Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Rumor has it that Lookout Valley schools might close; the rumors are wrong. According to school administrators, the elementary and middle/high school there are open and going strong.
But community support and involvement is needed to bolster the schools, which serve a combined 708 students.
“We want the community to know some of our needs,” said Lookout Valley Elementary School principal Regina Brock. “We could use volunteers every day to read to children and work with children on math.”
Brock said funding from Hamilton County is not enough for the whole school year. Her school has already begun its first fundraiser of the year by selling Kids First Coupon Books, which she said she hopes community members will purchase.
Hamilton County School Board member Joe Galloway and Hamilton County Commissioner Joe Graham have been ready and willing to help Lookout Valley schools in the past, she said, as has the community.
Lookout Valley Presbyterian Church hosts an after-school tutoring program for local students, and Lookout Valley Baptist Church distributes food bags to students in need of weekend food. The Lookout Valley Lions Club provides students in need with eyeglasses.
“It’s good to have folks volunteering on special projects,” said new Lookout Valley Middle/High School principal Rick Rushworth, who previously served as assistant principal of the middle school for 13 years. “We would like parents to get involved and see what’s going on here. We want to get folks in the schools.”
The sense of community and “everyone knows everyone” mentality is one of the small schools’ main advantages, he said.
“I’m not only impressed with the academics being taught, but also the guidance given to our students,” Brock said in regards to the elementary school’s “dedicated and caring faculty.”
“Everyone feels it’s truly like a family,” she said. Until children and their families know we care, they won’t work hard. We want our families in our schools.”
Rushworth said one disadvantage of any small school is the amount of courses offered, but Lookout Valley Middle High School has partnered with Chattanooga State in order to offer college dual enrollment courses in English, sociology and psychology. The school also partnered with TVA to begin a robotics program this fall to incorporate computer programming, construction and design.
“We want people to get familiar with what their local public school has to offer,” said Rushworth. “One of our challenges is getting people to give us a try. We want the kids zoned to us to come here. A lot of people have no idea where we are. Lookout Valley schools are pretty convenient to downtown Chattanooga.”
He said something new this year will be journal writing for sixth-graders to share their experience with fifth-graders. He said the idea is to relieve anxiety associated with transferring from elementary to middle school life. Fifth-graders will also receive complimentary Lookout Valley Yellow Jackets football tickets. A homecoming football game will be held at the school’s newly painted field house, concession stand and football stadium Oct. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
According to Rushworth, Lookout Valley Elementary and Lookout Valley Middle/High schools work together often. At present, high school seniors are conducting service learning projects with elementary school teachers.
“Hamilton County literacy framework and the new math framework have been rolled out this year,” said Brock. “We will focus on literacy and math in all Lookout Valley schools.”