Stand Up for Public Schools
Program Lets High School Students Earn IT Certifications
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 4:10:00 pm
Twelve North Carolina teachers are taking part in a nationwide pilot program that allows students to earn up to five information technology certifications before graduating from high school.
Public schools in North Carolina have offered computer engineering classes for years, but the lone industry certification that the course was aligned with was found to be difficult for even seasoned IT workers. So, Raleigh-based ExplorNet and The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning revamped the curriculum to provide certifications in CompTIA’s A+ and Strata programs and Microsoft Technology Associate certifications in operating systems, networking and security fundamentals.
"Having those on their resume, being able to say, 'I've earned these credentials just coming out of high school,' that positions them really well to be competitive," said Rachel Porter, executive director of the Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning.
Lawrence Mitchell at Apex High School is one of the North Carolina teachers participating in the pilot program. He said it helps him accomplish his mission as a teacher.
"That's what we're focusing on now: To give our kids a competitive edge because we're in a global society. Every little bit helps," Mitchell said. "(These are) good credentials that say, 'I have some knowledge, and I have some proficiency in this area.'"
Apex High senior Stefan Benedict said he hopes the certifications give him a boost in his job search once he graduates.
"I'm certified in this, and employers are going to be like, 'Oh, I've got a job opening for this, and you've got the certifications for it,'" Benedict said.
Other area schools in the pilot program include Wakefield High School, Cary High School, Hillside High School, Lee County High School and Northern Nash High School.
ACS celebrates National Principals Month
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 12:35:00 pm
National Principal Appreciation Month was established to thank school principals for their dedication and commitment to education.
Ashe County Schools understands well that the key to student success is a great school, and the key to a great school is a great principal.
October 17 was declared Ashe County School District’s Principal Appreciation Day.
The central office staff provided a luncheon for all five district principals and assistant principals in the system. Each school had prepared a video emphasizing “Why their principal was a ROCK STAR.” These videos were embedded with statements from teachers and students “shouting-out” their appreciation for all the hard work their principals do on a daily basis. During the month, these employees will receive other thoughtful deeds depicting our appreciation of their service and leadership.
Thank you Jason Krider, Ashe County High; Earl Pennington, Ashe County Middle; Jennifer Robinson, Westwood Elementary; David Blackburn, Mountain View Elementary; Callie Grubb, Blue Ridge Elementary.
Walmart Teacher Rewards Appreciated
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 3:10:00 pm
Local teachers from Jonesville and Elkin elementary schools benefited this week from a Walmart Teacher Rewards Program in which local Walmart staff raised money for the teachers to help supplement school supplies. The funds were raised from purchases from a drink machine.
Greg Tippett, an Elkin Walmart representative, handed out the cards and explained the funds come at a time when funding for school supplies has become critical. He thanked the many teachers for often pulling from their own pockets to help students have the school supplies they need.
Teachers thanked Walmart and Tippett for the extra help. The store also donated cakes for the occasion.
The Teacher Rewards program is an extension of Walmart’s ongoing local education initiatives that help students better prepare for their future, said Tippett.
According to a press release from Walmart, “In 2013, Walmart and its foundation donated more than $44 million to fund education programs across the country.”
Deer Clan Dancers Perform for Swain Schools
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 9:20:00 am
Swain County Schools celebrated Native American heritage and culture by having school assemblies at Swain County Center for the Arts for the high school and middle school. The five assemblies featured Daniel Tramper and the Deer Clan Dancers, all EBCI tribal members, performing a variety of pow wow style dances. They performed both northern and southern plains style dances, gave some of the history of each dance, and sang.
In addition to playing the drum for the dancers, John Grant Jr. told a story about instructions from a father to his three sons and how the third son gave the gift of love and compassion and another story about how the woodpecker created the first flute out of a tree limb that was used by a young man to woo his girl. He also described the difference in the old-style northern songs with no words and the contemporary northern style songs with words. He sang a northern two-step song and a southern plains song.
At the end of high school and middle school assemblies, several students from the audience were asked to join the dancers on the stage for the Friendship Dance. At the end of each of the elementary school assemblies, six teachers and six students were invited to the stage to participate in a musical hoop game to the rhythm of Ricky Joe Taylor’s drum. The storytellers closed with the Cherokee words for “till we meet again” since there is not a word in the Cherokee language for goodbye.
Conover Teacher Wins $25K Milken Family Foundation Award
Friday, October 24, 2014 at 4:45:00 pm
Angie Sigmon, a K-3 teacher at Shuford Elementary School in Conover, was named North Carolina's latest Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award winner and the recipient of a $25,000 prize. State Superintendent June Atkinson made the surprise announcement during a school-wide assembly last Friday (October 17).
Sigmon, whose career has spanned 13 years, is among the nation's 40 most recent recipients of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, which carries with it an unrestricted financial award of $25,000 and membership in a network of over 2,600 past recipients from across the nation.
