Board members recognized for School Board Appreciation Month; public challenges criticism of superintendent and school system

Robert Brown Middle School students demonstrate walking and dancing robots they created.

In keeping with recognizing January as School Board Appreciation Month, each of the Greene County schools honored the local school board members with special accolades at the monthly meeting held Tuesday, January 22, 2019. Eutaw Primary students Ja’Siyah Spencer and London Gould, under the direction of 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Keisha Williams, rendered a poem. Principal Barbara Martin invited board members to a special luncheon.
Robert Brown Middle School Students Jami Williams, Omar Elnaham, Kailee Coleman, Jocelyn Pelt and Anthony McMillian, Jr., under the direction of 7th & 8th grade teacher, Ms. Janice Jeames, demonstrated the walking and dancing robots they created in science class.

The group presented board members with sweets and certificates of appreciation.
Representing Greene County High School, Mr. Alphonzo Morton, III, science/biology teacher and Mr. Siegfried Williams, Choir Director, rendered a poem and song and presented board members with bags of sweets and certificates of appreciation.
Superintendent Dr. James Carter, Sr., representing the Central office staff, presented board members certificates of appreciation and fruit baskets.
Phillis Belcher, Executive Director of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority, also recognized the school board members with bags of healthy treats and copies of the spiritual guide, Chicken Soup for the Soul.
Returning to its regular order of business, the board acted on the following personnel recommendations of the superintendent.
Approved resignations of Sondra Green, Health Science Instructor, Greene County Career Center, effective January 15, 2019; Lesley Carlisle, Maintenance Supervisor, effective January 31, 2018.
Approved catastrophic leave for Tyreice Mack, 5th grade Teacher, Robert Brown Middle School.
Approved employment of Derrick Williams, Bus Driver, Department of Transportation.
Approved salary adjustment for Accounts Payable Clerk, for duties outside regular duties.
Approved supplemental contracts for Shayla McCray, Charlayne Jordan-Riley, and Angelia Hood for duties performed outside regular contract.
Approved supplemental contract for Fredrick Square as School Safety Coordinator.
Approved supplemental contract for Alfonzo Noland, for duties outside regular duties.
The board also approved Dr. Carter’s recommendation that supplemental contracts for coaches remain as is with the caveat that coaches be given extra pay consideration upon completion of annual evaluation, number of students who earn scholarships, won and lost record, practice schedule, and morale of students and coaches within the program.
CSFO LaVonda Blair presented a financial snapshot for the period ending November 2018:
General Fund Balance – $659,662.79 (reconciles to the summary cash report); Check Register Accountability Report – $486,097.48; Payroll register – $898,072.90; Combined Fund Balance – $2,950,901; Local Revenue for the month included property taxes – $202,633.59 and bingo collections – $58,620. Statement ending balance in Merchants & Farmers Bank – $592,538.82 with ending book balance at $659,662.679. The School system’s reserved fund balance is $2,950,901.15
Morgan attempts to buy-out superintendent’s contract
When the board members returned from executive session, board member William Morgan offered a motion which in effect would buy-out Superintendent Carter’s contract and end his services in the system as of Feb. 1, 2019. In the December board meeting, the majority of the board voted to non-renew Dr. Carter’s contract when it ends in June, 2019. Morgan’s motion was deemed out of order, since discussion of the superintendent’s contract was not on the agenda and to add it would required unanimous consent of all board members. Morgan proceeded to expound on the reasons for his motion. He stated that the school system is in great disarray; teachers do not get support they need; principals don’t do their jobs; students don’t get resources needed and all this, according to Morgan, is failure of the superintendent to do his job. Morgan made several disparaging statements against the superintendent, implying the system needed someone new immediately before everything just fell apart. Mr. Leo Branch, board president, had to resort to gaveling Morgan back to order, with the latter insisting he had the floor.
Superintendent Carter followed with his own remarks, refuting Morgans statements of how bad the school system is. Carter pointed to the new and continuing initiatives and the progressive work going on in the system.
Board member Carol Zippert indicated that she wanted clarity that Morgan did not represent her views on the school system. She said that are lots of good things going on in our schools and problems and issues cannot be corrected overnight. It takes a process for progress to continue, with everyone playing a part. She stated that the system is continuing to improve.
During public comments, several members of the audience, including Ms. Hattie Edwards, former Mayor or Eutaw, District Judge Lillie Jones Osborne, Commissioner Lester Brown, community leader Spiver Gordon and retired teacher Mary Otieno, challenged the statements made by Morgan and noted specifics of how they viewed progress in the school system. Each speaker indicated that many entities are responsible for students’ success, including parents, teachers, administrators, the community and students themselves. They all said it is not entirely up to the superintendent. One speaker urged the board to find a way to work together for the students.

