Adamsville Jr./Sr. High School gets ready for new year

By Andrew Alexander

Adamsville Jr./Sr. High School gets ready for new year

Staff Photo by Andrew Alexander

Greg Martin is entering his third year as the principal at Adamsville Junior-Senior High School while several changes loom on the horizon. 

New Tennessee graduation standards are coming into play next year, evaluation standards for testing have gone up, the state has cut funding for dual-credit course opportunities, and AHS will introduce eight new faculty members this fall.

Despite the changes, Martin is confident in his staff, and applies his coaching methods to his current position as principal.

“Being a principal is very, very similar to coaching. You find good people, you put them in the right place, and let them do their job,” said Martin. “Our faculty and staff do a great job.”

The Tennessee Diploma Project, according to Martin, is a new state requirement for graduates that will begin for the graduating class of 2013.

The project will concentrate the focus of each individual’s graduation path much like university process of “majoring” in a certain area of study.

According to Martin, one of the biggest challenges with students today is being certain they are prepared for the next level of their education.

“There’s a big challenge in getting students to understand that there’s a huge difference in being college eligible as opposed to being college ready,” said Martin.

The biggest goal for Martin in 2011 is to keep the stress of the new evaluation process from weighing on his faculty.

“I don’t want our teachers burdened with worrying over the evaluation process,” said Martin “I would say our goal is to handle this evaluation process with no problem whatsoever.”

The newest faculty member at AHS, Matt Wood, will take over the duties of Assistant Principal Suzanne Henson, who has recently taken the principal position at Michie School, and will go a long way in helping the high school transition through challenges like the new evaluation procedures.

“As of last Wednesday Matt Wood is the new assistant principal at Adamsville High School,” said Martin. “It’s something he’s excited about. It’s something my staff is excited about, and Matt was a great choice for us.”

Wood has been the Attendance Supervisor for McNairy County and was in charge of truancy, student management systems, and state reporting,  and has also served on the Adamsville City Commission for the last two years.

Wood taught Physics, Chemistry, Algebra and Principles of Technology at AHS for seven years beginning in 2003, and earned his undergraduate degree at Louisiana State University in 2001, and his masters degree from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2005. 

Other new educators at AHS include Dustin Ruth (eighth Grade Social Studies), Rachael Reid (eighth Grade Reading), Carol Lunsford (seventh Grade English), Shane Stults (eighth Grade Science), Jana Moore (Health Occupations), Nathaniel Root (Media Concepts, and Head Basketball Coach), and Dr. Amanda VanHoose (Biology, and Principles of Technology).

Martin had plans of bringing in two additional dual-credit courses for students to take advantage of, but due budget cuts for the University of Tennessee those courses will not be available, and the courses that are still being offered will cost nearly ten times the previous amount.

“We were offering dual-credit English and History courses to our students that only cost them $49 each,” said Martin. “With these cuts from UT students will now have to pay $400 for the same classes.” 

AHS will continue its after school program despite the departure of Henson who had previously run the after-school activities. 

The program will run Monday through Friday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. And will offer a wide array of choices for students looking to extend their education past the the limits of the average school day.

“We’ve offered a wide range of programs in the past,” said Martin. “Everything from cooking classes, tutoring, scarp-booking, the Bigger, Faster, Stronger Program.”

Martin feels he runs a tight ship at AHS and the student handbook will remain the same, but noted that new challenges with social media are being weighed by the school board.

“They are letting us work under the premise that anything that happens on a social media page that disrupts the school we’re able to discipline them.,” said Martin.

For example, if a student threatens to start a fight with another student at school the next day the school will be able to step in and take action.

AHS will take advantage of One to One funding from the county by providing every seventh and eighth grade science students access to a computer on top of the junior and senior English classrooms and the Algebra II classrooms that are already equipped by One to One funding.

“We’re very appreciative of Mr. Terry Burns and what his staff does in getting us what we need,” said Martin, “and also by helping us maintain what we have... You can have as many computers as you want, but if they don’t work, it doesn’t matter.”

There are no major renovations planned for AHS at this time, but that is not to say that Martin does not feel like there are things that could be done to improve the school.

“We’re constantly growing and we have to really look at every available nook and cranny that we have to hopefully put a class in,” said Martin. “We have to really utilize our space efficiently to best serve our student body.”

According to Martin, AHS is expecting over 700 students this fall, and over 150 of those students will be incoming freshmen.

With 10 to 12 teachers without classrooms of their own and a growing student population Martin is in favor of the county building new schools.

“We’ve done a good job of remodeling,” said Martin. “We’ve added on and put band-aids on things as much as we can.”

Martin feels the schools in the county have done a good job “maintaining what we have,” but finds it troubling that, “the newest schools in the county are 30 years-old” referring to AHS and Selmer Middle School. 

Trying to focus on the positive side of things Martin said the situation could be viewed positively because the reason schools in the county are so cramped is that the quality of education in McNairy County is great, and it brings people to the community.

“It’s not like we have new industry coming into town each week, and yet we have more students coming into our schools every year. The reputation of our school system is the reason our schools are so populated,” said Martin. “If you’ve got one diamond in the rough, you’ve got to do everything you can to polish it and keep it as shiny as you can.”