Teachers prepared for new semester

Published 2:22 am Friday, January 4, 2019

The holiday break has come to and end and teachers went back to school Thursday to gear up for another semester. Local teachers said are excited about the upcoming semester and getting a fresh start.

Andalusia High School anatomy and physiology teacher Jarrett Williamson said that he is excited to get a new group of seniors this semester.

“We have a lot of good stuff going on this semester,” Williamson said. “We have disections and a lot of projects that we are going to have for these seniors.”

Williamson said that being able to teach seniors during their final semester is a privilege.

“Every year we have been pretty fortunate to send some kids to college with the mindset of wanting to be in the medical field,” Williamson said. “That’s what really excites me. It’s great to have seniors and be able to open their eyes to this subject and get to see them prepare for graduation and make big time decisions. You feel like you’re a small part of their life during this time by guiding them and giving them a little assistance.”

Straughn Elementary School’s fourth grade Alabama history teacher Tammie Evans is excited for this semester because of the celebration of Alabama’s Bicentennial.

“I am very excited to get into Alabama history this semester,” Evans said. “We have several field trips like going to the state capitol in April. We will get to explore the archives and go to the governor’s mansion.”

Starting with the new  semester, Evans will start morning announcements with “Did You Know Alabama Facts.”

“Each morning students will read off little facts about Alabama,” Evans said. “It is a fun way to incorporate the Alabama Bicentennial in the school so all the students can learn some history.”

Evans said that recently SES received funding for a 21st century classroom where students can take virtual reality field trips.

“We are hoping to get that soon so we can begin using that with our students,” Evans said. “It will be all virtual reality and every student will have a headset. They will be able to have video conferencing and go on virtual reality field trips to different places.”

Straughn Elementary School first grade teacher Angie Mack said that she is very excited to implement new technology, thanks to the Covington Electric Bright Ideas Grant.

“We will be using BeeBots, which is a small robot that you can teach your students to program by using core curriculum subjects,” Macks said. “I am very excited to get hands-on with my students and open their eyes to a lot of nonfiction literature and doing hands-on STEM projects. Second semester is always fun.”

At Andalusia High School, Dawn Thompson started her own senior service project that provided students the opportunity to change the county and surrounding area by doing service projects. The students had to complete a research paper along with a service project to complete the project.

Thompson said that she is eager to get started on this semester’s group of seniors.

“We are going to start the semester off with a unit that I designed myself called ‘Brand Yourself!’” Thompson said. “They will come up with a branding statement, essay and resume, basically to create a portfolio to promote themselves.”

Thompson worked with local lawyer and celebrity Bill Alverson to come up with a formula for the Brand Yourself! unit.

“You have to be able to sell yourself,” Thompson said. “Some people are so shy. So for me the formula would be ‘My name is Dawn Thompson, I am passionate, creative and energetic. I want to change one student at a time,’ So with this formula they have to say something positive and sell themselves by filling in the blanks. If nothing else, you have got something to say about yourself with this formula.”

Along with the regular literature tales of Beowulf and Canterberry Tales, Thompson will prepare her students during the first nine weeks to start their Be the Change! Projects.

“I think I am most excited for the Be the Change! project this semester,” Thompson said. “I think it is the best teaching assignment that I have done in 30 years. We changed, and we were changed.”

Andalusia High School Head baseball and assistant football coach Tyler Dent saw plenty of success on the baseball and football fields by winning a state championship in baseball last spring, and making it to the fourth round of the playoffs in football. But he is looking forward to get back in the classroom in the new semester.

“I am really looking forward to hopefully transitioning to using more technology in the classroom,” Dent said. “The plan is for every student in my classroom to have a computer. In the society that we live in today, that will obviously engage more of the students because they are so dependent on this new technology.”

Dent said that teaching history doesn’t change, so by bringing in new technology and projects, he can spice the curriculum up.

“History is history,” Dent said. “So any time that you can kind of combine something that happened in the 1800 and then use computers engage the students, it’s a good thing to have in your classroom.”

After winning a state championship in baseball last year, Dent knows that the expectations are high for the spring season, but he is excited to be an Andalusia Bulldog.

“As far as this upcoming baseball season, the expectations are high, but we have a good group of guys coming back,” Dent said. “Then obviously everything that is going on on campus, with the stadium and the auditorium getting close to being done it is pretty amazing. Andalusia High School growing in general is just fun to be a part of.”

Dent recently finished his master’s degree in history education.

“I’m excited to not have that burden on my back this semester,” Dent said. “Being a father, a coach, a teacher and a student gets old after a while, so it really is a relief.”