January 2018


We can't believe January is almost done. The second half of the school year always seems to go by more quickly than the first. As you will see below, our staff and students are in full swing. Graduation will be here before we know it!
Reconfiguration Update
Currently, Tift County students will attend six schools if they attend Kindergarten through twelfth grade. Our new plan for how our schools will be arranged will cut that number to three. All current primary and elementary schools will become Kindergarten through fifth grade schools, Eighth Street Middle School and Northeast Campus will house sixth – eighth grades and Tift County High School will become a true high school for ninth – twelfth graders.

Our school reconfiguration will be in place for the next school year which begins Aug. 13, 2018. We have approximately five months until the transition, and here’s where we are in the process:
  • A portion of the new construction at the high school has opened. The photo above is the view from the new entrance/lobby area. Students are already using some of the new classrooms, science labs and pathway areas.
  • The second gym at the high school is coming along.
  • Teachers received their school assignments last month, and now principals are working on grade and classroom assignments for their individual schools.
  • Our operations staff is actively working on the moving plan for this summer. It takes an enormous amount of coordination to move this many people and this much stuff (furniture, books, etc.) so quickly.
  • Our transportation staff is working on new bus routes for the fall.
In a World...
Need some good news and fun in your day? Well, we've got you covered. Get ready to see more videos that show the positives we have in public education and Tift County. Check out our first and see why "It all starts with the T."
Planning for the Future
Eighth and ninth grade students recently discovered Tift County High School has much more to offer than English and math classes. These students attended the two-day Pathway/Elective Showcase where they learned about approximately 20 different areas they could choose from when they begin attending TCHS next year.

“Students in these grades have so many options to consider,” said Dr. LaShonda Flanders, grades 6-12 Curriculum Director at Tift County. “We know it takes subjects like fine arts, foreign language and technical education to create a well-rounded student. By offering so many choices, students are able to find the path that best suits them to get to graduation.”

Students also were able to discover the courses offered at TCHS through Southern Regional Technical College.

“This partnership allows our high schoolers to earn college credit and high school credit at the same time, with no cost to them or their families,” she said.

The Showcase has grown so much, the event had to be held at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center this year. The event is another step in the planning of a student’s educational goals while at TCHS. What they learned at the Showcase will better prepare them for BRIDGE Day, which is scheduled for March 9.

TCHS, Northeast Campus and Eighth Street Middle School will hold BRIDGE Day conferences for parents of students in grades 8 -11, and are a requirement. Parents will meet with teacher advisors to plan the courses required for students for the upcoming school year.

The BRIDGE (Building Resourceful Individuals to Develop Georgia’s Economy) Act, House Bill 400, was signed into law May 2010 to create an atmosphere motivating middle- and high-school students to learn because they see the relevance of education to their dreams and future plans. The implementation of the BRIDGE Act provides middle- and high-school students with career counseling and regularly-scheduled advisement to choose a focused plan of study.
Ask Superintendent Patrick Atwater
What exactly goes into deciding whether or not to close school for bad weather?

"Trying to make a decision about closing school is like solving a Rubik's Cube. Any choice or move you make affects something else. If you decide to close, and the weather isn't as bad as predicted, then you've wasted a day of instruction for nothing. If you don't close, and the weather is worse, then you've potentially put people in danger.

The ultimate decision maker is the safety of our students and staff. Typically, that means can they be transported to school and then home safely? In the days and hours leading up to potentially bad weather, we are in constant contact with our local emergency personnel and county public works so that we can make the most informed decision possible.

There are also other factors we have to consider. If we close schools, will parents have access to appropriate child care for their children if the parents have to go to work? If we close, so do most local day care centers. How will families handle that? When students are at school, we know they have access to shelter and food. Will they have that if school is closed? We know the answer is no for some of our children.

Running a school is expensive, and we take the spending of tax-payers money seriously. Every school day costs nearly $250,000. If we close for more than a day for which our staff members are paid, we ask them to make that work up. Too many of those can drastically affect the school calendar and plans many of our staff and families have made.

One of my favorite things to do is enjoy a big fire at home on a cold day, and I love a "Snow Day" as much as anyone. But there are so many factors we have to consider to make sure we make the best decision for the largest number of people.