Sigmon’s colleagues say she leads by example and always models for her students and fellow teachers how to act, engage and follow through with tasks in a successful way. Co-workers say she spends countless hours planning for lessons, promoting community involvement among her students, fundraising for field trips and building a love of technology in her classroom and throughout her school. Her hard work, encouragement and her belief that every student can be a leader enables her students to grow academically and socially.
In 2013-14, less than 50 percent of Sigmon’s students were at grade level in math and reading at the beginning of the year. By the end of the year approximately 80 percent of students were performing at grade level or above and all students made their growth goals.
She currently serves as grade-level chair for second and third grade and is the School-Wide Assistance Team chairperson. She is an Instructional Consultation Team Facilitator, a Technology Team member and she was selected to host the school’s iPad pilot classroom and open her classroom to visitors from other districts. The National Board Certified teacher was named the Shuford Elementary First Year Teacher of the Year in 2002, Teacher of the Year in 2007 and 2011 and the Newton-Conover City Schools Teacher of the Year in 2012.
Sigmon earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education and psychology and a master's degree in reading education (K-12) from Appalachian State University.
Students Get Taste of Hispanic Heritage
Friday, October 24, 2014 at 2:15:00 pm
Wearing a traditional dress from the Dominican Republic, Margarita Hortencia Martinez Soto recently gave students at the Robeson Early College High School a true taste of Hispanic heritage.
Soto joined with other students to spotlight various countries and customs from Hispanic communities across Latin America. The students performed a show, which included traditional dancing and singing, and even tasted Mexican bread, or “pan,” donated by a local bakery.
Earlier this month, Soto coordinated the schools first Hispanic Heritage Month program through her Spanish class at the Early College.
“It is good to be able to explain to people where we originate from. Some of my family originates from a ranch, but some are from the big city,” Soto said. “It is good to educate them on how Mexico really is.”
“I was really pleased that the Hispanic students taught two of their American classmates a typical dance called the ‘Cumbia,’ and I thought they did a nice job,” said Delores Jones, a Spanish teacher at the Early College High School.
“As you know in the U.S., the Hispanic population is growing tremendously and sometimes we have a tendency to push them to the back, but they are a part of us,” Jones said. “A lot of these students are born in America, so we have always had other cultural days celebrated such as Native American History and Black History month, so now they are coming into play. We should honor Hispanic heritage because it is part of our culture.”
World Series Pitchers with Roots in North Carolina
Friday, October 24, 2014 at 11:40:00 am
Students and staff at South Caldwell High School were decked out in San Francisco Giants colors on Tuesday in support of a favorite son who will be on the mound in game 1 of the World Series.
Madison Bumgarner graduated from South Caldwell in 2007 and immediately went pro. "He is a very special person," said his former High School Coach Jeff Parham. Bumgarner led the Spartan baseball team to the state championship in his final year there and since then has won two World Series rings with San Francisco.
In the off-season, he lives on a farm near Lenoir.
As students cheered for Bumgarner in Caldwell County on Tuesday, in McDowell County, the cheers were for Greg Holland. He graduated from McDowell High School in 2004. After a stint at Western Carolina University, he went to the pros as well. He became an All-Star and is now the closer for the American League Champion Kansas City Royals.
"He worked very hard to get where he is now," said his former high school JV coach Alex Smith. Smith stays in contact with Holland, who lives in Asheville in the off-season, and says he is down to earth and has not forgotten where he came from.
Coaches from both McDowell and South Caldwell say their former players always wanted to be in the "Big" games. They never competed against each other in high school, but might do it tonight on the biggest baseball stage of them all. Bumgarner is slated as the game 1 starter for the Giants and Holland is the closer for the Royals and could very well be used
if Kansas City is ahead or the game is tight moving into the 9th inning.
No matter who wins, officials from both schools say students are the winners, learning that dreams can come true through perseverance and hard work.
Guilford, Henderson, Polk, Transylvania, and Buncombe Schools Recognized
Friday, October 24, 2014 at 9:25:00 am
Two Guilford County elementary schools were among 78 across North Carolina recognized as Title I reward schools; six schools in Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties were also named; Buncombe County Schools had eight schools on the list.
Title I schools typically have large concentrations of students from low-income families.
Title I "reward schools" are Title I schools that have significant academic achievement.
A "highest performing school" is among the top 10 percent Title I schools in the state based on standardized test performance, according to the department website.
A "high progress school" is among the 10 percent of Title I schools in the state making the most academic progress for all students, according to the department website.
Members of the Title I Distinguished Schools Advisory Council will review the portfolios and, along with on-site visits, determine one school for each category to represent North Carolina in the national Title I Distinguished Schools Program.
Title I is the largest federal education funding program for schools with high percentages of children living in poverty. Its aim is to help students who are behind academically or at risk of falling behind. A school's eligibility is determined by the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price meals.
State Superintendent June Atkinson congratulated staff and students at these schools, saying, "It is no small accomplishment when high poverty schools are recognized for strong student achievement. By maintaining high expectations and engaging in hard work, these Title I schools collectively demonstrate the belief that all children can learn."
