Teachers are gifts, superintendent says|[8/2/06]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2006

After the 895 teachers in the Vicksburg Warren School District reported back to work Tuesday, one of the first orders of business was to get a morale boost from Superintendent James Price.

The teachers filled every seat in the Vicksburg High School auditorium Tuesday, cheering for their schools and anticipating the new school year.

&#8220It takes one with unshaking faith to be a teacher. You all are truly a special gift,” said Price, starting his fourth school year in charge of the 9,000-student countywide district.

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Price told teachers he understood their jobs.

&#8220Public schools with their teachers are the first and last place the public turns to with whatever society has deemed a ‘problem,’” he said. &#8220I know our being successful depends on all of us sharing the same vision. That’s our goal.”

He applauded the educators for their hard work on establishing the benchmark testing system in third through sixth grades.

The weekly tests are written by lead teachers from each school in the district. None of the teachers sees the tests before they give them to students, designed to prevent them from teaching only test material.

&#8220You’ve established this system and had the technology to support it so that these teachers can have immediate feedback on what their students are learning. Now that’s something,” he said.

And although test scores from the end-of-the-year Mississippi Curriculum Test and Subject Area Tests won’t be released until late August, Price said he feels 100 percent confident the benchmarks have paid off in raising scores.

&#8220Much has been done, but there’s still much to do,” he said. &#8220But you people maintain the integrity of this system, and you have no idea how much that means to me.”

Price’s convocation speech was greeted with loud applause and cheers from the crowd.

Also recognized in the ceremony were Andra Bonelli of Beechwood, district teacher of the year; Pamela Durman, district parent of the year; and Michael Winters of Vicksburg Junior High, district administrator of the year.

Vicksburg Warren school classes start Tuesday, and of the nearly 900 educators districtwide, 681 are certified teachers and 76 are new to the district.

Vicksburg Catholic School starts a week from today, and Porters Chapel Academy and Campus Preparatory Christian School start a week from Thursday.