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May 23rd, 2023

Dad’s Actively Participating Sends a Positive Message to Northeast Elementary Students

“Oh man, all these kids? It’s going to be loud,” John Washington laughs as he explains his first thoughts about stepping into Northeast Elementary as part of their new Dad’s Actively Participating (DAP) program. In the month since the program’s inception, the school has seen the difference these positive male role models have on students.

Across the nation, school districts and families are having conversations surrounding parent engagement in schools, including an increased presence of families during the school day. At Northeast Elementary School, the administration began the Dad’s Actively Participating program, allowing students’ fathers, grandfathers, and more to apply to serve as volunteers with the Pre-K through 5th-grade classes. The school has seen success in similar programs, including one they lovingly call the “Grannies Program,” where retired women can come in to play games and assist with one-on-one help. When Washington, a military veteran and father of three, first learned about the DAP program, he was intrigued.

On this particular day, the school’s noise level was at an all-time high as students nearly burst with excitement for the annual Northeast High Senior Walk. Students lined the halls with colorful signs, posters, and cards, cheering, “Let’s Go Eagles.” Washington embraced the volume and interacted with students, offering high fives and engaging in conversations.

“Number one, I get to spend more time with my kids, but also for those kids who don’t have that father figure,” he said. He explained that the goal is not to step in as a parent or teacher but instead to serve as a consistent presence for children struggling to find a positive male adult.

“A lot of kids, I’ll see them, and they look down,” he says, slumping his shoulders and hanging his head. “So I’ll tap them and say, “What’s up man, what’s wrong with you?” He says even that simple recognition will encourage the children to stand taller, and he hopes to engage them in further conversation.

Studies show that children with a consistent adult male presence perform better academically, socially, and emotionally. Washington shared his perspective, saying, “If you have both parents, cool. Mom talking to you and Dad talking to you is two different things, though, especially to many little boys. There are a lot of dads that want to be here but can’t be here. I’m fortunate to step in and help with that.”

As he interacts with the students, he is mindful of respecting the authority of the teachers. As a football and baseball coach, Washington understands the importance of children building respect and listening to their teacher. Ultimately the DAP participants serve as volunteers to support the faculty and staff. Their role is to show the students that adults are willing to take the time and be present.

There are two different shifts from which volunteers can choose. In the morning, dads will welcome students to school, giving high-fives as they get off the bus and walking students into the building. Mid-morning and into the lunch hour, volunteers will be inside the cafeteria, speaking with students and walking through the halls during transition periods.

Washington cautions that supporting the school and students requires patience. “You are not these kids’ parents,” he said. “You have to be mindful of how you come at them.” The program’s goal is to increase family engagement, which will then positively impact student behavior.

He’s seen the positive impact of his presence first-hand. When he began volunteering, Washington noticed a student struggling to make good choices. After watching how he interacted with other students, Washington said, “You could tell he was not getting the support and needed attention at home.“ He took it upon himself to mindfully connect with the student in simple ways. “Just speaking with him, talking to him, being around him,” he said. The consistent presence produced significant results. Today, Washington says the student will find him in the hallways to share news of his day. “He comes up to me and says, ‘I’m being good today,’ or ‘I’ll be good the rest of the day.’” Washington says the student wants to share his progress, even though their relationship never centered on or discussed behavior.

When asked if he would continue volunteering with the program next year, Washington smiles and says, “I’ll do it as long as my boys are okay with it. They’re still young, so they’re not at that embarrassed stage yet. I’m still Cool Dad.”

March 28th, 2022

Voluntary Pre-K Registration Opens April 4

Parents and guardians who wish to apply for the CMCSS Voluntary Pre-K Program (VPK), should review the following process:

  • VPK applications will open on April 4, 2022.
  • Income guidelines for Voluntary Pre-K.
  • Visit and start the “enrollment/application” process. Please choose VPK.
  • Once the Pre-K team receives your application one of the team members will contact you, via email, to meet via Zoom, to verify your family’s income and the child’s birth certificate.
  • If you qualify for the CMCSS VPK program, you will receive an email from the Pre-K Coordinator at the beginning of July if you have been accepted. If you qualify but are on the waiting list, your email in July will state that you are on the waiting list. If we have a spot become available, we will contact you throughout the year.
  • Our VPK program is a grant-funded program. You do have to meet the income requirements that the state has set forth to qualify for a spot.
  • A month’s worth of pay stubs (TN requires gross income, therefore pay-stub must show gross income)
  • Military: most recent LES (TN requires both BAH & Base pay to be added)
  • Recent food stamp letter (must show eligibility dates, case number, and parent’s name)
  • SS award letter
  • 2021 Income Tax (form 1040 or W2)
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Disability benefits
  • Children do have to be 4-years-old by or on August 15, 2022, to qualify.
  • If you don’t have access to a laptop or a desktop, please contact Melinda Smith, Pre-K Coordinator, at 931-648-5653 to schedule a time to come to the Learning Center and use a district laptop.

Dates for zoom meetings:

April 6 – April 8
April 12 – April 14
April 18
April 19
April 22
April 26
April 28
May 2
May 6
May 10
May 12
May 17
May 19
and then as needed over the summer.

