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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Proud to Be an American

In our society, it seems that when we gather together for something of importance, music plays a key role. This observation was certainly true of Thursday's graduation. For example, the procession would not have been complete without our band's rendition of "Pomp and Circumstance."

This post features "Proud to Be an American" sung by David Horton. Mr. Horton is the devoted husband of Dr. Joanne Horton. For many, this night was their first introduction to Mr. Horton, yet for two years, he has been a constant supporter of this school system as it seeks to fulfill its vision of moving forward to meet the demands of a changing world.

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Pictures from Graduation

Please enjoy these pictures from the Talladega High School Graduation. As you view the pictures, you will hear Dr. Rice's address in the background.

Thanks to David McDaniel for assembling this video!

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Follow Your Passion...

Graduation is always a special a time for the the graduates and their families. At this time of year, high school graduation are being held in every community in America. One, however, has attracted the attention of the media nationwide and worldwide.

Each year, Dr. Condoleezza Rice accepts only one invitation to speak at a high school graduation. This year, that one was Talladega High School. In addition to hearing the inspiring words of a fellow Alabamian, every senior met and was photographed with Dr. Rice.

Here is the news story as told by ABC 33/40:

Jeremy Campbell of ABC 33/40 spent time with Dr. Rice in this exclusive interview:

Coverage from Fox 6 is here:

Channel 42 featured this spot:

Today's Birmingham News carries this excellent article.

Listed below is the Associated Press article which is appearing today throughout the country:

Associated Press
Published: May 29, 2009

TALLADEGA, Ala. (AP) - Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has urged graduates of Talladega High School to find their passions in life and follow them.
Rice a native of Birmingham, was the school’s graduation speaker Thursday night. She said she first studied music as a college student and later pursued international studies, although she said she “didn’t have a Russian bone in my body.“
She told the 150 graduates and their families that many years later, when she was leaving the White House lawn via helicopter with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife in 1990, she thought she had made a good decision in changing her major.
Talladega Mayor Brian York gave Rice a key to the city and declared Thursday “Condoleezza Rice Day."

The Anniston Star gave detailed coverage in a story posted here.

Of all of the media attention, perhaps most notable is Chris Norwood's article in The Daily Home. That article appears here. This paper has proven to be a supporter of this school system time and time again. You may view a 29-picture slideshow of the event by clicking here.

Graduations are happening in every community in America. This one attracted the attention of the nation. As the Class of 2009 begins to make its mark on the world, who knows which of these graduates might just attract the attention of the nation. It can happen...just as it did for one Alabamian. Follow your passion...When you are convinced that you are right, find someone with a different opinion...Don't ever lose your thirst for knowledge. Wise words spoken by someone who has so much in common with the young men and women she was addressing.

There is another story to tell. Check back here on Monday.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Please Remember Me

On this Memorial Day, we bring you a tribute to our fallen troops.

The music is "Dante's Prayer" by Loreena McKennit. The creator of this video does not give her name, but writes, "The pictures are from various sources on the web, and the editing is done painstakingly by hand using Windows Movie Maker. This took me forever, but I hope it will be appreciated."

Yes, I can assure you it will...


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Virtual AETC

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more Virtual AETC is just around the corner. Registration will be done on through STIPD. After logging in, search the PD Catalog for VAETC. You will see a list of all of the sessions being offered, and you can sign up for those you like.

I am conducting two sessions:

Managing Digital Data With Ease (VAETC09002) June 12 11:00-12:00

Your Own Blog in 10 Minutes or Less (VAETC09003) June 8 11:00-12:00

After registering, you will receive this e-mail message:

“Congratulations! You have successfully registered for a session in Virtual AETC. First, copy down your STIPD session number/title. Then, go to the following link and create a login to Moodle using your correct name (http://v-aetc.alsde.edu). If you are registering for more than one session, you will only need one login to Moodle. Save your Moodle username and password and use them to access your sessions. Once logged into Moodle, you may find technical requirements, help files, and session links listed within Moodle. For help on registering in Moodle, download the following file: http://ti.alsde.edu/aetc/sitepages/documents/Enrollment%20Instructions%20for%20Moodle.doc Please create your Moodle login as soon as you register so that you won’t be delayed getting into your sessions.”


