Stand Up 4 NC Public Schools
North Carolina a National Leader on Preschool Standards
Thursday, May 21, 2015 at 11:15:00 am
A recent report on the quality of preschool programs says North Carolina is one of only four states in the nation to meet all benchmarks for standards set by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER).
The quality standards include items such as the level of teachers’ education to monitoring requirements and providing a staff-to-child ratio of one-to-nine, among others.
State funding has been essential in being able to maintain high standards, according to Pre-Kindergarten program directors for both the Craven and Pamlico County Schools.
“Hopefully, our state leaders will again place a priority on early childhood education and increase funding for N.C.’s Pre-Kindergarten program,” said Director Renee Harrell of Craven County Schools.
It should be noted that the state’s Pre-K program serves “at-risk 4-year-olds from low-income families who have not participated in other early childhood programs,” according to information provided by NIEER. Children defined as “at-risk” include those with a developmental delay or identified disability, coming from a family with an income at or below 75 percent of the state median income, chronic health condition or limited English proficiency, the report states. Children of active military members also qualify.
North Carolina has met all the standards since 2006, the release says. The state ranks 24th among states with programs in access for 4-year-olds and 14th for spending per child.
Director Virginia Simmons of Pamlico County Schools said that collaboration between both school districts along with Coastal Community Child Development Centers has been crucial to providing quality early education.
“In order for this to work, we have to work together,” she said. “This school year, we were able to buy a revised curriculum, which includes a great literacy program. Another key component is that the local district has a regional consultant, a licensing consultant and great state support, as well as the support of parents.”
Garrett Named Superintendent of the Year by Healthy Schools
Monday, May 18, 2015 at 4:20:00 pm
McDowell Health-e-Schools recently presented McDowell County School Superintendent Mark Garrett with the Superintendent of the Year award from Healthy Schools sponsored by North Carolina Healthy Schools.
This award is given to a superintendent or former superintendent who has shown extraordinary support to the school-based/linked health centers in the district and who works tirelessly to support the center.
The recipient has demonstrated, over a period of time, his or her support of the goals of the North Carolina School-Based Health Alliance.
Those awarded understand the connection between health and education and believe that school-based/linked health centers keep students healthy and in school and make them more successful learners who are more likely to graduate.
Garrett was presented this honor on May 5 at a luncheon in Winston-Salem at the NC School-Based Health Alliance state conference.
Students Take Over: Schools’ Leader in Me Program Catches Fire
Monday, May 18, 2015 at 12:30:00 pm
Timmy Chung, a third - grader at St. Stephens Elementary School, surveyed the contents of his schedule and sighed. He had a problem: The adults in his tour group were lagging behind.
One of them was Mountain View Elementary School principal Dyanne Sherrill. Unable to resist, she had stayed behind to help students with a math exercise during the fourth - grade classrooms tour, far past the five-minute alert Timmy had given the group.
Timmy tapped his feet for a few minutes, then grasped his clipboard and walked over to Sherrill, looking up at her from his three-and-a-half foot frame.
“Sorry!” Sherrill laughed, falling back into the tour group, which was peeling away toward the playground.
If it seems like Timmy’s in charge, that’s because he is. St. Stephens Elementary is one of three schools in the county piloting a new program called The Leader in Me . It is catching fire across Catawba County.
Developed in the '90s and based on Stephen Covey's “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, ” the program asks schools to reinvent themselves from top-down and put the emphasis on giving students more responsibility in school.
“You don’t do Leader in Me at Tuesdays at 2,” said Catawba County Schools student services coordinator Mary Moren, who was instrumental in bringing the program to CCS last year. “Leader in Me is your climate. It’s how you do business in school.”
St. Stephens Elementary and Oxford Elementary are the two CCS leadership schools piloting the program this year. Students there have jobs like being a daily greeter at the front door , serving as the flag-raiser at the pledge, or eating lunch with kids without lunch buddies.
The program culminates at the end of the year in a Leadership Day, where schools showcase the students' leadership skills. At St. Stephens, students greeted visitors such as CCS superintendent Dan Brigman with cheery hellos and firm handshakes. They took visitors inside for performances and tours of the school. Everywhere, sharply-dressed students walked aboutwith purpose , acting more like adults than elementary school kids .
