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IMG_6719.jpgThree years ago, Bulloch County Schools' student chess clubs, began donating chess boards and time clocks to Uganda and Kenya through the Sports Outreach Institute (SOI). How SOI, a faith-based organization, is using food, clean water and the game of chess to impact these countries can be seen on the big screen in Disney's new movie,"The Queen of Katwe," which comes to U.S. theaters Sept. 26.


"The Queen of Katwe," is based on the true story of Phiona Mutesi, a young, female chess prodigy, who grew up in Katwe, Uganda, one of the countries largest slums.  Forced to drop out of school at age nine because her family could no longer afford to send her, Phiona wondered into one of SOI's water and food ministries and also joined their chess program. 


She became the first female to win her country's junior chess championship, and at age 17, she began representing her country in international competitions and the Chess Olympiad. Phiona now uses chess to bring international awareness to her country's needs.


"Our students have been able to get to kids who are not as fortunate as most of us,but are being trained in chess so they can have a better chance," said SHS Science Teacher Rich McCombs, who is Statesboro High School's Chess Team Advisor.  SHS team members chose to raise funds for this project, and they were joined by fellow students in the district through the Ogeechee River Scholastic Chess Association (ORSCA). "Over the past three years, chess students at SHS and ORSCA have donated 70 chess boards and seven time clocks to SOI," said McCombs. 


Pictured above are students from the Som Chess Academy in Uganda, with their shipment of chess supplies from Bulloch County. See Disney's trailer for the upcoming movie, "The Queen of Katwe," via this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4l3-_yub5A


The Bulloch County Board of Education approved Dr. Laurie B. Mascolo as the interim principal of Portal Elementary for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year. Mascolo has been serving as acting principal of the school since July 29, when she was appointed to the position by Superintendent of Schools Charles G. Wilson. She fills the vacancy left by Portal’s former principal, Paul Hudson, who resigned Aug. 1.


“I'm ready to serve the students, staff, and Portal community in this new capacity,” Mascolo said after Thursday’s Board of Education meeting.  “We've had a strong start to the school year, and I look forward to supporting opportunities to help our students succeed.”


Mascolo served as Portal Elementary’s assistant principal (AP) for nearly four years beginning in October 2012.  She was first a shared AP serving part-time at Portal and part-time as a second AP at Julia P. Bryant Elementary, then was made full-time AP at Portal in July 2014. 


She began her career with Bulloch County Schools in October 2009, as a special education program supervisor.  From 1993 – 2008, she was a classroom teacher and served in schools in Farmington and Wilton, Maine, and Manchester and Hartford, Connecticut. She also served as principal of the CREC Polaris Center, a special education school for sixth through twelfth-grade students in East Hartford, CT.


Mascolo has a doctorate degree in educational leadership from Georgia Southern University. She received her master’s and specialist’s degrees in educational leadership from Central Connecticut State University, and her bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education from the University of Maine.


The Board also approved Farrah Reddick, Portal Elementary’s intervention coordinator, as interim assistant principal. Reddick has served the school system for 18 years, the last eight at Portal Elementary.


Reddick is a graduate of Georgia Southern with a bachelor’s degree in middle grades education, a master’s degree in education and a specialist’s degree in reading.  She also has a leadership certification from Valdosta State University. “It is an honor to serve as an administrator in the same community where I was a student myself,” said Reddick.


Focus Schools Host Parent/Guardian Meetings

Faculty & families to collaborate for student learning and academic success


Focus Schools: Langston Chapel Elementary, Mattie Lively Elementary & William James Middle


Bulloch County Schools’ three Focus Schools, Langston Chapel Elementary School (LCES), Mattie Lively Elementary School (MLES) and William James Middle School (WJMS), will host information meetings with their students’ parents and guardians in August (see below for schedule).  The meetings are a time to learn more about each school’s designation as a Focus School by the Georgia Department of Education and develop a school plan that delivers the necessary support to address the learning needs of children and increase their academic success.


The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 requires school systems to notify parents and guardians, who have a child attending a Title I school, how well the school is preparing students for college and career, as well as the school’s designation under Georgia’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver. Under the 2015 renewal of Georgia’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver, certain Title I schools are designated as Reward, Priority, or Focus Schools. 


Despite the progress made by students at LCES, MLES, and WJMS, the three schools are designated as Focus Schools under Georgia’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver for the 2016-2017 school year.  This designation is based on the school’s three-year average (2012, 2013, and 2014) College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) Achievement Gap score. Schools keep this designation until exit criteria for Focus School status are met.


As Focus Schools, these schools’ faculty and administrators will work together with the school district, parents, guardians, and the community to develop school plans that deliver the necessary support to address the learning needs of students and increase their academic success. 


An important part of any school’s success is parent participation and support.  The school district and schools welcome involvement by parents and the community for school improvement as we work together to monitor student achievement and set high expectations. 


A Title I School is one which has high numbers or percentages of children from low-income families. Title I schools receive additional federal funds to help school districts ensure all children meet academic standards. Only Title I schools receive a Focus or Priority designation.  All of Bulloch County Schools’ campuses are Title I schools except Statesboro High School and Southeast Bulloch High School. Under the state’s school accountability system, Bulloch County Schools has the following:

  • Two Reward Schools:  Brooklet Elementary (BES) and Portal Middle High (PMHS). Under the Reward School designation, BES is a Highest Performing school. It is one of the 81 Highest Performing schools in the state. Portal Middle High School is a Highest Progress, one of 162 to receive the honor in the state. This is the fourth and third years in a row respectively that the schools have made the list.
  • Three Focus Schools: LCES, MLES and WJMS. Focus schools are the 10 percent lowest performing schools in the state based on achievement gaps between student subgroups within a school.
  • No Priority Schools. Priority Schools are the five percent lowest performing schools in the state based on the performance of all students in a school.
  • The district’s remaining Title I schools did not require a school improvement designation based on CCRPI results.




LCES Focus School Information Meeting: 

Thursday, August 18, 6:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. at LCES.


MLES Focus School Information Meeting:

Tuesday, August 23, 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. at MLES


WJMS Focus School Information Meeting:

Monday, August 29, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. at WJMS