Pam Hall Sees Potential in Jeff

After graduating from Jeffersonville High School in the class of 1989, Pam Hall “had no desire to ever step foot in a school again.” Now more than 30 years later, she walks the halls with a new title: interim principal. Her move into the interim principal role was approved by the school board on Jan. 14, 2020.

Although Hall has more than 25 years of teaching experience, her introduction to teaching came by chance. Hall was playing college basketball when she ruptured her Achilles tendon, and she chose to take a red shirt year (a year off from athletics, allowing one more year of eligibility). “I had to find something else to do, so I started taking education classes,” she says. Despite this, Hall still didn’t have her eye on teaching. She wanted to coach.

Out of college, she was hired as head basketball coach at Providence High School, and the school also hired her to work in the school. This was when she found her love for education. After 10 years of working at Providence, Hall says she was “ready for a new challenge.” She found this at Parkview Middle School. At Parkview, Hall worked in special education, specifically with students with behavioral problems. She loved the job, and she was content to stay in this position for her career. However,administrators saw potential in Hall, and after 10 years of working in this position, she was made Behavior Coordinator. Hall says she “loved every minute of it.”

During her time at Parkview, she worked under principal Mark Laughner, who is now superintendent of Greater Clark County Schools.“He had a way about him of encouraging you to take risks in the classroom and with your students,” says Hall. And after 13 years at Parkview, Hall was set to follow Laughner into administration at Charlestown High School.

However, before she entered the job, she was offered a position she couldn’t turn down: an assistant principal’s job at her alma mater, Jeffersonville High School. “I couldn’t  tell you how thrilled I was,” says Hall. Despite her excitement, she was upset to leave her favorite boss. “I love working for Mr. Laughner. But my heart is Jeff, I want to be at Jeff, I want to work with Jeff kids,” says Hall.

Hall’s fight for Jeff started earlier than most. “For me, I had to fight my parents to come here because all my family went to Catholic schools,” she says. “But I knew I wanted to be a Red Devil… I knew I wanted to play basketball here at Jeff,” she says. Hall’s passion and love for education stem from her passion and love for Jeffersonville. When Hall moved from Providence to Parkview, she was searching for a new challenge — and she found it in a community she loves. “I think the biggest difference is, here at Jeff, we have Jeff kids,” says Hall, “If you look at our staff, how many people are Jeff graduates, and choose to come back.”

Coming from a Catholic school, Hall says it “makes me appreciate the diversity at Jeff.” And what others may see as challenges, Hall embraces. “The challenges here, that private schools and other schools in affluent areas, like Floyd Central, they kinda maybe snub their nose at it,” she says, “but we embrace it. This is who we are. We’re proud of it.”

During the two and half years Hall as Freshman Academy Principal at Jeff High, her love for the school only grew. And when former principal Julie Straight left, Hall let her know she was interested in the job. On January 14, one month after Straight announced she would be leaving, Hall was named interim principal of Jeffersonville High School.

Looking forward, Hall believes she is ready to take on the job. “I have a certain directness,” says Hall, “I don’t necessarily believe in a lot of fluff. I’m just, it’s point A to point B and how do we get there?” She knows this directness will be needed to succeed at this job. This directness is seen by other teachers and students around the school as an asset. Hall credits this trait to her athletics. “I think being an athlete has done that. It gives you a skill set that maybe people who aren’t involved don’t,” she says. Hall not only enjoyed basketball, but she also had to play for her future. “When I grew up we didn’t have a lot of money,” she says, “So the only way I was going to go to college was I had to play basketball.” This is where she believes her hard work and tenacity was born.

Thinking back to her days at Parkview, Hall recalls being known as tough, yet always wanting the best for students. “I’m going to tell you what you need to hear,” she says, “but at the end of the day, I’m also going to put my arm around you and tell you it’s alright, and tomorrow is a new day.” Hall hopes to continue building these strong relationships with students at Jeff.

Hall’s goal this year is to continue the work of Mrs. Straight. But looking past this year, Hall hopes to change the school’s perception. She hopes when people are moving to Southern Indiana, they want to live in Jeffersonville so they can send their children to Jeffersonville High School. “If we can achieve that, we will have taken care of everything,” says Hall. For Hall, this goal is her passion. “For people who have never been outside of Jeff, maybe they don’t see how other people view us,” she says, “That for me has been the driving force. I want to help embrace who we are, but also I want to change it… Embracing who we are and showcasing the great things.”

