Close & Paschal

Close And Paschal


DeKalb Schools Get Letter Grades From D to B

January 3, 2024
By: Dwayne Page

The Tennessee Department of Education has released the DeKalb County School District’s 2022-23 School Letter Grades which provides a snapshot of how each school is doing in meeting the state’s expectations for learning. In addition to DeKalb County, the state has released letter grades from A-F for every public K-12 school in Tennessee.

Both Northside and DeKalb West Elementary Schools each received a “B” letter grade. DCHS got a “C” and DeKalb Middle School a “D”. Smithville Elementary did not receive a grade because that school is not subject to the state testing which determines the letter grades for this system.

Several factors determine school letter grades for each school, including student achievement, academic growth, growth of the highest need students, and a measure of college and career readiness just for high schools.

The state’s grading scale is as follows:

A- 4.5- 5.0

B- 3.5- 4.4




In DeKalb County, both Northside Elementary and DeKalb West School each scored a 3.5 (B), DCHS 3.1 (C), and DeKalb Middle School 1.7 (D).

“School letter grades provide Tennessee families with a clear rating system that gives them a snapshot of how their child’s school is performing,” said Lizzette Reynolds, Commissioner of Education.

“No matter what your school’s letter grade is, everyone can play a role in supporting the success of our students and the success of our schools by engaging with your local school communities and joining the conversation.”

While he would prefer that all the schools in the district earn an “A” letter grade, Director of Schools Patrick Cripps said he is happy no school got an “F”.

“We’re happy but not tickled. Its not where we want to be,” said Director Cripps. “There is room for improvement at every level. We’re tickled we didn’t have an “F” but we don’t like to have a “D” or “C”. We would like to be straight “A”s across the board,” said Director Cripps.

“These letter grades are based on end of course and Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) test results,” Director Cripps continued. “ The high school also had other things listed in their report card such as ACT and Career Readiness, which takes in ACT but also Early Post Secondary Opportunities, such as dual enrollment classes, Advanced Placement (AP) classes and industry certification classes”.

Director Cripps said this new grading system can be a bit misleading in that it unfairly favors proficiency on standardized tests, instead of overall academic growth from year to year, making it harder for schools to earn As or Bs.

“The way the grades are attained can be misleading because the state places an emphasis on achievement and that is students passing the tests, the TCAP or End of Course tests and ACT,” Director Cripps explained.

“They place more emphasis on them (students) passing it than the growth they are making throughout the year. I think growth plays an important part in where a kid starts their school year and how much knowledge and information they gain going forward and that is not being weighted as much as their achievement level,” he said.

“At the high school our ACT scores have improved each year and its hard to increase your ACT score when you are testing everybody. All 11th graders have to take that ACT test even though we have kids taking that test that don’t necessarily have plans of going to college. The goal is to get an overall composite score as an average of 21 for your school and we have increased ours each year. We are at 19.1. For us to have a 19.1 is encouraging because it does continue to grow and when you look at school districts around us we are running right there with them.” Director Cripps continued. “

Cripps added that he is also proud of the DCHS dual enrollment program in which students can earn credit in both high school and college or even a career and technical education path which also helps improve scores.

“For a school district our size to have the number of students we have taking dual enrollment classes is exceptional and the students who participate are getting credit at high school and college or at a tech school and that helps to increase those scores. It gives kids an opportunity to get those credits to get a leg up in their career when they leave the high school”.

Director Cripps said the school district has already put targeted support measures in place to help improve future results at DeKalb Middle School.

“The big things tested are math, English, and science and they (DMS administration) has doubled up their math and English blocks to help support those curriculums in hopes of making those gains. We also have math and reading coaches at other schools to help support teachers”.

“As for the entire school district, we always strive for all our schools to be the best. That’s what we want them to be,” said Director Cripps.

Man Involved in Rollover Crash Found with Several Drugs

January 2, 2024
By: Kelly Chambers

A 52-year-old man involved in a rollover crash on Midway Road while trying to elude law enforcement last Wednesday, December 27 will be making a court appearance January 18 on a host of drug charges.

Chad Everete Knowles of the Loop Circle, Smithville is charged with possession of drug paraphernalia; possession of a schedule II controlled substance for sale or delivery; possession of methamphetamine with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver; evading arrest; possession of a schedule III drug with intent to manufacture, sell or deliver; simple possession of a schedule VI drug; and a second offense of driving on a revoked license. His bond totals $90,000.

According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, who investigated the crash, Knowles was traveling west in a 2003 Chevy Trailblazer on Midway Road at a high rate of speed apparently trying to elude a law enforcement officer when he lost control of the vehicle while negotiating a curve and overturned. He was taken by EMS to the hospital.

