It’s time for students to sharpen their pencils and get back to work

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By Tom Wilmoth

For students in Bedford County, it’s time to put up their swimsuits and break out the notebooks. School opens Monday.

    Some 10,750 students are expected in class for the opening day of school. The school year begins as the school system itself continues its transition with new leadership under the direction of Dr. Douglas Schuch, who officially took his position July 1.

    “The transition planning is going well,” Dr. Schuch said this week.

    And it will continue on Monday. Members of Central Office staff will be at each school to help the school administration as students return.

    “We’re excited about the upcoming school year,” stated Dr. Cherie Whitehurst, assistant superintendent with Bedford County Public Schools. “We have some exciting things planned for the first day. ...We believe that we’re ready.”

    For the Central Office staff, that includes coordinating the Opening Day School Blitz in which each school will have a member of Central Office there.     “That will be very positive in that the school will be able to connect immediately with a Central Office person,” Dr. Whitehurst said. “When the day is over we will come back to Central Office and we will debrief on what went well and what are some areas that need improvement.”

    Dr. Whitehurst said the staff will also be able to help as needed at the school, whether it’s a kindergarten student that is having a hard time transitioning to the school classroom or a high school student that needs to make a schedule change.

    “There will be someone there who will  be an extra help with that process,” she said.

    There are a number of new teachers and they attended teacher orientation last week. Teachers officially reported to the schools this past Monday and back-to-school orientations are also being held for students entering the middle and high schools for the first time.

    Several construction projects have also been occurring this summer. New London Academy has a new entrance to the school off of Route 811, eliminating some of the dangers from the U.S. 460 entrance.

    Staunton River High School has a newly remodeled administrative office building. “Those students are coming back to a brand new administrative building,” Dr. Whitehurst said. She noted that the nurses clinic area has been expanded and will help school staff interact with rescue personnel if they have to be called in to help.

    A former principal at SRHS, Dr. Whitehurst said the improvements there this past year — including the construction of a new gymnasium — are helping with school spirit. She noted that the football team has a record number of players out this season.

    “I think that shows that students are excited about their new facilities. It has created a lot of enthusiasm,” she said.

    Thaxton Elementary School will have two new mobile classrooms.

    Bleacher upgrades at the three high school football fields are also underway and should be completed within the next couple of weeks. Bus routes are in place and by the middle of September several new buses will join the fleet.

    The school system has been keeping a close watch to make sure students are receiving the appropriate vaccines in order to enter school and schools have been instructed to work hard to help keep the spread of germs down, as part of its plan to be ready for flu season

    Increased enrollments are expected at Forest Middle and Forest Elementary schools as well as at New London Academy.

    Several Bedford County schools will have new principals this year as a result of a reorganization plan implemented by Dr. Schuch.

    Those included:

    • Dr. Whitehurst assumed duties as assistant superintendent, having formerly served as principal at Liberty High School. Until a permanent replacement is named at LHS, Assistant Principal Tim Hahn will be serving as the school’s principal.

    • Tammy Parlier, who formerly served as director of instruction at the central office, has been appointed principal at New London Academy.

    • Andy Greenough, the former principal at NLA, will serve as principal at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, taking over for Dr. Mac Duis, who has been named as the new director of instruction for the school system.

    • Elizabeth Winter takes over for Sue Saunders at Bedford Elementary, who retired this year. Winter had previously been serving as the assistant principal at the school.

    There are also a number of new teachers joining the school system.

    Bedford County Public Schools new teachers for 2009-2010 include: Amanda Barclay, BES; Kaitlin Beyrau, ORES; Morgan Johnson, FMS; Rebecca Jones, SRHS; Andra Fordham, BES; Donna Carnley, ORES; Rebekkah Kemp, TJES; Amanda Barie, FMS; Krista Brown, Boonsboro ES; Joseph Clark, JFHS; Benjamin Thurman, LHS; Jamie Webb, SES; Cori Fairchild, FMS; Jennie Howell, SRMS; Jennifer Schmidt, JFHS; Joshua Neighbors, LHS; Meredith Bradshaw, BES; Deborah Bollinger, GES; Shayna Moddle, JFHS; Jessica Lake, SRMS; Sarah Cramer, JFHS; Leslie Hatten, SES; Rebecca Brower, SES; Brian Chitwood, JFHS; Darla McGuire, BMS; Laura Dipuma, SRMS; Stephanie Pomjzl, FMS; Kelly Bridegroom, BES; Sarah Lent, SRHS; Lesley Farmer, FMS; Tara Smith, BSTC; Penny Arrington, BIES; Paula Mason, FES; Paul Schwartz, FMS; Sharon Mielewski, LHS; and Raymond Steckman, JFHS.