Monthly Archives: September 2011

School nurses play valuable role in student success and education

School nurse Becky Boyd stands with the posters she uses to help teach proper nutrition to her students. Boyd's clinic serves as a "miniature emergency room" for Park Creek School.

Park Creek nurse Becky Boyd has been on the job since the school nurse program began in 1993 — and she has certainly come to understand that her role is about more than just taking temperatures and applying Band-Aids.

“Our goal really is that we want to be available for the students and the families,” she said. “These kids, in order for them to learn, they need to be healthy.”

Boyd, who calls her clinic a “miniature emergency room,” spends her days administering important medications, including asthma breathing treatments, antibiotics and ADHD medications. She also checks students who come to school sick and works with parents to make a connection to health-related resources in the community.

“School nurses act as advocates to get the parents the necessary health care they need,” Boyd said. “We can make referrals. There are a lot of community resources that we have a knowledge of that we can get them connected with.”

Contracted through the Whitfield County Health Department, full-time school nurses are valuable in any school setting and at all grade levels.

At Dalton Middle and Dalton High schools, this marks the second year a full time Continue reading

Park Creek celebrates teacher’s citizenship

Park Creek kindergarten teacher Yormary Dickinson was one of 166 people to become a citizen at a naturalization ceremony in August. But when she returned to Dalton as a new citizen of the United States, the focus was all on her.

Park Creek Principal Phil Jones congratulates teacher Yormary Dickinson on becoming a United States citizen.

The school surprised Dickinson with a celebration of her citizenship when she returned to work. The entire school gathered in the gym to learn about what it means to be a citizen.

“They had the flag right in the middle of the gym, and our principal started talking about what it means to pledge allegiance to the flag,” Dickinson said, remembering the event.  “He said that some people are residents and some people are citizens.”

Park Creek Principal Phil Jones said this event was an important way to both honor Dickinson and educate students about their country and about democracy.

“It’s a lesson in the democratic process and democracy itself for our children,” Jones said. “It was important to model for our children the democratic process. The citizenship process sends a very, very strong message of what our country is all about.”

The celebration ended with Dickinson leading the group in the pledge of allegiance. She was also presented with Park Creek’s American flag — the flag that has flown over the school since the day it was built.

“It meant a lot to me that all of the kids that I’ve taught were there. It wasn’t just my class that I have right now,” Dickinson said. “This is my eighth year teaching, so all of my kids were there. And now, they see me in the hallway and they know about that event.”

Dickinson came to the United States from Colombia when she was 17 years old. She began studying at Southern Adventist University on a student visa and later attained residency status in the states. After five years as a resident, she was allowed to apply for citizenship — a process that required a lot of paperwork, an interview and a test.

Jones said he is excited to have Dickinson as a resource for parents and students at his school who may want to pursue the citizenship process.

And Dickinson said students and teachers already ask her about her experience. She cherishes the opportunity to share her story and encourage others to learn more about their country and the possibly of pursuing citizenship themselves.

“I like to talk to the parents, kids and teachers about it,” Dickinson said. “I feel that now that I’ve gone through the process, I can tell them about it and encourage them.”

MIMI ENSLEY, Dalton Public Schools contributor

DMS drama students get taste of high school program

Eighth grader Maci Hayes is a pro at drama, and after starting her third year in the class at Dalton Middle School, she’s sure she wants to pursue the art at the high school level.

“It prepares us because I already know some of the stuff that you do and thepeople that are involved, and that gets you ready,” Hayes said.

Drama teacher Wes Phinney (left) speaks with a student about his pantomime project.

That’s exactly what drama teacher Wes Phinney had in mind when he teamed up with veteran DMS teacher Mark Helton to teach part-time at the middle school. Phinney has served as the drama teacher at DHS for several years, but this is his first venture into the lower grades. He teaches an eighth grade class by himself and then shares the seventh grade class with Helton.

Continue reading

Blue Ridge music program to receive band instruments

Fifth-grade students practice counting music with rhythm sticks at Blue Ridge Elementary School.

