Local News

Commissioner Meets "the Dean"

Monday, 17 June 2019

Short Mountain School Principal Robert Pitts recently met new Tennessee Commissioner of Education Dr. Penny Schwinn.  Pitts attended the Tennessee Tech University 44th Annual Education Leadership Institute in Cookeville, Tennessee on Wednesday and Thursday.  He was introduced to Commissioner Schwinn by Cannon County Schools Director William F. Curtis proceeding her address to Director of Schools, Supervisors, Principals, and Educators from throughout the Upper Cumberland Region.  Commissioner Schwinn thanked Mr. Pitts for his years of service and complemented him on his service to the students of Cannon County.
Mr. Pitts was even the subject of a “Tweet” that the Commissioner sent out later that day: (see photo at right, click photo for enlargement)
Pitts has served Cannon County Schools for the past 52 years as an educator in the school district, and is affectionately known by his fellow principals and supervisors as “Dean Pitts,” - the longest serving Principal in Cannon County and in honor of his life-long service to Cannon County Students. Mr. Pitts is one of the longest serving educators in the state and one of the longest serving active Principals in the State of Tennessee. 
Robert Pitts started his journey as an educator in 1967 as an English Language Arts teacher at Woodbury Central High School from 1967 to 1968.  He then began his journey as a Teaching Principal at East Side School from 1968 until 1987.  Mr. Pitts was Supervisor of Special Education for a year in 1987 to 1988. His next stop in his career was Cannon County High School Principal from 1988 until 2004. Mr. Pitts has been serving as Short Mountain School Principal from 2004 to the Present.  He is a lifelong resident of Cannon County and graduated from Woodbury Central High School in 1963.  He earned his Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree from Middle Tennessee State University.  He is married to Beverly Pitts and has three daughters – Bridget, Cindy, and Kayla. They have five grandchildren and another one on the way!
Director Curtis stated, “While Commissioner Schwinn was speaking and being interactive with all those assembled, the idea hit me to introduce our Principal of the Year 2018-2019 and one of the longest serving Principals in Tennessee to the Commissioner.  She was honored to meet Mr. Pitts and spoke repeatedly of his wonderful career in education and service to the students of Cannon County.  He has served longer than any other principal - at three different schools, East Side – 19 years, Cannon County High School – 16 years, and Short Mountain School – 15 years.  This makes Mr. Pitts one of the longest serving principals in the State of Tennessee. His students, faculty, and staff have the utmost respect and love for this administrative icon in their school.  His former students number in the thousands and show their appreciation regularly.  We in Cannon County Schools are honored to call Mr. Pitts a distinguished colleague and personal friend! We also honor Mr. Pitts for personifying the Mission and Vision of Cannon County Schools – ‘Preparing All Students for Their Future’ through the New E3 = ‘Engaged in Excellence Every Day!’ even to the Tennessee Commissioner of Education!” 

2019 Kids Count Report is Released

Monday, 17 June 2019

The well-being of Tennessee children has improved in many areas in the last 30 years, according to information in the KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Despite having been ranked in the 40s in earlier years, the state’s overall rankings in recent years have hovered in the mid-30s, including its ranking of 36th in the 2019 report.
“While changes in the way the data are collected limit our ability to compare this year’s ranking to older ones, TCCY is pleased Tennessee now ranks better than it did in the early days of its participation in KIDS COUNT when the state ranking was much nearer the bottom,” said Richard Kennedy, executive director of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, the state’s KIDS COUNT affiliate.
Tennessee is among the top quarter of states with the greatest increase in the number of children between 1990 and 2017.
“Tennessee’s 1.5 million children are each born with potential for success if given the opportunities and support needed to nurture their growth,” said Kennedy. “The state’s future relies on them.”
The report recommends exerting time and effort to assure every one of these 1.5 million children is counted during the 2020 census. Most federal funds spent on children are allocated based on data collected by the census. TCCY’s Resource Mapping Report, released April 15, found that 38 percent of all dollars expended through the state budget for services to children came from federal sources. Excluding the state’s spending through its Basic Education Program, seven of every 10 dollars spent were federal dollars. When state spending matches required to draw down federal money are included, this figure rises to nine of every 10.
Tennessee’s 2019 ranking on how the state is providing opportunities and supports to children and families is based on rankings in four domains ‑ economic well-being, education, health and family and community context, each of which is comprised of four measures. Data from 2017, the most recent year available, is compared to data from 2010 to look at trends over time.
Tennessee’s highest rank is in the economic well-being domain at 32, and its lowest is for family and community context, where the state ranked 39.
The state’s ranked 33rd in the education domain, with 90 percent of Tennessee high school students graduating on time in 2017, the second-highest rate in the country.  However, the state had one of the lowest rates of young children attending pre-K programs, with over 60 percent not enrolled in any early childhood education..
Tennessee struggles with health issues and fell in the rankings to 33nd from 27th last year. Low birth weight continues to be a challenge, with 9.2 percent of babies born at low birth weight, higher than the national average of 8.3 percent, and one of the 10 highest rates in the country. The state’s ranking was also negatively affected by an increase in child and teen deaths driven by increases in suicide and homicide deaths, 60 percent of which involved firearms.
The 2019 Tennessee state budget has provided funding to address teen suicide deaths, which have risen since 2014. It increased mental and behavioral health spending and added $1.1 million to expand the state’s partnership with the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.
The state improved slightly in the economic well-being domain, moving to 32nd from 33rd. Poverty continues to be a problem for the state, with one in five children living in poverty. However, the state has seen a 19 percent decline of children living in poverty and a 30 percent increase of teens in school or working since 2010.
The state has also shown progress in its lowest-ranking domain, family and community context, though the progress in some areas continues to fall behind the national average. Tennessee’s teen birth rate dropped from 43 per 1,000 in 2010 to 27 per 1,000 in 2017; however, rates in other states decreased at a faster rate, leaving Tennessee ranked 41. The state ranks near the center for children living in a home where no parent has a high school diploma, though the states sees slight improvements on this indicator over the past few years as the Drive to 55, with Tennessee Promise for youth graduating from high school and Tennessee Reconnect for returning students, continues.
“Tennessee has been a leader in good public policy, but we need to make sure all our children count,” said Kennedy.

