As parents, you may count how ‘time flies’ based on current sports and school schedules. Once school begins, there is a whirlwind of homework and extra-curricular activities available to the children of the area. We are reminded by the Marco Island Police Department to slow down and drive more cautiously now children will be on their way to school. There has been a multitude of green shirts running around Mackle Park for football practice as seen in our cover shot. Pre-season football games have already hit television and now it’s time to send the children off to school each day. So, how will the new school year shape up according to school principals George Abounader and Jory Westberry…?
A week before the start of school, Marco Island Charter Middle School (MICMS) had 364 students enrolled. “After two years of declining enrollment, due to families seeking employment in other parts of the state and country, we are currently seeing a small increase in our enrollment. In fact, we now have a small waiting list for the sixth grade, and 10 – 15 seats available in grades 7 and 8,” commented Mr. Abounader, MICMS Principal. “In the first few days after the start of school, we analyze attendance. We expect some students may have moved out of the area and not notified us or the school district. We make efforts to contact the parents to determine if the student will be attending. We can only hold a seat for ten days.”
A new teacher has been added to faculty this year, Ms. Elisa Cahill. She will be the school’s Right to Intervention (RTI) coach, a new position that will assist teachers as they differentiate instruction for each student. In addition to assisting teachers, Mrs. Cahill will teach three courses. By utilizing Mrs. Cahill in these ways, the school will be complying with the federal No Child Left Behind Act and the state’s Class Size Reduction Amendment and students should benefit immensely.
“Ms. Cahill will be looking at how we motivate our children to learn. Students, even at the same achievement level, learn through different methods, and what works for one student may not work for another,” said Mr. Abounader. “Ms. Cahill will be an asset to the effectiveness of our curriculum and the progress our students education.”
MICMS is in their last year of a second contract with Collier County School District. The first was a three-year contract, the second was for a five year term. Mr. Abounader expects another contract for at least five years to be signed shortly, based on the performance of the school. Mr. Abounader said, in addition to the contract renewal, “The school will be working to retain the ‘A’ level rating and to meet Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) as designated by the 34 criteria set by the State of Florida. MICMS will also introduce a new character development program called Positive Behavior Support (PBS).”
Tommie Barfield Elementary has five new teachers and a new Assistant Principal. Dr. Jory Westberry, Principal, says, “They are very excited and are going to be an asset to our school and community.” The new faculty includes two 3rd grade teachers, Paulette DeFazio and Caitlin Smith, a 4th grade teacher, Melinda Chesser; a 5th grade teacher, Ed Laudise; a PE teacher, Nancy Gutierrez; and Assistant Principal Diana Little. Dr. Westberry adds, “Our biggest goals this year are to actively implement a new math series, which includes all kinds of high interest student manipulatives and strategies for higher order thinking. We also hope to earn an “A”, as assessed by the state, and to achieve Annual Yearly Progress as measured by NCLB (No Child Left Behind).”
As with MICMS, enrollment in elementary school tends to fluctuate during the first two weeks. Tommie Barfield is anticipating enrollment numbers to be similar to the 2009-2010 school year.