Lindsay Dungan

Clinton City Schools
Clinton City Schools, TN
Lindsay Dungan, 3rd Grade Teacher at South Clinton Elementary School

Clinton City School District, located in Clinton, Tennessee, successfully reopened on schedule at the beginning of August.  I was anxious, but excited to begin school in a brick and mortar setting.   Our district administration placed a strong focus on our students and gave faculty and staff clear expectations and guidelines to accomplish our goal of a smooth, successful reopening. As a district, principals, teachers and other stakeholders were engaged from the start in aspects of the plan to ensure that all bases were covered and expectations were reasonable for all involved. With all of the unknowns, it was comforting to know up front what our plan was going to be and to feel prepared for opening our buildings to students. Teachers collaborated in small groups to prepare a standards recovery plan to address skills not covered due to losing nine weeks of instructional time the previous year. The clear expectations coupled with an abundance of support from administration at all levels led me to feel prepared to reopen my classroom without great concern.

Our theme for this school year is “Love Them First”, which is so appropriate and timely. In my opinion, this attitude and belief is a major key to our success. We welcomed our students with big hearts, enthusiastic expectations and smiles that “reached our eyes”. We knew how important it was to meet in person to form relationships with our students. We have focused on the social and emotional needs of our students by leading restorative circles in the classroom, creating small groups led by staff for extra support, and promoting wearing a mask, washing our hands, and keeping socially distanced as acceptable procedures in our buildings. Each morning at the conclusion of the announcements, our principal tells the students, “If no one has told you they love you today, Mrs. Bonesteel does!” and “You are worth it!” What a way to start each morning!

When teachers see a need, we adjust to meet that need.  When the number of students in the cafeteria created a social distancing concern, teachers moved breakfast and lunch into classrooms. When sharing supplies was discouraged, teachers made academic toolkits so students could keep supplies in their desks. Although the academic side of teaching has been different due to making needed modifications for close contact and student engagement activities, teachers have welcomed these challenges in order to have in-person, face to face interactions. My students are physically six feet apart, but still engaged in instruction. My typical “Turn and Talk” strategy has changed to a “Think, Think, Speak” choral response. Students are setting goals, accomplishing independent tasks, sharing ideas with peers, asking thoughtful questions, and conducting experiments to foster deeper understanding of concepts. Students are learning to navigate technology and use computer programs to enhance their success. Using online platforms, they are able to explain, record, analyze, illustrate, and demonstrate mastery of lesson objectives.

What is success? Success is the accomplishment of a purpose.  The mission of Clinton City Schools is to educate our students to achieve their full potential by providing a safe and challenging academic environment where standards are high, and learning is a priority.  There is no doubt that CCS has succeeded in our mission!

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