Other schools in Western North Carolina were also recognized as reward schools including Bethel Elementary and Riverbend Elementary in Haywood County, Cartoogechaye Elementary and South Macon Elementary in Macon County, and Bald Creek, Micaville and South Toe elementary schools in Yancey County.
Union Co. High School Remembers Former Head Football Coach
Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 12:15:00 pm
A Union County high school football team returned to the field Monday night in their first game since unexpectedly losing their head coach.
Piedmont Coach Ron Massey died of natural causes a little more than a week ago.
Massey spent a quarter of a century mentoring young men in high schools across the state, and his death is uniting and inspiring a still grieving high school family.
As is customary, the Piedmont Panthers ran through a pregame smoke. But little about the game was normal.
“It's not every Friday night. But we're going to try and treat it like that,” said Coach Belk.
Spectators took part in a moment of silence to honor Coach Massey who has been coaching at Piedmont since 2008.
The Piedmont family is responding, purchasing more than 300 shirts for a Coach Massey memorial fund.
Massey's mother Beverly Starr and other family members attended the game.
“He was a father to the fatherless, he was a brother to the brotherless, he was a son to the motherless,” said Starr.
Volunteers Share Agriculture Ideas with Stanly Students
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 11:45:00 am
Where could one find nearly 700 third graders, cows, chickens, turkeys and honeybees?
All convened at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center in Albemarle this month for the 10th Annual Ag Awareness Days. The brainchild of Extension Director Lori Ivey, the event spanned three days, with approximately 50 volunteers per day working 12 stations in and around the Ag Center to educate county third graders on the importance of agriculture to the economy.
Ivey realized the need for the educational opportunity for today’s youth when her own son did not know the origin of bacon.
“I think this day is important because most students are one to three generations removed from the farm,” she said.
“Agriculture touches our everyday lives from the food we eat to the clothes we wear to the fuel in our vehicles.”
Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in North Carolina. With Stanly County’s rural acreage, farming provides economic development opportunities for the region.
“Not a lot of industries in North Carolina are growing at the rate that agriculture is,” Ivey said.
Students from public and private schools in the county traveled to the Ag Center to spend a day learning about the value of agriculture. Rotating between 12 stations, the youth were educated on a variety of ag related topics, including soybeans, cotton, livestock, poultry, soils, nutrition and honeybees. They saw and touched animals; they tasted various agricultural products; they listened to presentations by county experts in numerous ag related industries.
Ivey and her extension staff would like to thank the many agencies and individuals that helped make the annual hands-on learning event successful.
NC high School Students Work With Solar Power
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 4:00:00 pm
Students in Kathleen Abraham's freshman Earth Environmental Science class each had methods they believed would make their passive solar model homes absorb and retain the most heat.
One West Henderson High student covered the outside of his model in aluminum foil, another painted the inside walls, and one used black fabric for imitation blackout curtains. Several used aluminum foil wads on the inside of their homes as insulation, while others used chunks of a yoga mat for the same purpose.
Since the heating and cooling processes remained uniform for each house, Abraham said the experiment challenged her students to hypothesize about and discover what variables of their house designs captured and retained heat.
"Some of it's the material, some of it's the angle," she said.
Landon Coley's group built a pyramid-shape structure out of the black foam board, and found that the heat from the heat lamp melted their clear plastic window.
"I have burgundy walls," said Dakota Records. "Dark colors attract heat."
Parker Gillespie's group opted to use wood and nails for the structure, instead of foam board and hot glue or masking tape, and thought the airtight model would retain heat the best.
Kara Bonello made a blackout window out of black fabric to cover the skylight in her model's roof, hoping it'd help keep heat from escaping.
Regardless of how the structure was built, each student's model house was placed under a heat lamp to imitate daytime, and nighttime's cooler temperatures were simulated by fans blowing cool air over ice cubes and onto the houses.
The students checked the houses' temperatures every 30 seconds during the "daytime" to see how quickly their passive solar model heated up, and every 30 seconds during "nighttime" to gauge how well the models retained heat in cooler temperatures.
"This project was a way for them to start creatively thinking," Abraham said.
State Superintendent Tours County Schools, Talks with Educators
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 3:20:00 pm
Dr. June Atkinson, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction, visited Davidson County Schools Tuesday touring schools, talking with students and gathering input from educators.
"I appreciate the opportunity to be here," Atkinson said. "I've visited the county many times in the past, and it's been a while. I'm just really grateful for being here. I had such a great time at all the schools."
Dr. Lory Morrow, superintendent of Davidson County Schools, invited Atkinson to the system because she said it was important as the state superintendent that she sees the district's success, its struggles, and has time to interact with all the stakeholders.
"We had a very positive visit," Morrow said. "Dr. Atkinson was able to see top-quality instruction at the elementary, middle and high school levels, interact with students and teachers, and learn about our successes and areas we're focusing on. Dr. Atkinson advocates for all school districts in North Carolina, but today we were able to demonstrate to her all the excellent things going on in our schools."
