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Joplin New Superintendent Welcomes Students, Teachers Hint to Better Morale

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Joplin, MO -


It’s the first day of school in Joplin where unofficial enrollment numbers are down slightly.  The new superintendent was out welcoming back students and faculty


At South Middle School Melinda Moss greeted sixth graders with high fives. During her first year leading Joplin schools she wants a smooth transition. She said, "I want people to know were listening. We're learning from them. And then we're looking at what are our results and what are those pockets of excellence that we can then scale to the whole district."

She pointed out teacher of the year Darren Morgan who also was recognized as Regional Teacher of the Year and is eligible for the statewide honor. 
Morgan explained. "I
m a  stickler on fundamentals such as kids being able to read well, write well  and think well as they use their reading writing skills that they have."

While some teachers used  the first day to get to know students others, like Morgan, are hitting the ground running and giving students work.

Eighth grade student Abi Cryer reacted, "Its  fine. I expected we would have work, just not the first day."

Morgan said,  " In some years past, I didn
t have a strong plan or I had a laid back atmosphere but that sets a tone you dont want to have  to deal with if you're really gonna ask kids to get after it."

Connor Stockam, an eighth grader was intimidated by  the first day work, "I
m terrified because of that. I’ve had a few teachers do that in the past.  I honestly didn’t know what to expect.  He seems like a strong independent person and doesn’t care what his students  think about him. I can definitely tell by some of the things he’s saying  to us, he wants to help us "

Teacher expectations are all part of going back to school according to Darren Douglas, also in eighth grade. He said of the first day back,   "I think it really means a new criteria. New teachers, new basis of how you
re gonna do the school year. New standards. Hes looking forward to working on Ipads this year.

Students said it was nice that the  superintendent made an appearance but most were more worried about learning schedules and  getting into lockers. And Moss even tried to help there. But efforts to hit a combination failed as she cried,  "Mr. Mitchell! I  can't get it open either."

Moss sees it as her job to bring back a positive attitude to the district and boost teacher morale.
She said, "We have some data that it is improving.  So, being able to recognize, validate, compliment and just truly  know the hard work that teaching can be is a morale booster."

South middle school principal Chris Mitchell said,
Im very optimistic about the direction we're going right now."

And when asked what he would say to the new superintendent, Morgan said, "Thank you for making us feel supported in the classroom as teachers."

 

Moss said most buses ran on schedule on the first day,  even getting around construction work at the high school. Something the Moss calls growing pains for the community.

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