Commissioner visits East Side School
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Director of Schools Barbara Parker, Commissioner Candice McQueen and Principal Karen Wimberly.

By MIKE WEST, Courier Editor

Dr. Candice McQueen, Tennessee's commissioner of education, found a number of achievements she liked on her visit to East Side Elementary School.
"As you know, I'm going on a 10,000 teacher tour and I've had an opportunity to be in every region and to see what's good in every region," McQueen said.Her tour began with a greeting from Principal Karen Wimberly and was quickly joined by Director of Schools Barbara Parker and Supervisor of Instruction Marcia Melton.

Her tour began with a greeting from Principal Karen Wimberly and was quickly joined by Director of Schools Barbara Parker and Supervisor of Instruction Marcia Melton."Certainly when I walked into this building, it felt just like a family and that is something clearly good for children to feel like they are in a place where they are loved," McQueen said.

"Certainly when I walked into this building, it felt just like a family and that is something clearly good for children to feel like they are in a place where they are loved," McQueen said."There's relationships and there's a camaraderie amidst the people who work here and that is certainly palpable as you walk down the hall and into classrooms," the commissioner said.

"There's relationships and there's a camaraderie amidst the people who work here and that is certainly palpable as you walk down the hall and into classrooms," the commissioner said.

The tour began with Jackie Burger's computerized classroom where students responded to questions posed on an electronic blackboard. Scientific calculators were also available for students to figure the correct response which they quickly recorded on the computers sitting in front of them.

The work was quick and each student responding anonymously to each question holding up a coded card when their answers were ready.

In Amy Underwood's classroom eighth graders were learning about electronics in "Squishy Circuit Basics" where they experimented with conducting and insulating dough they fashioned into figurines complete with lighting.

Regional Teacher of the Year Gayle Burger's students were using computers to write an informative booklet on author Gary Paulson.

Paulsen is best known for coming of age stories about the wilderness. He is the author of more than 200 books, more than 200 magazine articles and short stories, and several plays, all primarily for teenagers. He won the Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association in 1997 for his lifetime contribution in writing for teens.

Teams of two or three students were assigned particular aspects of the report. Once complete, a computer program assembled each section together. The report was then posted in the hallway of the school with the students autographing the sections they authored.

Brad Underwood was using computers to teach students about the Great Depression. The youngsters were busy learning about slang words from the 1930s. Did you know that flivver was a nickname for a Ford car and that newspapers used by homeless people to keep warm were called Hoover blankets?

Dr. McQueen and her staff were busy observing, asking questions and taking notes about the goings on at East Side Elementary.

"I see very respectful children and teachers who are engaged and those are things you certainly want to see," McQueen said.

For example, science teacher Greta Reed showed the commissioner the many items and materials obtained from grants and individual donors at the school.

Each classroom was loaded with colors and most, if not all, were equipped with computers and overhead display projectors.

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