A roundtable discussion touched on testing, school report cards, more flexible calendar laws, teacher evaluations, state final exams, Read to Achieve and administrators' pay.
Atkinson told the educators that everything discussed she was already familiar with because educators from around the state are asking the same questions and voicing the same concerns. She even encouraged everyone to develop a great relationship with their state representative to communicate issues.
"You don't need to underestimate how powerful your voices are. Keep talking," she said.
Buncombe Schools Foundation Awards $20,000 in Grants
Friday, October 17, 2014 at 2:40:00 pm
The Buncombe County Schools Foundation has awarded over $20,000 in educational enrichment grants to the schools in the Buncombe County system for this season’s grant cycle.
These classroom grants, funded by Duke Energy Progress, the Murray Foundation, The Streb-Fisher Fund, and the Buncombe County Schools Foundation, will help fund reading programs for middle and elementary students, science, technology and math projects, music and art supplies, field trips, and curriculum items for special needs classes, according to a news release from the foundation.
“Our foundation partners have once again answered the call to provide funding for classroom grants, teacher and employee development, and student scholarships,” Lisa Adkins, foundation executive director, said in a news release. “These grants are so much more than simply dollars and cents. While they provide an essential mechanism that can literally breathe life into ideas that inspire innovation in our students and teachers, the truly exciting part of all of this is how these dollars will improve education here in Buncombe County Schools in ways we may never fully know or appreciate.”
4-H Gives Students Hands-On Science Lessons
Friday, October 17, 2014 at 12:10:00 pm
In an effort to engage Richmond County youth outside of the classroom, Richmond County 4-H recently partnered with Richmond County Schools, local professionals and volunteers to offer 4-H Science Adventures for all the fifth-grade students in the county.
More than 550 Richmond County students participated in the program during National 4-H Week Oct. 6-10, enhancing their scientific knowledge and skills. Students and teachers alike were educated on humanity’s relationship with other organisms and the non-living physical environment combining natural (biology, geology, chemistry, physics), applied (geography, agriculture, and engineering), and social (economics, sociology, and ethics) sciences.
The 4-H mission is to help young people become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. The learn-by-doing methods of 4-H result not only in learning practical skills, but also in the development of sound judgment, a sense of responsibility, individual initiative, leadership and citizenship experience. 4-H school enrichment programs, such as 4-H Science Adventures, are designed to enhance students’ classroom learning with experience-based learning.
The programs are free of charge to Richmond County youth due to support from United Way of Richmond County and the Farm Bureau of Richmond County.
Richmond County Chamber Promotes New Education Initiative
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 3:35:00 pm
Understanding that the schools are crucial to the future of our community, the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Richmond County Schools to implement a new education initiative entitled “The Leader In Me.”
The chamber recently hosted a special meeting to talk to members of the community about program.
At the meeting, Chad Smith, a representative from Franklin Covey, spoke to those in attendance about the benefits and outcomes of the program. Members in attendance also heard from Richmond County Schools Superintendent Dr. Cindy Goodman, L.J. Bell Elementary School Principal Yvonne Gilmer, teacher Misty Gibson and four students about the benefits of the program.
This new initiative is a whole-school transformation model that improves performance of all other programs. Based on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” “The Leader in Me” produces transformational results such as higher academic achievement, fewer discipline problems and increased engagement among teachers and parents. Proponents say “The Leader in Me” equips students with the self-confidence and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century economy.
This new initiative falls in line with the chamber’s current program of work to support workforce and education programs in the community. The Richmond County Chamber has identified the “Leader In Me” as a program that will enhance education in Richmond County and grow future leaders.
Rockets Launch Creativity of Kannapolis, Cabarrus Students
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 2:25:00 pm
Imagine that a natural disaster has left people isolated on a remote island, and you need to build a rocket to deliver food to them.
That’s what 4,000 students in the Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City schools faced, in a scaled-down version, as they participated in the “Rockets to the Rescue” experiment Oct. 8.
The experiment was part of the seventh annual 4-H National Youth Science Day, which required the elementary through middle school students to react to this fictional scenario.
Their rockets, made of household items and less than 2 feet tall, had to fly yards instead of miles. With air as the propellant – supplied by a launchpad made of PVC pipes and an empty 2-liter soda bottle – there were no ignitions or explosions, so the experiment was both safe and environmentally friendly.
Kannapolis Intermediate School students designed and built their rockets to deliver a payload of four raisins to the imaginary island that was marked off on the softball field.
On the first attempt, Meredith Katz’s class managed to land a rocket on the island. A few others landed in the area marked as water, close enough that the survivors in the scenario could reach the food with a short swim.
Ten-year-olds Chloe Johnson and Louisa Roche jumped on the soda bottle together, but it still did not make it to the island.
“I am disappointed that it didn’t make it into the circle. I have learned that we made the rocket too heavy,” said Louisa.
The girls agreed, though, that the project was exciting and fun, “My old school never did anything like this. Today I learned about force and motion,” said Chloe.