Friday, May 22, 2009

Interwrite Digital Whiteboard Webinars

Everyone who has an Interwrite digital whiteboard also has Easiteach software. While there are a variety of Easiteach packages available for purchase, the basic software is supplied with your whiteboard.

Interwrite offers a series of free webinars. You can see the schedule by going here. The chances of the webinar you need lining up with your planning time may not work out easily. On the other hand, this schedule runs through June 11, allowing some time once the school year ends when your time may be more flexible.


Graduation Update

This is cross-posted from the TalladegaCitySchools blog:

The Talladega High School graduation will be held on May 28 at 7:00 in Mary Dumas Stadium. Note the location. After much discussion within our own ranks and with Dr. Rice's office, we did change from the original location of Harwell Auditorium so that we could accommodate more people. This post contains information that will be important over the coming week. Please check back here as this is the one place where we can put information that will be accessible by everyone.

Since graduation is at the stadium, do I still need a ticket?

Yes. Everyone needs a ticket, and the names of all ticket holders will be on a list. The Secret Service is involved in this event, so security is likely to be stringent.

How do I get my tickets if my child is graduating?

Students turned in names of people for whom they need tickets. Those tickets will be given to the students through Talladega High School.

I am a Talladega City Schools employee. How do I get tickets?

Principals at each school were asked to compile a list of names of those employees who wished to attend graduation. Principals will be given the required number of tickets to distribute to their employees.

I requested tickets by signing up on the this blog. How do I get my tickets?

You should have received an e-mail today. We did get some e-mails bounce back as being undeliverable. Be sure to check your spam filter before calling to inquire. Tickets may be picked up at the Talladega City Schools Board of Education between 8:00 and 3:30 this coming Tuesday and Wednesday. Be prepared to present your identification when picking up tickets.

What happens in case of rain?

Whenever someone plans an outdoor event, a rain plan simply becomes part of the logistics. In case of rain, graduation ceremonies will be moved to Harwell Auditorium.

Will my ticket get me into Harwell Auditorium?

It depends. Two types of tickets are being issued. One type is being issued to the students and their guests, Talladega City School employees, local dignitaries, and "first-come-first-served" members of the public who signed up via this blog. The second type is being issued to those who signed up on the blog. The e-mail you received will tell you which group you are in.

In the event of rain, the lunchroom at Talladega High School will be used to house those who are not able to get into Harwell Auditorium. Those in the lunchroom will be able to watch the graduation ceremony through a live feed.

I didn't request tickets at all. Is there any way I can still go?

Yes. Simply come by the Talladega City School Board of Education on Tuesday or Wednesday between 8:00 and 3:30. You will need to present your identification since we do have to maintain a list of every person who is being admitted. Please realize that in the event of rain, the ticket you will be receiving will not get you into Harwell Auditorium. You will be able to view the ceremony in the THS lunchroom.

How much are tickets?

Tickets are free.

You mentioned security. Tell me more.

Being the most recent former Secretary of State, Dr. Rice still maintains Secret Service protection. Everyone will go through a metal detector upon entering the stadium. A list of names of ticket holders is to be maintained.

Is there anything else I need to know?

Yes. Savor the moment. To have Dr. Condoleezza Rice as our speaker is an honor, and the full magnitude of just how big this is will probably not be realized until next Thursday. This is special for our seniors. This is special for our school system. This is special for Talladega.

Many, many people have worked very hard to make this day possible. When we made the initial contact, we felt we had little hope of her actually coming here, yet we gave it our best shot. That in itself should be a message to our seniors about what is possible when people dream bigger than others think is practical.

Handling the logistics has required hard work, patience, and a little imagination. We are not used to something of this magnitude, and we are learning as we go. That is the second message to this senior class, that if you wait until everything is in perfect alignment before you are willing to step out of the box, you will never step out of the box.

Along the way, there are those who ask, "How can I help?" and those who simply sit back and criticize. That is the third message for our seniors, that they will meet both types of people in their lives and will get to decide into which camp they themselves will fall.