St. Stephens Elementary principal Donna Heavner said the program had been “transformational” for students and staff.
"We have seen decreased numbers of office referrals," Heavner said. "We have seen decreased numbers of tardies."
South Newton Elementary, Newton-Conover City Schools, also started the program this year.
Instructional coach Scarlet Davis said involving students in decision-making empowered them. At South Newton, kids regularly meet with the principal about ideas they have for the school and even sit in on interview committees for new teachers and guidance counselors.
"They were a little reluctant at first because traditionally, school is about the adults being in charge," Davis said. "But the more we've encouraged them and helped them find their natural gifts and abilities and leadership skills, they have stepped that up and are doing a beautiful job."
The school district hopes to expand the initiative to the other NCCS elementary schools and even the middle school within a few years, according to Davis.
“When you see it and you see what’s happening in those buildings, it is not like anything that I have ever seen in 32 years,” Moren said. “There is no way that anybody could convince me otherwise.”
“I think it could be the ‘it,’” she said. “I think it is the ‘it’ that we have been busting our tails looking for forever.”
Local Students Win Essay Contest
Monday, May 18, 2015 at 9:50:00 am
PNC Bank recently honored three local high school students for their winning entries in an essay contest focusing on how innovation and collaboration are key to the region’s future.
Myrakle Ramirez, a 10th-grader at Rocky Mount High School, was the grand prize winner, and the two runners-up were Kayla Gorham and Rawa Hazin, both 11th-graders at Northern Nash High School.
The contest, open to all high school students in Edgecombe County and Nash-Rocky Mount public schools, called for students to explore the region’s history of entrepreneurship and community collaboration as told through the PNC Legacy Project exhibit at The Imperial Centre and to describe how those themes are important for the region’s future prosperity. The winners were selected by a panel of local community members who specialize in the history of the Twin Counties.
“These students clearly understand the proud accomplishments of our region’s past and are forming ideas for its future success,” said Jim Hansen, PNC regional president. “We hope this initiative has inspired them to engage in community dialogue and to consider returning home after college to strengthen their hometown.”
All three students received iPad minis, and grand prize winner Myrakle Ramirez also received $1,500 for her school and publication of her essay in local newspapers and community centers. The school contribution will be used to purchase calculators.
Ramirez’s essay outlined examples of how the Rocky Mount area overcame challenges such as the Great Depression and Hurricane Floyd through collaboration among business and community leaders and investments in social and economic development. Gorham’s and Hazin’s essays focused on examples of how innovation, entrepreneurship and community partnerships have driven wealth and prosperity in the region.
The PNC Legacy Project launched in 2007 to honor, document and preserve the history of PNC predecessor banks, their employees and the communities they served. The Rocky Mount exhibit honors the history of three predecessor banks founded in Rocky Mount – Planters National Bank, founded in 1899; Peoples Bank & Trust, founded in 1931; and Centura Bank, established in 1990 with the merger of Planters and Peoples. The exhibit features an audio and visual representation of the history of the banks and the region through compelling imagery, historical artifacts and oral histories.
The exhibit is on display in the History Room of the Imperial Centre at 270 Gay Street and is free and open to the public for self-guided tours during facility operating hours.
8 Decades Later, Holocaust Victim’s Cry for Help is Heard at N.C. High School
Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 11:10:00 am
Shira Goldberg stepped across the stage at East Henderson High School in western North Carolina and presented a yellowed letter to Shani Lourie.
The letter’s writer, a German woman seeking help in escaping the Nazis from an American man she believed was a relative, was Shira’s distant cousin. The 8-year-old Florida girl was entrusting this tragic piece of family history to Lourie, an educator at Israel’s national Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem.
The act on Wednesday morning climaxed a more than yearlong search for information about the letter conducted by approximately 60 students — none Jewish — in the history classes taught by Todd Singer, a Jewish man new to the profession.
“I beg you not to put this letter aside without having read it,” Betty Erb, a resident of Berlin, wrote on April 17, 1939, to John G. Erb of 2030 Conlyn Street in Philadelphia.
In the letter, sent in an envelope whose stamp features a Hitler Youth postmark, Betty expressed uncertainty over whether she was even related to John Erb. She explained that she was “in the greatest misery” and asked John to contribute toward the approximately $270 she and her fiancee required to immigrate to Bolivia.
