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Townsend named BSD top parent

Brookhaven Elementary School Principal Dolores Gearing saidCindy Townsend was chosen as BES’s Parent of the Year because ofher selfless dedication to the school.

“In a society that is becoming more and more self-oriented,there are very few people that give so freely of their time,”Gearing said as she presented the plaque to Townsend at Tuesdaynight’s Brookhaven School District Board meeting.

That was the same reason Townsend was chosen as the Parent ofthe Year for the entire school district too, said Board PresidentDan Brown.

“I want to thank you on behalf of the whole school board,” hesaid. “It’s an honor to present you this award.”

Townsend is the mother of Ali Claire Townsend, who was in fourthgrade at BES last year and will start at Lipsey Middle School thisyear as a fifth-grader.

Other Parents of the Year for the school district were LoRaineMcDaniel for Mamie Martin Elementary, Candice Smith for LipseyMiddle School, Sarah Foster for Alexander Junior High School,Carolyn Stephens for the Brookhaven Technical Center, and SharleneBanks for Brookhaven High School.

“It’s always a hard decision to come up with just one overallparent of the year,” said Brookhaven School District AssistantSuperintendent James Tillman.

In other district business, the board discussed the 21st CenturyCommunity Learning Center program, which started during the 2009school year. Superintendent Lea Barrett said the district isrequired to submit a narrative and a continuing application duringeach of the five years of the grant that funds the program.

Barrett said during the school year the program takes placethree days a week, and five days a week during the summer. Itfocuses on things like tutorials, character development and dropoutprevention, she said.

“It’s not just academic skills, but social skills. We try tomake learning fun,” she said.

And data indicates that students who have been enrolled in theprogram are showing an improvement in attendance and report cardgrades, she told the board. She said more data will be available inthe near future.

“I think this is an excellent program that is beneficial to thechildren that have been involved,” said board member Willie “Doc”Harrison.

Revisions were also made to the policy manual, with the focusbeing on three main ones. First, Barrett said, the school districtis now putting a bullying policy in places, by mandate of theMississippi Legislature.

The next revision is that children who have self-administeringmedication for allergic reactions and asthma will be allowed tohold on to their own medication rather than having to keep it inthe school nurse’s office, Barrett said. In addition, there will beonsite training with teachers in the near future in case they haveto help a student with their medication.

Finally, the board expanded the cell phone policy to include allelectronic devices, saying that even recording devices forschoolwork must be pre-approved through the principal’s office.

All of those policies will apply to kindergarten through 12thgrade, Barrett said.

The board also renewed their yearly agreement with theMississippi School of the Arts, reiterating that the agreement hasbeen a positive through the years.

“I think once we got it hammered out, it’s all rolling along,”said board member Stan Patrick.

Barrett said the agreement has been mutually beneficial.

“It’s been good for us and them,” she said. “And we have a greatworking relationship with (MSA Director) Mrs. (Suzanne)Hirsch.”