While Hall admires Straight, she acknowledges the difference in their management styles. “Mrs. Straight and I joke about that all the time. Because we are very different,” says Hall. “I think we complement each other very well. I’m sort of the I’m going to come in and kick the door down and that’s how we’re going to go. Whereas she is more diplomatic.”

Looking forward to her time as principal, Hall says, “I could take a few lessons from her.” Hall has loved working for Straight. “I have no doubt we are watching our greatest Red Devil walk out the door,” she says, “I don’t know that anyone has given more to this school.” Hall is also excited for Straight with her new position. She believes she will still be able to serve her school saying, “There are many opportunities on the horizon.”

After many years in education, Hall says, “This isn’t a job, this is who I am.” And it’s simple what keeps her going, “The kids,” she says, “Every day when I walk down the hallway, there are 2,000 reminders of why I do this.” 

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Hall interacts with students working at the Devil’s Den who sold sweet treats for Valentines Day!

Students and Teachers React to First E-learning Day

On Friday, February 7, Greater Clark County Schools had their first E-learning day. E-learning days allow students to work from home. They do not make up the day at the end of the year. This has been implemented at many other public school districts, but this year is the first for Greater Clark. 

Schools have undergone two practice days in the first semester, but when school was called off for the 7th due to weather, the first real E-learning day was on. 

Responses on the first day were mixed amongst students. “It’s horrible,” says sophomore Lillian Hollins. “In my opinion, it’s just more stress-inducing and it’s a struggle to do.” However, others see the benefits of E-learning. “I personally really like E-learning days because they help me feel productive in my days off,” said junior Kaelin Elsner. 

Teachers also had mixed feelings about the process.“I think it’s beneficial for students to learn how to work from home,” says English teacher Justin Linde, “It simulates online classes one might take in college or a real-life job where one might be able to work from home.” Linde also believes the process will improve with more time. “I think once students have more practice with the process, they will find it more enjoyable and less stress-inducing,” he says. 

 Teacher Carolyn Simpson was happy with the process but found some problems. “I thought it went by on my end very smoothly,” she says. “The biggest negative is to use actual school and class time to get them to do their work.”

The next opportunity to experience the pros and cons of E-learning will be Monday, February 17 — which is a make-up day for a closure last fall. 

Mark Reilly Looks Back on Nearly Four Decades at Jeff High

reilly-by-max-fisherWhen Mark Reilly applied to teach science at Jeffersonville High School in 1983, he was surprised to get the job because “teaching jobs were hard to come by.” Little did he know the impact and length of his stay at Jeff High. Reilly has been teaching science at Jeff High for 38 years. He says he had always had an interest in teaching and he noticed that he was often used to help others both in class and in sports when he was a kid. This discovered talent would become his passion through his teaching and coaching. Reilly is well known for his class and always optimistic personality. Around school, his classes are favorites among Jeff High Students. Whether it’s the baby chicks he gives his biology students or the field trips his environmental science classes take, Reilly is well known as a fun teacher who wants the best for his students.

Many others know Reilly as a coach. He first started coaching in 1984, when he was an assistant baseball coach for two years. After that, he began coaching tennis, a job that lasted him 30 years, and ended with him as one of the most successful coaches in Jeffersonville High School History, and put his tennis program in a position to compete for a state title.

Reilly started his first girls’ season with a team where half of the players couldn’t keep score. His final boys’ team pushed eventual state champions North Central in a close 2-3 loss in the state semi-final.

In his teaching and coaching, Reilly says the biggest difference between the two is in the connection. “With sports, there’s more of a connection, kids respect me on the tennis court because of my play and knowledge, and they want to get better at tennis,” he says. However, in the classroom, he says he “has to make connections because we don’t have something in common. They need to know you care.”

Looking back at his career, Reilly hopes his students and players remember that he cared and always wanted the best for them. He says he still sees people that remember what he did for them when he was coaching or teaching. One thing he has learned over his years is the amount of influence he can have on someone’s life. “The impact you have on individuals, daily, you won’t realize until possibly ten years later,” says Reilly, “So, treat every kid with the same enthusiasm.”

Boys/Girls Swimming and Diving

BOYS

After an impressive runner-up finish at sectionals last year, the Jeffersonville High School Boys swim team lost 5 varsity seniors. This year the team is low on numbers, but head coach Michael Pepa says the team is doing “better than I thought.”

With the smaller team, they have had to make some changes, such as having divers swim some events. Something Junior diver, Max Cathey described as challenging, yet helpful to the team. While it can be frustrating for the divers, Head Diving Coach, Holden Henderson says it pays off, “The net benefit is worth it,” he says. While the small numbers cost the team at dual meets, their strong individual performances will should  pay off in the State tournament. The small numbers also have helped with team  comradery. Senior co-captain, Jonas Gillam says, “we’re a lot closer because of it.” With all the hard work this season, especially over Christmas break the team is ready for a strong postseason.

