Dear Shoals Families,

Our Shoals Community School Corporation has partnered with Indiana University Educational Psychology Department to apply for a highly important and innovative Lilly Counseling grant. Representatives from Indiana University visited our school multiple times this semester to assess our current counseling program while conducting focus groups with students, staff, parents, administrators, and community members. They concluded that students are in dire need of additional counseling services and often do not receive crucial and necessary time with their counselors because of the tremendous amount of non-counseling related administrative duties they are performing (such as testing coordinator, lunch duties, and attendance-related discipline issues) that can take up to 40% of their day. After much deliberation, Mr. Sherfick who is at the top of the pay scale offered to retire if that meant our corporation could leverage his salary savings to help provide an administrator that could oversee some of the extra non- counseling related duties. Due to the stable enrollment numbers, a small but significant increase in the state funding formula, and savings from retirements, the school was able to consider the possibility of hiring an additional person to perform these duties.

Many different ideas and options were considered over the past couple of months. After researching the possibilities and seeking guidance from various sources, the school came to the conclusion that the Shoals Junior High students were in need of the most care and attention. Transitioning from the nurturing atmosphere of elementary school to the independent requirements of middle school is difficult for many students. Aside from the obvious physical changes of a middle school child, they are also coming to terms with changes to their psyche, social status, and their own id. An idea was presented to return to a previous Shoals model of schooling that placed focused attention on grades six through eight. The idea was to create a middle school with its own culture, identity, and focus to be able to reach these underserved kids. It was decided to move 6th grade downstairs into the junior high building and have one administrator oversee grades 6, 7, and 8 as well as take on the role of corporation testing coordinator previously held by Mr. Sherfick.

Added to this exciting middle school endeavor is the opportunity to experiment with a teaching model that has shown great promise and success around the United States. The model retains a small teacher to student ratio, but places two highly qualified teachers in one room. This opportunity opens up the possibilities of group work, quality interventions, large-scale projects, and the simple fact of having one teacher provide all-group instruction while another is able to
monitor students in their seat. We have asked Mrs. Jill Holt and Mrs. Cindy McNabb to facilitate this exciting endeavor! We will still have one classroom in sixth grade that will remain a traditional class. The sixth grade classrooms will not switch classes or mingle with older students and will still eat lunch with 5th grade and still have recess. Sixth grade students will remain in their exclusive classrooms but will be given a chance to have a much easier transition to Middle School life and expectations.

Mr. Austin Malone agreed to take on the new role as Middle School Principal and assume Mr. Sherfick's testing coordinator responsibilities. Mrs. Angie Sango requested to transfer to take the open guidance secretary position as well as assume the duties of attendance officer and Middle School Secretary.

The Shoals School Corporation is extremely excited and proud about this opportunity and plans to hire a new guidance counselor and elementary principal at the June board meeting. We thank you in advance for your support and encouragement!