Today’s Technology; Tomorrow’s Tragedy

September 3, 2018
By: Bill Conger

Technology is a useful tool that students need to understand to help them with education and their future work world. On the other hand, it’s a dangerous resource that can destroy the lives of children and teens.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Jonathan Hendrix says kids aren’t mature enough to handle a device that is made for an adult.

“It’s the world’s greatest marketing tool, and we give it to our children,” Hendrix told WJLE after his school presentation to the 6th-8th grade classes at DeKalb West School. “If we took all the technology away from them, they’d be left behind, right? It’s one of those things where you have to find this happy medium of how do I educate my child within technology and yet protect my child from making a mistake that can haunt them for the rest of their life online.”

Agent Hendrix will tell parents about the serious pitfalls children encounter when exploring the digital world tomorrow night (Sept. 4) starting at 6 o’clock at the DeKalb County Complex auditorium. The iGuardian parent presentation is free and open to all adults.

Hendrix says sextortion is just one of the scary issues kids face.

“Kids do the sexting, and that is a problem, but sextortion is even worse,” Hendrix said. “It is where a child is talking to someone on some social media platform or in some type of online environment, and they believe that they’re talking to another same age child, and they have a relationship online that can stretch not days, sometimes weeks, then they start to trust each other, which kids are very trusting. They’re just not mature enough to understand what’s occurring.”

“What happens is that person will eventually ask or some way groom that child into sending an inappropriate picture, usually some type of nude photograph, and then turn around and tell the child, ‘Well, guess what? You and I have been friends for weeks. I know everybody you know online. I know where you go to school. I know your parents. I know where you go to church. And I have this picture. If you don’t’ do the things I want you to do, I will send this to everyone you know.’ That’s a really bad day for a 13-year-old child that’s now caught in this world of I’m scared to tell my parents, but now everyone in my school’s going to know. What do I do? Parents need to know that that exists. Most of them don’t, especially children that are middle school kids, and even high school kids. They don’t know that world is out there. That’s one of the worst things that can happen to a child in an online environment is sextortion.”

Hendrix says that many kids naively think that pictures and information they send out on social media is temporary.

“A lot of kids think that when they send something on any social media application people don’t record it, or they don’t keep it,” Hendrix said. “Almost every single predator’s going to keep it. That’s the whole reason he wants it. They [kids] don’t know that that exists, and they don’t understand that permanency of internet.

“On top of that, these kids … even young adults don’t understand the ramifications from having something that you do on the internet that ends up being embarrassing or in some form or fashion being some way that it embarrasses your school system, it embarrasses your work, your job, your family, yourself, whatever it maybe. Then, later in life, there’s tons of these Fortune 500 companies, these Ivy League schools, [and] they’re going to do research on you, on your online environment life as opposed to just here’s my resume and look how good it looks.”

“These things will come back to haunt these kids, and they’ll pay for mistakes they’ve made as a child that they don’t understand won’t happen as an adult. They’re not yet equipped to understand long term the ramifications of the internet and how they use the internet. They need to be the exact same person on the internet that they are in real life, or those two worlds will collide, and it’s usually not for the best.”

Special Agent Hendrix will have a more in-depth iGuardian presentation tomorrow night (Sept. 4) starting at 6 o’clock at the DeKalb County Complex auditorium.

State Releases TNReady School and District Level Results, DeKalb County Achieves Level 5

September 3, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

The DeKalb County School District received high marks in terms of growth in the 2018 TNReady report released last month by State Education Commissioner Candice McQueen.

According to the report,  DeKalb County had an overall composite of Level 5 as a school district for grades 3-12 — the highest level of growth in literacy, science and social studies. Two schools in the district, DeKalb Middle and DeKalb West each attained an overall composite of Level 5 while Northside Elementary reached composite Level 4. The composites range from 1-5 with 5 being the highest.

DeKalb County ranked in the top 10 in the state for grades 6-8 in English Language Arts and also made the top 10 in high school math

“This is the result of a combination of hard work that is being put in between our teachers, students, administrators, and the supervisors at the central office. Today kids and teachers are asked to do more and we are meeting that challenge. We are improving our test scores each year and happy with the progress we are making but we still want to be number one in the state and we will keep pushing until we get to that point,” said Director of Schools Patrick Cripps.

