Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing
Plans have begun for the new school year, and many exciting opportunities are on the horizon. Beyond safety, additional educational opportunities that spur student academic success will be our chief priority. In the near future, members of the Orange Beach Board of Education will consider personnel and course offerings that have significant potential to enhance student performance. Below are notions to which consideration will be given.
Maintenance of current student-teacher ratios at the elementary level
Reduction of large class sizes at the high school level
Additional personnel to assist with reading and math intervention
The employment of a math coach to assist in the implementation of the elementary’s math curriculum and to provide math training and modeling to math teachers
The employment of a school improvement person to assist with ACT preparedness
Expanding current job responsibilities to develop and maintain effective student guidance, consultation, and mental health services, career and college guidance, fouryear plans, community service, apprenticeships, and job shadowing
Increase arts offerings
Increase career technical education offerings
Employ an additional foreign language teacher
Employ a Chief School Financial Officer to give oversight to all system’s funding
Employ personnel (data analyst) to give oversight to the student tracking system (i.e., Powerschool), system software, and Google Workspace
Between January 1, 2023, and the next school year, our system anticipates hiring an additional 20 part- and full-time personnel. While we continue to build the school system, other needed aspects may be added, though our focus will always be on the classroom first.Randy Wilkes, Superintendent
Welcome to our newest board member
Mrs Nix brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to our board Married to her best friend, David, they have two sons Bradley and Riley, two daughters-in-law, and a precious grandson, Rett Mrs Nix holds a masters degree in secondary education/mathematics and brings 28 years of classroom teaching experience. A retired teacher, she works with Expect Excellence, tutors at OBMHS before school, and teaches fitness classes at the Orange Beach Rec Center.
I have the wonderful opportunity to speak with her a little more about her background and position. Below are a few of her responses to my questions. It only took a few minutes to recognize how lucky we are to have her on our board!
Q: How long have you lived In Orange Beach, and what is your favorite part?
We moved to Orange Beach almost four years ago in 2019 We vacationed here for many years We would bike on the Backcountry Trail, walk on the beach, and wonder what it would be like to live here We dreamed about living here and looked at houses for three years before we finally made our dream a reality David became the Athletic Trainer for OBMHS athletics when the school started I began working in the schools the first year too, substitute teaching and tutoring I also began working for the City of OB at Expect Excellence as an academic instructor It is an incredible program, and one of my favorite jobs When the city opened the new fitness center, I began teaching fitness classes. All of my experiences here have helped me get to know the students, their families, and the Orange Beach community. This is a wonderful place to live. I love it here! Orange Beach is a beautiful place with so many active things to do. I love the small town feel, the sense of safety, and the friendly people.
Q: Why did you accept the position on the Board?
When I was asked to consider taking a vacant spot on the Board of Education, I was humbled and honored I prayed a lot about it and talked about the pros and cons with my husband I do not like conflict, so I was worried about the fact that sometimes I would not be liked for decisions that the Board would make I thought about my background Before coming to OB I had only worked with students in 7th grade through college Since I have been here, I have worked in the elementary school and middle/high as a substitute teacher I spent many days at Sea, Sand, and Stars as a substitute I also work with PreK and elementary students at Expect Excellence I think God was preparing me for this position by providing me opportunities to work with all grades in the Orange Beach City School's System. After much thought and prayer, I decided to accept.
Q: What are your hopes for our school system?
When I was first asked to take this position, I went to the OBCS website and printed the mission statement to be sure that my hopes aligned with it I have always loved being in education It is a calling! For me, it is all about the kids! I want them to have the best education possible, to develop character and become great citizens This is all in the mission statement With my background in the classroom, I also want to be an advocate for teachers I want them to know how important they are, and I want them to feel like they have a voice in making our schools a better place As we move forward, I pray that God will direct me to do my best in this position I pray for wisdom in making decisions I know that our decisions will not always be favorable to everyone, but I pray that they are always in the best interest of our students and our schools I am excited about this opportunity to build Orange Beach City Schools into the best system in the country
Our first Teachers of the Year have been named for Orange Beach City Schools!
Orange Beach Elementary recognized Mrs. Maggie Slaton, and Orange Beach Middle & High recognized Mrs. Channa Leighton. These two ladies have truly set the bar for our district. As the year began, our teachers and students were charged with the task of Creating a Lasting Legacy. These two teachers have risen to the challenge. Demonstrating that teaching is truly a calling, they put students first, consistently help them to reach the high standards they set for them, and encourage and motivate our students to be their best.