“Participating in high-quality, positive youth development programs like 4-H NYSD offers youth(s) and adults the opportunity to engage in scientific exploration and work together to build the next generation of our nation’s scientists, engineers and mathematicians,” 4-H Program Associate Beverly Bollenbecker said.
Yadkin Students Honored at School Board Meeting
Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 4:25:00 pm
Several students were honored at Monday’s meeting of the Yadkin County Board of Education held at Forbush High School.
Four students from Yadkin County, Michaela Allred, Alexandria Wingler, Olivia Wingler and Victoria Wingler, recently served as North Carolina Senate pages. North Carolina State Sen. Joyce Krawiec attended Monday’s meeting to recognize the students.
Each student was presented with a certificate by Yadkin County School Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin.
A number of students who were part of the Forbush MiddleSchool championship hunter safety team also were recognized at Monday’s meeting. The group was recognized earlier this year on the Senate floor at the state capitol.
Matthew Lineberry, Austin Stanley, Jacob Matthews, Brady Carter, Colton Bullin and Timothy Matthews were presented with certificates by Martin and Krawiec at Monday’s meeting.
“You guys are what’s right with Yadkin County Schools,” Martin said. “All of the students that were recognized here this morning, y’all are why we do what we do and why we’re proud. You make us proud. Thank you for representing Forbush and Yadkin County Schools in such a positive way. The world needs to see more positive stuff about our kids and y’all do it every day so thank you.”
Duke Energy Grant Gives Craven County School a STEM Lab
Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 2:20:00 pm
Craven County fourth graders are learning about magnets, rock crystals and even medicine, thanks to an $8,000 grant from Duke Energy.
STEM teacher Tiffany York said each station has its own topics the kids will focus on. She said it gives them hands-on learning experience and frees up teachers from lectures.
"They're actually able to walk around to the different stations and help the kids with their learning," York said.
The county already has STEM labs in their Havelock elementary schools, but saw the need for more, especially in rural areas like Cove City.
"And as you can see the children are very engaged, they're collaborating, they're reading, they're figuring things out on their own," lab facilitator Cindy Williams said. "They're using materials, using computers, to teach themselves basically, and we become more of a facilitator role."
Henderson County Nurse Named NC School Nurse of the Year
Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 11:00:00 am
Delores Parris, a registered nurse who has worked in Henderson County Public Schools for 15 years, was recently named the North Carolina School Nurse of the Year.
“Delores' dedication to the welfare of Henderson County children is worthy of recognition,” Henderson County Health Director Steve Smith said in a statement. “The Henderson County Board of Health and department staff are proud of her efforts. She exemplifies the work ethic and commitment of the entire school health nurse staff to improve health and the academic success of our school aged youth.”
The award acknowledges the contributions of school nurses statewide by focusing on one school nurse annually who has demonstrated excellence in school nursing practice.
Former school nurse and colleague Robbie Goolsby said Parris has been a positive role model not only to her students but to her peers as well.
“Her hands have bandaged visible and invisible wounds, touching so many lives in so many ways beyond the scope of nursing,” Goolsby said.
Briarcliff Elementary Celebrates Blue Ribbon Award
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 3:30:00 pm
Teachers and students at Briarcliff Elementary School danced and cheered when they found out the school had been named one of the best in the country, Principal Stephanie Raiford said.
The school is one of five North Carolina schools to be named a 2014 National Blue Ribbon School. Raleigh Charter School also received the award last week.
“I have a dedicated group of teachers,” Briarcliff Principal Stephanie Raiford said. “Everything boils down to having good teachers in your building, who will work hard.”
More than 300 schools of all levels around the country won Blue Ribbon awards. Of those, 48 – including Briarcliff – were recognized for achievement in closing achievement gaps along racial and socioeconomic lines.
The school’s enrollment is more than 25 percent Hispanic and less than 50 percent white. Forty-three percent of the students are classified as economically disadvantaged.
The school was nominated for the award by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, and both DPI and the Blue Ribbon selection committee used a number of test scores and statistical measures to identify the best of the best.
In the 2013-14 school year, the school met its growth expectations, with 75 percent of students testing at grade level.
The year before, under more stringent state standards, 52 percent of students tested at grade level for reading and math – exceeding district and state averages by double digits.
The five-year trend at Briarcliff shows marked improvement, Raiford said.
Next month, she will travel to Washington, D.C., with teacher Robin Lane to accept the school’s award.
“I just think that our teachers are dedicated and intent on making sure every child reaches their potential,” Lane said. “They pour their heart and soul into everything.”
Raiford said the award already has boosted morale. Even students are more enthusiastic about school, she said, even though they don’t understand the magnitude of the award.
“They ask me what it means, and I say, ‘It means you’re doing a really good job, so keep it up,’ ” Raiford said.
“We know we still have a long way to get students where we want them,” Raiford said.
“But this shows what can happen when you have a true community working together,” she added, noting the school’s partnerships with the Cary Rotary Club, the local YMCA and Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church, as well as heavy parent involvement.