To establish her bona fides as John’s possible relative, Betty stated the names of several ancestors and noted that their roots were in the Polish town of Znin.
She continued: “In the case that there is no relationship between us, I however implore you to help me in some way, even though you may perhaps have another religion. I assure you that by your help you would support people whose only hope is to find kind hearts to assist them to build up their existence in a foreign country. I trust that in later times we shall be able to thank you in another way for any kindness you will show to us.”
Singer purchased the letter and an unrelated document from the period online for $20 in 1999. Then working as a lawyer in his native Tulsa, Oklahoma, Singer placed it in a folder and forgot about it until last year, when he began planning lessons for his classes at East Henderson.
Singer engaged his students in a quest to determine Betty Erb’s fate. The students searched online and checked databases. Through Yad Vashem’s website, they learned that Erb and her husband, Martin Selling, were murdered in Auschwitz. The students, Singer said, “were devastated” at the news.
Next they searched for a living relative of Erb to whom to give the letter. Singer’s neighbor Benjamin Warren, a Houston philanthropist whose parents survived the Holocaust and who lives part of the year in North Carolina, learned of the search and encouraged another friend, a top official at Yad Vashem, to look into the matter.
Through records maintained by the International Tracing Service, Yad Vashem researchers found a British man related to Erb, Laurence Asslinger-Hoschschild, who referred them to his cousin Andrew Blitz in Perth, Australia.
Blitz’s sister, Suzanne Goldberg, who attended last week’s ceremony with her daughter, said the family didn’t know that Erb existed. But the names Erb noted in her letter matched some of those whom Blitz had researched years earlier. Erb is Suzanne Goldberg’s second cousin, three times removed.
“The outcome was more than we could have imagined — that one day I could meet these people,” said Maria Morava, an East Henderson senior. “The letter could not have found its way into better hands. I didn’t realize how emotionally taxing it would be.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows, a Republican who represents the North Carolina congressional district where East Henderson High is located and attended the ceremony with his wife, said the giving of the letter to Yad Vashem was the kind of event that leaves a lasting impression.
“There are only a handful of events that touch you and will affect you forever,” Meadows told JTA. “This was one of those events.”
Lourie said that the letter’s power lies in its illuminating the lengths to which Betty Erb went to save herself and her future husband. As an educator in Yad Vashem’s pedagogical institute, Lourie plans to use the Erb letter as a teaching tool.
“Jews were not just victims,” Lourie said. “They were making choices, trying to get out. … They struggled for life. You read this letter, and here’s this woman reaching out to anybody who may be able to help her.”
She added, “It’s only when we zoom in to the story of the individual that we can understand the meaning of the six million.”
A good deal still remains unknown. Students are working to procure a photograph of Betty Erb and to learn whether John Erb ultimately sent funds to the Paris address of the Jewish resettlement agency HICEM. They also hope to uncover the path of the letter before it was purchased by Singer. And they would like to learn about Betty Erb’s life.
At last week’s ceremony, Lourie asked Morava and another senior who led the research effort, Breeana Clayton, to complete Yad Vashem Page of Testimony forms normally filled out by relatives to establish the identities of individuals killed in the Holocaust.
The name Betty Erb is bound to live on in future classes at East Henderson High, Singer said — an ironic legacy since the property where the school is now located was once used as a prisoner of war camp for German soldiers captured by American forces in Tunisia. The first German prisoners arrived in 1943, the same year that Betty Erb and Selling were deported to Theresienstadt. The couple died at Auschwitz the following year.
Virgo Students Win State Law Day Awards
Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 9:20:00 am
Malik Gordon Willie Mack Jr.
Two local students have earned statewide recognition in a North Carolina Bar Association contest.
Virgo Preparatory Academy sixth-graders Malik Gordon and Willie Mack Jr. were among students from across the state who gathered in Raleigh on May 1 for the annual Law Day observance. There, they received awards for first and third place, respectively in a Law Day photo essay contest.
The Young Lawyers Division of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA) organizes the contest–as well as competitions in essay writing, poster art and moot court, as part of Law Day each year.
Law Day festivities allow students and their families the opportunity to meet state Supreme Court justices, appellate court judges, attorneys, NCBA leaders and lawmakers.
The Virgo students were treated to awards luncheon at the City Clubm where NCBA President Catharine Arrowood presented the Law Day Proclamation issued by Gov. Pat McCrory.
