Here is what the superintendents and head administrators have to say about what is new and different for the 2020-21 school year in districts throughout Madison County and surrounding communities:

Melissa Brisco, Alexandria

The high school continues to develop their academic pathways. We’ve partnered with several organizations around the surrounding area to provide students with real-world experiences to explore various career options. We continue to add experiences to help students explore their interests and make the best choice about their future. The new construction supports this type of learning with the addition of the new Project Lead the Way/STEM classrooms. We’re simply excited about what we can offer students. The blending of the elementary schools together into one unified elementary has been a year and a half in the making. Teachers have worked together to align curriculum across all grade levels. We’ve also updated our social-emotional learning curriculum as well as partnered with Ball State University and Jane Pauley to add additional mental health support for students and families.

Joe Cronk, Anderson

Staff changes include Eric Davis moving from principal at Anderson High School to assistant superintendent. He is an Anderson graduate, and a lifelong resident of Anderson. Kelly Durr is principal at AHS. She is also a hometown person. Brad Milleman now is principal at Anderson Intermediate School.

This year we hope to further implement social and emotional learning with our student body, implementing recommendations from our Safe and Supportive Schools Committee. We also hope to review our curriculum and make meaningful positive changes.

This will be the first year for a complete 1:1, or One to One, take-home electronic device program

Jill Barker, Anderson Preparatory Academy

APA has updated our class schedules to better allow implementation of our trauma-informed/social-emotional learning curriculum at all levels. Additionally, we have hired an additional full-time guidance counselor who will focus primarily on our SEL initiatives at the Pre-Academy and Academy.

At the Academy level, we will be implementing the School-Connect curriculum for the 2020-2021 school year. This curriculum is designed for students in grades 9 through 12 and will focus on self-regulation, self-awareness and other interpersonal and employability skills. This curriculum will be emphasized in our Preparing for College and Career course that all students will complete prior to the end of their sophomore year. At the elementary level, we have partnered with Aspire Indiana and they are offering school-based services for us including both a counselor and life skills counselor who will both be on-site.

APA has applied with the Indiana Department of Education and USDA to offer all enrolled students breakfasts and lunches at no cost. We are in the final stages of certification and awaiting final notification of our approval.

Paul Garrison, Daleville

We are in the process of finishing security improvements to Daleville Elementary School and are working hard to have that completed and upgraded security equipment installed as soon as possible. As visitors enter the building they will enter a foyer where they can communicate with office personnel and be screened prior to entering the remainder of the school building.

In conjunction with our virtual education initiative we are also implementing a 1-to-1 technology program, wherein all students K-12 will have a Chromebook for educational use and the addition of new technology in classrooms in order to enhance both virtual and classroom instruction. We are creating a coed soccer program at the junior high level. In addition, the Daleville Elementary School Student Mentoring Program will expand to address the social and emotional learning for students. Student mentors will work to create virtual content for students that are unable to attend school in person. We will target additional social-emotional learning activities to better prepare sixth-grade students at Daleville Elementary School for their transition into seventh grade at Daleville Junior-Senior High School.

Joe Brown, Elwood

We have a new principal and dean of students at Elwood Junior Senior High School. Troy Friedersdorf is the new principal. Brian Williams is the new dean of students. We also have a new alternative education teacher and football coach at EJSHS, Terry Riggs. Our teachers are receiving five days of professional development this summer on curriculum development and technology integration. Teachers were compensated for this per our collective bargaining agreement. We are adding intervention labs for students in seventh and eighth grade where students will receive differentiated interventions for both reading and math.

Bobby Fields, Frankton/Lapel

One major difference this year is we are expanding our FLCS Academy to K-12, whereas in the past we only allowed students to enroll in grades 7-12. The FLCS Academy provides a personalized educational experience that is staffed by FLCS certified employees. Our teachers are also able to provide on-site assistance to students when necessary. Additionally, eligible FLCS Academy students are able to participate in clubs, activities and athletics at their base school. And FLCS Academy students who complete requirements may participate in their home school graduation ceremony and receive either a Frankton Jr.-Sr. High School or Lapel High School diploma.