East Chapel Hill Students Speak at National Summit
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 12:10:00 pm
This week, two East Chapel Hill High School students traveled across the country to speak at a national conference.
Freshman Kevin Degraffenried and junior Maria Portillo were chosen to speak at the School Improvement Network Innovation Summit in Salt Lake City. They were the only two students who presented.
“The focus of the conference and what they wanted the students to address is the idea of powerful learning in schools,” Bunner said.
They are both part of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School’s Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program, a support system for minority students that offers many services, including tutoring, leadership development and college and career preparation.
Both students are also part of Minority Student Achievement Network, a national effort to eliminate achievement gaps, and Youth Leadership Institute, a leadership group organized by the Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program.
Both students addressed all conference attendees – about 400 educators from across the nation – and participated in a student panel.
Teresa Bunner, academic support specialist for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’, said she talked the students through their nerves. “I told them, ‘You can do this. I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I didn’t think you could do.’”
Portillo’s speech focused on the importance of connections between teachers and students and how teachers can help students feel more comfortable. Portillo also works with Bunner throughout the year to help teachers become more effective.
Portillo said that during the panel, she and Degraffenried focused on “how to help teachers create culturally responsive classrooms that meet the needs of all students.”
Once the speeches were over, both students felt a mixture of relief and accomplishment.
“It was a great experience,” Degraffenried said.
“I learned so much from it,” Portillo said. “I’ll be more confident in the future going up and speaking to a lot of people.”
The students were back to school Thursday with new lessons from their experience.
“This conference helped me realize I want to do something I’m passionate about,” Portillo said, adding that she’d like to pursue forensics or English when it’s time to consider a career.
High Schools to be Honored for Top Graduation Rates
Friday, October 3, 2014 at 4:40:00 pm
Three Durham high schools were recognized by state Superintendent June Atkinson for achieving 100 percent graduation rates for the 2013-14 school year.
City of Medicine Academy and Hillside New Tech and J.D. Clement Early College high schools will be recognized along with 40 other high schools from across the state during a ceremony at the Sheraton Imperial in the Research Triangle Park.
All three Durham schools are specialty high schools with small enrollments and focused learning opportunities.
City of Medicine Academy educates and trains students to work in the health services and medical care fields, Hillside New Tech is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-focused school and J.D. Clement is an early college program on the N.C. Central University campus where students can earn up to two years of college credit while earning their high school diplomas.
Hillside New Tech and J.D. Clement achieved 100 percent graduation rates the previous year.
Meanwhile, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will be among 12 school districts recognized by Atkinson for achieving the highest district graduation rates in the state.
CHCCS four-year graduation rate was 90.8 percent.
DPS posted an 81.5 percent graduation rate, its highest ever.
The school district also had one of the state’s top graduation rates for the 2013-14 school year.
DPS’s graduation rate has steadily risen for six consecutive years, improving from 63.0 percent in 2008-09 to 81.5 percent in 2013-14.
Cabarrus Schools Get Multi-Million Dollar Federal Education Grant
Friday, October 3, 2014 at 3:35:00 pm
Cabarrus County Schools is the only school system in North Carolina and one of 71 school systems across the nation to receive a School Climate Transformation grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
CCS will receive $3.7 million over five years to improve school learning environments through its Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) initiatives.
MTSS is a three-tiered system of support for all students and staff, which includes Responsiveness to Intervention (RtI), Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and Comprehensive Learning Supports.
The Department of Education made the grant awards under four new grant programs that were included in President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s “Now is the Time” plan to make schools safer, reduce gun violence and increase mental health services.
In all, the School Climate Transformation grants to school districts will provide more than $35.8 million to 71 school districts in 23 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The funds will be used to develop, enhance, or expand systems of support for implementing evidence-based, multi-tiered behavioral frameworks for improving behavioral outcomes and learning conditions for students.
“We are honored to receive this grant to use best practices to build our MTSS capacity in 16 of our schools” said Deputy Superintendent Jason VanHeukelum. “We expect this program to have a substantial impact on decreasing office discipline referrals and suspensions, increasing attendance, and building MTSS capacity to positively impact our students, teachers, schools, and community.”
Forsyth Co. STARS Program Aims to Break School-to-Prison Pipeline
Friday, October 3, 2014 at 2:55:00 pm
The “Students Taking Action and Reaching Success” or STARS program aims at breaking the school-to-prison pipeline.
The program in Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools is helping sixth to eighth grade students stay focused on the good rather than the bad.
"They'll meet during the day once a month then have a coaching model where there will be adult coaches that will work with some of the students to help them academically, behaviorally and socially. Then the after school programs runs for two hours," said Flat Rock Middle School principal Becky Hodges.
In 2013, African-American and Latino youths were referred to Forsyth County Juvenile Court counselors five and three times more than the rate of their white counterparts.
Tymarrah Dubose is one of 65 students this year in the program, but has been involved the last two years.