The harmonies, melodies, rhythms and beats of a band practicing its music may soon pierce the halls of Blue Ridge School, where music teacher Eric Ellis plans to start an elementary band program next year.

To support the program, the school recently received a $3,000 Music Matters Grant from the Muzak Heart and Soul Foundation, which supports music education across grade levels. Blue Ridge will use its money to purchase band instruments, including flutes, clarinets, trumpets, trombones and percussion instruments.

“This will just be a good way of building music here in this community,” said Ellis, who previously worked as a band director before coming to the elementary level. “It will be another way of boosting music not just at Blue Ridge, but also going into the middle and high schools and helping those programs as well.”

Continue reading

Fifth grade students commemorate 9/11

The fifth graders at Park Creek School had an important job ahead of them Friday morning.

The students took charge of a school assembly commemorating the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — a day most of the people in the auditorium had not experienced.

“Many of our students weren’t born when the events of September 11 occurred,” said Principal Phil Jones. “Our teachers have been helping students understand what happened and the significance of the date.”

Fifth grade teacher Teresa Smith said she and the other teachers wanted to do something to help the students understand this important date more fully.

“Studying 9/11 is one of our social studies standards in fifth grade,” Smith said. “And we wanted to do something to make it real for our kids. Our fifth graders took their roles very seriously and were excited to lead the rest of the school in the activity.”

The students wrote and illustrated a story about 9/11. They gave a brief history of the events of the day, and many of them dressed in red, white and blue. They recited the pledge of allegiance and sang the national anthem together in what Jones called a “touching” display of patriotism.

Continue reading

Technology staff supports student engagement

Students at Dalton Middle School use laptop computers as they work in the library.

When Howard Langford first started using technology, he bought a computer without a hard drive and with very little memory. Now, as the Dalton Public Schools director of technology, Langford leads his department in managing thousands of computers and other pieces of equipment for the school system.

“Technology changes so fast, you can’t say what you will do next year,” Langford said. “As a technology group, a team, we’re not looking at what the new technology is, we’re looking at how can we support a variety or a range of technologies. Everything we do is about being able to support something brand new.”

Continue reading

Help Dalton Public Schools celebrate its educators

Click on the icon above to hear Dr. Murray Lumpkin talk about a teacher that influenced his decision to become a physician.

Dalton Public Schools is working on a special project for American Education Week, November 13-19, and wants your help. For the project, the district is collecting audio recordings of current or former Dalton Public Schools students and staff who wish to share stories about DPS educators who have had an influence on their lives.

Who was that special teacher or staff member? What is your favorite story involving that person? What would you say to her or him now if you had a chance?

You can participate in one of two ways — either by submitting your own, personally recorded, audio clip answering the above questions or by scheduling a time with Mimi Ensley, DPS community relations contributor, to record your story.

We will compile the recorded stories into an audio presentation to share with our educators, both past and present, just how much the community appreciates them.

If you choose to submit your own file:

  • Please create either a .wav or an mp3 audio file of between 1 and 3 minutes in length.
  • At the beginning of the file, state your name and where you attended school in the DPS system. You must also include this statement: “I understand that by submitting this audio recording I give the Dalton Public Schools system the right to use my voice in its projects, and I relinquish all ownership of the recording.” This statement will be edited out of the recording.
  • Tell your story. Make sure to include the name of the person you are talking about and the school at which he or she worked. Perhaps speak about how that educator influenced your life and what you would want to tell them if you had a chance.
  • Be aware that we may not use all of the audio files that are submitted.
  • Email the file to Mimi Ensley at Please include your phone number in the email for verification purposes.
  • All audio files must be submitted by Friday, September 16.

If you choose to schedule a recording time:

  • Mimi Ensley will be available at the Central Office from noon to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 15, with appointment times every half hour.
  • Please email Mimi at to set up your appointment time. Include three preferred times in the body of the email, and Mimi will write you back to confirm. We will try to be as flexible as possible in order to accommodate as many people as possible.
  • Come to the Central Office on the 2nd floor of City Hall to record your story.