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Shiloh’s use of communication helps first day of school run smoothly

Shiloh Elementary Principal Scott Spencer takes a minute to visit with students in fifth-grade teacher Nicole Lightner's class during his rounds. (Below) Shiloh fifth-grade teacher Nicole Lightner, assists Ben Gutierrez, 11, with his lesson. (Middle) Shiloh first grader Addison Aldredge, 6, the daughter of Shiloh Elementary School Assistant Principal Jennifer Aldredge, enjoys an apple during lunch. (Bottom) Students work in groups in Stephanie Kincaid’s class at Shiloh Elementary.

The first day of year-round school Thursday (July 23) officially rang in the start of the 2015-16 school year. Shiloh Elementary Principal Scott Spencer said the first day was the smoothest start to school in his memory.

He attributes things running smoothly to the hard work of his staff and the level of ongoing communication within his building and with his parents. “Everything was really well planned out,” he said.

Spencer said he is a firm believer in utilizing all types of communication available to him in order to keep his staff, his parents and the community informed.

“I use as many as I can think of,” Spencer said, mentioning website feature stories, Facebook, Twitter, regular e-mail, e-Blast, YouTube and Blackboard Connect. “The parents rate us pretty high on communication.”

Because Spencer enjoys writing, he does the majority of the feature articles that appear on his school’s web site.

“I also do all of the tweets, which then become Facebook posts. So if people don’t have a smart phone, they get them on their Facebook page. It’s nothing new, but it gets the word out.”

Shiloh has a large Twitter presence, with 155 followers. Spencer sends out hundreds of tweets during the school year.

Last year, he also started using eBlast, which is basically a method of sending mass emails. “Parents sign up for it,” Spencer said.

“Some people don’t like Facebook or twitter; they just like email,” he added. “I might post an announcement to the Shiloh web page, and then (Assistant Principal Jennifer) Aldredge sends it as an eBlast.”

All these communication tools, Spencer said, helped his staff and parents know exactly what to expect and what procedures to follow, which helped to make the first day of school go by with very few glitches.

One of Shiloh’s first graders spoke about her experience on opening day. “The first day of school was good,” said Addison Aldredge, 6, daughter of the school’s assistant principal, Jennifer Aldredge.

“I played games and I went outside and I climbed the ladder,” Addison said. “We did reading. I like to read about unicorns and princesses. I was a little nervous about school because I got a new teacher, but she’s good. I learned how to read a new book. It was fun.”

School for very young students can be a little scary. Patricia Livesey, a nine-year-veteran kindergarten teacher at Shiloh, said the most challenging thing for kindergarten students is learning the rules and procedures.

“The first three weeks, there’s a lot of practicing of lining up, walking down the hallway, sitting on the carpet,” Livesey said. “The kids are very excited, but sometimes they’re a little nervous.”

To help all students and their parents get ready for school, Spencer videoed a welcome back message that was posted on the school’s YouTube channel the day before school started. Click here to view the welcome back video.

Shiloh Elementary seems to be indicative of all six of the school system’s year-round schools. UCPS Assistant Superintendent Shelton Jefferies and UCPS Safety Director Jarrod McCraw, said there were no major problems reported at any of the schools.

There are six year-round UCPS schools: Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts, East Elementary, Shiloh Elementary, Walter Bickett Elementary, Walter Bickett Education Center and Wolfe School.

Students who attend school on the traditional calendar will begin school Aug. 24, 2015. Union County Early College students begin classes Aug. 6, 2015.

Written by: Deb Bledsoe - UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Jul 24, 2015 by Deb Bledsoe

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