Donation helps kids focus on learning, says superintendent

A donation from the Hagerstown High School baseball team may have taken holiday stress off some Hagerstown Elementary School families.

Coaches and many of the 23 team members attended the Jan. 11 Nettle Creek school board meeting in which they received thanks for a $4,000 donation to pay negative balances from student lunch accounts.

Superintendent Emily Schaeffer said the donation will not pay all of the negative balances but helps considerably. Students get lunch no matter whether their lunch account is current, but families are asked to pay.

“I think it’s important that the team is supporting our kids so they can focus on learning,” Schaeffer said. “They shouldn’t have to worry about whether they have money in their lunch account.”

Coach Jay Hale and the team started raising money in December. He hoped that raising funds near Christmas would give some families relief at a time when they wanted to be buying gifts for their children.

Two businesses, which Hale said asked for anonymity, committed to matching up to $1,000 in donations. The coaches made a video collage of players in workouts and posted it on social media, asking for donations to help pay negative balances from student lunch accounts.

“We had multiple ways to donate,” Hale said, and many people gave. “It’s a great community. There are many people willing to help out.”

Team members benefit from helping in community projects, Hale said. The team has worked in a community food pantry and helps people with tasks such as shoveling snow. He hopes they will remember the good feeling of helping others and will continue doing that as adults.

Board member Julie Blaase said, “What an awesome task you guys took on yourselves. It makes me proud to be a Hagerstown Tiger.”

Schaeffer and Kelli Bush, the Chartwells food service director for Nettle Creek, presented an appreciation plaque to the team.

Progress toward goals

In other business, Schaeffer reported progress toward meeting school goals. Although building-level teams have developed yearly goals in the past, she has asked them to report progress on a quarterly basis.

“Our leadership team (at each building) and teachers have worked intentionally to monitor our goals each quarter, every nine weeks,” she said. “In the past we didn’t look at that.”

Hagerstown Elementary’s goal is to increase the percentage of students proficient on the math section of the ILEARN test from 44% to 60%.

The goal for junior high students is to have 60% of students proficient in the English/language arts section of ILEARN, and 40% proficient in math.

For high school, the goal is a graduation rate of 94%. While that is lower than the 2022 graduation rate, it means that every student who is eligible for an HHS diploma will receive one this year.

The school corporation continues working toward improving quality instruction by partnering with the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching, she said. Nettle Creek’s instructional leadership team attended a three-day training and is continuing to offer weekly continuing education sessions for local teachers.

“It has helped us look at student achievement in a new way,” Schaeffer said. “The better the instruction, the better results for our students.”

Board organization

In its annual reorganization, the board reelected officers: Dan Davis, president; Shaun Lieberman, vice president; and Marcie Houghton, secretary. Board members left their yearly stipend set at $2,000.

Personnel approvals

The board approved the following personnel changes.

  • Certified staff: Lindsey Stuffel, elementary counselor; James Thurston, high school English/language arts teacher.
  • Noncertified staff: Noah Snodgrass and Sarah Benson, substitute teachers; Maria Skomp, nurse; Chris Blaase, in-school suspension supervisor; Janet Stamper, high school interventionist; Sherri Ludwig, elementary custodian.
  • Resignations: Madelynn Ward, elementary instructional assistant; Rachel Moore, high school interventionist; Julie Drake, high school math teacher; Sharon Shelton, elementary custodian.
  • Extracurricular: Danielle Rainey, corporation test coordinator.

The board’s next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8, in the Hagerstown Elementary School LGI room. The public may attend.

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Bob Hansen is a reporter for the Western Wayne News.