August 5, 2008

Students ‘Sneak a Peek’

By Mick Walsh, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Ga.

Aug. 5--Many of Fort Benning's 2,167 school children were able to visit their new classrooms and meet their new teachers before today's start of the 2008-09 school year.

"Almost every school had something planned beforehand for the students and their parents," said the school system's public affairs spokesperson Gail LaFramboise.

Students enrolled at Faith Middle School, White Elementary School and Wilson Elementary School were able to "sneak a peek" at their new surroundings Monday.

Stowers Elementary was also a busy place, sponsoring its annual Parent/Student Orientation, while the staff and faculty at Dexter Elementary hosted an open house for families.

McBride and Loyd Elementary Schools have scheduled open house events later in the month.

Expecting more students

LaFramboise, a former principal at Fort Benning, said Monday that the current enrollment figures are likely to change after today's opening day.

"We expect that total to go up by late Tuesday," she said.

The current capacity for the post's schools is 3,030, which means that the post could handle another 1,000 students.

And with the completion of Fort Benning's Residential Communities Initiative, in which much of the post's aging and inadequate housing inventory will be razed and rebuilt, adding that many students is almost a given.

"Having our schools full again will be a blessing," said Superintendent Dell McMullen, who spent Monday at Robins Air Force Base, whose base school is part of the district she supervises.

But that goal won't be reached for several more years. The completion of more than 800 new homes in McGraw Village and Patton Place housing areas should add between 200 and 300 students to the rolls. The RCI program is expected to take at least another six to seven years to complete.

Many of the displaced families from the old McGraw complex have been living off-post until the new homes were constructed. Patton is being built near Sand Hill on property where no post housing existed before.

Returning students will find that all their former principals are back this year, with one exception.

Melissa Klopfer has left Dexter to take a principal's job in Seoul, South Korea. But a familiar face will be filling in, at least on an interim basis. Vicki Rogers, who is an Instructional Systems Specialist and director of School Improvement in the Georgia-Alabama district, returns to the school where she served as principal from 1990-2005.

Returning to their old jobs are Julio Gonzalez at Faith, Julita Martinez at Loyd, Phyllis Parker at McBride, Angie McPherson at Stowers, Tommy Lee at White and Renee Mallory at Wilson.

LaFramboise was excited to announce that Beth Holmes, the retired director of the Center for Quality Teaching and Learning at Columbus State University, has joined the Fort Benning schools' staff as an education support specialist.

"She'll be leading our 21st Century's teaching and learning efforts," said LaFramboise.

There will soon be a change in the school system's front office. Assistant superintendent Bill Diesselhorst is retiring Aug. 15. Dick Skinner, another school system veteran, will serve in that position on an interim basis until a new assistant is chosen.

All Benning schools are in session each weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. with one exception: Students have a 2 p.m. early dismissal every Tuesday, starting today.


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