FYI Teaches Students Professional Development

Education
FYI Students

Blue Ridge, Ga – Fannin Youth Initiative (FYI) successfully taught Fannin County High School students about professional development and job opportunities available to them.

Executive Director of the Fannin County Development Authority Christie Gribble spoke about the first year of FYI to the board and the impact it made on students.

Leadership Fannin served as a template for the program, except tailored to high school students. It demonstrated the opportunities in the county for jobs and helped students to learn soft skills, such as letter writing, communication, resumes, and interviewing.

“Education and having a relationship with the school is very important,” said Gribble when speaking about her role as executive director of the development authority.

The students spent five days out in the community learning from small business owners, social services, government roles, and the arts. The program included trips to the Chamber of Commerce, courthouse, and the state capitol.

Fannin Youth Initiative

Fannin Youth Initiative (FYI) visited the capitol and met with Speaker Ralston.

Gribble and her fellow workers held 10 in-school sessions during FLEX to teach high schoolers about professional development skills.

Ten students from 10th and 11th grade participated in the program. Mrs. Lynn Birch acted as the faculty advisor and made sure everyone was where they needed to be.

The participants were given a mentor, took a career assessment, and voiced opinions about young people needing a place to hang out.

“When the kids talk about a place to hang out, what’s their definition of that?” asked Board Member Mike Cole.

The answer: It varies from student to student, some wanted a diner, and others said games, in general just something different than cruising The Home Depot or Wal-Mart parking lot.

The students received internships, contacts, and contract work. The Development Authority hired an intern, and a videographer student started working for a business in the county.

FYI is also a finalist in a state CTA program and will know by July if it won first, second, or third place.

“Opportunity and preparation come together, then that’s when you have success. I’m really pleased to hear the success of these students,” stated Superintendent Michael Gwatney.

Board Chair Lewis DeWeese said, “If they learned as much about the community as they do at other Chamber events, that’s tremendous.”

2019 GSBA Exemplary Board Status Awarded to Fannin Schools

Education

Blue Ridge, Ga – The Fannin County Board of Education receives with the Georgia School Boards Association’s (GSBA) 2019 Exemplary School Board award.

The recognition program showcases best practices in school governance and leadership. GSBA recognizes good school board governance to foster educational community cultures in order to advance student learning and achievement.

“I want to first thank you for all the training we had and the retreat. It is my honor to present to you the exemplary board trophy for this year. This is two years in a row,” said Assistant Superintendent Robert Ensley during the Board of Education meeting.

Exemplary Board

GSBA awarded 55 public schools with the status.

The Fannin County Board of Education met and/or exceeded the criteria set forth by GSBA to earn the honor of a 2019 Exemplary Board. The criteria’s listed on GSBA’s website and covers eight areas, including strategic planning, fiscal responsibility, and ethics. In 2019, only 55 of the 180 public school boards earned the Exemplary Board status.

The GSBA Governance Team Recognition Program was developed by Georgia superintendents and board members based on the state board of education’s standards for effective governance to recognize exemplary leadership.

In 1998, the Georgia School Boards Association was one of the first school board associations in the nation to develop a program of standards for local boards of education. The GSBA Board recognition program is a three-tiered program.

For more information on the program, you may visit the GSBA website for awards and recognition to view the criteria for all tiers of the program.

Superintendent Gwatney Contract Renewed

Education
Board and Superintendent Gwatney

Blue Ridge, Ga – Board of Education approved a new contract for Superintendent Michael Gwatney during June meeting.

Board of Education Chairman Lewis DeWeese commended Gwatney on his work, “The board has been pleased with the Dr. Michael Gwatney’s work as our Superintendent and based on the results of his evaluation and his performance this year, the board approves an additional year for a three year contract to begin July 1, 2019.”

During Superintendent Comments, Gwatney remarked on the honor to serve Fannin School District and the extraordinary work everyone in the county and education system does for the students.

Dr. Michael Gwatney

Gwatney’s new term begins on July 1.

