Lanett BOE honors retiring teachers

Published 6:39 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2018

LANETT — At its final meeting of 2018, the Lanett City Board of Education on Monday approved the retirements of two educators and listened to a presentation by Casandra Griffin and Emily Smith on the system’s pre-K program.

Retiring at the end of the month are special education teacher Cathy Senkbeil and social studies teacher Wayne “Chip” Seagle, who’s also the LHS offensive coordinator on Coach Clifford Story’s staff.

Seagle, who was present for the meeting, has left the door open on being a volunteer coach but is stepping aside as a classroom teacher after 33 years in nine different places.

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“What can I say about Coach Seagle?” LHS Principal Jennifer Boyd said to the board. “This is a bittersweet day. It’s happy for him but sad for us. He’s going to be hard to replace. He’s a great person to have on the staff. He’s always so enthusiastic about teaching. To us, he’s not just a colleague but a friend.”

Board Chair Gwen Harris-Brooks presented Seagle a small gift and said that the board was pleased “to have had you as long as we have.”

“It’s been a great run,” Seagle said. “I promised Coach Story I’d be here three years when I first arrived. We shared the same vision about what we wanted — to be treated like a big-time program even though we have a small enrollment.”

Since 2010, Lanett High has won six state championships — two in boy’s track, three in boys basketball and one in football.

Seagle credited one of his high school teachers, LHS alum Vivianne Littlefield Trawick, with making an impression on him that Lanett was a special place. Seagle, who grew up in the Columbus/Phenix City area, said he fell in love with Lanett the first time he came here.

“It was like Bibb City without a big city around it,” Seagle said. “Lanett can still be the program it once was.”

Superintendent Phillip Johnson told Seagle he was pleased he’d made the point that Lanett could be a big program even though it’s a small system, numbers-wise.

“The fact that we can do big things even though we are a small system is our biggest asset,” he said.

It’s big-time programs, said Seagle, that have athletes signing with schools like the University of Oregon. Trikweze Bridges will be signing with them on Dec. 19.

In a PowerPoint presentation, Casandra Griffin and Emily Smith went over a typical day with the pre-K program. It begins with breakfast in the W.O. Lance lunchroom and proceeds with signing-in in the classroom.

“They practice writing their names,” Griffin said. “At their age, they learn motor skills such as holding a pencil in their hand.”

The children have a story time period when they hear stories that get their imaginations going.

“We read ‘How the Grinch stole Christmas’ today,” Griffin said. “They love to hear stories in large group time.”

The children experience reading and writing along with art.

“They can think about what they’d like to be when they grow up,” Griffin said.

There’s time on the playground and a break for lunch.

“They love to be on the playground,” Smith said. “They can practice their motor skills and learn to roll the ball.”

In the afternoon, the pre-K students are broken down into small groups and learn a little about science.

“This week our experiment will be making chocolate milk,” Griffin said. “We’ll later listen to a story and ask them what they remember about it. We’ll ask them to draw a picture about what they heard.”

There’s one hour for nap time – something mandated by the state.

Before going home for the day, the children are put in situations where they manage their own feelings and maintain positive relationships with fellow children.

“If they see a classmate crying for some reason they are encouraged to find out what’s wrong and to help them,” Griffin said. “Every child is graded on every single skill at the start of the year and at the end.”

Johnson said it’s a challenge for the teachers to cover all the bullet points that are required by the state and to make sure the students have mastered them.

“I’m sure teachers can see the difference between students who have gone through pre-K and those who have not,” Johnson said.

For the latest reporting period – Nov. 30, 2018 – the system had a combined cash balance of $1.1 million.