​School Board Considers Facility Naming Process

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Oct. 8 meeting, the Franklin County School Board reviewed a proposed facilities naming process drafted in response to a July request to rename the Franklin County High School (FCHS) band room in honor of longtime band director Tom Isbell. The board also considered a proposal for establishing a FCHS mentoring program.
Director of Schools Stanley Bean appointed FCHS Principal Roger Alsup to chair a committee addressing the request to rename the band room. Alsup selected five teachers to serve as committee members and research the facilities naming process of other school systems. Franklin County Schools had no facilities naming process in place at the time of the request.
After establishing naming process guidelines, the committee reviewed the material submitted in support of Isbell’s nomination. The committee unanimously agreed with the proposal to honor Isbell.
History teacher and committee spokesperson Todd Payne said the committee members had known Mr. Isbell “from 10-35 years either as teachers or students.” The facilities naming guidelines require candidates to have worked in education at least 20 years. The recommendation supporting Isbell’s nomination noted that over his 42-year teaching career, Isbell influenced thousands of Franklin County students, several of whom went on to become band directors themselves.
“Nothing has been named for anyone at Franklin County High School at this point,” Payne said.
Bean acknowledged the argument against naming facilities in honor of educators. “People say if you do this for one you need to do it for others. It’s not a bad thing. We just need to be careful about reviewing requests.”
“I know this is short notice, and the board may need more time to digest it.”
The board deferred a decision until the next meeting on Nov. 12.
“I like the process,” said Board Chair CleiJo Walker.
If approved, the request to honor Isbell will be announced at a basketball game. The plaque on the band room door will read: Thomas J. Isbell Rehearsal Hall.
FCHS special education teacher Anna Mullin presented the board with a proposal for establishing a mentoring program at the high school. Mullin devised the program as her graduate studies capstone project. A committee including Alsup and Bean assisted with drafting policies and procedures.
Mullin intends to address legal questions with the school attorney. She expressed possible concerns related to transportation of students and mentors meeting individually with students in a non-group setting.
Inclusion in the program would be based on committee review of referrals made by teachers and guidance counselors, Mullin said. The mentor program would be open to all students, but resources could limit the scope.
Mentors would undergo background checks. Mullin envisioned reaching out to churches for mentors. Bean recommended school staff personnel as a source of mentors.
Asked if mentors would help with homework, Mullin said that was one possibility, but she also conceived of mentors as “someone to talk with or to expose them to something different.”
“Some of our students have never travelled outside Tennessee and Alabama. They’ve had limited experiences.”
“I hope the mentor-student relationship continues beyond high school,” Mullin said.
She asked the board to review the policies and procedures and to pass along recommendations to Bean.