Bells will ring county-wide next Wednesday morning, August 4, as the school year begins for 2021-2022.
Dara Bennett, superintendent of Pierce County Schools, says she is excited to start the school year under more normal conditions.
While COVID-19 is still around, the development and availability of a vaccine will make things “more normal” this year.
“While there will still be some differences in place due to COVID-19, the schools plan to provide more opportunities for students this year such as field trips,” she said. “We are looking for a more ‘normal’ school year.”
Over 3,530 students are reportedly expected to start classes opening day. The enrollment is down about 40 from last school year, but those numbers will likely change by opening day.
As students and staff return to Pierce schools, they will find a few changes and improvements have taken place over the summer.
Upgrades to Bear Stadium and the baseball and softball fields at the high school are underway. Improvements have been made to Blackshear Elementary and Pierce County Middle School. Both schools have been painted and roofing repairs undertaken. A new band tower will be in place at the high school.
Numerous personnel changes have taken place over the last year.
They include Sarah McIntosh as the new director of special education, Yvette Newton as assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, Dr. Walker Todd, assistant superintendent for finance and Jamie Henderson, transportation director.
Brandi Todd will begin her first full year as principal at Midway Elementary and Cole Walsh will begin his first full year as assistant principal at the middle school.
A number of new teachers and support staff have been hired for the school year.
New staff members include Shannon Bennett, Taylor Byrd, Stephanie Carter, Lori Corder, Heather Fandrich, CarolAnn Griffis, Stephanie Kicklighter, Haley Anna Mercer, Destiny Moore and Caitlyn West at Blackshear Elementary; Ashley Buck, Mary Katherine Carter, Mallory Harris, Holly Lee, Jessica Long, Kim Morgan, Melanie Pittman, Kristen Strickland and Angelia Treadwell at Midway Elementary; Kalynne Hiers, Madeline Hopkins, Leigh Ann Hull, Morgan Lee, Janet Strickland, Melissa Thigpen, Carrie Thompson, Jamie Tippins and Melanie Tuten at Patterson Elementary; Jason Bradley, Tim Carlson, John Chastain, Johnny Corder, Tina Cravey, Robert Herring, Jerry Murray, Sandi Rentz and Jamison S. Williams at Pierce County High School and Rebecca Buchanan, Michael Dockery, Monica Dockery, Alle Lee, Harlie Phillips, Kim Rowland, Henry Silman and Miranda White at Pierce County Middle School and Patrick Thompson in transportation.
Paraprofessionals and school nutrition employees formerly employed by Kelly Services have now been added as system employees.
They include Amber Burney, Casey Burney, Chloe Clark, Jessica Hayes, Meagan Hitchner, Jennifer Johnson, Brittany King, Anika Mason, Maikala McGauley, Kelli Moore, Kathleen Todd, Sarah Walley and Leah Yasiji at Blackshear Elementary; Taylor Drawdy, Anna Hilimire, Shanna Murray and Darcille Rowell at Midway Elementary; Julianna Anderson, Denise Barnard, Molly Strickland and Elizabeth White at Patterson Elementary; Ashley Rawls and Melanie Washington at Pierce County Middle School and Laycee Carrin, Baylee Griffis and Julie White at Pierce County High School.