Looking forward, the team is primarily focused on getting as many people to state as possible. Freshman, Evan Dickson says if they “keep at it, and show up every day,” he believes they can achieve those goals.

GIRLS 

The Jeffersonville High School girls swimming and diving team is coming off an impressive second-place finish at Sectionals last year. And this year with strong senior leadership, they believe they have a shot to take back the sectional title. Their goal this year is simple, “Win sectionals,” says freshman Samantha Elsner.

Head coach Michael Pepa says they have been training really well as a group, and he noted the team’s cohesiveness and positive attitudes as reasons for success. Pepa credits the work ethic to the senior leadership, saying,“They’re setting expectations a little higher this year.” Looking towards the postseason, the team has ramped up training, especially over winter break. “We’ve been training really hard, and the work is paying off,” says Senior Bonnie Dixon.

The team is also counting on a strong performance from Sophomore diver, Disney Mullins. This year with two years of diving experience under her belt, Mullins believes she can provide crucial points for the team. “I’m extremely proud of how far I’ve come from last year,” she says. With the work under their belt, to achieve their goals, Senior Captain Alyssa Miller says, “We just have to focus.”

Pam Hall Named Interim Principal at Jeff High

It was announced over the weekend that Pam Hall, current Freshman Academy Principal, will become interim principal at Jeffersonville High School for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Outgoing principal Julie Straight shared the news with faculty and staff via her weekly email newsletter on Sunday night.

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Pam Hall (photo by Paige Moore)

This move is pending board approval on Tuesday, January 14. 

Straight is moving into the position of Academy and CTE (Career and Technical Education) coordinator for Greater Clark County Schools.

Julie Straight Looks Back on Successes, Looks Forward to New Challenges as She Takes on a New Role

It’s a typical Friday night in Johnson Arena. The Jeffersonville Red Devils are taking on the Silver Creek Dragons in a highly anticipated match up. The score is tight as the game is coming down to the wire. The crowd is full and the student sections are roaring back and forth, chanting and taunting. And like so many events at Jeff High, sitting in the upper level watching the school she has been a part of for so many years is Julie Straight. However, something is different about this game. For Straight, it is one of her last as principal of Jeffersonville High School. As the game ends and the crowd fills the gym floor, she looks from the balcony with a smile. And as cheers of “We Are Jeff High” ring out, Straight remarks, “This is what it’s all about: Pride.” 

On Friday, December 20, Greater Clark County Schools announced that Straight would be moving into a new position as Academy and CTE (career and technical educator) coordinator for the district. In this position, she will be taxed with keeping academy curriculum, teachers and opportunities in line with the workforce. Straight believes that her experience in implementing the academy model at Jeff High will help her. “I’ve had all the training…it gives me a great foundation,” she says. 

Straight is excited about the position and believes the job will “present a new challenge” that she has the “skillset to meet.” Straight cited family as the main reason for the move. “I have my first grandbaby coming in March,” she says. “Not living on the Jeff High extracurricular calendar is what I need to do for my family right now.” 

While Straight is excited about her new challenge, she will miss the school she has spent most of her life at as a student, teacher and administrator. “I’ve loved it,” she says. “I don’t regret any of it.”

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Going back to her days as a student and cheerleader, Principal Julie Straight has always represented Jeff High Pride. – Topic Archives photo by Steven Driver

 Straight’s time at Jeff High began many years before becoming principal. A member of the class of 1982, she was always full of spirit and pride in her school as a student. “I loved high school,” she said. Despite this, Straight didn’t know she wanted to become a teacher at the time.

She went to Purdue for engineering, but she soon realized that wasn’t the path for her. She left college and got married, and when she went back to school she knew she wanted to pursue teaching, and she wanted to teach at Jeff High, but it was not her first teaching job.

“It was a hard job market,” says Straight. However, with some experience from teaching summer school, she was able to find an opening at New Washington. There Straight says she learned a lot and gained valuable teaching experience. 

After two years at New Washington, she got a call from Jeff High and soon landed a job at her dream school. She would remain at Jeff for the rest of her teaching career. 

Straight was an English teacher before moving into an administrative role. For Straight, she says “teaching is all about relationships and problem-solving.” She believes that she gained a lot from teaching that has made her a better principal. “I have a deep appreciation for what teachers are doing, all the balls they are juggling,” she says. “It’s very demanding work.”

Straight initially did not intend to move into administration. “I kinda stumbled in,” she said. “When I was getting my masters, I had 2 children, and the classes that were offered when I could take them were administrative classes and I really liked it.” 

Straight had her administrative license for a couple of years before applying for an administrative position, but eventually she “wanted a new challenge.” She interviewed a couple of times, and in 2010 she stepped into the position of assistant principal. 

Two years later, in 2012, there was a lot of movement within the administration, and after a mid-year switch, Straight became interim principal in October. She has held the top job ever since. 

Coming into the job, Straight says her goals were ensuring the highest-quality teachers and creating more pride in what is happening at Jeff. 

Straight is proud of the many improvements she has seen in her time as principal, “We’ve done good work,” she says. This includes the improvement in academic standing, the district-wide PRIDE program, and the hiring of many great teachers who have “embraced the Jeff High family.” However, Straight is proudest of the many “top-notch” opportunities offered at Jeff, both in the classroom and through extracurriculars. “I really believe, especially for a large urban school, we offer more opportunities than any school around,” she says. 

Although she has loved the job, Straight acknowledges the challenges of being a principal. “There are some really tough decisions that have to be made, but kids have to be first, and that makes other things easier,” she says. “We’ve had some situations with students, where their lives were in the balance or the school’s safety was in the balance…But we’ve come through everything.” 

Another challenge of being a principal is time management. “This has not been a job, this has been my life,” says Straight. As the leader of the school, she feels it is her responsibility to attend the events of the school and to understand and know about all the people and activities occurring at Jeff. “You don’t own your calendar… because things happen,” says Straight, “so you have to be flexible.”

And while often it is easy to get bogged down with all the work, it is her Jeff High community that keeps her head up. “I’ve been exposed to so many great things, events, people, life-changing things,” says Straight, “seeing how people care for our kids definitely has made me a better person.” 

Reflecting back, she hopes that people remember she “took a lot of pride in the work and loved it.” Looking forward, she is optimistic, “I truly hope… that [Jeff High] can and will be better,” she says.

Straight says she will miss many moments at Jeff, but most of all she says, “I’ll miss seeing kids every single day.” As she looks to a new challenge, there is one thing that Straight says will always be true, “I am a Red Devil. That will never change.”

Jeff High Principal Julie Straight Moving Into New GCCS Role

On Dec. 20, 2019, Greater Clark County Schools announced that Jeffersonville High School principal Julie Straight will move into a new role overseeing the school district’s Academies in January. The move is pending school board approval.

The school district will name a new interim principal to lead Jeff High.

On the day of the announcement, Principal Straight spoke with The Hyphen about her time leading Jeff High. Subscribe to The Hyphen on WordPress or follow us on Twitter to be notified immediately when this story is posted  

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Principal Straight reacts with joy while watching students and staff play a game at the 2019 fall pep session. Photo by Paige Moore

 

 

 

Is College Needed?

Most children in school are constantly told the benefits of college and getting a college
degree. As generations of children are graduating thinking college is the only option, many jobs are being left open in manufacturing and skilled labor fields. It begs the question, is college the best decision for all students?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 69.1-percent of 2018 high school graduates attend a college or university. This number has stayed about the same (65 to 70-percent) for almost 15 years.

Many skilled labor employers are seeing the effect, Market Watch’s Jefferey Bartash notes that this is the “tightest labor market in decades forcing companies to pay up.” Many young people enter the workforce with a bachelor’s degree, yet not the technical experience to take on these high paying jobs.

College is also becoming increasingly expensive. According to Nitro College, a college financial service provider, the average student will acquire $37,172 in student debt. Nitro also states it take on average 19.7 years for student loans to be paid for a four year education.

The cost of college is also rising. Since 1971, the average cost of a public institution has gone from $8,730 to $21,370. Private institutions have also increased from $18,140 to $48,510 during the same time period. With the costs of college rising, and the increased pay for skilled trades and other careers not requiring a college degree, many high school students are seriously considering whether college is really the best path.

Despite this, college does have its economic benefits. On average, those with a high school degree make about $712 a week. For those with an associates degree, weekly pay averages $836. For those with a bachelor’s degree, it’s $1,173. Those with even further education range from $1,400-1,836 weekly on average. So there is clearly an economic advantage to attending college; however, the opportunity cost must be factored in, as well.

Many high schools are putting in place programs to get students on the path to success, even if that path doesn’t include college. For example Greater Clark County Schools’ adoption of the academies sets up many students up for specific training toward certain careers without a college education. At Jeffersonville High School and around the country, many are realizing that college isn’t always the answer.

Opinion: Schnatter’s Donation to Jeffersonville Baseball Puts Him on the Right Path

It was July 11, 2018, when John Schnatter (Papa John) resigned as Board Chairman of Papa John’s Pizza. His resignation came after he used the N-word on a public relations conference call, but his fall from power began earlier. Schnatter is most known for his work as Papa John and his fall from power. However, many don’t know he graduated from Jeff High in 1980.

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Schnatter’s problems began in November 2017 when he expressed his disappointment over the peaceful protest of African-American NFL athletes taking a knee during the national anthem. The company tried to smooth over his comments, but the damage had been done.

In January 2018 John Schnatter stepped down as Chief Executive of Papa Johns, following a sales decline, partly linked to the NFL scandal, and in February 2018 Papa Johns ended their partnership with the NFL.

In May 2018 the conference call occurred in which Schnatter used the racial slur, yet the incident would remain unknown until July 11. The day John Schnatter lost everything. Soon after the news of his resignation spread, multiple partners and contracts were suspended. The University of Louisville began the process of renaming “Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium,” and many others began the process of removing the brand from their own.

Then, less than a week later, July 17, Schnatter started talking. He first walked back his resignations saying, “he was kinda provoked” in saying the racial slur. He also expressed regret over his decision to resign before the board did a full investigation. Despite his fight, by August 1, 2018, John Schnatter had been erased from all forms of advertising of Papa Johns.

Despite the loss of his company, Schnatter still maintains the John Schnatter Foundation which makes many charitable contributions. He has recently been using his foundation to help the Southern Indiana and Louisville community.

Most recently, Schnatter gave $500,000 to Jeffersonville High School for a turf baseball field and a replacement of the outer fencing, The stadium and facility will be named the John Schnatter Stadium, but the field will remain Don Poole Field.

John Schnatter has made many mistakes, and his use of racial slurs is inexcusable. However, this is the real world. John Schnatter has expressed remorse, and he is trying to help. Through this donation, he is helping his community and our school.

I believe in principles, but I also believe in practicality. This donation helps everyone, and while many will always associate his name with accusations of racism, we must also acknowledge the good his actions have and will do for the community.

New GCCS Five-Year Plan Proposes Investments in Jeff High

On Sept. 17, 2019, Greater Clark County Schools Superintendent Mark Laughner presented his five-year strategic plan to the school board. Some of the proposed expenditures for Jeff High include:

  • Year one – 1 million dollars for a new football turf, 300 thousand dollars for a new track, and 2.4 million dollars for new football bleachers and press box.
  • Year two – 75,000 dollars for Radio and TV lighting
  • Year 3 – 2.8 million dollars for new locker rooms and weight rooms and 750,000 for HVAC

Jeffersonville High School Principal Julie Strait believes the bleachers are smart investments, saying, “Take a good look… it would be a much wiser investment, and something we could take pride in if we replace them.” She also was supportive of the new turf saying, “We’re the only high school in 6A without a turf football field. It’s part of pride in your community”

These proposed expenditures were part of a larger plan to support the school district’s goals in four focus areas. 

The first area is climate and culture, and the primary goal being to increase trust and communication. The district proposed many tasks in order to achieve this goal, including releasing a newsletter, providing more professional development, overhauling the website, increasing the marketing budget, and increasing many other forms of communication. 

The second focus area is community partnerships. The first goal is to engage diverse partners. The district hopes to implement a more formal tracking process to acquire more diverse partners that better represent the community. The second goal of this focus area is to make sure that these partnerships have mutually beneficial results. 

The third focus area is financial stability and responsibility. Within this focus area, a primary goal is maximizing and sustaining enrollment. The district proposed many solutions including creating more options for dropouts and homeschool children, adding a bus on Salem Noble Road to stop migration to other districts, transporting more students to their school of choice, redrawing school lines, and sending letters of intent to all 5th-8th grade parents. The second goal being reducing costs of programs and facilities. Some solutions proposed include a restructuring of the preshool system, a changing of instruction with elementary related arts, closing the River Valley Middle School Pool, and a possible retirement buyout. The third goal of this focus area is upgrading and updating facilities. The tasks of this goal include keeping the tax rate steady, implementing a five-year facility plan, reducing energy costs, and completing a five-year facility and demographic study. 

The fourth focus area is quality academics. The first goal is to improve student achievement by increasing the percent of students above their grade level in math and reading. The second goal of this focus area is to reduce the achievement gap in literacy, numeracy and PRIDE by transforming teaching and learning to increase student achievement. 

The school board will meet next on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m.

 

Written by Maxwell Fisher