Class of 2009, your day is approaching. Savor the moment.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Thanks to all of you who came to my retirement reception. I was overwhelmed by the turnout and the many kind things that you had to say. There will be the opportunity for me to speak with many of you privately over the next few weeks. For now, I want you to know how special this day was for me and Davonia.

Moving Forward,
Frank Buck

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Professional Development Through Montevallo Regional Inservice Center

The University of Montevallo Regional Inservice Center has announced its professional development workshop series for this summer.

Click here to access the brochure

You will find some excellent, free workshops. All registration is done through STI-PD.
  1. Log in to STI-PD
  2. Enter "umins09" in the space for PD Title Number on the right-hand side of the PD Title page. Click on the "Search Now" button.
  3. Scroll down to find the PD Title that you want to enroll in.
  4. Click on the highlighted word "List" on the right-hand side of the box.
  5. Find the session that you would like to register for.
  6. Click the "Enroll Now" button.
For more detailed instructions for STI-PD, please visit www.montevallo.edu/ic and click on “STI-PD Instructions.”

In your profile in STI-PD, it will be important that you have an e-mail which you regularly check during the summer. We all have the capability to check our school e-mail from home. On this blog, there is a link that will take you to the e-mail program. From there, you simply enter your username and password. If you do not know you user name or password, another teacher or your principal should be able to help you with that.

Please also note that the University of Monetvallo Regional Inservice Center is not located in Montevallo. It's on Highway 31 in Pelham. Directions are included at the bottom of the brochure.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Online Courses for Professional Development

Principals received an e-mail Wednesday morning regarding "Summer 2009 Semester eLearning Courses." You can register for any of our courses using PDWeb. To see what courses are offered, you can log into the Moodle site as a guest.

The link that was supplied in the e-mail did not work for me. This one did work:

I was successful in accessing the site. From there, I clicked
"Login as a guest" and then "Course Catalog." You can read the course description, and if you see something you wish to take, go to PDWeb, search for the course, and sign up.

All of the courses are free.


Dr. Rice, a Story You May Not Know

When we think of Dr. Condoleezza Rice, our first thoughts are naturally of her role as U.S. Secretary of State. Fewer know that Dr. Rice is also an accomplished pianist. In April 2006, the New York Times ran this article describing the role which music plays in her life despite a heavy schedule.

The video below features Dr. Rice in a performance for the Queen of England.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Instrument Placement for Ellis Band

All 6th grade students at EACH elementary school will receive the opportunity to try all of the instruments in an effort to help them make a decision about 7th grade band. We are very excited about this opportunity and hope that the 6th grade students are as well. We began at Graham with a great group of 6th graders. So far this has proven to be a wonderful experience for all involved. We will make our rounds to each elementary school by the first of the week.

If you student is absent on your instrument day and would like to schedule a time to come by the bandroom please feel free to call me at 315-5706. We want every student to have this great privilege.

Thanks to Mr. Bailey for allowing me the time to visit each elementary school and provide this service in an effort to make our band program stronger!

Post written by Danielle Todd

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Friday, May 15, 2009

C. L. Salter Follow-Up

The previous post features a spot from Fox 6 "What's Right With Our Schools." This morning's Daily Home had this to say:

Federal and state governments place a lot of emphasis on standardized testing in schools these days — so when students and teachers go the extra mile to raise test scores, the deserve some recognition.

That’s exactly what a couple hundred of the students, teachers, principal and coach at Salter Elementary School in Talladega received when they went out to the Talladega Superspeedway Wednesday.

The children got to vote for which teachers got a ride around the track and were excited spectators at the event.

We congratulate the students and staff at Salter for their testing efforts and applaud the tracking for helping recognize that accomplishment.

Fox 6 ran a second feature this morning including additional interviews with students and teachers. If the station posts that clip on its website, we will embed it here also.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

What's Right With Our Schools...C.L. Salter

Tonight's Fox 6 "What's Right With Our Schools" segment featured C. L. Salter. The entire school took a trip to the Talladega Super Speedway. In addition to learning about a landmark and an event that is important to our area, the trip served as a reward for the hard work on the DIBELS, ARMT, and SAT spring tests and hard work throughout the year. The entire student body got to participate!

