By Rebecca Herman

The Johnson County School Board met for their monthly meeting on Thursday, March 9 with all board members present. Kevin Long, chairman of the board, welcomed two school board members from Carter and Unicoi County who were present to take notes to send to the Tennessee School Board Association (TBSA), in order to stay in good standing with the association.
The board began the meeting by honoring the employee of the month, who was chosen from Johnson County High School (JCHS). Barbara Hensley, custodian, “is our most tenured custodian. She takes her job very seriously and works hard to make sure that our building is in great shape…she feels like a mother hen to us all,” said Lisa Throop, principal at Johnson County High School.
Also recognized at the board meeting were seniors who have earned an ACT score of 30 or higher; 36 is the highest a student can achieve. Those recognized were Carlyn Eggers, Nick Whitener, Spencer Stanley, Corina Ward, Kris Artidiello, and Brianne Ward.
Next, the JoCo Robotics team was asked to present to the board. The team had just competed in the VEX state competition, where one of the teams placed first and will now be competing at the VEX World Competition, which will take place in Louisville, Kentucky in April. The winning team demonstrated how the robots work and showed a video of their year, filled with pictures of the team building and competing. Susan Quave, Johnson County Middle School (JCMS) science teacher and robotics coach, expressed her pride in the students and explained that the students worked hours after school and even on snow days in order to complete the work on the robots and the notebooks. “They didn’t just go in and take them by storm, they have been working hard all year long,” said Dr. Brenda Eggers, technology teacher at JCMS and robotics coach. Edna Miller, principal at JCMS, also announced Quave had been awarded VEX Partner of the Year.
Dr. Cheri Long, principal at Roan Creek Elementary (RCE), Carol Hieronymus, special education teacher at RCE, and Norma Sutherland, special education assistant, brought a slideshow and examples of items that are used in the Sensory Room at RCE. This room is used for students who have sensory process disorders and features different kinds of therapy tools that can be used in a safe and loving atmosphere. The room features soft lighting, a ball pit, a LED bubble machine, relaxation tactical wall, shiny string, crash mat, and handheld toys and books that are beneficial to children with sensory processing disorders. Sutherland explained “the first student I took into the room looked up and said, ‘it’s a gift from Heaven,’ so we know that it’s working.” Board member Mike Payne asked if this kind of room could be used in other schools and Paula Norton, Supervisor of Special Education, explained that every school has elements of the sensory room, they just don’t all have the space to put in a room. She also explained that there are a number of students who live outside the Roan Creek district who attend RCE because their needs are better met at RCE.
Charlie Jennings, from the Johnson County Youth Football League, addressed the board for permission to use the football field at JCHS for this upcoming season. The request was approved.
Mountain City Mayor Kevin Parsons spoke to the board next. Parsons explained that work would not begin on a bridge that needs to be replaced on school grounds until this summer, and that the work may not be completed when school begins in the fall. He also explained that a student has approached him to paint a mural in the tunnel at Ralph Stout Park in hopes of deterring vandalism. Finally, Parsons gave the board a resolution that has been sent to the state opposing any voucher programs that would allow private schools in Mountain City.
Student school board member, Marly Eggers informed the board that David South’s class built a solar go-kart and took the kart to a competition where they placed first in all four races. Important dates for JCHS are as follows: ACT will take place on March 21; Freshman Orientation will also be on March 21; FFA Alumni meeting will be on March 16 at the Aquacenter; National Honor Society Induction will be April 3; and FFA State Competition will be March 26-29. “At the convention, they will be receiving the Superior Chapter Award. Phillip Dugger, Taylor Long, and Austin Gentry will be receiving their State FFA degree. Rebekah Dugger will be serving on the Nominating Committee…Taylor Long was named the East Tennessee Star in Agribusiness. She will be going through interviews and going on stage to compete for the state title,” said Eggers.
Dr. Mischelle Simcox, Director of Schools, said that eight snow days have been used and that the next break would be April 14-17 for the Good Friday and Easter holiday. All board members ended the meeting expressing their pride for all the students, staff, and faculty of Johnson County School System. Board member Kenneth Gregg, said that, “it is an honor being a Johnson County board member, there are so many positive things coming out of Johnson County.”
The next school board meeting will be April 13 at 6 pm.