What do you want to ask the superintendent? Send your questions to info@tiftschools.com.
Back in the Day
Our high school has changed a lot over the years! This is a photo of the former high school which is now the County Administrative Building on Tift Avenue.

If you have any historical photos or memorabilia you would be willing to share with us, please email us at info@tiftschools.com.
Sweets and Songs
The Annual Sweets and Songs, the dessert buffet and choral showcase, was a huge hit again. Students in grades K - 1 2 sang their hearts out and put on fantastic performances. Our high school choral program recently competed in Montgomery, Ala., in the Capital City Classic Show Choir Invitational . Tift County took home numerous honors including:
  • Eighth Street Singing Company - Second Place Championship Division and Best Band
  • Ladies' Choice - Second Place Women's Division and Claudia Brown Best Soloist
  • Ninth Harmony - First Place Small Mixed Division
  • One Voice - First Place Middle School Division
  • Bryce Peugh was selected as a Top Five soloist in the individual solo competition
Congratulations to all of the choral staff and students!
Outside the Classroom
For the fourth year IN A ROW, our boys and girls swim teams both won the 1-AAAAAAA region title. Coaches Ivey Vickers and Kristin McElroy made good on their promise to hit the pool if they won.
Meet the Board Member
Marian Richbourg has been a member of the BOE since 2011. Since she and her husband had children (one is a TCHS graduate and another will soon graduate), the focus of her volunteer and service activities have been in areas that impacted them- literacy, PTOs and the Tift County Foundation for Educational Excellence. She saw serving with the BOE as another way to have a positive influence on their education. Her goal has always been to ensure that every child in the system has an opportunity to learn, excel and succeed in wherever their lives take them after they leave TCHS. She believes in a statement made by President Kennedy: “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.”
After becoming a board member, she was surprised to learn exactly how hard everyone in our system works and how devoted to student success the staff is. It goes beyond Blue Devil pride and speaks to the great love there is for Tifton and Tift County. She was also shocked by the degree of complexity surrounding school law, school regulations and school finance - and she works in the banking industry!
Standout Students
Caden Gray is a third grader at Northside Primary School. Principal Kelly Pearson couldn't stop talking about what a great person Caden is. She said he is incredibly responsible and respectful to both adults and students. He is well-liked by his classmates and the staff. But the best thing about him is the size of his heart. She said if Caden ever sees anyone who needs help, he's right there. He tutors kindergartners who need a little extra help with their class work (He asks his teacher to let him go help every free minute he can). He has even shared some of his prize winnings with other students who didn't have any. While he is very smart, it's Caden's spirit that makes him a Standout Student.
Board Meeting Highlights
  • The Board voted to keep Mr. John Smith as Vice-Chair for 2018.
  • As recommended, the Board chose to continue regular board meetings for the second Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. Conversely, the Board discontinued regular work sessions, with exception to one that will be held on May 1, 2018.
  • Hank Pittman, Attorney at Law, was voted as Tift BOE’s general counsel. Additionally, Alan Swan will remain the Board Hearing Officer for 2018.
  • The Board congratulated all of the students who participated in SkillsUSA. Tift County placed number one over 19 other counties from all over Georgia.
  • The Board approved an amendment to a previous contract for the purchase of property behind the high school. They added an additional 18 acres to the original 40.
They said WHAT?
"Out of the mouths of babes" is an iconic saying for a good reason. Children generally have no filter, so what they think usually comes out, and it's usually the truth. And much of what they say is hilarious. Educators get a front-row seat for this on a daily basis.

Teacher to kindergarten class: Who knows what an address is?
Student: Me! I have a lot of addresses. 
Teacher: Really?
Student: Yes! A black dress, a red dress, and you know I wear both of those to church.

If you have a cute story, please share it with us at info@tiftschools.com.
It Takes a Village
Operating a school system of nearly 8,000 students takes a lot of work, and we couldn't do it without the amazing contributions of our community. This month, we want to thank Shiver Carts. They are huge supporters of our schools and our athletic programs. One of the most recent things they did was donate money to Charles Spencer Elementary to make sure all students were able to attend a viewing of "Wonder" while enjoying popcorn. We appreciate all that you do!
Tift County Schools
207 N. Ridge Avenue
Tifton, Georgia 31794  
(229) 387-2400