As these remarkable ladies were honored at the Teacher of the Year Banquet, it was apparent that this commitment to students is at the heart of our school system We are different from the rest Our system is built on the foundation that we strive to impact each and every student in our classrooms in profoundly positive ways These incredible teachers do just that! Congratulations to you both. Thank you for setting the bar high, as we move forward together to create our legacy!
Q: What made you want to become a teacher?
A: When I was a little girl, my grandfather was still substitute teaching after retiring from teaching 7th grade social studies for 25 years Everywhere we went, someone would come up to him and hug him, and thank him for everything he had done for them when they were in Jr High School I knew I had a servant’s heart and wanted to help others, but I won’t deny I was also fascinated with the way these former students turned adults would light up from seeing him again What an absolute honor & privilege to have the opportunity to make that kind of positive difference I hope I’m making him proud, and I pray I’m earning a few future grocery store hugs from my students too.
Q: What do you love about teaching in Orange Beach?
A: It’s the way the community values the education of our students for me! When we moved here, I was open to returning to work in another field if the opportunity presented itself. However, one short semester later the modulars were placed on the elementary school campus and the inspiring journey of Mako Nation began. It was magnetic, and drew me back to my calling at lightning speed We are so lucky to have the support of this community The people of Orange Beach help teachers keep their tanks full, so we can continue to give to our students as well as our own families It’s such a blessing that you can’t find just anywhere
Q: What has been one of our proudest moments in the classroom?
A: Earlier this year, my students were genuinely curious about the purpose of Red Ribbon Week I seized the opportunity for them to conduct authentic research Since it was born out of relevance, the impromptu nature of the project left it open ended for students’ creativity and individualized interests In the end, the variety of directions the research had gone was fascinating The statistics students shared had me learning from them A few groups even morphed their presentations into persuasive pitches, covering ways our school could add elements during Red Ribbon Week to be more relevant for our student body. My freshmen were in front of the class applying rhetorical appeals, recalling and activating knowledge I had taught them in 8th grade, when that wasn’t even on the assignment sheet for the project. The post-project reflections students turned in were full of new knowledge they had learned from their peers. It just doesn’t get much better than that for an English teacher. I was so proud of them, and it underscored for me the importance of authenticity in engaging students.
Q: What advice do you give to students interested in teaching?
A: My advice usually focuses on how multifaceted the career is. Are you empathetic? Are you determined and persistent? Are you a problem solver? Are you passionate about continuing to learn? Forever? Can you multitask? Are you a planner but can you be flexible too? Is the safety of others a priority for you? My goal is not to deter anyone interested in teaching, but sometimes the perception of what it means to be a teacher is skewed, and focuses on only one skill set Students may excel in one of these areas, but may need some practice in another area, so it’s a great opportunity to get them thinking about that early
Q: What made you want to become a teacher?
A:I grew up teaching Sunday school, babysitting countless summers, coaching youth sports teams, and constantly seeing the impact that teachers/coaches have on children My mom, dad, sister, uncle, and mimi are all in education I was certain I was not following my family’s footprints, but when it’s in your blood, you can’t fight it It is a job that I wake up each day eager to do more I am motivated everyday by the difference I get to make The joy of working with kids is unlike any other job out there Knowing I have the opportunity to impact more than just a student’s education is what really helps drive my motivation To me, it is more than just education It’s definitely what God called me to do
Q: What do you love about teaching in Orange Beach?
A: It seems like fate that our family moved to Orange Beach two years ago to teach and coach. Our 3 and 5 year old have embraced the culture and we can’t imagine raising them anywhere else. My kids are so proud to call themselves Makos. Maddie and Cooper have fallen in love with this place just as much as their parents. There is a strong dedication to building a great school system here. I love the close community, the people I work with everyday, the parent participation, and the students that I have been able to teach. It truly makes it a joy to go to work each day.
Q: What has been one of our proudest moments in the classroom?
A: To pinpoint one particular moment is tough. I try to create an environment where students want to be a part of it. When students enter the classroom, they are greeted at the door, and most days I am flooded with the question, “Mrs. Slaton, what are we doing today?” I want students motivated to walk in the door. These moments makes my job worth it They make me proud to make a difference in my students I love seeing eager hands waving or dry erase boards full of work, proud of their success on understanding the concepts being taught I am proud when I can feel the excited energy in my classroom
Q: What advice to you give to students interested in teaching?
A: You are so important in your students lives Get to know them and invest in them just as much as you do your curriculum Show up every day with the goal to make a difference
Who are the TIKIS?