June Employee Announced by Schools

Saturday, 15 June 2019

L-R: Insell, Cantrell and Curtis

Mrs. Connie Cantrell, Cafeteria Manager for Short Mountain School was named as “Employee of the Month” for June 2019 by Cannon County Schools. During the June Meeting of the Cannon County Board of Education on Thursday, June 13th, 2019, Mrs. Cantrell was recognized and presented a certificate by Cannon County Schools Director William F. Curtis for her service to her school and the Cannon County School System.  Employees are nominated by School Principals or School District Supervisors and are voted on during monthly Principal and Supervisor meetings regarding individuals who exemplify the Mission and Vision of Cannon County Schools.
Supervisor of Cannon County Schools Food Service, Mrs. Jennifer Insell commented, “Mrs. Connie Cantrell is truly a blessing to all the students at Short Mountain School.  She takes great pride in doing her job well every day.  I am blessed to be her supervisor. She has taught me more than I could ever teach her. Connie’s smile is contiguous and she gives her smile and laugh to each student every day. Cannon County School Food Service considers her one of the best.”
Short Mountain School Principal Mr. Robert Pitts stated regarding his employee, “Connie Cantrell, Cafeteria Manager at Short Mountain School began working in the cafeteria at Short Mountain in 1985 under the Supervisor of Food Services, Mrs. Margie McFerrin and Principal Claudette Alexander. She was promoted to cafeteria manager in 1987. At this time she is the longest serving cafeteria manager in our school system. Of the 34 years of service, the majority of them were perfect attendance. Connie and co-worker Nancy Francis prepare delicious meals. One parent on a Facebook post recently complimented our cafeteria staff, saying, ‘Short Mountain is a school with a cafeteria staff that will feed your child even if you forget to send lunch money for two weeks!’ We, Short Mountain School teachers, staff, students, and parents appreciate her dedication and service.”
Director of Cannon County Schools, Mr. William F. Curtis commented “Mrs. Connie Cantrell is an exceptional employee. Her dedication, commitment, and caring nurture for our students is outstanding. I believe Mrs. Connie Cantrell personifies our Mission of Cannon County Schools of ‘Preparing All Students for their Future’ by most assuredly being ‘The New E3 – Engaged in Excellence Every Day.’  Congratulations to Mrs. Connie Cantrell for being an impactful ‘Team Player’ in our Cannon County Schools family and specifically Short Mountain School.”

State Tracking Distracted Driving

Saturday, 15 June 2019

In 2018, there were over 24,600 crashes involving a distracted driver in Tennessee. On average, that is sixty-seven crashes every single day. A recent study listed Tennessee as having the highest rate of distracted driving deaths in the nation – nearly five times the national average.
While tracking vehicles crashes related to distracted driving over the last 10 years has generated an average of 18 times annually in Cannon County.  In 2016, a high of 2016 distracted high of 37.
Several state agencies are working together to make every effort to inform citizens of the new state law restricting citizens from driving and using a cellphone.
The collective education effort is called “Hands Free Tennessee” and is comprised of the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security and Safety, Tennessee Department of Tourism and Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Cannon Runs for Children Results

Friday, 14 June 2019

Coach Brian Elrod and Cannon County Runs for Children female overall winner Lexie Ladue (age 14) who won with a time of 22:22.
Coach Elrod with overall male winner Bradley Phillips (age 18) who won with a time of 18:15.