“I’m privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of this system and serve for so many years,” observed Gwatney, “My time here has been an enjoyable experience, and like everything that is truly important in life, it’s the people who make it that way. So I want to thank my colleagues, the directors that are here, the staff that are here, and the principals that are here. Thank you for everything that you do for our kids.”

Gwatney introduced the three new department leaders to the board, starting with Director of Transportation, Denver Foster. He worked for the transportation department for 14 years under Ben Long.

“I feel like we have an exceptional department. We have 40 main route buses, transport about 1,250 children a day and our main focus is always student safety, said Foster, “I have a vision for our department. I have quite a few things I want to do, including upgrading technology – routing software and some other things to make that safer.”

Foster also brought the winners of the May 15 School Bus Road-e-o, where bus drivers participate in a skills course that includes parallel parking. The three winners were:

School bus Road-e-o participants took part in several activities to demonstrate skill operating the vehicle.

  • Tim Massaro, First Place
  • Tim Joiner, Second Place
  • Jeff Johnstone, Third Place

Massaro also participated in the state school bus road-e-o and placed 20th out of 61.

Next, Gwatney introduced the Director of Instructional Services and Policy Sarah Welch. She’s the daughter of two educators and a graduate of Fannin County with 16 years of experience.

“I’m honored to be in this position,” said Welch, “I’ll be working a lot with our curriculum and professional learning. My vision is ensuring equity for all learners. We know that everyone comes in they start school in different places. We want everybody to be able to access the curriculum to meet their needs and no matter where you start to be able to push you forward.”

She cited depth, progression, and exploration as needed areas to develop for children to grow as learners. The school’s responsibility doesn’t stop when the children leave. It continues after hours and in the community, giving teachers and students the materials necessary to cultivate learning opportunities.

When Welch finished, DeWeese stated, “Contagious enthusiasm, if you pass that to your students, I don’t think they’ll ever forget you.”

After Welch, Gwatney stated that Darren Danner has officially started his position as Assistant Superintendent.

Danner remarked, “I’m honored to have this position and thanks to Dr. Gwatney and the Board for their support up to this point. We hope we can keep things going under the current leadership.

We’re going to automate some things in the maintenance department and continue building first-class facilities in the state of Georgia and the Southeast. We need your support to do that and the Fannin County voters to continue to support SPLOST. That’s my vision for the maintenance department.”

False alarm at Fannin County High School

News
Blue Ridge, Fannin County, Georgia, Board of Education, GEMA, FEMA, Michael Ruple, EMA Director Robert Graham, Lt. Darvin Couch

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Denise Messer, administrative assistant for Fannin County Schools, confirmed there is no threat of any kind at Fannin County High School.

Messer stated reports of a “threat at a high school” came into the Fannin County Emergency 911 dispatch center earlier Tuesday morning, Feb. 20. As a result, FCHS was placed under a Code Yellow alert status, which included a temporary lockdown of the school. Lt. Darvin Couch, school resource officer, secured the area and conducted an investigation into the situation.

Later, it was determined the caller to the E-911 center received a text alert on her phone of a threat to a high school and the text derived from a cell tower near Tellico Plains, Tennessee.

Dr. Michael Gwatney, Fannin County Schools superintendent, has released a statement on the situation:

The Fannin 911 Center received a call from a local citizen who said she received a text message indicating that there was a threat to “a high school.”  Not knowing which high school or any other specific information, our Fannin County Schools were placed under a “Code Yellow” alert status as a precautionary measure.

As we entered the Code Yellow status, Lt. Couch worked with his resources, and it was later determined the text message that started all of this came from a cell tower in the Tellico area – not in our area.

Even though it turns out this issue did not apply to our schools, this Code Yellow has been a good experience for our staff to review procedures, etc.

 

Author

Jason Beck

Born in Merrillville, Indiana, raised in Cleveland, Tennessee, and currently resides in Copperhill, Tennessee. Graduated from Bradley Central High School in 1996 and attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, eventually earning a B.A. and M.A. in English. Hobbies include hiking, camping and fly-fishing. Interests include baseball, hockey and cliff jumping.

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