Jul 292011

By Linda Kor–

When the school year starts in the Holbrook School District on Wednesday, Aug. 3, there will be 20 new teachers, as well as new goals and programs within the district to greet students.

New teachers to the district include Alisha Shelley of Washington, who will teach third grade at Hulet Elementary School; Mary Jane Lionberger of Phoenix, who will teach fourth grade at Hulet; Andrea McDonald of Montana, who will teach sixth grade at Holbrook Junior High School; Erin Cunnif of Winslow, who will be an in school interventionist at HJHS; Robin Stradling of Pinetop, who will be a counselor at HJHS; Carey Kester of Holbrook, who will teach at Holbrook High School and HJHS; Janie Sandoval of Winslow, who will teach anatomy at HHS; Kyle Gardner of Holbrook, who will teach music at HHS; Ashley Davis of Phoenix, who will teach biology; Monica Spencer of Phoenix, who will teach second grade at Park Elementary School; Stacy Wilt of Oregon, who will teach sixth grade at Indian Wells Elementary School; Ramona Joe and Andrea Tomlin, who will each teach fourth grade at IWES; Amanda Dine, who will teach third grade at IWES; Melody Myer of Arkansas, who will teach pre-kindergarten special education at IWES; and Jami Williams of Sanders who will teach first grade at IWES.

District Superintendent Dr. Robbie Koerperich stated that in addition to striving for high academic achievement throughout the school year, the efforts for this year will also include advanced technology training, a focus on the sciences, and the students’ physical health and well being.

This year the district will begin the push toward STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) as a movement that teachers and administrators hope will better prepare students for a better future.

“We’re taking a look at the STEM movement and its importance in advancing our students in the global work place. As part of that effort, we have remodeled our junior high labs and are going to work on getting the students excited about these fields,” stated Koeperich.

In this technology based approach to science, students will learn a new way to approach scientific analysis than their predecessors had. For example, instead of mixing costly and potentially dangerous chemicals in the lab, students will be able to use virtual chemicals on their computers to obtain the same results. Although the program is still in its infancy at the district and certain aspects of technology will not be included as of yet, Koerperich hopes to expand the program to the same level of importance as mathematics and reading in the coming years.

“We believe that keeping up with 21st century technology is essential and that learning the basic functions of technology is important for our students to compete for jobs,” he stated.

Another important factor of maximizing the efforts of students and teachers is good nutrition. With the knowledge that a balanced diet and proper exercise allow the human body to perform at its full potential, Koerperich said the district is working toward educating students and parents on the benefits of healthy living.

This year the district is incorporating a fruits and vegetables program at all the elementary schools, and will place more emphasis on being healthy and proper exercise. “This effort will be part of our anti-bullying program to help kids feel better about themselves and be successful academically,” stated Koerperich.

With schools only providing one to two meals out of the school week to students, the hope is that parents will also join in on the effort by continuing with healthy nutrition and exercise at home.

Another focus this year will be to improve energy efficiency throughout the district. The effort will include a switch to energy efficient lighting and maximizing water usage in the bathrooms, an endeavor that will not only save the district money, but will also be environmentally friendly.

The first day of school for district students is Wednesday, Aug. 3. Meet the teacher events are planned from 2:30 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at Park, Hulet and Indian Wells elementary schools. Koerperich noted that parents and students are also welcome to visit at HJHS and HHS during that time if they wish to see the school or visit with the teachers.