Kwanzaa celebration honors family and community values

The Greene County community held its annual Kwanzaa celebration on Thursday, December 28, 2017 at the Eutaw Activity Center. The key sponsor of the program was the Harambe Chapter of 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement, assisted by the Greene County Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Kwanzaa is an end of year thanksgiving event which brings the community together to lift the blessings of the ending year and to pledge and dedicate themselves toward working together to build a better community for everyone.
Kwanzaa is a harvest celebration honoring the culture and heritage of African Americans. The seven day observance begins December 26 through January 1. Kwanzaa was founded by Dr. Maulana Karenga at the time of the Watts Riots in California in the 1960’s. Dr. Karenga was seeking a positive approach for rebuilding communities and celebrating African American history and culture. He took the name for the holiday from the Swahili word Kwanzaa meaning first fruits of the harvest. The Seven Principles of Kwanzaa also lift the values to strive for in our lives and communities: Umoja – Unity; Kujichagulia – Self Determination; Ujima – Collective Work and Responsibility; Ujamaa – Cooperatives; Nia – Purpose; Kuumba – Creativity; and Imani – Faith.
The program participants included youth members of the sponsoring organization and the 2018 Debutant Class. Mr. Alphonzo Morton, III served as Master of Ceremony with musical selections provided by the Greene County Community Choir. Rev. Joe N. Webb led the devotions and blessing of the Harvest Feast.
The community shared the Talking Stick for expressions of the Kwanzaa Principles.

 

 

 

21st Century youth attend leadership camp

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Senator Hank Sanders leads discussion on leadership traits with participants
at 21st Century’s Youth Leadership Development Winter camp.

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L to R: Harambe participants at 21C Winter Leadership Camp held at the Selma Center for Non violence, Truth and Reconcilliation. Justine Morton, Akeem Hardy, Alphonzo Morton, IV, Ivan Peebles, Alphonzo Morton, III, Destiny Dancy, Jamia Jackson, Carol Zippert, Daijah Means.

Approximately 40 students, representing five counties, participated in the annual 21st Century Youth Leadership Movement Winter Camp in Selma, AL, December 2-4, 2016. The week end activities opened on Friday evening with the usual pep rally of freedom and leadership songs composed over the years by 21C founder, Attorney Faya Rose Toure.
This was followed by a special presentation by Mrs. Annie Pearl Avery on her coming of age and continuing activities in the Civil Rights and Freedom Movement.

Mrs. Avery, a former SNCC worker, held engaging exchanges with the students who were in awe of the risks she and so many others took in the struggles across the South.
Saturday’s activities included Mindful Movements led by April Caddell, Co-Coordinator of the Winter Camp. April also led a session on Mindfulness is a Super Power. A core session on leadership traits was presented by Senator Hank Sanders, utilizing the leadership strategies in the story of Gideon from the Bible.
The students viewed a documentary, entitled 13th, on the prison industrial system produced by Ava Duvernay. The following discussion was led by Alphonzo Morton, III, Camp Co-Coordinator. The film brought out how the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution condones the slavery of persons incarcerated. Slave labor of convicted felons became a big enterprise in this country.
Pep rallies with original 21C songs were inserted throughout the day, which was capped off with a trip to the movies for entertainment. All camp participants, students and adults, enjoyed Almost Christmas at the Walton Theater in Selma.
The week end camp closed out by noon on Sunday with a Takeaway Session where the young people shared their experiences and leadership lessons learned.
21st Century Youth Leadership Movement was founded in 1986 as a non profit organization dedicated to developing young people as community directed leaders. The various county chapters are led by volunteers who are committed to the vision and goals of the organization.