New board members praise staff, classroom technology after tour

Varnett’s new school board members came away impressed after taking a tour of Varnett’s campuses.

Board president Dr. Matthew Plummer and members Mr. Clarence White III and Mrs. Marcia Johnson visited nearly every classroom at Southwest, Southwest PreK, Northeast and East campuses during the tour on Wednesday. They were accompanied by Dr. Margaret Stroud, Varnett’s interim superintendent and a non-voting  board member, and Ms. Tori Dugar, the district’s academic officer. They mingled with staff and students, were impressed with the technology in the classrooms, praised the teachers and staff and noted how the campuses were clean and free of litter.

The delegation received a warm welcome from campus directors Ms. Twilet Alexander (Southwest), Ms. Cheyne Brown (Southwest PreK), Ms. Toni Fisher (Northeast) and Ms. Gayle Voltz (East), as well as librarian Ms. Delores Jackson and food service coordinator Ms. LaTonja Lacey.

“They saw that children are happy - in spite of tightness in some of the classrooms - and well-behaved,” Dr. Stroud said Thursday.

Ms. Jackson presented each board member a card signed by Southwest Campus students and staff. “The board members were inspiring, informative and asked a lot of questions about the library,” Ms. Jackson said. “They genuinely want to help.” She invited them to come back for the campus book fair Feb. 16-20.

The visit came during School Board Recognition Month and gave staff and students alike a chance to see the board members in person for the first time. Dr. Plummer came armed with plenty of questions about staff needs, the facilities, food service, classroom size and much more.

 “What impressed me the most about the board members is that they will be a hands-on board,”  Ms. Voltz said. “If any improvements need to be made, I felt the board would address those needs immediately.”

East Campus greeted the board with a “Helping Hands” banner signed by students and Northeast Campus presented each member  a card, also filled with signatures. Ms. Voltz said the “Helping Hands” banner was in reference to the board members who are in the position to help the district.

“It was great to have our board members come out and see all the hard work at Northeast Campus,” Ms. Fisher said. “We are excited to have them lead the way.”

Added Ms. Brown: “We greatly appreciated them for taking the time to visit us and invest in the learning of our scholars.”

Dr. Stroud said the tour, recommended by Mrs. Johnson, provides context for the board when it makes decisions and establishes policy. The members now have a visual understanding of the campuses, the staff and students and their needs.

“It was a positive visit,” Ms. Alexander said. “They seem to be very interested in what we are doing and how they can help us maintain our success.”

The board members were impressed with the technology in the classrooms and watched as East Campus fifth graders demonstrated their talents on the Promethean ActivTable, an interactive table designed to promote student collaboration, engagement and student-led learning.

“It’s great to know that the students won’t be left behind because this is their world,” Mr. White said.

Top photo, from left: Board member Mr. Clarence White III, board president Dr. Matthew Plummer, board member Mrs. Marcia Johnson and interim superintendent Dr. Margaret Stroud, who also serves as a non-voting member of the board. Also on the board are vice president Dr. Edgardo Colon and board member Mr. Kenneth Groovey.


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