Here is the story as it aired on Fox 6:


New Evaluation System to Replace PEPE

Next year, there will be a new evaluation system which will replace PEPE. The State Board of Education just approved EDUCATEAlabama. The most important item for you to know at this point is that you will complete a PDP at the end of this school year which you will work on during next school year.

I viewed a webinar on the system when it was in the planning stages. My notes are posted here if you would like to take a look at what the new program will look like.

Good news--There is no Structured Interview.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bibb County Summer Technology Conference

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more Bibb County Schools will be hosting a technology conference on July 13-14. Information on the conference is found by clicking here. Registration is free to those in the University of Montevallo Inservice Region (which would be us) up through the first week in July. Registration will be handled through PDWeb.

If you have a session you would like to present, you may complete this form.

Thanks to Dr. Alesa Judd, Assistant Superintendent of Bibb County Schools, for making this opportunity available.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Something for Nothing...Don't Be Fooled

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more "Want a free computer? Just forward this e-mail to 8 people." Not only did someone send me that e-mail , but I received it three times within the span of a few weeks. The latest something-for-nothing e-mail guaranteed a gift card to Applebee's for simply forwarding the message. Shouldn't I forward it to my entire address book just in case it's for real? Well...no. It's a hoax. Two things tell me that:
  1. Common sense. (Come on. Why in the world would anybody be giving away free computers or free food for just forwarding an e-mail?) By the way, there is no mechanism currently in existence that would allow a company to track how many times someone had forwarded a message anyway.
  2. A quick little copy and paste into Google routine. It takes all of five seconds, and armed with this simple technique, you can figure out which e-mails are on the up-and-up and which are hoaxes.

Here is all you need to do:
  1. Highlight a hunk of text from the e-mail and use the Copy command (Control-C).
  2. Go to Google.
  3. Click in the search line and use the paste command (Control-V).
  4. Hit enter.
  5. Sit back and watch the fireworks. You are going to get hits that tell you instantly whether or not you have hooked a hoax.

Aren't Hoaxes Just Simple, Harmless Fun?
If you call wasting your own work time, contributing the problem of junk e-mail in everyone's in-box, and clogging up your employer's server simple, harmless fun, I guess you have a good point.

Teaching Students to Distinguish Fact From Fiction

Why do I go to the trouble to determine the truth in an e-mail before I pass it on? The reason is simple: I am a teacher. Truth matters.

Our world has become one in which good information is only a few key strokes away. Unfortunately, the same holds true for bad information. If teaching young people how to distinguish fact from fiction was important for generations gone by, it becomes an absolute necessity today.

How can we teach our students to question what they read? (To give credit where credit is due, many of them do a much better job of this than we as adults.) I wish I had the complete answer. At least, as a start, I do feel this: Truth will only be important to them if first it is important to me.

Being Part of the Solution
Whenever I get one of these suspect e-mails, the drill I follow is:
  1. Under no circumstances add to the problem by forwarding the thing.
  2. Use the "copy-Google-paste" routine I described earlier.
  3. Copy the URL of one of the sites that explains the hoax.
  4. Go back to the e-mail and hit "Reply."
  5. Paste the URL into the message.
  6. Just above the link, I generally include the message, "Run for your life! It's a hoax!"
  7. Hit "Send."
For all to many people, e-mail is already out of control. The problem of junk is an ever-growing problem. The power to be part of the solution is an option open to each of us.


Thursday, May 07, 2009


During our last professional development day, Janet Taylor talked to the Salter faculty about a site called "QlipBoard." My suggestion would be to go to the site and click the link on the left that says, "Why QlipBoard." You can see finished products. If it looks like something you want to use with students, you can work backwards from there.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Interactive Whiteboard Site

If you have a digital whiteboard of any make (Interwrite, SMART, Promethean) or digital slate, here is a site that provides free resources that will work with any brand of equipment you have. Thanks to Kerry Palmer, principal of Trinity Presbyterian Middle School (Montgomery) for putting me onto this site.