5 Schools Site
A site dedicated to providing the parents,
teachers, students, and staff with all of the current information
regarding their schools!
Congrats to Nikki Cotton!!!
Teacher of the Year for Orange Beach Elementary and Teacher of the Year Baldwin
Congrats to Amy Edwards!!!
Fifth grade students at Orange Beach Elementary
School beat out 3,000 other student teams, including high school students, to
win the Alabama Stock Market Game Grand Championship. Competing in the Lower
Division of the South Region of the Alabama Stock Market Game, the team of
Daniel Adams and Kaylen Bowdoin finished in first place for the Spring Session.
Starting with $100,000 in the virtual stock market, the team bought and sold
stocks for ten weeks ending with a total portfolio value of $157,464.
That ending balance also earned the pair the Grand
Championship prize for the 2008-09 school year. Representative Steve McMillan
and Senator Trip Pittman will award the cash prize of $500 to the students
Thursday, May 21 at an all school ceremony. The fifth grade students study under
A Teacher's Message
I want our teachers and staff to know that I feel your concern and
frustration during these very difficult times. Proration and cutbacks have
all weighed heavy on not only my heart, but my soul. My frustration lies in
the fact that just as we were ready to make headway, in comes proration.
Some cuts are good and force us to "streamline" our system and make it more
efficient and effective, but some cuts are difficult, but necessary to our
survival. It is my job to make sure we cut everything possible before making
cuts that affect our classrooms.
There are a few issues that constantly leave our teachers feeling
overwhelmed and frustrated. One issue that I know puts undue pressure
on our teachers is NCLB. NCLB is an ongoing issue and the board and staff
are aware of its stranglehold on teachers and funds. I have discussed this
issue with Senator Pittman and he is dedicated to helping us work these
issues out. There's no question that it must be modified in order for it to
serve its original intention. Secondly, there is no question that proration
leaves us all feeling uneasy. AEA has made an effort to protect our
teachers' benefits and rights, but often the BCBE's hands are tied due to
the constraints of the state mandates. I would like to ask AEA to help us
thwart proration in Montgomery rather that fight our local efforts to
conform to it. Their tremendous strength is what we need to lobby our
Senators and Legislators for EDUCATION BAILOTS, not cutbacks.
Administrators are under a lot of pressure to perform in order to
keep their jobs. Without seeing all of the underlying efforts and
limitations, communities and parents have high expectations. They expect
higher test scores, higher standards, and happy, well-rounded children. What
they don't always understand are the constraints we are expected to overcome
and conform to.
This leaves us all in a difficult position where we must deliver
excellent results with fewer resources. I attended a state school board
conference in B'Ham last month. There was one speaker in particular who
made me change my way of thinking. (I don't even remember who the speaker
was.) He gave examples of shining systems all across the nation. These
systems had top test scores, top attendance percentages, and high morale
among teachers and students. They excelled at everything they did and seemed
to have the "midas" touch. Teachers spoke about loving what they do and
being excited about coming to work every day. Surely, these must be magnet
schools or private schools in high end neighborhoods. Surprisingly, as we
got to the end of the story, they were schools from some of the poorest
communities in the country. The dollars spent per pupil were well below our
numbers. Buildings were old, roofs leaked, some did not even have a
transportation system. We have little money to work with. They had none.
The education of their children was the driving force of the schools. They
overlooked what they didn't have and instead looked at how to be more
effective with what they did have. The people made the system, not the
I know that our teachers are frustrated and afraid, but I'd put
our educators up against any in the country. In order to get through these
state mandates and difficult times ahead, we have to all be on the same
team. I know it's not what we all want to hear, but the fact is that we
have to pull together, pool our resources, and decide to be the best no
matter what obstacles are thrown at us.
Here's a personal story that I'd like share with you that I'm sure is
not unlike many other stories in our community. Our family (my husband and
I, our four children, and my husband's parents) moved here in May, 2003. We
sold our business in B'Ham to fulfill a lifelong dream of owning a family
restaurant and living at the beach. A year and a half later, we lost our
restaurant and our home in
Hurricane Ivan. We found ourselves with
nowhere to live and no income. We tried unsuccessfully to re-open our
restaurant, but met hurdle after hurdle. Our children were afraid and looked
to us for comfort. We could have let life get the best of us and wallowed in
depression, but our childrens' futures would not allow it. "Survival mode"
kicked in. It became a life lesson for all of us. Our children understood
that times were tough and that money was tight, but we all worked together
to get through it, and somehow, we managed to get by with much less. Our
kids helped us clear debris from our home, our community brought us water
and offered their help and support. We spray painted the words, "We'll be
back" on the only wall left standing where our restaurant once stood. My
husband and I spent 9 weeks attending real estate classes together and our
children helped us study. The moral is that we could have given up and given
in, but there was too much at stake. We built a successful real estate
business, re-built our home, and sent our first child to college the
following year. Although I wouldn't want to go through that again, our
family learned a valuable lesson that year. Although we lost the "things"
that once made us comfortable, we still had each other and it made our
family stronger and more unified. The "things" were no longer important. The
PEOPLE made the difference, not the money.
Our community has been through hurricanes, floods, insurance hikes, and
economic woes, but, as in the past, we have survived by helping each other,
coming together, thinking "outside the box" and creating new ways to be
successful. We are forced to do more with less. My family calls it "survival
mode". Our schools are no different. We are in "survival mode" as a system,
and our childrens' education is at stake.
Perhaps we can spread a new way of thinking. There will still be
days that we go home tired and frustrated, but in the end, perhaps we can
look back and know that we all survived it.
I appreciate your insight, and encourage you to write or speak to
me anytime you feel frustrated and tired. I will certainly do my part to
fight the battles that make your job more difficult than it should be, so
hopefully, we can have more time and energy to do the job we were meant to
do---educating our children.
For Our Children,
Current District 5 News