(Posted Dec. 20, 2018)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
The preschool programs at Jonathan Alder Schools are seeing stars.
Last year, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services tapped the district to take part in Step Up To Quality, a rating system for all preschools and daycares that receive public funding.
The system assesses everything from staff qualifications and curriculum to student, family and community engagement.
“We applied for five stars and embarked on a year-long process. We found out last week that both of our pre-K programs earned five stars,” reported Jennifer Korn, director of student services, at the Dec. 10 school board meeting.
Jonathan Alder offers preschool at Monroe Elementary and Plain City Elementary. Each serves an average of 25 students per day.
The top rating will have a positive impact on the funding the programs receive from the state. Exact dollar figures are not yet available, Korn said.
Bus driver shortage
Jonathan Alder is short on bus drivers.
“We have no substitute drivers,” Superintendent Gary Chapman said, adding that one of the district’s full-time drivers is out with a broken elbow.
Advertisements for drivers have generated little response, he said. The first posting was for four hours a day with benefits at a starting rate of $18.73 per hour. The second was a combined position, offering four hours a day for bus driving and four hours a day for custodial work, also with benefits.
The school board suggested that Chapman look for additional ways to get the word out.
“This is a common problem for districts across the state,” Chapman said of the driver shortage.
Mental health awareness
Two upcoming events will promote mental health awareness among students, staff and parents.
For the second straight year, the Clark, Greene and Madison Counties chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) will present mental health information and resources at a local boys’ basketball game. This year’s event will take place during Jonathan Alder’s away game against London on Jan. 11.
Also, the New Albany Community Foundation has invited Jonathan Alder High School students and staff to participate in a lecture and discussion led by Glenn Close, an award-winning actress and mental health advocate.
The lecture will take place on Jan. 15 at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center of the Arts in New Albany. Jonathan Alder can send up to 100 students and staff, free of charge.
Close will talk about the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness. In 2010, she co-founded Bring Change To Mind, a non-profit organization with a mission to encourage dialogue and raise awareness and empathy about mental health.
Students and staff who attend the lecture will receive copies of “Resilience: Two Sisters and a Story of Mental Illness,” written by Jessie Close in collaboration with Pete Early and Glenn Close.
Canaan Middle School’s fifth- and sixth-graders are exploring career options through the school’s first ever Career Connections class, a program taught in partnership with Tolles Career and Technical Center.
Students Jason Dietry, Hailey Neely, Samantha Pauly and Jesus Ventura were selected to tell the board about the class. They talked about the impact of technology on career options and the importance of soft skills, like time management, work ethic and communication. Students are taking interest surveys that tell them the types of classes and skills they need for certain jobs and the salaries that come with those jobs.
The class also includes a community service component, emphasizing the merit of giving back to the community. Students have participated in projects to benefit the Humane Society of Madison County, hospitalized children, and military veterans.
Teacher Virginia Turner said that few other career classes exist in Ohio at the fifth- and sixth-grade level. She has taught such classes for older students and said creating a curriculum for younger students has been an interesting challenge.
“It’s a learning experience for me, as well as them,” she said.
Turner added that she is amazed at how many of her young students already know what careers they want to pursue.