Another major change in our district is, Joe Bowman will be the principal of Lapel Elementary School, taking the place of Genny Zetterberg, who retired at the end of June. You can reach Joe for comment at: jbowman@flcs.k12.in.us

Scott Deetz, Madison-Grant

We are excited for the first year of implementing our plan for reconfiguration. Our Summitville Elementary school will house all of our pre-K through second graders to be able to offer a really fantastic start for our littlest Argylls, with all of their teachers teaming up for an incredible learning experience.

Park Elementary will now serve grades three through six to give our teachers additional resources and keep teachers from having an oversized class, as could happen when the grades were split among the buildings. This also means now our incredible upper elementary offerings, for example Robotics Club and National Honor Society, will be easily accessible to all of our students.

With new programming added last year with our agriculture program at Madison-Grant Jr.-Sr. High school, we’ve added even more opportunities for students in our business department. Our students will have the chance to take over our social media channels in our marketing classes as they develop skills to use beyond graduation. We will also be offering eSports as another IHSAA accredited extracurricular activity for our students.

Ron Green, Shenandoah

Shenandoah will have two new programs for the 2020-2021 school year. We will institute an on-campus latchkey program for grades kindergarten through six to be housed before and after school at Shenandoah Elementary School. The program has not been needed in the past with the community day cares in the district. This summer, our requests for onsite care have grown to numbers that now warrant a school program.

The other new program will be our SSC Online Academy. Each teacher will offer one class that will be available for our students who choose the online option instead of attending classes in-house. The classroom teachers at SES will team up to provide grade-level core subjects along with offerings from our specials in computers, music, art and physical education. At the Shenandoah Middle School and Shenandoah High School, each teacher will choose one class to record on our Canvas program to offer students as a selection for online courses.

Mark Hall, South Madison

The most significant change at South Madison is that we have several people in new administrative roles. I am the new superintendent after serving an assistant superintendent for the past two years and the principal of Pendleton Heights High School prior to that. Andrew Kruer will assume the role of assistant superintendent after serving as principal at East Elementary for the past six years. Tony Candiano will be transitioning to principal at East Elementary after serving as the assistant principal at Pendleton Heights Middle School last year and as the assistant principal at Pendleton Elementary Primary prior to that. Ashley Gustin will be returning to South Madison after serving as the principal at Anderson Intermediate School last year. She will be the assistant principal at Pendleton Heights Middle School. Pendleton Heights High School will implement a new computer science curriculum, and the elementary schools will be implementing a new reading program.

Jason Chappell, Liberty Christian

At the secondary level, we will offer block scheduling with an increased focused on real world application. Students also will have access to added computer science and civics courses as well as several independent study options. We will be offering credit recovery courses and accelerated learning options. Student clubs built into the weekly schedule will meet the social needs of each student. Students will be introduced to a revised Bible curriculum that is grounded in Biblical truth and student development.

Kevin Plew, Indiana Christian Academy

We are adding U.S. history both semesters as dual credit. We also are potentially adding anatomy and physiology as dual credit for both semesters. We are currently offering general teacher education, college algebra and advanced trigonometry, English, economics and government as dual credit. We are also looking to expand some of our elective offerings through a virtual learning source.

Tina Neal, Holy Cross

Our theme this school year is Joy in the Journey, Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (Philippians 4:4). This school year our journey will focus on joy as we grow in our social, emotional and spiritual needs as well as our academic needs.

Middle school students were 1:1, or one to one, last year with the purchase of new Chromebooks. This coming school year, our students in grades kindergarten and one will be 1:1 with the purchase of iPads. The students in grades two to five will be 1:1 with the purchase of Chromebooks.

Grades pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, one, four and our middle school math students will also see the newly installed ViewSonic technology. This new technology allows teachers to project lessons, videos and learning games as well as other capabilities for the students to witness and/or interact with as a whole class, small groups or individually. Future ViewSonic boards will be phased in at a later date.

Follow Rebecca R. Bibbs on Twitter

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