In their last meeting in 2018, the Monroe County Board of Education had plenty of business to attend to.

To kick off the Dec. 13 meeting, Coordinated School Health Director Lacey Mason shared an update with the board from October’s Random Acts of Kindness month.

“My favorite addition to this month was the kindness speech and video contest,” said Mason. “I was blown away by how many entries we had. We had over 70 entries from little ones all the way up to high schoolers. Some teachers used this as a project for their class. I know Mr. (Chris) Hollinghead did. I sat in my office for probably a week just reviewing entries, crying in some of them. It’s awesome to see our students and what kindness means to them.”

Mason said they thought they would pick three winners, but could not narrow it down.

“So we have four,” she said.

The four winners—Marshall Dukes and Titus Simms from Tellico Plains High School, Caroline Lopes from Madisonville Intermediate School and Ellie Moore from Madisonville Middle School—went in attendance at the meeting to read their speeches to the Board of Education.

“I believe that kindness is being able to treat every human being that comes into our life, even if it’s just for a split moment, with the same kind of love, generosity and respect that we’d hope for ourselves,” said Mason. “I wasn’t even going to mention this tonight until I saw Mr. (John) Ridgell here. But from playing softball growing up, he made the hugest impact in my life. I will forever remember your kindness to me. And, I can’t say thank you enough. I’m so glad you’re here and a part of our School Board.”

In old business, 2nd District’s Marsha Standridge addressed the board about a vote they did at the November meeting concerning moving the Transportation Department.

“When we talked about moving Coordinated School Health to the old Maternity Center, we also included moving the Transportation Department over here (to Central Office),” she said. “Since then, we’ve realized there would be a lot of issues with that. We’ve talked with some of the bus contractors. It would be expensive to move all the radio system out here and other traffic issues, plus the fact that they’re going to be building the new fire hall out here. We think that it would probably be best to keep the Transportation Department where it is.”

Standridge made a motion to leave the Transportation Department in its current location and 1st District’s Dewitt Upton seconded the motion, with the remainder of the board voting in agreement.

In new business, the following teachers were approved for tenure: Jon Harris (Tellico Plains Junior High School), Debbie Manis (Madisonville Primary School), Marie Matthews (Vonore Elementary School), Miranda Harris (Vonore Elementary School), Tammie Millsaps (Vonore Elementary School), Lisa Ingram (Vonore Elementary/Vonore Middle schools), Michelle Williams (Vonore Middle School), Charla Hutchinson (Madisonville Intermediate School), Lauren Kyle (Sweetwater High School), Mike Martin (Sweetwater High School), Kevin McKnight (Sweetwater High School), Travis Motes (Sequoyah High School), Andrea Miller (Madisonville Middle School) and Laquey McJunkin (Tellico Plains High School).

Also at the meeting:

  • At the beginning of the meeting, the School Board recognized the Vonore Middle School softball team, who, for the first time in the history of Vonore sports, went undefeated (17-0) this season.
  • The board discussed renewing the contract with Teachers’ Tots Learning Center. See more in a separate story inside today’s edition.
  • In addition to approving a lengthy consent agenda, the board also approved several budget amendments and the results of Blankenship’s annual evaluation. See more on Blankenship’s evaluation in related story in today’s edition.
  • In his director of schools’ report, Blankenship said report cards for the second nine weeks would go home on Jan. 14.

He also announced that this year’s Academic Achievers Banquet would be held on April 30. The guest speaker will be Phillip Fulmer.

The next School Board meeting will be held on Thursday, Jan. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Tellico Plains High School.

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