Education notebook: State teacher of year finalist a Macon native

When Georgia’s Teacher of the Year finalists were announced last week, a Cherokee County nominee drew a cheering crowd from Macon.

That’s because Kelly Hagood Burke was born in Macon and graduated from Mount de Sales Academy then left for a specialist’s degree from Georgia Southern, said her mother, Jean Hagood of Macon. Burke is now a physics teacher at Woodstock High.

Burke’s son and daughter attend school where she teaches, but Hagood said none of her grandchildren have attempted her daughter’s physics class.

Steven Greer, a Dodge County High School Junior ROTC instructor, also was nominated. The winner will be announced May 14.

STAR students named in Bibb, Twiggs

Mount de Sales Academy senior Mark Boltri was named Bibb County’s STAR student recently.

His teacher Benjamin Rollins was named STAR teacher at the 2010 STAR student and teacher banquet held Feb. 23 at Macon State College.

Other student finalists were Daniel Whatley, Central Fellowship Christian Academy; John Greene, Central High; Jenni Seale and Catherine Taylor, First Presbyterian Day School; Zach Zion, Howard High; Jasmine Hill, Northeast High; Andrew Bennett, Rutland High; Hania Bisat, Stratford Academy; Caroline Jackson, Tattnall Square Academy; Cameron Jones, Westside High; and James Owens, Hutchings Career Center.

Twiggs County also announced its STAR student as Kristen Hope Brown. Twiggs’ STAR teacher is biology teacher Candida Fielding.

Each year, the Student Teacher Achievement Recognition program honors a top senior from each high school in Georgia, as well as each student’s most influential teacher. Students are nominated at the high school level when they have the highest score in one sitting on the Scholastic Assessment Test taken through the November test date of their senior year. Student nominees must also be in the top 10 percent or among the top 10 students in their class.

The STAR student awards are coordinated by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation and local chamber of commerce organizations.

Boltri and Brown, as well as other midstate county winners, will compete March 15 in the regional STAR student competition to be held in Macon.

That winner will then move on to compete for the state title.

Private schools may team up to offer classes

Some midstate private schools are considering teaming up to offer specialized courses to students, a private school headmaster said.

Private school leaders met recently to consider starting a Middle Georgia Independent School Consortium, Tattnall Head of School Larry Collins said.

For example, if a few Tattnall students want to take an Advanced Placement Music Theory course, it may not be affordable for the school to pay an instructor, so private schools may ask one expert teacher to offer the course and open it up to other private school students also wanting the same class.

Also, public schools have started a new integrated math program that teaches students starting in ninth grade some algebra, geometry and other math concepts. If those students then transfer to private schools, private schools aren’t sure in which math class to place the student. The collaborative approach would help the student take different math courses simultaneously, Collins said.

Collins said the private schools are creating a list of teachers expert in certain subjects and would take turns as the host sites. The offerings may start as a summer program, he said.

“We all want to offer select courses,” he said. “A cooperative effort may help all of us.”

Bibb public schools highlight tech programs

Since February was Career, Technical and Agricultural Education month, Bibb County public schools invited community stakeholders and the media to view programs offered to students.

Howard High focuses on teaching as a profession, and programming and other computer-related skills. Rutland High has a concentration on architectural drawing and design. Southwest has law and justice, and Westside High focuses on construction.

Northeast offers a plant science and horticulture pathway designed for students to become oriented to the comprehensive program of agricultural education.

Central offers a broadcast and video production focus, while Hutchings Career Center offers flight operations, culinary arts, an automotive program, health-care science, interactive media and small-business administration, according to a school system news release.

Wesleyan students honored for community service

Wesleyan College in Macon was named to the 2009 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, according to a news release. It is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

Wesleyan is one of 115 schools nationally, and four in Georgia, to receive the Honor Roll with Distinction Award.

State clarifies position on cutting down school days

The Georgia Department of Education was recently asked to give the state House and state Senate thoughts about what should be done if the revenue continues to decline and the state is faced with even more of a deficit. One possible consideration mentioned in a meeting was to shorten the school year, according to a news release from the GDOE.

Superintendent of schools Kathy Cox issued the following statement: “I believe there is a need for clarification about the Department of Education’s position regarding the state budget. I maintain that drastic and severe cuts hurt teachers and students and negatively impact the progress we have made in recent years. If there are further cuts to (school system funding) then we can’t expect things to be business as usual. While we fully recognize the severity of our revenue shortfall, we are not in favor of additional cuts to public K-12 education.”

Cox also said it’s “unrealistic” to cut planning days for teachers.

Peach schools to start enrolling pre-k students

Peach County will register students who will start kindergarten in the 2010-11 school year March 9 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the training room of the Peach County Board of Education, according to a school news release.

Students being enrolled in kindergarten must be 5 years old by Sept. 1.

To register a child, the following items must be provided: a completed registration packet, the child’s Social Security card, an original certified birth certificate, proof of immunization (Form 3231), a current Ear, Eye, and Dental Form 3300, two documents to show proof of residency such as a current bill or lease agreement, picture identification of the person registering the child and proof of guardianship if someone other than the child’s parent is present at registration. Parents can pick up registration packets at any elementary school, preschool and daycare in Peach County before March 9.

Telegraph staff writers Mike Stucka, Julie Hubbard and Andrea Castillo contributed to this report.