November 2016
From the Superintendent
Supt. Dicky Barlow
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I get to spend time with extended family, eat way too much food, watch football and James Bond movie marathons, and stay up too late. What's not to like?

What I really do love about Thanksgiving is that the holiday encourages us to consider those things for which we are thankful. Too often, we focus on what is wrong in our lives and in the world. Thanksgiving reminds us of those things for which we are thankful.

I am thankful for Mountain Brook Schools.  One of the great privileges I have is witnessing  our schools, teachers, and students being recognized at school board meetings. If someone wanted to find a sampling of great things about our schools and the people who make up this school community, they couldn’t do better than to be present for these recognitions.

Just in this academic year—not even half over—the list of board recognitions  is too long to detail here. Further on in this newsletter, we will feature a few in detail. A quick look at some of the others reminds me of the staff and students for whom I am grateful.

  • In June, the Mountain Brook Junior High debate team competed in the prestigious National Speech and Debate Tournament in Salt Lake City. The team scored highest in middle school debate and took home  semifinalist awards in both public forum and Lincoln-Douglas debate.

  • MBJH teacher Adam Johnson was recognized as one of the top 100 educators in the nation leading "flipped learning." 

  • Pam Pugh, also of MBJH, was honored by the the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

  • Susan Farlow, of MBHS, was nominated for the 2016 National Federation of State High School Association Award.

  • Adam Thomas, Mountain Brook High School senior trombonist, was named to the National Association for Music Education’s Honor Orchestra.

  • MBHS teacher Gary Weatherly received the Dorothy Schwartz Outstanding Educator Award by the Alabama Conference of Theatre.

  • The board recognized Mountain Brook Elementary’s Jennifer Jones and Allyson Martin for presenting at a Social Thinking Conference and receiving superior ratings.  

  • Three of our fall sports teams were recognized. Our football team finished 9-3 and advanced to the playoffs. The cross country girls & boys teams both finished second in the state. Girls volleyball played their way to their third consecutive state championship.

The only danger of focusing too much on awards and special recognitions, is that it makes it easy to miss the quiet, unsung moments that occur in our schools every hour of every day. I am thankful for our students, past and present, who so often are excellent ambassadors for  our school system. I am thankful for our staff, who do amazing things daily, in spite of significant challenges. Then there is the blessing of our school parents and family members who are so supportive of what we do. In fact, our parents don’t just support the school system’s work, they help us do the school system’s work. Finally, I am grateful for the community of Mountain Brook, which cherishes our schools and does what it takes to make them great.

Have an excellent Thanksgiving. Enjoy your time with family and friends!

Dicky Barlow

Mountain Brook students earn 1st place finishes at state Special Olympics

In their September 2016 meeting, the Mountain Brook Schools Board of Education honored two students for their award-winning performances at the Special Olympics competition. This past spring, Mountain Brook Junior High’s Drew Lewis and Cherokee Bend’s Christopher Alexander qualified and competed in the Alabama Special Olympics State Games. 

Drew and Christopher were among hundreds of athletes from across the state who traveled to Troy University to compete in the games. Jane Mosakowski, a physical education teacher from Mountain Brook Junior High, accompanied the students to the games.

The competitors were welcomed to Troy University by the Special Olympics State Committee in a wonderful opening ceremony including a lighting of the Olympic flame by the Olympic torch, which had traveled across the state.  

Drew Lewis competed in both the 100-meter and 200-meter runs and finished in first place in his division in both events. Drew also set a personal record in the 200-meter run. Christopher Alexander competed in the 800-meter run and the javelin throw and also finished in first place in both of his events. Both Drew and Christopher are state champions and did a wonderful job representing Mountain Brook at the Alabama Special Olympics State Games.  

– Submitted by Monica Sargent. Courtesy of Village Living Online. 

National Merit Semifinalists & Commended Students
Sixteen Mountain Brook High School Students were named National Merit Semifinalists and fourteen were named Commended Students by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, based on their scores on the PSAT. Those students are listed below and were recognized by the Mountain Brook Board of Education in their October 2016 meeting. As impressive as it is that 27 MBHS students were named Semifinalists and Commended Students, had it not been for a change in the criteria,  that 

1st Row: Savannah Page, Mary Margaret Byrne, Ana McArdle, Cole Holmes, Butler Wilbanks; 2nd Row: Zoe Allen, Robert Krauss, Ellie Gorman, Madison Thomas, Franklin Lamar, Carter Kampakis; Not Pictured: Marley Barnett, John Darby, Johnny Lavette

number could have been even higher. "In the past," said Amanda Hood, Mountain Brook High School principal, "the National Merit organization set a cut-off, recognizing students who scored in the top 1.5 percentile on the PSAT." The organization tweaked criteria based on the population of the state. "If the current year's selection had been made by the previous criteria," said Principal Hood, 46 Mountain Brook High School students would have qualified.


1st Row (L-R): Laine Alby, Sarah Coleman Causey, Sarah Margaret Corley, Adam Thomas, Chase Robinett, 2nd Row (L-R): Laura Breckenridge, Jackson Waldrop, Anna Grace Morgan, Jake Weissman3rd Row (L-R): Charley Bragg, Ellen Waller, Jack Martin, John Pelham, Ricky Feig; Not Pictured: Jane Perry Starling
MBJH Students to Give Talks at TED-Ed event in New York
Sean Fredella and Brett Lewis Invited to Speak at New TED Event
We were excited to learn that MBJH TED-Ed Club members Sean Fredella and Brett Lewis were invited by TED to speak at the first annual TED-Ed Weekends eve nt to be held at the TED headquarters in New York! They are two of twenty speakers selected from around the world to speak at this inaugural event!   Brett's talk is entitled "How Being a Peer Helper Helped Me." Sean's talk is titled "How You Can Help Fight Pediatric Cancer."
All In Mountain Brook Presents:
Parenting Conference for Elementary-Age Issues Coming February 7
On November 1, All In Mountain Brook hosted 140 parents for a conference at Mountain Brook High School on parenting teenagers. Those in attendance were able to choose three of nine talks by local experts on anxiety & depression, sleep deprivation, marijuana and health, social media, the teenage brain, and other topics.

On February 7, All In will offer a similar event for parents of elementary-aged children. Mark your calendars for February 7, 5:30 PM, at Crestline Elementary. All are invited! Presentations are planned on technology issues, dealing with friendship issues, sleep problems in children, body image, and others. Watch your email for details to come!

ALL IN MOUNTAIN BROOK is a community-based non-profit organization, dedicated to  enhancing and protecting  the lives of Mountain Brook youth. It is a coalition of our schools, city government, worship communities, and the business community. Learn more here.

Important  Dates

Nov 23-25 Thanksgiving Holidays (NO SCHOOL)
Dec 16 End of 1st Semester
Dec 19-Jan 2 Winter Holidays
Jan 4 Students return to School  
Jan 16 Martin Luther King Jr. Day (NO SCHOOL)