The TIKIs represent our incredible gifted program OBCS has two gifted specialists, Angela Mott and Christina Brown, leading the program that serves approximately 90 students in grades 3 through 8.
The gifted program was previously called “Project Jubilee.” In honor of our new school system, students wanted to create their own lasting legacy by renaming the program Elementary students were invited to submit their ideas for a vote. The winning name was “TIKIs.” This creative name represents the Talented, Intellectual, Kind, and Interesting students in our gifted education program
During the first semester, our TIKIs have been focused on an Engineering Design Unit with hands-on learning, constructing their own bridges and hot air balloons. In November, TIKIs participated in the Global Cardboard Challenge with the TIKIs Day of Play. Students constructed their own arcade games by using only cardboard. This project was a fun, educational experience shared with OBES students and by welcoming parents, our school board, and OBCS central office staff to campus.
In December, our TIKIs were awarded grant funds through the Gifted Grant by the Alabama State Department of Education. The total amount awarded was $12,200.00. These funds will go toward the purchase of five drones, instructional software and equipment, as well as the application and registration of each drone through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) With these purchases, TIKIs will extend their studies in flight and wetlands to explore our island’s unique, natural environment while also being exposed to new, evolving technology
Our TIKIs are doing exciting things in Orange Beach!
**Intellectually gifted children are those who perform at or have demonstrated the potential to perform at high levels in academic or creative fields when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment. These children require services not ordinarily provided by the regular school program. A child can be identified for the gifted education program through our mandatory Second Grade Child Find procedures or through referral by teachers, counselors, administrators, parents/ guardians, peers, self, or any other individual with knowledge of the student’s abilities. Information is gathered in the areas of Aptitude, Characteristics, and Performance. That information is then entered into a matrix where points are assigned according to established criteria. The total number of points earned determines if the student qualifies for gifted services.
Saturday, Feb 11th - Meet the
Makos/Battle for the Principal's Cup
Baseball and softball scrimmages will begin at 10AM. Meet the Makos spring sport athlete recognition and the inaugural battle for the Principal's Cup will follow! Cheer on our spring sport athletes as the prepare for their seasons and for your favorite faculty & staff as they battle it out on the kick-ball field. Join us for food, music, games, and a great time!
Saturday, Feb 25th - MAAAC Parade
Please help us cheer on our students as they walk in the parade at The Seafood Festival. Parade starts at 11AM on Main Street at The Wharf, but you will want to stay after to enjoy a variety of food options, the car show, and view all the offerings by participating vendors.
Friday, Feb 17th - OBES Mardi Gras Parade
At 1:00pm, kindergarten parents are invited to join us for the Kindergarten Mardi Gras Parade! Come join in the festivities as some of our youngest Makos revel in a fun tradition! More details will be sent by classroom teachers.
- Mardi Gras Break
No school for students.
Meet our Counseling StaffCounselor Grades 9-12
Working closely with our high school students, in collaboration with Student Success Coach, Mrs. DuBose, Mrs. DeVoursney facilitates classroom guidance sessions on a variety of topics pertinent to today's teens, including those related to college and career readiness. Individual and family meetings are available as needed. She also works closely with our faculty, staff, and community to promote opportunities for student growth and success.
As the middle school counselor, Mrs. Lee works with both the elementary and high school counselors to help facilitate a smooth transition for all students as they move from elementary school, through middle school, and into high school. She collaborates with teachers, parents and students to meet the needs of students in the areas of academics, personal/social and career exploration through classroom lessons, small groups and individual counseling. She feels strongly about helping the middle school students mature into lifelong learners and prepare them for the responsibility of becoming a high school student and beyond.
A Targeted Approach to and WeMrs. Jana Lee Guidance Counselor Grades 7-8
February Safety Summit
This month, we will host our third Safety Summit. This summit will focus on mental health and suicide prevention. Leaders from our school and local community will come together with the latest information to best protect and prevent our students from such a tragedy. While our counselors have already done a great deal to help our students understand mental health and self-advocacy, we will work together to be sure our school system has the most thorough and comprehensive plan possible. Our student safety continues to be our highest priority.Mrs. Jessica DeVoursney Guidance
Student Mental Health ellness
Additional Counseling Resources
Working closely with our elementary school students, Mr. Cooper leads classroom guidance sessions each week. Each grade level is met with age-appropriate lessons about personal responsibility, respect, goal-setting, self-advocacy, and knowing when to seek help from trusted adults. Individual and family meetings are available as needed. He also works closely with the Peer Helpers program and finds ways to promote citizenship, encouraging our students to make a positive impact on their community.
