Amy Beth Miller-The Daily Times, story
Cat Griffith-Benson-The Daily Times, pictures
Juvenile Court Judge Kenlyn Foster reflected on the many educators who shaped her life when they walked into their classrooms, as she delivered the keynote speech Tuesday night at Blount County Schools’ Excellence in Education Banquet.
Tom Sherlin-The Daily Times, photographer
Amy Beth Miller-The Daily Times
Blount County Schools’ cleaning program received national recognition with an honorable mention in the Green Cleaning Awards for Schools & Universities last month.
The only K-12 district that scored higher, from Athens, Ga., received last year’s honorable mention in the awards sponsored by American School & University magazine, the Green Cleaning Network and the Healthy Schools Campaign. Since 2005, 10 states and the District of Columbia have adopted some type of law requiring schools to consider environmentally friendly cleaning products and practices, but Tennessee is not among them.
Schools, vendor work together
Blount County Schools works closely with its vendor, Kelsan Inc., on the cleaning program, including training twice a year for the district’s 79 custodians on best practices and new products. Teresa Farmer, Kelsan’s e-commerce and education coordinator, said she usually works with higher education institutions in East Tennessee, Kentucky and North Carolina, including Maryville College and the University of Tennessee. However, students in K-5 schools can greatly benefit from reducing the amount and harshness of cleaning chemicals, which can trigger asthma attacks.
Blount County first tested a green cleaning initiative at Carpenters Middle School and Eagleton Elementary School in 2010. In addition to cost savings projected to be 10 percent to 15 percent annually, those schools also saw a slight increase in attendance, and the CMS principal reported fewer reactions among students and staff with allergies after cleaning at the school. Schools across the district transitioned to the new cleaning methods gradually, over about three years, as they used up existing supplies, reducing the transition cost. As equipment reaches the end of its use, Farmer also is replacing it with more environmentally friendly options.
Standardized cleaning procedures call for disinfecting all “touch surfaces,” such as desktops, doorknobs, handrails and water fountains daily, with more intensive cleaning if a student is sent home ill from a classroom. Farmer thinks cleaning procedures have helped Blount County Schools remain open over the past three years when other districts have had to close because of widespread illness.
Tom Sherlin, photo, The Daily Times
Amy Beth Miller-The Daily Times article
Visual arts teacher Doris Poppelreiter didn’t cry when she was diagnosed with cancer last fall, or when she told her students at William Blount High School, emphasizing that she had a plan of attack with treatment that would take her out of school for a few weeks. “I cried when I found out how much these kids cared,” Poppelreiter said Friday during an interview at the high school. She returned to work ahead of schedule in December and said she is now cancer-free. The students, staff and community members donated nearly $1,300 in her honor and sent it to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.