Evaluation for Special Education Services

Parents and guardians who wish to refer their child for an evaluation for special education services, please follow these steps. This would include transfer students, students that are receiving outside therapy, or if the district should schedule a screener.

  • “Transfer Referral” – Visit and start the enrollment process. Please choose “transfer” referral if you have a current eligibility/IEP from the location that you are moving from. Please email the current eligibility and IEP to Melinda Smith, Pre-K Coordinator, at [email protected]
  • “Parent Referral” – Visit and start the enrollment process. Please choose a “parent” referral if your child is receiving outside therapy and/or if your child isn’t receiving outside therapy and you need to schedule a screener. Please email any outside therapy reports (if applicable) to Melinda Smith, Pre-K Coordinator, at [email protected]

Tennessee Early Intervention Systems

Parents and guardians, if your child is with TEIS (TN Early Intervention Systems), please see below for more information. If your child is receiving services through TEIS, we will have a transition planning conference with the Pre-K Coordinator, your TEIS Service Coordinator, and your Early Interventionist to go over the process from TEIS and the school system.

  • Visit and start the enrollment process. Please choose “TEIS” referral. Once we have our TPC and receive information for the referral as well as information from your service coordinator, the Pre-K Coordinator will send this referral to the school for which you are zoned.

Peer Model Program

Our peer model program is for peers to attend one of our special education PreK classrooms to serve as peer models for our students receiving special education services. Both programs use the same curriculum, the teachers and EA’s train together, and they both have the same scope and sequence, among other things. Parents and guardians who are interested in their child participating in the Peer Model Program, please follow these steps:

  • Please fill out the information from this link – Peer Model Application
  • To be considered as a Peer Model, the child(ren) can’t be receiving any type of therapy (ST, OT, PT, etc.) or have an active IEP.
  • Once we receive this information, we will be in contact to schedule a screener
  • Students must be 4 by or on August 15, 2022
  • Please contact Melinda Smith – Pre-K Coordinator, [email protected] for more information.

October 4th, 2021

Volunteer as an Educational Surrogate Parent for a Student with Disabilities

Caring individuals always make a difference in the lives of CMCSS students. The district is actively seeking community members who are able to represent the educational interests of students with disabilities.

All children with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) under state and federal special education laws. Included in these laws is a mandate for the parents of children with disabilities to have the opportunity to actively participate in the educational decision-making process. Some children with disabilities may not have parents who can fulfill this very important role, leaving their educational planning solely to representatives from their local school system or other agencies. Federal law, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and state rules, regulations and minimum standards require that an individual must be appointed to make decisions regarding the education students with disabilities must receive.

What is a surrogate parent?

A surrogate parent is a volunteer who is appointed by a local education agency to assist children who do not have parents or family members. The surrogate parent has all of the rights and can make all of the special education or early intervention decisions that are usually made by the child’s parents. Surrogate parents can review educational records; request and consent to evaluations and reevaluations; and challenge the recommendations of the education or early intervention agency by requesting informal and formal dispute resolution procedures. A surrogate parent does not have any rights and responsibilities for the child outside of the special education process.

When does a child require a surrogate parent?

A child with a disability requires a surrogate when:

  1. the parent (as defined in § 300.519) or guardian cannot be identified;
  2. the LEA, after reasonable efforts, cannot discover the whereabouts of a parent;
  3. the child is a ward of the State; or
  4. the child is an unaccompanied homeless youth as defined in section 725 (6) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11434a(6).

What are the responsibilities of a surrogate parent?

The surrogate parent acts as a substitute parent and is given the responsibility of determining the child’s educational experiences. A surrogate parent is not responsible for any financial costs or direct care of the child with disabilities. The surrogate parent represents the child in every step of the education process including identification, evaluation, and educational placement. The Surrogate Parent fulfills the parent role at all Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Team meetings and works to ensure that the child receives FAPE. A surrogate parent is also responsible for keeping confidential all information from the child’s educational, medical, or social services records.

Who can be a surrogate?

Any citizen of the United States of permanent resident who is at least 18 years old and has no conflict of interest concerning the child’s education may serve as an educational surrogate and must be of good moral character. The educational surrogate must act in the best interest of the student he/she represents. Furthermore, an educational surrogate may not be an employee of a public agency providing care, custody, or educational services to the specific child in need of educational surrogate representation.

How much time and money will this commitment take?

Surrogate parents are required to devote approximately three hours to the training provided by Clarksville Montgomery County Schools at least annually. After a student with disabilities is assigned, the educational surrogate reviews the student’s record well enough to understand the student’s needs, strengths, interests as well as their school history. Training is provided free of charge.

If you are interested in attending a training to become a surrogate parent, please email [email protected].

Child Nutrition Department June 9th, 2021

No Cost Curbside Meals for Summer 2021

The USDA approved for CMCSS to continue serving free curbside meal pick-up to all children 18 and under. The USDA stated that these free meals will be available through June 2022, or until funds run out.

Meals are available for all children 18 and under in Montgomery County, including children not enrolled in CMCSS schools.

Curbside meals will be available for pick-up at any of the traditional high school locations on Wednesday, each week, from 10:00 – 11:00 am. Families with multiple children can pick up all meals in one location. 

Children are not required to be present for curbside pick-up. The person picking up meals will need to provide the name of the child(ren) not present.