“The streets of Woodbury were filled with runners and walkers of all ages last Saturday for the third annual Cannon Runs for Children 5K Run/Walk,” announced Cannon county Child Advocacy Center Coordinator Cassell Galligan-Davis.
The female overall winners were Lexie Ladue (age 14) with a time of 22:22, Miranda Pool (age 29) with a time of 23:59, and Aletha Thomas (age 41) with a time of 28:34.  The male overall winners were Bradley Phillips (age 18) with a time of 18:15, Jackie Dawson (age 57) with a time of 20:16, and Antonio Jones (age 11) with a time of 20:47.
The first place adult winners in the master’s category (40+ years old) included:  Beth Saddler (age 41) with a time of 37:24 and Lee Piccinillo (age 62) with a time of 21:32.
The oldest winners in the 65 and over category were Sandy Shuburg (age 67) with a time of 43:47 and Robert Pitts (age 74) with a time of 1:11:40.  “For Principal Pitts it was the first time he has ever run competitively,” said Galligan-Davis.  “We hope to see him back next year!”
The youngest winners were Colt Alexander (age 5) with a time of 43:00, Brady Heiland (age 4) with a time of 53:05, and Pepper Jennings (age 6) with a time of 1:02:20.
73 runners signed up to participate in the event.  Runner’s times and awesome event photos are available on the Cannon County Child Advocacy Center website at cannoncac.org.   The Child Advocacy Center is grateful to Lisa Marchesoni from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department for donating her services as a professional photographer at the event.
The Honorable Judge Susan Melton stated, “The Child Advocacy Center is a wonderful organization dedicated to making our community a safer place for children.  Cannon Runs for Children had runners and walkers of all ages, from age 4 to 74.  It was a fun event for the entire family.  The best thing about this run is children helping children.  The children who ran and walked in the event helped raise funds to support services for Cannon County child abuse victims.”
Cannon Runs for Children raised $6,165 and the funds will be used to provide crisis intervention services free of charge for Cannon County child abuse victims, child sexual abuse victims, drug endangered children and their non-offending parents and family members.
“The Child Advocacy Center is grateful to our wonderful community partners,” said Cannon County Coordinator Cassell Galligan Davis.  “This event was FREE for children and youth to run because of all of our wonderful sponsors – Dr. Michael and Aletha Thomas (Jackson, Nancy Caroline, and Sadie), Law Offices of Galligan and Newman, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas, Preston Brothers Construction, Tri-Star Title Co., Cody Bailey State Farm, DTC Communications, Experience Christian Community Church, Hoops 5 Inc., Radford's Wrecker Service, Sonic Drive In, Southern Roots Nutrition, St. Thomas Stones River Hospital, Woodbury Drug Center, Bob Parks Auction, First Bank, First National Bank, Higgins Flea Market, W.L. and Nancy Patterson, Woodbury Funeral Home, Boyd’s Garage, and Gary and Tammy Nichols.  Piggly Wiggly donated fruit and bottled water and Double Tree Hotel donated their delicious cookies.”
“There were several people who this race would not have been possible without their assistance,” shared Davis, “our race course designer Coach Brian Elrod, Mayor Andy Duggin and the City of Woodbury for the use of Dillon Park and all of their assistance, Roy Sullivan and the 911 Center for the reverse 911 call notifying neighbors of the race course, Cannon County Sheriff’s Office, Woodbury Police Department, and Cannon County Ambulance Service who supervised road closures and kept the runners safe, our talented artist Chad Davis, and our wonderful media partners at the Cannon Courier, WBRY, and WGNS who helped us promote the run.”
 “The Child Advocacy Center wants to say a special THANK YOU to the members of the Cannon Runs Committee,” said director Sharon De Boer.  “The 2019 Cannon Runs Committee included Jo Bonner, Ethan Curtis, Cassell Galligan-Davis, Coach Brian Elrod, Venessa Hyer, Judge Susan Melton, Christine O’Day, Catherine Player, Cara Sheffler, Jessica Wauchek, and Anthony Young,”  “This committee worked their hearts out to bring an amazing event to our community.  We are looking forward to next year’s run!”
The Cannon Runs Committee had lots of fun planning the race.  If you want to serve on the 2020 Cannon Runs Committee or for more information about the Child Advocacy Center services for children, please contact Cassell Galligan Davis at (615) 563-9915.

Subtance Abuse Prevention Coalition Meets

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Cannon County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition will conduct their June meeting today.
Coalition members will hear from First Lt. Sadie Swaney, from the Counter Drug Task Force will present a presentation on Strategic Prevention Framework.
During the meeting, Sector Representatives will be recognized for participation in National Prescription take Back Day.
Last month, Trey Dees from Regional Overdose Prevention Specialists assisted in training the coalition on how to use Naloxone, a medication used to counteract opioid overdoses. All present were trained and received a certificate of training, along with two doses of Naloxone.
The meeting is scheduled for 11:00 AM at the Woodbury Lions Club Building at 634 Lehman St.


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