Stephanie Chaney was hired as a second English Language Learner teacher and Melanie Wheeler as a fourth-grade teacher at Holyoke Elementary School for the 2016-17 school year. Their contracts were approved at the April 19 meeting of the Re-1J Board of Education.
Chaney has more than 12 years of teaching experience with a background of striving to meet the needs of culturally, racially and socio-economically diverse learners, with early childhood education and reading intervention focuses.
The past eight years, she has been an interventionist at Todd County Middle School in Mission, S.D., which is located on the Rosebud Reservation. This past year, she co-taught an eighth-grade reading/writing class at the school.
Chaney has completed several graduate level courses in the area of ELL instruction, specifically interventions for reading and writing.
Wheeler will be teaching third- and fourth-grade writing in the school’s departmentalized system. She has a seventh-12th-grade English teaching certificate and has had two years of teaching experience as a seventh- and eighth-grade English teacher at Sterling Middle School.
She has signed up to take the elementary PLACE test in May, and once she passes it, she will apply for an elementary education license through the Colorado Department of Education.
Wheeler has been trained in and used Every Child a Writer and the online Reading Plus instructional programs with her students the last two years. Both of these programs are used at Holyoke Elementary.
In other personnel action, the school board accepted resignations from one teacher and two teacher aides.
Effective at the end of the 2015-16 school year are the resignations from third-grade teacher Heather Walter and JR/SR high school aide Karla Cruz. Elementary aide Adya White’s resignation is effective May 6.
Winter sports summarized
Athletic director Sandra Rahe gave a summary of winter sports during last week’s board meeting.
She highlighted coaches, records, number of participants, team awards and individual awards for the past four years for HS girls and boys basketball, wrestling and girls swimming.
Additionally, she shared four-year highlights of coaches, records, number of participants and post-season or LPAA standings for JH girls and boys basketball and wrestling.
Goals for each sport were identified by Rahe. In JH boys basketball, she noted that 2015-16 was Jim Yakel’s last year as coach, so the goal there will be to recruit and retain a new head coach. For JH girls basketball, they will coordinate with coaches to get a little more practice time daily.
A goal for both HS and JH wrestling will be to recruit and retain a new head coach to work with the entire program and to increase participation.
A key goal in girls swimming will be to keep communication with the city and pool employees open. Rahe noted that Colorado High School Activities Association has just established a 3A girls swimming division that the HHS team will compete in. Up through this year, only 4A and 5A divisions were involved.
Goals in HS boys basketball will be to possibly work toward getting a third paid coaching position and to schedule 10 or more C games each year as needed.
Hiring a new head coach before the end of school — and to support the coach during transition — were highlighted for HS girls basketball. Rahe also shared the head coach interview questions and process used for hiring.
Jones shares her story to encourage changes, clarifications in policies
“Sentence Without a Trial: The End of a Career” is what former Holyoke Elementary counselor Sharon Jones called her story that she shared with the school board at last week’s meeting.
Jones resigned her position with the district to purchase a business a year ago. With a change in direction, she has more recently been seeking positions in education. After a number of rejections, she discovered that her name has a police number attached to it. She is devastated.
Her story starts with an accusation from a child at Holyoke Elementary in the fall of 2014 that led to a child abuse report being turned in to the Holyoke Police Department and Phillips County Department of Social Services.
She shared the written police report, which notes that the complaint was investigated and that there was no wrongdoing on her part. The case was closed.
However, she recently discovered that because the police report was taken and social services was contacted, the police number is attached to her name for any background check.
She was made aware of this when she wasn’t getting call-backs for jobs and was finally told that there was a problem with her background clearance.
She said the company looking to hire her worked with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to try to “clear” her name so she could be employed by them. She said the Phillips County Social Services director wrote a letter to the company explaining the facts around the case, saying it was an informational referral and no case was opened.
“Unfortunately, I received word that the center would not be able to receive clearance to allow me to work directly with children and families,” said Jones.
Jones said she had no idea the impact this number attached to her name would have. “At 45 years old, I own a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree that cannot be used. The end of a career ... A sentence without a trial.”
She gave the board copies of the law on mandated reporting, which includes exclusions. She emphasized that school districts need to be aware of the power that comes with mandated reporting and how a call to the police and social services will affect all parties involved.
“Policies must be in place to protect our children. But the policies that were involved in my situation need visited, need clarified, need changed,” Jones added.
She pleaded with the board to make a difference in policy so that no other educators are subjected to this situation.
Jones said she wasn’t given due process nor a fair trial, and she now carries the sentence of child abuser to the untrained eye. “A sentence that I do not deserve,” she said.
“Take my story to educate others so that no other person goes through this. Please don’t sweep it under the rug,” she concluded.
In other business April 19, the Re-1J board:
—approved a $10,000 payment toward the City of Holyoke ballpark renovations.
—acknowledged the following gifts to the district: a donation to the music department from the Marie Millage Memorial, a donation for equipment for the baseball program from the Dragon Fan Club and a donation to the cheerleading department from Julie Wiebke.
—gave approval for nonresident student Bianca Liang for the remainder of the 2015-16 school year.
—held a work session on the 2016-17 budget immediately following the regular meeting.
Holyoke Enterprise April 28, 2016