, a science fair is planned for April 16, and a family night at McRoberts Community Center is scheduled for May 15. Board member Eileen Sanders said she was particularly impressed with the science fair and would like to see a district science fair held as well.

In other business:

• Two proposed dates for graduation were presented by Principal Lester. If the state approves calamity days being requested, graduation will take place May 22 at 7 p.m. in the Jenkins High School Gymnasium. If the days are not granted, diplomas will be presented the next Friday (May 27) in the same location at the same time.

• The board voted unanimously to approve the itinerary for this year’s senior trip. Sponsor Brian Breeding told the board he had been able to lower costs by contracting with Seals Tours of Neon for transportation. The cost per student is $600. About 30 seniors will participate.

• The board voted unanimously to advertise four buses for sale as surplus property and to approve a memorandum of agreement with the Kentucky Interlocal Schools Transportation Association to finance the purchase of new buses.

• The board voted unanimously to enter into a contract with the Letcher County Recycling Center for disposal by shredding of confidential documents.

Leave a Reply