Thursday, July 16, 2015

It Is Great To Be An Ardmore Tiger

Hello, this is Tommy Hunter, principal at Ardmore High School. After today you will not be getting a phone call that begins with this message. I am blessed to have been named the Executive Director of Human Resources and Operations for Limestone County Schools. I am humbled and excited about this new opportunity to serve our students but a little sad about not being the principal at Ardmore. I have great memories of my time here and will continue to be around because I will still have children attending Ardmore and Cedar Hill. I have made lasting friends at Ardmore and it is still “Great to Be an Ardmore Tiger.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Public Education Funding

Reading, writing and arithmetic have been taught in this country for hundreds of years. Most adults have learned these skills in school at some point. The days of students never attending school is pretty much a thing of the past. Gone are the days that students worked on the family farm and were so isolated they never got the opportunity to attend school. Schools have changed tremendously over the past 100 years and will continue to change as we move through this decade.

The standards and concepts students are taught continue to evolve but some things have remained more constant. Students learn many social and emotional lessons at school in addition to the content standards they are taught. Students learn to get along with peers and to work collaboratively. Students learn to control their emotions or at least manage them to respond in a socially acceptable manner. Just like math standards, some students learn these emotional skills better than others. Obviously home life also has a tremendous impact on student learning.

Public school continue to engage in a balancing act that tries to stress academic goals while teaching life lessons that will impact the students for the remainder of their lives. Life lessons are very difficult to quantify and many times get overlooked during the discussion of public education. We must continue to remember that a person has many dimensions to their life and as a society we must try to help parents as they instill the values that will help our young people become citizens of a well adjusted society. Many issues such as bullying have been plaguing mankind for centuries are still around to day. While diseases such as polio may have been basically eradicated from the human population, conflict between human beings continues to plague us today. While we will never totally eradicate social problems, we must continue to try and teach students to cope with conflict in a constructive manner.

Each year when state legislatures meet across the nation and education budgets are debated I hope legislators will stop and see the big picture and realize that schools are crucial for the fabric of our society to remain intact. While reading, writing, and arithmetic are crucial and are at the center of what public schools offer, they are not all that schools offer society. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snow Days

The term “Snow Day” conjures up a variety of emotions. To some this term is one of pure elation because it means a day out of school. The fact that a warmer day out of school was lost does not dampen the excitement of seeing your county on the television scroll or receiving a phone call or text from the school. Teachers and students alike have been known to wait anxiously for the announcement that school is canceled.

Many parents on the other hand cringe at the thought of having to find something to do with their young children. Many will lose a day of vacation, others will have to pay for a sitter and some are fortunate enough to have family that is retired that would love to keep the kids for a day. Snow days many times brings on anxiety trying to find alternate plans for their children.

There is no perfect decision when it comes to making a call on weather related closures and delays. For the most part, crystal ball companies have gone out of business and short of a crystal ball reading there is no way to definitively know what is going to happen and when. School systems get tagged alarmist or lazy if they call off school too much or early and labeled as uncaring and cold if they do not dismiss school soon enough.  Thoughts of children being stranded at school away from their parents cause parents and school officials both to feel great anxiety. Even worse is the thought of a bus losing control on an icy hill and causing harm to precious children.

The people that have to make this call most assuredly take all scenarios into account when making these laborious decisions. I am not one of these people so I am not justifying my actions but I do know how much thought and investigation goes into these decisions. Most school systems will rightly error on the side of caution. The worse scenario is to do anything that increases the likelihood of harm coming to students. Delays and cancellations are never easy for anyone and will continue to stir emotions, but at the end of the day, safety tops everything. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Chamber Meeting

Here is a portion of what I shared with a recent meeting of the Ardmore Chamber of Commerce. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful business community that supports our school. We want to help our students reach their full potential and we need the help of everyone in our community.

Research has shown over and over that POVERTY is the number one enemy in schools. Throughout the country, low income areas consistently struggle with test scores. This is not an excuse, but it is a fact that must be dealt with in order to overcome it. Over the last eight years our number of students on free and reduced lunch has increased 5-10 percentage points. It is not that poor parents do not want their children to learn, but they are occupied with trying to make a living and many times do not have the time to follow up with their children’s education. Poor students many times do not have the life experiences that other students have that can make learning more real. Schools have an obligation and duty to help meet the needs of all of our students. We are blessed to have organizations and individuals that help to provide food for our students over the weekends. Many of our students do not eat very well when they are not at school. They look forward to the breakfast and lunch served at school for their main sources of nourishment.

Drugs and the poverty they cause is also a huge problem for schools. It is a sad fact that we have students who do drugs, but many of our students who do drugs have parents who do drugs. If parents are high or looking for ways to get high, they are not able to properly take care of their children and education is not a big priority. As we know drug use and poverty sometimes go hand in hand. 

It is really a sad paradigm, education is perhaps the best way to break the cycle of poverty, but poverty is the most prohibitive factor to getting a quality education. Cycles are difficult to break and every year we have graduates that are the first in their family to graduate high school. Regrettably, each year we also have students drop out and continue the cycle. We are working hard to break that cycle and will continue to do everything in our power to break the cycle.

Schools can NOT overcome the poverty of their students without parental and community support. Great teachers are crucial and certainly cannot be overlooked, but the school as a whole must find a way to engage the parents and enlist their help. This is where the community is a crucial factor. We must all find ways to encourage education and look for ways to help parents meet the needs of their students. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Phone Message on Feb. 10

Limestone county students will attend school for a half day on Wednesday February 11 to allow teachers to attend professional development training. Periods 4, 5, 6, and 7 will meet on Wednesday and afternoon tech students will attend tech. school. Lunch will be served and school will be dismissed at 11:30. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Technology Message February 6

The faculty at Ardmore is excited about the “Bring Your Own Device” program, and we are finding more and more classroom uses for student-owned digital devices. Please be aware that students will continue to be held accountable for appropriate device usage during school hours, and devices should be put away during class time except for teacher-approved activities. Parents are also encouraged to monitor device usage to discourage inappropriate online behavior at home or at school.