Principal shares #8216;good, bad and ugly with Lions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Greenville Lions had the opportunity to meet one of the area's newest principals and get a glimpse of the positives and negatives she has discovered on her campus.

Catherine Sawicki, the new principal at W.O. Parmer Elementary School, gave the tongue-in-cheek title of &#8220The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” to the PowerPoint presentation she gave during the Monday noon meeting of the service club.

Sawicki began by sharing photos of such eyesores as peeling paint, torn, worn carpeting over asbestos floors and damaged ceiling tiles, which are found throughout the campus's nearly 80-year-old buildings.

Outdated steam heat pipes running through classrooms, bricks missing from some of the columns flanking entrances to buildings, and ductwork visible overhead in corridors are some of the other &#8220bad and ugly” aspects of the facility, Sawicki said.

However, there is plenty of &#8220good” underway at W.O. Parmer as well, the new principal told the Lions.

&#8220Right now, I have a group of parent volunteers who are painting the school for me…and the PTA will be working on a project this year to provide dropped ceilings,” Sawicki said.

&#8220Hank and Sally Carlyon have been doing a super job, removing all those pipes running through the classes. There were for the steam heat, which we don't use anymore.”

More good news: &#8220A lot of the asbestos has been removed, the floors sealed off and returned to their wood finish…in the future, a second wood floor will be put down.”

Four kindergarten classrooms will have their asbestos removed, and the O.K. has been given for new tiles featuring primary color patterns.

Sawicki has a vision for the future look of the school, which she shared with the Lions.

&#8220I want to bring in color and visual excitement to the school, a sort of &#8220this little town” format…with Greenville displayed throughout the school in murals featuring our historic buildings and community helpers like our police, firemen, and so forth.”

She showed a photo of a cafeteria transformed into a railway station with the serving line made over into an old-fashioned locomotive, which elicited a lot of &#8220oohs” and &#8220aahs” from the audience.

&#8220Cafeterias usually aren't a lot of fun. I am sure we have someone in the area who could do something like this for us,” Sawicki said.

The new principal said there is also a lot to brag about at W.O. Parmer.

&#8220We are an Alabama Reading Initiative Site and W.O. Parmer was the first Alabama Reading First Initiative Site chosen for review and national study…Parmer has done very, very well with its reading program.”

The school also had an 85 percent benchmark on its DIBELS scores last year.

While the SAT 10 results are not back, &#8220we believe they will show improvements,” Sawicki said.

The school also benefits from an active PTA and the support of the City of Greenville. Instructional aide provided by the AmeriCorps volunteers is another plus.

&#8220Our PTA and the PTA at Greenville Elementary School worked together last year to raise $40,000 to air condition the old gym, so they do an excellent, excellent job for us,” Sawicki said.

There will be some changes in the curriculum, with art and music being introduced back into the classroom, the principal said.

Physical education time will be restricted to afternoons, with instructional time in the mornings.

&#8220The children will continue to have structured P.E. time, but there will also be supervised free time outside to enjoy,” Sawicki said.

The school will also be involved in Positive Behavior Supports (PBS), the county's new disciplinary program geared toward emphasizing and rewarding good behavior.

Sawicki, a Butler County native, has spent the past 18 years as an educator in the Lowndes County Schools System, serving in many roles, among them teacher, facilitator, assistant principal, principal and curriculum design specialist.

The new W.O. Parmer principal, who formerly served at Fort Deposit Elementary School, said she will have &#8220big shoes to fill” as she steps into the position formerly held by Carole Teague.

&#8220I was at a wonderful school. The teachers were really dedicated and I am sure they are here, too. I'm looking forward to a good year.”

She extended an invitation for local citizens to stop in anytime and visit the W.O. Parmer campus.