Stand Up for Public Schools

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pitt Co. Teachers Train to Teach STEM Labs to Students

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 11:55:00 am

Tuesday Pitt county Schools move one step closer to being ready to use their new STEM labs this school year. 

Teachers and administrators will learn how to properly use the technology in the new labs. The classes are self taught through different modules and online tutorials as an encore class in addition to student's core classes and works to prepare participating students with skills they can use later in life.

"We're very excited about the STEM labs and what they have to offer," E.B. Aycock Principal Janarde Cannon said. "In the grand scheme of things, in order to increase student's success, you must create various opportunities for different kinds of learning and the stem lab certainly offers an avenue for these students to expand upon their knowledge of careers so they may be able to get a jump start before they even get to high school or college."

E.B. Aycock, Ayden Middle and C.M. Eppes are the first three Pitt County Schools to have operational stem labs. The county is working to add more labs to other middle schools periodically in the years to come. 

"You have three schools with a large number of students that will go through the program," Pitt County C.T. Coordinator Beth Ann Trueblood said. "Our goal is that we know not all of our students are going to have this program every single year but our goal is to be in the class at least one time before they get out of middle school."

The labs were made possible by a $1.25 million Golden LEAF grant. Local businesses are also getting on board to help students with hands-on skills they hope will later be applied in real life situations. 

Originally Posted Here


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Guilford County Schools Graduate Best In The Nation

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 1:10:00 pm

Grimsley High School and Weaver Academy graduate William Clontz is the best student in the nation when it comes to telecommunication cabling.

The 17-year-old competed in the Skills USA National Competition and won gold in that category. The cabling competition tests the students on their knowledge of data and voice connections and the logistics behind signal transmission.

Clontz's plans for the future are to attend the University of Southern California and major in astronautical engineering. He says his grandpa got him interested in working with his hands and he took that passion and ran with it. He decided to major in this so he could say he is officially a "rocket scientist."

Originally Posted Here


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

NC Teachers Gather to Learn Government Matters

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 12:05:00 pm

Teachers from across North Carolina gathered Monday in New Hanover county for a local government seminar. 

About 20 teachers are taking part in the workshops being held at the New Hanover County Executive Development Center. The workshops look at the role of government in North Carolina and explore pedagogical strategies for teaching their students about how the local government works. 

Teachers will meet with local government officials and visit county and city departments.

Program director Paul Bonnici said this program will help teachers better understand local government so that they can better teach their students. He also said the seminars are for teachers to network and share classroom ideas. 

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Science in Action: Students Scour Lake for Invasive Plants

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 10:40:00 am

JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST  Knox Middle School STEM Scholars look for invasive water plants in Tuckertown Reservoir Wednesday, July 23, 2014. Duke Energy contractor Josh Bowen, Knox Middle School's Miyana Stevens and Brooks Kennedy look for water plants.

The Rowan-Salisbury Schools' young scientists took part in the annual STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) summer camp at Horizons Unlimited. The theme of the camp was “Save our Systems” (SOS), which focused the campers on water quality and invasive aquatic plants that cause serious problems for fishermen, recreational boaters, municipal water services and operators of hydroelectric dams. After two days of research on various aquatic plants, the campers arrive at the 2,560-acre petri dish for several hours of field study.

Duke Energy donated the use of two survey boats and what Horizon's Science specialist Anne Ellis calls “plant and pest boys” who served as field experts for the campers. Each camper was assigned a particular plant to locate and identify.

Prior to arriving at the lake, the freshly recruited limnologists had to engineer and build the tools needed to collect samples of plants and invertebrates. Out of the back of the school bus came implements made from PVC pipe, duct tape and variety of items found lying around back at school. Cups, forks, bamboo skewers, kitchen strainers, netting and even a pair of scissors were all taped to the end of the 6- and 7-foot poles and ready to be field tested.

Tuckertown Reservoir, like many other impoundments, has an abundance of plant life that flourishes in the shallows and along the banks. Plants are broken down into three categories; native, non-native and invasive. Native plants occur naturally in a region, whereas non-native plants have been brought in from a different area, usually a foreign country. