Tippy Valley Approves Reopening Plan, Honors Teachers Of The Year And Retirees

Pictured (L to R) are Tippecanoe Valley School?Board President Aaron Zolman; Deb Tillman, Akron Elementary retiree; Christopher Rassi, Akron Teacher of the Year; Caroline Day, Mentone Elementary Teacher of the Year and Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation Teacher of the Year; Kyler Kearby, Tippecanoe Valley Middle School Teacher of the Year; Beth Landis, Tippecanoe Valley High School Teacher of the Year; and Julie Baxter, Akron Elementary retiree. Photo by Jackie Gorski, Times-Union.

The school board approved Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation’s reopening plan Monday.

Superintendent Blaine Conley presented the draft of the plan to the board Thursday.

“We put together a good plan,” Conley said Monday.

One change was made to the reopening plan since Thursday’s meeting. Conley said in the draft of the plan, part of it talked about symptoms and positive test protocols.

“What I did was I went to Indiana (State) Department of Health and I put in those templates that they put out for us as a means to follow,” Conley said. He said he saw there was some confusion in some of the wording, but believes the school corporation will have no trouble following the plan.

According to the reopening plan, there are no changes to the school calendar or schedules.

The first day for students will be Aug. 12. Student start and dismissal times will remain the same as last year.

Remote learning is an option for students, according to the plan. An enrollment form for remote learning will be sent out Wednesday. For planning purposes, the completed form is requested to be sent in by July 29. Parents will still need to enroll their students on Skyward beginning July 27.  Questions and concerns can be directed to the building principal.

According to the plan, students and staff will be trained to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19. If individuals test positive for COVID-19, they should not come to school or work. They also should not come to school or work if they experience a fever of 100 degrees or higher, cough, experience shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, diarrhea, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell.

Individuals who are not tested for COVID-19 and have an alternate explanation for symptoms, such as strep or influenza, may return to school after 24 hours resolution of fever and a note from the provider.

Individuals who are not tested without alternate explanation for symptoms must remain at home for at least 10 days from the time the first symptoms appeared and 72 hours fever-free without fever-reducing medicine and with improvement of respiratory symptoms.

If a person is tested and the test comes back negative, if there is no alternative explanation, the person must follow the same protocol as someone tested without an alternate explanation. They can return to school if tested negative and with a note from the provider stating they believe the patient to have an alternate diagnosis.

If a person is tested and the test comes back positive, the person must remain home in isolation for at least 10 days from the date the symptoms began and 72 hours fever-free without fever-reducing medications and improvement of respiratory symptoms.

Schools will utilize proven cleaning products and procedures, minimize supply sharing and have physical education outdoors as much as possible. Each student will be provided a water bottle with traditional water fountains not available. There will be one water-bottle filling station available at each school. Classrooms will be set up so students are facing one direction.

In other business, the school board recognized the four building teachers of the year and named the school corporation teacher of the year.

School counselor Caroline Day was named as the TVSC Teacher of the Year. She came from four nominees from each of the buildings in the school district.

Fourth-grade teacher Christopher Rassi was named teacher of the year for Akron Elementary. Day was also named Teacher of the Year of Mentone Elementary. Mathematics teacher Kyler Kearby was named teacher of the year of Tippecanoe Valley Middle School. Family and consumer science teacher Beth Landis was named teacher of the year of Tippecanoe Valley High School.

“Each year, the Indiana Department of Education conducts the Indiana Teacher of the Year program to recognize outstanding classroom teachers from across the state,” Director of Curriculum Tania Grimes said.. “All districts are encouraged to nominate one district teacher of the year to be considered as the next Indiana Teacher of the Year. The Indiana Teacher of the Year is then selected to represent Indiana teachers at the national level in accordance with National Teacher of the Year guidelines.”

Grimes said the teachers were selected because they have the “respect and admiration of their colleagues. The four teachers are experts in their fields who guide students of all backgrounds and achievement levels to achieve excellence.”

Grimes said the building teachers were chosen in the fall. Each teacher was invited to complete a portfolio “in accordance with Indiana Teacher of the Year portfolio guidelines.” The portfolios were then critiqued and the teacher with the highest cumulative score was named TVSC Teacher of the Year.

Grimes said Day will be eligible to be named teacher of the year next year due to issues dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Two retirees also were honored during the board meeting Monday.

Kindergarten teacher Deb Tillman is retiring from Akron Elementary School.

Conley read a letter from Tillman. Tillman said one of her goals was to prove to her students they could read from day one through lots of repetition. She took joy in having the students go home and read to their parents. One of her goals was to remember students’ names from the second day.

She said she always loved reading, so it wasn’t a surprise she handed that down to her students. Tillman told her students once they were in her classroom, they were always her kids.

Music teacher Julie Baxter is retiring from Akron Elementary School.

Conley read a letter Baxter had written. She said for the time when the music room was under construction, she had to travel to students’ classrooms, but in general, she was one of the rare music teachers that didn’t have to share a classroom.

The music programs were rewarding, including seeing students play instruments without squeaks mostly and sing in tune mostly.

Baxter’s letter said these times of stress and uncertainty are really hard. Teachers are working harder and harder and working longer hours. She said the teachers appreciate the administration and board as well.

Conley said he worked with both teachers for 11 years and they “helped raise a young principal.”