Chamber hosts recognition breakfast for school board

Published 11:39 pm Thursday, January 15, 2009

In accordance with January being School Board Recognition Month, the Demopolis Area Chamber of Commerce hosted an appreciation luncheon for members of the Demopolis City Schools board Thursday morning at Napoleon’s Restaurant.

“I thought we had a great turnout,” said Chamber president Kelley Smith. “I thought that the program that the Demopolis City Schools Foundation gave was very informative.”

Demopolis City Schools Foundation executive director Jan McDonald introduced a teacher from each of the four Demopolis schools to inform the board of the technology being used in the classrooms. Each of those teachers is also on the Foundation’s board of directors.

“The board members, along with the administrators, teachers and support staff are the ones that, throughout the year — not just when school is in session — work to offer our students a quality education,” McDonald said. “To put it bluntly, the Foundation is here to help them do their jobs.

“Our mission remains the same today as it did when a group of school supporters began the Foundation in 1993: to foster and promote excellence in the Demopolis public school system. We do that by helping to provide the resources that each student needs to succeed.”

McDonald said that since the Foundation’s inception, more than $706,000 has been provided for the city’s classrooms.

Allene Jones, an English teacher at Demopolis High School, told those in attendance about the equipment that the Foundation helped provide for her classroom, including a device called an “Elmo,” which is the name of the company that makes the product.

An “Elmo” is like an overhead projector, but it doesn’t need to have a transparency to project the information onto the screen. It can take regular paper and show what is on the paper as if it were a transparency.

“The Foundation sets us apart from the other school systems who don’t have this,” Jones said. “Proration is going to hit us hard this year and next year, too, and we have this extra gift that will help us continue to be the great school system that we are because we will have an advantage as far as purchasing more technology or professional development.”

Kim Easley-Bell, a math teacher at Demopolis Middle School, talked about the importance of writing grants.

“We need to write more grants so that we can get everything that we want so that our students can be as successful as they can possibly be,” she said.

Amy Bozeman, a fourth-grade teacher at U.S. Jones Elementary School, also talked about grants and what they have meant to her school.

“Through the grants awarded from the Foundation, our teachers have received many resources that have been beneficial to the students,” she said. She also read through e-mails of thanks sent by other teachers detailing what they received through Foundation grants to benefit the classroom, including touch-screen white boards, a rock wall with academic as well as athletic applications and other Elmo projectors.

Debbie Butler is a reading specialist at Westside Elementary School.

“Westside has truly benefitted from the Foundation projects,” she said. “More than $100,000 has been given to Westside alone over the years. Some of these benefits include gym equipment, playground equipment, library books, computers and technology equipment. We started a resource room for math, science and reading, and so much, much more.”

The breakfast was attended by several people, many of which was taking part in the Leadership Marengo program later in the day. School board members on hand included chair Gary Holemon, Laura Foster, Bobby Armistead and Jim Stanford and Demopolis City Schools superintendent Dr. L. Wayne Vickers.

“We want to thank the Chamber of Commerce for all they do, and for taking the time to honor the school board during School Board Recognition Month,” Vickers said. “We have an outstanding board with people who are dedicated and very instrumental to the success the school system has had. They have really led the way.

“The Foundation presentations were excellent. The Foundation is such an integral part of what sets Demopolis apart. It provides thousands of dollars each year for our technical and instructional programs.”

The Demopolis City Schools board will meet on Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 5:15 p.m.