According to Dr. Kathy Bryant, Supervisor of Instruction for grades 6-12, Northside Elementary measured significant growth this year while DeKalb Middle and DeKalb West maintained the same level of growth as last year

“Where we had a significant amount of growth was at Northside Elementary with grades 3-5 this year. DeKalb Middle School maintained the same status as they did last year. We are very proud of that because what happens is once you have reached that level 5 status maintaining that becomes even more difficult. Students and teachers have to work even harder. Same thing with DeKalb West. They maintained that same level as last year,” she said.

Dr. Bryant explained that growth is measured in how much progress students make from year to year.

“Students are evaluated on how much growth they make from one grade level to the next based on their testing history. Growth is very individual to the student. It is based on all the tests they have ever taken. We expect a certain amount growth each year from the students and we want to increase that growth every year with students and show that progress,” she continued.

Student achievement is determined by how well students perform on tests.

“The state has a category of mastery and on track. We basically count the number of students who are tested and determine the percentage of those who achieve on track or mastery status. For example, its like the kids who have mastered the test made 100 and those on track made anywhere from 85 to 90 but its not like our typical grades. Its a norm- referenced test. That’s achievement,” added Dr. Bryant.

“The data we get from the state includes a detailed list of every standard tested and it shows us how each student performs on each standard in each subject area and how the class as a whole performed and how the grade level as a whole performs. With this data we can analyze every standard to determine exactly where we have met expectations as a group or as an individual student or if that’s an area that we need to work on,” said Dr. Bryant.

New teaching strategies are already being implemented to enhance future student growth.

“We have a focus for next year for Reading and ELA. We are going to focus on text complexity which is analyzing what the students are reading. Is it complex enough to meet the standards and to meet the standards of the TNReady tests?. We are focusing district wide on text complexity and questioning in English Language Arts and for math we are focusing on math culture as well as math tasks and application meaning that we want to improve our students’ views and community views on math itself. Some students say I am not a math student. Some parents say I never did well in math. We want to change that view. Everybody has the potential to learn and to expand their knowledge,” said Dr. Bryant.

According to the state report, TNReady scores show 40 percent of Tennessee’s schools saw improvement across the majority of their grades and subjects in 2018. Of those nearly 700 schools, 210 saw improvement across all grades and subjects.

About 60 percent — 88 districts — “met or exceeded student expectations,” McQueen said.

Together, McQueen said, the state scores allow state and local education officials to see the bigger picture when it comes to overall student performance and academic growth. But McQueen said there’s still work to be done, as some districts across the state struggle in key areas.

“While we know we still have room to improve, we also want to celebrate the hundreds of schools in Tennessee that showed progress this past year,” McQueen said. “Students and teachers are making encouraging strides on both TNReady and in their overall growth, and today’s results point to bright spots across the state where students saw across-the-board success this past year on the state assessment. We want to learn from those places as we also continue to improve.”

The state’s students showed the most improvement in English Language Arts for grades 3-5, while 60 percent of schools improved achievement scores in this area. In most grades and subjects, around 30 to 50 percent of schools saw improvement in their achievement scores. In high school math, about 46 percent of schools improved.

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Paislee’s Foundation Craft & Home Show Set for October 13

September 2, 2018
By: Dwayne Page

Losing a child is unspeakably painful and perhaps the most devastating ordeal a parent could have to encounter.

Tyler and Jessica Cripps of Alexandria know what that’s like. Their daughter Paislee Cheyanne Cripps was stillborn on May 3, 2013. Their hearts were broken. Their world was shattered.

But during their grief they received the love and support of family, friends, church, and the community in such a way that it inspired Tyler and Jessica to help other parents mourning infant loss. As a result, Paislee’s Foundation was formed by the Cripps’ along with their friend Wesley McCubbin.

Paislee’s Foundation is a 501c 3 non-profit organization. Its purpose is to support those whose lives have been touched tragically within the past six months due to stillbirth, infant loss, or child loss up to three years old. Through the foundation, families can receive funds to assist them with funeral costs or other expenses. Many families have been served since the foundation was established in October, 2013.

One of the annual fundraisers held to support the foundation is set for next month, the Paislee’s Foundation Craft & Home Show. This 5th annual event will take place on Saturday, October 13 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. inside the Kenneth Sandlin Building at the DeKalb County Fairgrounds in Alexandria.

Admission is free and there will be plenty of free parking. Donations will be accepted for the foundation.

If you would like to set up an inside booth as a craft vendor the cost is $25.00 for a 10’x8’ space. Outside space is also available. Demonstrations are welcome.

All proceeds fund Paislee’s Foundation. No one associated with the foundation gets paid. All funds collected go to support those grieving from still birth and infant loss.

For more information call or text Darcie Cripps at 615-464-5139 or email

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