"Teaches you about business and if you're going for an interview it teaches you how to dress, and yes ma'am, no ma'am, yes sir, no sir,” said 8th grader Tymarrah Dubose, a student of Flat Rock Middle School. “It teaches you how to be a young adult at a young age and it gets you a real good experience."
Educators want to target that age group in even more schools.
"We did a comparison of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Durham city and county. Winston-Salem had the highest poverty rate at the lowest percentage of adults who had a high school degrees," said Executive Director of the Center for Community Safety at Winston-Salem State University, Alvin Atkinson.
Officials said it takes a community to raise children, so partners of the STARS program are asking people to get involved because educators here at Flat Rock Middle School said, it pays off.
"We have seen success both behaviorally with students having less suspensions, less disciplinary codes and also academic gains growth in the tutoring as well as I think coming from the character education and character development piece," said Hodges.
Wizards Wow Yadkin County Fans
Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 3:55:00 pm
The young and the young-at-heart enjoyed a unique sporting event last Saturday night at Forbush High School as the Yadkin All-stars took on the world famous Harlem Wizards basketball team.
The game was the kick-off fundraising event for the Yadkin County United Fund.
“It was fun. We had a good time,” said Yadkin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin, who played for the All-stars. Martin praised the Wizards and said it was a great event for the community.
“Make no mistake those guys are really talented. They’re all former college players and most of us are not, but they’re also good guys to be around and we had a lot of fun playing against them and it was for a good cause. We’re trying to raise money for the Yadkin County United Fund, so it was a winning proposition all the way around. We had a good time with some great people. I think the crowd was entertained and enjoyed it and we did some good for the citizens of Yadkin County.”
The Yadkin All-stars team was comprised of various members of the community including a number of teachers and coaches and representatives from local law enforcement, including both Sheriff Ricky Oliver and Yadkinville Police Chief Tim Parks. School board member Sam Crews and Chairman of the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners Kevin Austin also took to the court.
The All-stars gave it their best shot though they knew their chances of besting the Wizards were pretty slim. The team ran some warm-up drills before the starting buzzer sounded. Sheriff Oliver drained a number of shots from the three-point line during the warm up.
Despite their most valiant efforts though, the high flying Wizards quickly topped the All-stars with some fancy slam dunks and super-fast passes. Children and adults alike cheered loudly for both teams and roared with laughter as the Wizards pulled out all sorts of sneaky stunts to distract the All-stars, like pulling members from the audience to dance at center court in the middle of the game.
After a particularly flagrant foul from one of the All-stars, he was subsequently chased in and out of the gymnasium by one of the Wizards brandishing a pink plastic bat. At one point it appeared a wrestling match, followed by a football game, broke out at center court when one of the Wizards tackled an All-stars player prompting a pile up of members of both teams. It was all smiles though when the players disentangled themselves to continue the game.
Wizards players took to the stands to visit with fans during the game and signed autographs following the event. The kids had a chance to get in on the action as well. Several children were selected to play a game at center court during half-time. Just as the final buzzer sounded ending the game, all the children in attendance were invited to join the Wizards on the court for an impromptu dance party.
Pitt Co. Teachers Involved with STEM Drug Abuse Research
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 2:45:00 pm
The Science Education Against Drug Abuse partnership picked six teachers in the district to design experiments for students to understand drug addiction.
This is a partnership that also includes researchers from East Carolina University and Temple University.
“Students are going to be learning the scientific method,” said Brock Letchworth, Pitt County Schools spokesman. Letchworth says through the process of scientific method they'll also learn STEM careers like bio-mechanical research.
Pitt County Participants in SEADAP
Kaitlin Brown (A.G. Cox Middle School)
Elaine Theus (Hope Middle School)
Ashley Jones (Grifton School)
Jennifer Stevens (Farmville Middle School)
Kim Rispress (Ayden Middle School)
Blair Driver (Pactolus School)
Read Full Article
Five NC Public Schools Receive National Blue Ribbon
Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 3:40:00 pm
Five North Carolina public schools today were named 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. These schools are among 287 public and 50 private schools where students either achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap.
North Carolina public schools receiving this prestigious recognition are:
- Briarcliff Elementary, Wake County Public Schools;
- Caldwell Early College, Caldwell County Schools;
- Raleigh Charter, Wake County;
- Shoals Elementary, Surry County Schools; and
- West Elementary, Cleveland County Schools.
“These great schools are fulfilling the promise of American education—that all students, no matter their name or zip code, can flourish when schools provide safe, creative and challenging learning environments,” Secretary Duncan said. “National Blue Ribbon Schools are models of consistent excellence and a resource for other schools and districts. We celebrate them for their tireless effort and boundless creativity in reaching and teaching every student.”
For the past 32 years, this prestigious award has been bestowed to just under 7,900 of the nation’s most successful schools. Schools selected model excellence in leadership, teaching, curriculum, student achievement and parental involvement.
State education departments nominate public schools that meet the rigorous criteria for consideration. Once all nominations are received, the U.S. Secretary of Education invites the nominated schools to submit applications for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.
