Education notebook: Houston educators get certification

Ten teachers were named Master Teachers in Houston County this year, nearly doubling the number of educators in the district with the distinction. The Georgia Master Teacher Certification program is sponsored by the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, the state Department of Education and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. It began its first selection process in 2006.

The program is open to public school teachers in the state who have three or more years of teaching on a clear, renewable certificate in Georgia. To be recognized as a Master Teacher, each applicant must show both student achievement and improvement in the classroom.

Teachers receiving the designation in 2010 are: Cynthia D. Davis, Bonaire Middle; Brandy S. Farrell, Warner Robins Middle; Jennifer Hall, Parkwood Elementary; Georgia A. Hart, Warner Robins Middle; Kimessia Hughes, Warner Robins Middle; Carla J. Roberts, Bonaire Middle; Evelyn Shope, Lake Joy Elementary; Robin Way, Bonaire Middle; Lakeitha Weston, Warner Robins Middle; and Stephanie S. Wilson, Bonaire Middle.

“That’s certainly a point of pride, that our teachers want to achieve that level,” said Superintendent Robin Hines.

With the 10 teachers, there are now 23 Master Teachers in Houston County.

Bibb County system requests extension to buy additional digital cameras

The Bibb County school system reported this past Thursday that it had installed new security cameras at several schools but then ran out of matching funds before it could buy more.

In June 2007, the school district was notified it could receive $607,790 from the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services Secure Our Schools grant to use if it matched the funds to buy digital video cameras. To date, $225,600 has been spent from the grant and then matched by 2005 sales tax monies.

Digital video cameras, which record objects more clearly and for longer periods of time, were installed at Southwest High, Central High, Ingram-Pye Elementary, Northwoods Academy and at the district’s campus police, purchasing and maintenance offices, officials said.

The grant will expire Aug. 31, however, and the district has applied for an extension, school officials said.

If granted the extension, the district will use 2010 sales tax monies or bonds to match the remaining balance of $382,190 to install cameras at Appling, Ballard-Hudson, Bloomfield, Howard, Miller, Rutland and Weaver middle schools, as well as Northeast, Rutland and Westside high schools and Hutchings Career Center.

Efforts to improve writing scores under way

In an effort to improve writing in Bibb middle schools, the system plans to gauge students’ writing over time, not just through a one-time writing exam.

The state’s eighth-grade Georgia Writing Assessment will be given in January to grade students on their ideas, style and writing effectiveness.

The district plans this school year for teachers to give a pre-assessment to eighth-graders soon, and then give a mid-year writing assessment in November.

The plan will give eighth-grade teachers more than a month to work with students based on their needs, before the state exam.

A post-writing assessment also will be given in May to assess growth, school officials said.

Houston career academy to hold open house

The Houston County Career Academy will hold its open house Monday from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The open house was originally scheduled to take place Aug. 10 but was pushed back to encourage greater participation and account for construction going on at the school, said Beth McLaughlin, director of community and school affairs.

The Houston County Career Academy, formerly known as the Houston County Career and Technology Center, is the system’s first charter school.

The school is revamping its electronics and welding classrooms, among other extensive interior renovations, made possible through a $3 million Career Academy Grant. Students also will be able to enroll in two new academic programs this year: engineering electronic manufacturing and teaching as a profession.

Bibb students opt for technology, survey says

A Bibb County school system survey of 100 students showed most students own at least three technology devices, from game systems to iPods to laptops, said Julie Christopher, Bibb’s assistant superintendent of technology.

In the survey, students indicated they like having choices when it comes to learning, such as preferring to take math or science in the mornings versus afternoons. They also indicated in the survey, she said, that they don’t like learning confined in the classroom.

“They want choices, whether it’s learning outside or in the media center,” she said.

The survey was presented to the school board Thursday to have conversations about the future use of technology purchases in school.

Netbooks and iPods in school may allow students to watch recorded lessons of their teachers or do homework even before they get to class. A few Rutland High School teachers, for example, create apps based on study units for students to download on iPods the school lets them check out.

Christopher said the 2010 special penny tax monies, which earmark $20 million for new technology, will start rolling in soon, and the district needs to have conversations with the board about what to purchase and how new technology should be implemented.

Bowen Trust names scholarship recipients

Twenty-five recent high school graduates have been awarded scholarships from the R.A. Bowen Trust to help them attend college this coming school year.

The trust was established in 1943 to provide four-year college scholarships to deserving students from the Macon area and to students attending school in Macon. Since then, the trust has helped more than 1,000 students during their college careers. Besides the new recipients, the trust also is helping 67 current college students.

All scholarship recipients receive $2,000 per year to be used toward their academic expenses.

The new scholarship recipients for fall 2010, announced by trustees R.A. Bowen Jr., Charles A. Yates and Robert A. Bowen III, are:

Taylor Atkinson, University of Alabama; Tarver Bechtel, Georgia College & State University; Jennifer Bilow, Georgia College & State University; Brandon Brown, Georgia Southern University; Burgess Brown, Georgia Tech; Emmalee Brown, Harvard University; David Canady, University of Georgia; Jordan Corbitt, Georgia Tech; David Darnell, Georgia College & State University; Marcellus Drew, Fort Valley State University; Logan Easterwood, Georgia Tech; Ashley Garrett, University of Georgia; Cara Grainey, Wesleyan College; Shelley Green, North Georgia College & State University; Kristen Henning, Samford University; Sydney Herrin, Mercer University; Hilary Hogg, University of Georgia; Abigail Jones, Wesleyan College; Peterson Jones, University of Georgia; Rebeckah Rabun, University of Georgia; Mary Sikes, Georgia College & State University; Emmy Stroup, Georgia Southern University; Catherine Taylor, Auburn University; Jessi Thompson, University of Georgia; Rebecca Wyche, Georgia Tech.

Macon State offers degree entirely online

Macon State College recently became one of the University System of Georgia’s five affiliate eCore institutions, paving the way for some students to be able to complete bachelor’s degrees entirely online.

According to the college, eCore is a University System initiative that gives students the opportunity to complete their first two years of college in an online environment.

Although eCore classes are taught by faculty from throughout the university system, students must be enrolled in one of the five affiliate institutions.

Macon State sought to become an affiliate institution in large part because it already offers online all junior- and senior-level courses for a Bachelor of Science degree in information technology. By becoming an eCore affiliate, students majoring in IT also will be able to complete the core curriculum — primarily those courses that are required in the freshman and sophomore years — online.

Dual enrollment program approved for Bibb students and Wesleyan

The Bibb County school board approved Thursday in its committee meeting a dual enrollment program between school system students and Wesleyan College.

The board approved a memorandum of understanding for a joint enrollment program for students to simultaneously receive high school and college credits. No further information was presented.

Old rocks making way to classrooms in Bibb, Houston counties

The Middle Georgia Gem and Mineral Society in Macon is allowing Bibb and Houston County school students to get their hands on million-year-old fossils.

With fossil donations from Columbus State University, Georgia Southwestern State University, Pactiv Corp. and Kamin Minerals, the society assembled and donated 71 egg carton rock and fossil sample kits over the summer, with many of the specimens coming from Georgia.

The kits will go to several Bibb County schools for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, as well as Westside Elementary and Bonaire Middle schools in Houston County.

The group’s mission is to promote the earth sciences, the lapidary arts and the collection, study and display of rocks, minerals and fossils. The group meets at 7:30 p.m. the first Monday of each month at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Macon. For more information, visit

Staff writers Julie Hubbard, Andrea Castillo and Oby Brown contributed to this report.