Local News

September 17, 2013

Big 10: Mountain Creek Academy celebrates zero suspensions, new policies

Principal wants to disprove labels given to students, school

(Continued)

Not ‘white trash,’ ‘dropouts’

Richardson said both students and the school are often labeled bad by members of the community because of the rough nature of some of the students.

“You’ve got to understand,” he said, “when these students come in they come in having been told they’re failures, nobodies, white trash, stupid and ignorant. They’ve been told they are dropouts. And we try to take that child and make them believe in themselves again.”

The derogatory label “white trash” is something both Tilson and King are familiar with, they said.

“I hear it a lot from teachers, students, everyone,” Tilson said.

“I’ve had teachers at the high schools tell me there wasn’t a point in me trying,” King said. “They said I’d never pass a test. I was an outcast.”

Teachers like that ought to think twice, Richardson said.

Kevin Tackett, a teacher at Mountain Creek, said believing in students — even the ones who are violent or hard to deal with — is “very important.”

“I had a student last year say that I was the first one that didn’t call them a loser,” Tackett said. “These students just need to see that the system remains the same, the process remains the same: positive behavior is rewarded and negative behavior isn’t tolerated.”

Tackett says emphasizing respect, along with the changes in policy, have fostered “massive behavior improvement.”

It’s also fostered better learning, Richardson said of the 60 to 70 students he sees annually (though the official student body count is 110, including a night school program held elsewhere). The school has shown improvement in the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT), a reading, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies exam taken by middle-graders.

Richardson said scores have gone from 76 percent of students passing to 91 percent.

“We see the effects (of a positive environment),” Richardson said, crediting former principal Paula Martin who “laid much of the groundwork.”

Richardson said he believes Mountain Creek is better off with the changes and he hopes to visit the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga soon. He said he’s promised his students a free field trip there if the school goes 30 days without a suspension.

Text Only
Local News
  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local congressmen agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014

  • Former chamber location 2 mlh.jpg Plan could cut flooding, stormwater damage in Dalton

    On a recent day, McClellan Creek flowed gently through Harlan Godfrey Civitan Park. But some park goers who live near the area say that even a mild rain can turn the creek into a torrent that eats away at their property.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War anniversary: The Battle of Crow Valley, May 9-12, 1864

    The Atlanta Campaign began during the first two weeks of May 1864 in and around Dalton. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s strategy was to target two of his armies, about 80,000 men, against Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Dalton. Then, while Johnston’s attention was diverted by these forces, he would secretly send his third army, about 25,000 troops under Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, in a flanking movement to the southwest through Snake Creek Gap. Sherman’s goal was to break Johnston’s railroad supply line some 15 miles south at Resaca and trap Johnston’s Confederates in Dalton.

    July 26, 2014

  • New church being  built mlh.jpg Church construction continues

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Avans.jpg Three arrested in arson plot to claim insurance money

    Three people have been arrested for their role in a fire at a Chatsworth home as part of an insurance scam to collect money, officials said.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • Investigation into MFG chemical accident continues

    An investigation is still ongoing after a MFG Chemical employee was injured earlier this month at a plant on Kimberly Park Drive.

    July 25, 2014

  • Judge sets $100,000 bond for Cohutta man accused of incest, molestation

    A Cohutta man charged with incest, aggravated sodomy and child molestation was granted a $100,000 bond over the prosecutor’s objection on Friday.

    July 25, 2014