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School helps student displaced by hurricane

The Fredericktown School Board was given reassurance during their November meeting that their teachers, staff and district were having a positive impact on its students as it heard a recorded call from a parent during its monthly meeting. 

Christie Johnson, mother of a fourth grade student at the Fredericktown Intermediate School, left a voice mail on Superintendent Brett Reutzel’s phone complimenting the school for its efforts with her daughter.

Johnson said her family had been displaced from Hurricane Michael and the school met all of their daughter’s needs making it easier for them to focus on what they were going to do moving forward.

“I just wanted to call and let you know what a blessing Fredericktown Intermediate School has been to us,” Johnson said. “We were evacuated with Hurricane Michael and we came here on a split notice. We wanted to get my daughter in school while we were evacuated and they took her in and made her feel so special to the point where she doesn’t want to go home.” 

Johnson said she knows it is difficult to take on a new student especially one who has been through a disaster and was really impressed with Fredericktown School and Ms. Spangler. 

“Your school is going above and beyond for members of your country and not just your community,” Johnson said. “Today is our last day in the area. I just wanted to take a minute of your time, or two, and let you know how great your school is.”

Gifted Instructor Tara Hale said Johnson’s daughter was in her program for the time she was here and is already missed.

“She shared a little of what she did there and different things,” Hale said. “While she was here, she thought our program was amazing because she got to go to gifted every day.”

Hale then gave the board a report on the C.A.T.S. program saying there are currently 24 students enrolled and they spend 30 minutes every day during the students’ enrichment time.

Hale said they are working on ways to meet the needs of each grade level and to make enrichment available to all advanced students through cross curricular teaching.  

Fredericktown High School Principal Craig Gibbs gave an update on the goals of the facility.

Gibbs said they need to focus on student safety, student supervision, parental contact and freshmen transition.

“The first two things that every building and every school district really focuses on is to try and keep kids safe and that we supervise kids,” Gibbs said. “The last thing we want is someone injured or not being supervised.”

Gibbs said the school started gathering parental information at the open house and is working hard to improve communication between parents and teachers.

“The first time a parent sees a failing grade in class shouldn’t be on a piece of paper that we mail home,” Gibbs said. “I think it is very important that we inundate our parents with information about how their child is doing whether it is socially or academically. I think it starts in the classroom where they can fuel the relationship with those parents and build trust.”

Gibbs said not all contact needs to be about negative behavior.

“I think it is important that there is positive contact if something goes well with a student,” Gibbs said. “There is nothing wrong with taking 30 seconds and sending an email to a parent about something the child does that was good that day.”

Gibbs said the school’s next goal is what he thinks is one of the hardest steps in a child’s education experience, the transition from eighth grade to ninth grade.

“What we are going to try and do is focus on this transition,” Gibbs said. “One of the biggest things that high school freshmen struggle with is missing assignments and what kind of support is provided. I know that our middle school does a fantastic job monitoring how the kids are doing on their assignments and giving them really good support. So we are going to try and replicate that at the high school level.”

Gibbs said they will begin a working lunch program after Christmas break where children will have extra time to get caught up on assignments while still having lunch provided.

“We are going to give kids all kinds of safety nets to ensure they can get their work done,” Gibbs said. “They can do it before school, after school and now at lunch where they can do their lunch and we will feed them as well. So they have every opportunity to learn the material.”

Gifted Instructor Tara Hale (right) addresses the Fredericktown School Board on Nov. 19.

Gifted Instructor Tara Hale (right) addresses the Fredericktown School Board on Nov. 19.

Victoria Kemper is a reporter for the Daily Journal. She can be reached at 573-783-3366 or at

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