Representatives from each of these schools will be honored at a conference and awards ceremony to be held Nov. 10-11 in Washington, DC. They will receive a plaque and a flag signifying their National Blue Ribbon School status.
Students on Track to Graduate Thanks to Success Program
Monday, September 29, 2014 at 4:35:00 pm
Hundreds of at-risk students in Pitt County are on track to graduate with high goals, and they're only in middle school.
Now, thanks to a $1.27 federal grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program, 150 more students can experience it too.
Just 8 years ago, only about half the students in Pitt County were graduating. Yet, now that rate is up to 82 percent.
Part of that success is because of the Student Success Academy, which is a partnership between Pitt County Schools and The United Way of Pitt County.
The first group of kids who experienced the program graduated this past year and paved the way for other young learners.
"I want to go to Yale, and I want to be a lawyer," said Imari Allen.
"I want to graduate high school and go to college and when I get out of college, I want to be a pediatrician,” said Ian'Dya Cox.
These young kids are setting big goals.
"Playing football as I get older and helping me make my middle school team and high school team and college team so I can go to the professionals,” said Javante Mayo.
The Student Success Academy is leading students to set goals.
"It's about beginning with the end in mind,” said Mayo. “It helps me set goals and talk about how I can achieve my goals."
Mayo knows if he gets good enough grades, he can play football in high school and college. Whether he goes to the NFL or not, he's setting goals and that's all that matters. And with the help of the United Way of Pitt County, this program is expanding to help more kids set goals.
"On a daily basis, these children will have support in the afternoons from the time they get out of school until 6pm or 7pm,” said Robin Dailey.
Dailey is the director of the Student Success Academy and says students spend time on activities focusing around science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. She says 6th grade is the best time to do it.
"If students do well during that time, then their work in middle grades and high school will be much more on track."
These kids say before the Student Success Academy, they weren't all that excited about school.
"I didn't really know a lot about math and I used to hate math,” admitted Cox.
Yet that all changed when Cox got involved in the success program this summer. She's proof the program increases kids interest in learning, community activism and school engagement.
"I think it helped me a lot. I'm looking forward to going to college now,” said Cox.
The grant will be dispersed over the next four years.
Pitt County Schools expects the graduation rate to keep increasing as more students who were once part of this program successfully complete their senior year.
Buncombe Schools Receive $1.19 Million Grant
Friday, September 19, 2014 at 4:55:00 pm
The student services program for Buncombe County Schools has received a $1.19 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to address “social, emotional and mental health issues” of students and the impact on school performance, according to David Thompson, director of student services for the county school system.
The grant, which will be allocated over three years, will allow county schools to hire five new counselors for county elementary schools, Thompson said.
“Right now, I have seven schools with only a part-time counselor,” Thompson said. “As a result of this grant, there will be at least one full-time counselor in every elementary school.”
Thompson hopes to have the additional counselors on board this fall.
The project is called “Schools with CLASS: Counselor Leaders Advancing School Safety.” Thompson said school officials will be working with local physicians, mental health agencies and others in the community on this effort.
The program should help increase student access to mental health support. School officials hope to see less bullying and disciplinary action and better student performance.
The grant will allow the system to train staff and implement “trauma-focused strategies to address students who are at-risk due to adverse childhood experiences such as, homelessness, abuse, neglect, loss of a parent, etc.” and to put in place a digital accountability system to track bullying reports, according to a news release.
Other aspects of the grant include “a research-based social-emotional curriculum that includes anti-bullying and academic learning strategies” and training counselors and social workers in Triple P Parenting, “a research-based parenting program utilized throughout the community,” according to the release.
The program also provides support for students from military families who may be having issues because of deployment of a parent or family member.
STEM Teacher of the Month Brings CSI into Classroom
Friday, September 19, 2014 at 4:30:00 pm
Crime scene investigations in the classroom are helping Greene Central High School retain students and it's incorporating all the elements of STEM under one subject matter.
With the help of one of the school's teachers, Kristin White, together they've created a program that's getting students ready for a career in forensics. “Forensics is a multi-faceted occupation and there are lots of different avenues in it," White explained.
White has spent her entire teaching career at Greene Central and says teaching Forensics has helped her to become more innovative in the classroom. "I haven't been afraid to just try it and create a crime scene in the middle of school and have the kids photograph it learn about the protocol and the evidence collecting that it takes," she said.
Her students are completing blood analysis, using I Pads to collect and organize evidence and they're learning to collect fingerprints from various surfaces. White tells us her students can learn all aspects of forensics that include bugs, bones, blood and DNA. The class also helps her students learn the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to careers in the field of crime scene investigations. "So much of our reality shows and Hollywood side of what forensics look like have kind of skewed their thinking so they really think these forensics labs have a lot of high tech gadgets and they make lots and lots of money, so we bring them back to reality and we show them that this is really what it is," said White.
With the honor of STEM Teacher of the Month comes a $200 prize. White tells us she will use her winnings to buy cool blue lights and other neat forensic gadgets to help her students in the classroom.