Grant Will Help County, City Systems to Create Math Institute
Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 2:30:00 pm
The Davidson County and Lexington City school systems are part of a Piedmont Triad Educational Consortium that has been awarded a three-year, $1.6 million grant to create a Mathematics and Leadership Institute.
The partnership also includes Mount Airy City Schools (which is the fiscal agent), Alamance-Burlington Schools, Randolph County Schools, Wake Forest University and the University of Texas at Dallas.
Together they will deliver a regional Mathematics Content and Leadership Institute that serves kindergarten to eighth-grade math teachers to help them be more prepared to teach students to be college and career ready.
"This grant will provide the opportunity for the Davidson County Schools teachers to continue to learn and grow as we focus on problem- and project-based learning in the K-8 classrooms," said Davidson County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lory Morrow. "I appreciate Dr. (Larry) Coble (executive director of the Piedmont Triad Educational Consortium) and (the) … consortium for providing this incredible learning partnership."
The partnership will allow teachers to develop a relationship with science, technology, engineering and math faculty at the universities involved as well as other regional teachers. It will also allow for teachers to have access to an abundance of curriculum support materials, problem-based learning training, project-based learning training, leadership training and networking with other teachers.
Lexington City Schools Superintendent Rick Kriesky said the grant will focus on project-based learning in math and science that will boost the classroom teachers' knowledge of the instructional strategy.
"We are appreciative of' the Piedmont Triad Educational Consortium for their leadership and for allowing us to have a seat at the table. Project-based teaching strategies are relevant methods of preparing our students for the real-life expectations of the work environment," he said.
Northside Elementary, Saxapahaw Mill Honored for Stewardship
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 4:10:00 pm
Northside Elementary School was one of three development projects honored last week in the Greater Triangle Stewardship Development Awards Program held at American Tobacco Campus in Durham.
The school in Chapel Hill’s Northside neighborhood near downtown won a Gold Stewardship Development Award, the program’s top prize.
Northside Elementary School was originally home to the African-American Orange County Training School, built in 1924, most of which had been abandoned. By redeveloping this site, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, with Timmons Group and Mosely Architects, saw an opportunity to revitalize the neighborhood while avoiding the ecological impacts that come from building on a new site, according to the judges. Careful deconstruction of the existing buildings permitted high rates of material reuse and recycling. The project enhanced a local greenway, a resource conservation area and a community garden.
The project did an outstanding job of protecting water quality through use of porous pavers, porous playgrounds, green roofs, and an underground stormwater detention basin, according to the judges. A 60,000-gallon underground cistern supplies water for toilets and a cooling tower. A second 5,000-gallon cistern irrigates the school garden. The redevelopment project preserved trees and removed invasive species.
The project recently became the first LEED Platinum elementary school in North Carolina, and is one of only four LEED Platinum elementary schools in the entire country.
Silverdale Receives Leadership Designation
Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 3:25:00 pm
An Onslow County school is now one of four schools in North Carolina to be awarded a special designation for implementing a leadership model in the school.
The Leader in Me Lighthouse School title was awarded this week by Franklin Covey to Silverdale Elementary School, according to an Onslow County Schools news release. Silverdale is now one of four schools in North Carolina and one of 126 nationwide to be recognized with the Lighthouse designation.
The Leader in Me model is a process designed to enhance students’ life skills and workforce readiness. The principles and practices of Steven Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People are embedded in the instructional practices and curriculum of the school.
The school recently held its second annual Leadership Day to allow the community to see the things happening at the school.
Pitt County Man Named 2015 NC Principal of the Year
Tuesday, May 5, 2015 at 4:20:00 pm
The principal of an elementary school in Pitt County was named the 2015 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year Friday.
Steve Lassiter, principal of Pactolus School in Greenville, won the title over seven other Regional Principals of the Year.
As Wells Fargo Principal of the Year, Lassiter will receive $3,000 for personal use and $3,000 for his school. He also will receive a scholarship for a 10-day educational tour of Switzerland and a custom-made Principal of the Year signet ring and pendent.
For the next year, he will serve as a member of the State Superintendent's Principals' Advisory Committee, and as an advisor to the State Board of Education and the board of directors for the NC Public School Forum. He will chair the 2016 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year Selection Committee.