Last night I spotted Billie England at the Oklahoma City School Board meeting, and I was a little surprised to see her. Normally teachers don’t pop up at those meetings, so I was caught a little off-guard. Then, as the meeting wound up, I figured out why she was there. The John Marshall High School math teacher was being promoted. She was named an assistant principal of Jefferson Middle School. It was neat to see someone I met and interviewed move her way up the ranks. The last time I saw Billie, she was making kids run and laugh about algebra. Here’s the story I wrote about her:
“OK my babies, OK my darlings, OK my sweetie pies.”
John Marshall High School math teacher Billie England settles down her class and starts in on her lesson.
Students calculate volume on the marker board as part of a state test review. It’s a game England plays. Each corner of her room represents one of the multiple-choice answers on a state practice test. Students work the problem and then move to the corner they think represents the right answer. The class is almost always divided.
England weaves around the desks, peeking over students’ shoulders. She pats a few on the shoulder. Her goal is to call on or physically touch every kid every hour.
“Kids have a tendency to melt into the wall,” England said. “You can’t just let those kids go unnoticed.”
England wants her students to do well on state tests, but she also wants to prep them for life. Some of her students come from loving homes; others don’t. She works at John Marshall because she wants to help them.
“They need me,” England said. “I don’t know what to say. I guess I need them, too.”
Just as the students debated the answer to an equation, the bell rang.
“Clean it up,” she said. “Go away. Love you. See you Monday.”
Sometimes there are things that just can’t fit into a story but that reporters really want to share. I wanted to share this little bit that was left on the cutting room floor from my nDepth story about Webster Middle School. (Click here to read it.)
The students in Claudette Justice’s English class hurried to summarize the beauty and vastness of nature in 17 syllables before the bell rang. Justice had already taught them how to address a letter, and the second half of her class was dedicated to haiku poetry. A girl counted syllables as she talked to herself: “I love su-shi.” She paused. “Hmm. But I don’t.”
When you plant a seed
and water it and it grows,
then pops out a tree.
Need to use to stay alive.
Forever be my love.
Birds chirping a song
they sing and hum all day long.
Soaring in the sky.
The tree shape I drew
from a little drop of paint
looks like a dancer.
Hear my heart beating.
I’ll stay with you forever,
keeping a promise.
The dog was singing.
He sang a song I once knew
so I sang along.
Bark bark yes it’s me
Owner please give me a treat
Yum yum delicious
The green leaves are gone
missing all the memories.
Autumn, please don’t come.
Look at this fabulous young ladies and gentlemen. The leadership class from John Marshall High School made a trip to the Petroleum Club to have a lunch and learn all about etiquette. A majority of the students at John Marshall are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches. How was this exciting outing paid for? The John Marshall staff. They donated to the trip and sponsored students.
Teachers in Oklahoma City and Tulsa who are using technology in their classrooms in an innovative or unique way could land some extra cash this year for their student’s benefit.
Cox Communications announced today that it will provide $58,000 in competitive grants for teachers in public or private kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms.
Educators can apply online here through the Cox Connects Innovation in Education program. Applications will be accepted through March 1.
According to the foundation, the awards will be dolled out in awards up to $2,500 each.
The application focuses on “classroom programs and curriculum that encourage and promote students’ ingenuity and imagination through the innovative use of technology.”
OU Outreach and the OU School of Geology and Geophysics are once again offering the summer camp “Earth Cycles: A Whole-Earth Approach to the Geosciences” for Oklahoma Native American and other public and private middle school students underrepresented in the sciences.
This camp is a partnership between the University of Oklahoma, The Harris Foundation and the ExxonMobil Foundation, and is free for participating students. Students will live in an OU residence hall and all expenses, including room, board, supplies, books, field trips and recreational activity expenses, will be provided.
James S. Tyree
The University of Oklahoma School of Art and Art History will host a chili cook-off fundraiser from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Lightwell Gallery, 520 Parrington Oval, in Norman.
Chili will be sold in ceramic bowls made by art students. Cost is $15 for chili in a bowl or $8 for chili not in a ceramic bowl. The bowls are dishwasher and oven safe.
Money raised through the event will go to student scholarships.
For more information, contact David Akbaran at (405)325-2691 or email@example.com.
I had the chance to get a peek at the newly renovated Edgemere Elementary School last week. The school, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, still retains much of its historic character. The outside of the building still blends into the neighborhood and even has some of the old touches inside. Crews enclosed the fire escape and you can still see some of the original outside brick in a walkway there.
One of the most interesting touches was the statue of Joan of Arc donated by the class of 1946. Principal Dennis Gentry told me that students used to touch the statue for good luck. He also said that in the 1980s when the building was being renovated, someone put the statue out to be thrown away. An alumni followed the trash truck and rescued the statue. It was returned to the school where it stayed and will remain, Gentry said.
There are pieces of history throughout schools all over the state, I imagine, whether they are buildings named for people or statues like the one at Edgemere. What kind of history is in your districts?
-Staff Writer Dawn Marks
It’s the time of year that schools get very busy right before the hush of Christmas break.
Many students are practicing for winter programs through their school bands, orchestras, choirs, drama groups and elementary classes.
I’ll never forget my fourth-grade program, “The North Pole Goes Rock-n-Roll.” I was a poodle-skirt-wearing elf, and I had one line, which I can’t remember. Although I didn’t go on to star on Broadway, I thought I was a star at the time, and my family did too.
Students work very hard on these programs, and they’re some of the best and cheapest entertainment around.
The Norman School District has a fine arts Web site that lists all of the activities going on at district schools. Visit http://www.norman.k12.ok.us/fpa/CPA.htm to find out more.
Jennifer Griswold, staff writer
CutoutDissection.com. It’s more than a Web site. It’s also the legal name of a North Carolina 19-year-old formerly known as Jennifer Thornburg.
Thornburg changed her name and started a Web site by the same name to protest animal dissections in schools, according to this article.
Separately, Oklahoma City science teacher Sherry Groeger-Godwin was selected from Northeast Academy as one of 185 middle and high school teachers nationwide as a fellow in the year-long 2008 New Science Teacher Academy. The program is designed to curb what the National Science Teachers Association says is a high attrition rate of science teachers.
Groeger-Godwin is one of four teachers selected from Oklahoma. The others are Holdenville resident Orvilla Coleman of Moss Public School in Holdenville, Mead resident Angela Joines of Silo Public School in Durant, and Pryor resident Leland “Terry” Newton of Union Intermediate High School in Broken Arrow.
Share your thoughts on dissections and science education in general in the comments section below.
A competition won by Oklahoma students last year is commencing for another year.
The 2009 C-SPAN Student Cam competition is open to students in grades sixth through 12 who produce a five- to eight-minute documentary that includes C-SPAN video.
This year’s topic asks what the most urgent issue is for the new president to address after taking office, and why.
Entries must represent more than one point of view and must be uploaded to www.studentcam.org by 5 p.m. Eastern time on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20.
A total of $50,000 will be awarded to students and teachers. The grand prize is worth $5,000. Winners will be announced March 10.
The competition is sponsored by C-SPAN Classroom.