Working closely with students, staff and administrators at all three of the OBCS campuses, Lisa Rogula's role as Mental Health Coordinator is to connect students and families to area resources as varied as food banks, medical attention, counseling services and academic aid, but also to help shift their students’ and staffs’ understanding and acceptance of mental health issues. Lisa splits her time between one-on-one meetings with students and discussions with counselors and administrators about mental health policies and procedures and partnerships. Lisa is available to parents and families of children who might be at-risk or who might just need an extra boost in how they see their selfworth.
Focused on helping students achieve success beyond graduation, Mrs. DuBose connects students with opportunities for the future. Assisting with college applications, career assessments and guidance, working with students on career -tech education plans, monitoring co-op experiences, and promoting scholarship and financial aid opportunities, she works with students both in the classroom setting and in one-on-one conferences. She also oversees credit recovery and credentialing. Mrs. DuBose has worked extensively with students to meet graduation requirements and NCAA eligibility standards. She is dedicated to helping students find the path that is right for them.Mr. Lyle Cooper Guidance Counselor Grades K-6 Mrs. Lisa Rogula Mental Health Counselor Grades K-12 Mrs. Tracey DuBose College & Career Coach
It's time! Future Makos!
Recently, the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Committee was formed to guide and assist the development of the system's strategic plan and to provide counsel regarding school-related matters. Some Recent topics of discussion were as follows.
System’s mission and vision
Parental Involvement Policy
Newly proposed policies of Acceleration, Early Graduation, Parent Notes, and Unexcused Absence from Class Revised policies regarding Checkouts, Non-Residents, and Wellness
Members of the SAPC are (Left to Right) Mallory Wilkins, Kelley West, Clasrissa Rambo, Misty Payne, Robert Stuart (Board President - special attendee), Toni Forbess, and Ben Walborn. We are most appreciative of their commitment and candor!
Before school began, we set the average daily attendance goal of 95%. First-semester percentages were as follows: Orange Beach Elementary School - 94%, Orange Beach High School - 90%, and Orange Beach City Schools92%. We are close, but need continue to need your help!
Parents, we are headed into the testing stretch and need every day of face-to-face instruction that we can muster Of course, at the same time, we ask that students with a fever of 100 4 or higher remain at home
We thank everyone for their efforts thus far and look forward to an uptick in daily attendance
Something to "Crow" About
A huge thank you!
Not many school systems can boast of an organization granting nearly $700,000 in awards annually to its students But we can, thanks to MAAAC (Makos Academics, Arts, and Athletics Club)! We are truly fortunate to have such an entity that works tirelessly to unite community sponsors to school needs. It is often said in our schools you have not because you ask not. Every employee is encouraged to solicit the organization for funds for which there is no earmarking Core academic, special needs, gifted, career and technical, co-curricular, and extracurricular students have all benefited from the MAAAC With that being said, we all have an opportunity to help ourselves.
The 31st Annual Seafood Festival is set for Saturday, February 25, 2023. The festival is a primary fundraising event for the MAAAC. All of which the proceeds directly benefit Orange Beach City Schools Last year’s take was more than $60,000
We invite everyone set the day aside to visit and purchase from the more than 100 artists, view the classic and custom cars, and eat all the crawfish you can (40 sacks are set for delivery). Too, we need your participation in our parade scheduled to start at 11 AM on this day. Our parade organizer is Mrs. Mary Courtney, Director of Special Programs Civic, church, and other school organizations are encouraged to enter Mrs Courtney can be reached at mcourtney@orangebeachboe org The deadline for enlisting in the parade is February 17
If you have received a grant or plan on writing such, please support this effort.
Thank you MAAAC, for giving us something to crow about!Randy Wilkes, Superintendent
District-Wide Site: OrangeBeachBOE.org
Class of 2023
May 1st, 2023
Location and Time TBD
May 7th, 2023
OBMHS Performing Arts Center
Senior Awards Night
May 9th, 2023
OBMHS Performing Arts Center
May 18th, 2023
Orange Beach Event Center
"Keeping the main thing the main thing." This month's message is so important. As we recognize our teachers for their commitment to student success, our counselors for their commitment to student well-being, and our community for their generous support, the heart of our school system is clear. Students come first. As we embark on second semester, our strategic plan, and planning for the next school year, I hope that we all remain focused on what drives our decisions: our kids. They grow up here, live here, and contribute here. We all want them to have what they need to thrive. We are helping them to create their own legacy. Thank you, sincerely, to all those who are thanked and, especially those who do so many things without recognition, for your contribution to our students. We truly live in an incredible community.
-MaryCourtney, Special Projects