LINCOLN COUNTY Schools (LCS) received awards this past school year in recognition of its successful programs and contributions to student success.
The Tennessee Department of Education named LCS an exemplary district for its work during the 2020-21 school year, a time filled with challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Bill Heath, director of LCS, said school districts can obtain this distinction by scoring well in four categories: aca- demic achievement, academic growth, attendance, and graduation rates. Only seven districts were se- lected this time around.
“And we’re the only one in Middle Tennessee that received that recognition this year,” Heath said.
Heath said LCS has the highest academic test scores since 2016 in its region. The district also scored a level five on academic growth (the highest rank a district can achieve). Subgroup performance was also included in the district’s recognition. The subgroup comprised economic disadvantaged kids, black children, hispanic children, Native American children, special education students and English Language Learners.
Heath said members of the district decided a few years ago to filter their decisions through the district’s core values: taking care of students and employees academically, emotionally, physically, and morally. Heath was ecstatic for the district be- cause the award is probably the biggest recognition that a district can receive from the state department.
“For us, it validates that we’re doing the right thing for our kids,” Heath said.
LCS also achieved the Best For All District award and Tennessee Reading 360 in March. The former praises the district for spending its budget wisely on students while the latter validates the dis- trict’s proficiency in reading and literacy.
“We’ve received a lot of big recognition. Being a Tennessee “Best For All” is one of those,” Heath said.
RALPH ASKINS Elementary School received a STEM grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). The grant is designed to spark students’ interest in STEM-related careers by allowing them to participate in science, technology, engineering, and math education projects.
Cindy Young, supervisor for Fayetteville City Schools, said she applied for the grant on behalf of the elementary school in September of 2021, receiving the funds in March.
The school called their STEM lab the Little Tigers Lab, which began last semester. The TVA grant helped purchase inspirational books and materials for robot building for stu- dents, including 18 Lego boost robotic kits. Shana Smith, the school STEM facilitator, said the school hopes to start using these new materials in the summer.
“Our vision is to have a lab that all our students — Pre-K through 5th — can use weekly and do projects fa- cilitated by a teacher and STEM lab teacher, me,” Smith said. “They can do coding and use our robotic kit, but we also need to have other projects in mind such as explor- ing simple machines, exploring light and sound energy, exploring electricity.”
Tonja Whitenack, principal of the Fayetteville ele- mentary school, said Smith will serve as the full-time teacher dedicated to the school’s STEM lab this upcom- ing fall semester.
“Our goal is to provide our students with those in- nate skills [so] that they can use those to grow, as they go into middle school, high school, and into the work- force,” Young said. -GN