teachers holding certificates smile for a photo
Madison teachers pose for a photo with certificates honoring their students' growth last school year.

MADISON TOWNSHIP — Eleven teachers from Madison Local Schools were recognized for their students’ exceptional growth during Wednesday night’s school board meeting.

The teachers were honored because there was significant evidence their students made more growth than expected during the 2022-2023 school year, based on data from Ohio’s end-of-the-year exams.

“All of our teachers work very hard with their students,” Supt. Rob Peterson said. “These teachers excelled in that respect last year.”

Megan Studer, who teaches at Madison Middle School, explained the state analyzes student test scores individually from one school year to the next to determines whether or not each student made “expected” growth — which may vary based on whether the student has special needs, is gifted or is at a typical level.

“It’s not just, did they pass the test? But did they show growth from what they did last year? Did they even grow more than they should have?” Studer explained.

As one of the evening’s honorees, Studer was eager to also praise her colleague Zinda Thomas, who was unable to attend Wednesday’s meeting.

Thomas had the highest student growth scores in the district.

“When I was a student teacher years ago, she was my mentor,” Studer said. “She just works so well with special education teachers. She is always up and walking around and answering every question in depth and she never sits down.”

The complete list of teachers who were recognized for student growth included:

Melissa Vetter, 4th Grade Math

Kristen Agee, 6th Grade English language arts

Kevin Andress, 5th Grade Science

Cortanee Caugherty, 8th Grade English language arts

Goldie Spencer, 5th Grade Science

Troy Stimpert, 5th Grade Math

Megan Studer, 5th Grade English language arts 

Zinda Thomas, 8th Grade Science

Sarah Weiser, 8th Grade Math

Jen Branstetter, High School ELA

Maggie Washington, High School Government

Studer said teachers have been working hard to help students grow, especially as students recover from the learning challenges of the pandemic.

“We’re doing before school tutoring and we’re doing after school tutoring. We’re doing middle-of-the-day tutoring,” she said.

“The parents have been really supportive about getting the students here early or coming to pick them up even if they were supposed to ride the bus home but are staying after school.”

Career tech earns five stars on state report card

Director Jacob Grove shared an update on the career tech program, including an overview of its most recent report card.

While technically a part of Madison Comprehensive High School, the career tech program gets its own Ohio State Report Card as Madison Local Career Technical Planning District.

The district received an overall five-star score. That score included five-star category scores in achievement, career and post-secondary readiness and graduation rates and four stars in post-program outcomes.

Highlights included:

  • 95.2 percent of career tech students earned a score of proficient or higher on end-of-the-year career tech exams
  • Career tech students met state standards and earned an overall 69.8 percent (three stars) performance index score, which includes test scores in career tech and traditional (English language arts, math, science and social studies) end-of-the-year exams
  • Career tech students had a 98 percent four-year graduation rate
  • 92.5 percent of career tech graduates were either employed, in the military, in an apprenticeship or enrolled in post-secondary education six months after graduation

Grove also shared that the student-run cafe Common Grounds now has a coffee cart that delivers drinks to teachers every Friday. The cart is run by the same culinary arts students who operate the coffee shop in partnership with special needs students.

The two groups work together as a way to promote inclusion within the career tech program, Grove said. The cart offers students with low incidence disabilities to practice life skills like introducing themselves and making eye contact.

Grove said one of his goals is eventually open Common Grounds and the student-run restaurant, Ramble Inn, to the public one day a month.

Rickert appointed assistant coach, calamity day scheduled for April 8

The board also voted on several personnel items.

Board members voted 4-1 to employ Doug Rickert as assistant varsity girls’ basketball coach. Rickert is currently employed as the district’s athletic director.

The vote followed a nearly hour-long executive session. Melissa Walker cast the sole dissenting vote.

Board members Mary Cotterman and Tim Wigton voted in favor, but said their ‘yes’ votes were the result of discussion and ‘special considerations’ from Peterson.

After the meeting, Peterson said that high school principal Sean Conway will do the coaching evaluations for Rickert and varsity girls basketball head coach Mike Leeper to avoid any conflict of interest.

The board also voted to approve April 8, 2024 as a calamity day at Peterson’s recommendation.

April 8 is the date of an upcoming total solar eclipse. Richland County is in the eclipse’s “path of totality,” making it an optimal place for viewing the phenomenon.

Local officials predict estimate that around 200,000 spectators will travel to the area as a result.

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The eclipse is expected to begin at 3:12 p.m. Other school districts in the area have also cancelled classes that day.

“My major concern is transportation on that day with buses been stuck in traffic and gridlock,” Peterson said. “Obviously, we’d be concerned about their kids taking so long to get home.”

Staff reporter at Richland Source since 2019. I focus on education, housing and features. Clear Fork alumna. Always looking for a chance to practice my Spanish. Got a tip? Email me at katie@richlandsource.com.