Unaka schools to benefit from $210,500 project


Photo By Kristen Luther
Linda Irwin talks to the Carter County School Board of a technology partnership with the Niswonger Foundation to benefit county schools, which will include upgrading technology, implementing a new math curriculum, and a new software program.
  By Lesley Hughes

  lhughes@starhq.com

  The Carter County School System approved a proposal from the Niswonger Foundation for a partnership to fund a $210,500 project. The educational partnership is focused on improving mathematics at three county schools.
  Hunter Elementary, Unaka Elementary and Unaka High School will benefit from the three-year partnership.
  During Thursday's board of education meeting, Scott Niswonger, Oliver Thomas, the foundation's executive director, and Linda Irwin, who is overseeing the county partnership, appeared before the board expressing their excitement about working again with the school system. The foundation partnered with the county in a technology grant and through scholarships.
  Founder and sole benefactor, Niswonger introduced Linda Irwin, describing her as a "go-getter" who has spent 30 years as a teacher and principal in a school where, under her administration, the school experienced the highest percentage of improvement in the state. "She will help your team come up with solutions to not only improve in math, but to excel in math."
  Irwin informed the board of her plans, which will include upgrading technology, implementing a new math curriculum, and a new software program.
  "Carter County will become a model for math instruction in Tennessee," she added.
  The motion to accept the proposal came from board member Ted Maxwell and was seconded by Bob McClain before being approved unanimously.
  In other business, the federal projects report told of the different schools that were using the $1.8 million after-school program grant. All seven elementary schools now have after-school programs. Little Milligan and Range now have wind instruments to use while Unaka Elementary will begin teaching Spanish.
  Dr. Shirley Ellis informed the board that Range Elementary is eligible for a $50,000 school improvement grant. Ellis said if the grant is awarded, the school would use it to set up the Anywhere Learning System with wireless connections, eight computers, a projector and more.
  The board also made a motion to recognize improvements and excellence through ideas generated by the Curriculum Committee.
  The board also approved a motion calling for the America Reads Program to be used in the school system. Northeast State Community College offers the program for college students to read to children and provide tutoring through their work study program. This program is at no cost to the county.
  Board member Dale Colbaugh asked the board for $900 to purchase a new sign for Unaka High School. The current sign is small and does not have enough room for announcements. The fundraising for the sign is $900 short of its goal. The board agreed to check for available funds and will revisit the item again.