Sheriff Patrick Ray explained how his department was involved. “A deputy spotted Knowles driving and knowing that he did not have a valid driver license the officer activated his blue lights and siren and got in pursuit but instead of stopping, Knowles accelerated in a reckless manner to avoid arrest. After the crash, the officer searched Knowles’ vehicle and found a black digital scale with drug residue. During a pat down search, the deputy also recovered from Knowles’ pocket a clear baggie containing a single white pill believed to be Hydromorphone along with two other baggies that held a white crystal-like substance believed to be methamphetamine that weighed 8.59 grams and yet another clear baggie containing eight peach-colored pills thought to be Buprenorphine and 6.2 grams of a green leafy substance believed to be marijuana. A background check through central dispatch confirmed that Knowles’ driver license was revoked.

64-year-old Robert Earl Nimmons of Tabernacle Road, Smithville is charged under a Grand Jury sealed indictment with three counts of aggravated sexual battery and two counts of soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor under the age of 13. The alleged offenses all occurred on May 1, 2023.  His bond is $200,000 and he is to be arraigned in criminal court on January 29.

30-year-old Dillian Tyler Hasty of Oakley Hollow Road, Alexandria is charged with domestic assault and interfering with an emergency call. His bond is $8,000 and he will be in court January 4.

Sheriff Ray said that on December 30 a deputy was summoned to a residence on Oakley Hollow Road due to an active domestic assault in progress. Upon arrival the officer spoke with the victim who reported that she and her husband, Hasty got in a physical confrontation during which she was struck several times in the face. She had visible scratch and red marks on her face and a busted lip. The officer determined that Hasty was the primary aggressor and he was taken into custody for domestic assault. The deputy also learned that when the victim initially called 911 Hasty allegedly grabbed and broke her phone trying to keep her from contacting emergency services. With children having been present during the incident, a referral was made to the state department of children services.

Painting by late Tennessee Tech faculty member finds new home at Appalachian Center for Craft

January 2, 2024
By: Kelly Chambers

Tennessee Tech University’s Appalachian Center for Craft has new artwork to greet visitors when they enter the lobby: a painting titled “Reminiscences” by the late Sally Crain-Jager.

Sally was a member of Tech’s fine arts faculty from 1967 to 2001. During her tenure, she was instrumental in developing Tech’s Bachelor of Art Education degree and Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting degree. She also managed the Joan Derryberry Art Gallery and served as interim director of the Craft Center.

Kim Winkle, director of the School of Art, Craft and Design and the Appalachian Center for Craft, says when Sally’s husband Bob Jager mentioned donating the painting to the university, she knew the perfect place to display it: a large, prominent wall in the Craft Center’s lobby.

“Sally had a warm and inviting personality,” Winkle said. “I think her painting in the lobby is another way of greeting people into the Craft Center. We’re so honored to be able to feature it and have a piece of Sally with us each day.”

Reminiscences is a large-scale painting comprised of nine panels, and Bob describes it as an autobiographical abstract.

“It’s Sally’s story in a painting,” he said.

Bob explains that Sally liked to include portals – doors and windows – in her paintings. Reminiscences also includes what, at first glance, may appear as dark smudges but they are actually shadows of Sally’s family. Finally, the colors represent the Oklahoma plains where Sally grew up. Bob says Sally’s paintings convey her personality.

“She loved people,” he said. “She loved teaching. She loved sharing her knowledge with others. Even now, I’ll be in the grocery store and one of her former students will come up to me and say, ‘Mr. Jager, I just wanted to tell you how much I miss her.’ Sally loved life tremendously, and it’s in her paintings. I can’t think of a painting of hers that has any negative connotation. It’s all about creativity, life and joy.”

Sally and Bob met at a faculty meeting, which Bob jokes is the best thing he ever got out of a faculty meeting, and the two married in 1993. Bob was a member of Tech’s music faculty, and the two shared a love of the arts. Sally passed away in 2014 but Bob says he is grateful that people continue to appreciate her art.

Sally’s painting was formally dedicated at the Craft Center on Nov. 19, and Bob recalls seeing the painting displayed there for the first time.

“It’s on the wall as you come in the front door, and the neat thing about it is that right across from the painting are windows where natural light shines in,” he said. “The painting really glows.”

Bob adds that he was able to share a special moment with his late wife at the dedication.

“It was towards the end of the event, and people were starting to leave and things had quieted down,” Bob recalled. “I looked up at the painting in its new home and said, ‘What do you think, honey?’ I know she was there for that.”

Winkle says that although Sally has passed, her presence and impact remain strong at the Craft Center and in the Upper Cumberland arts community.

Bob added, “She loved this community and the people in it and of course, Tennessee Tech. She enriched this community – both the university community and Cookeville itself. For an artist, there’s nothing better that can be said than this: She left the earth a better place.”

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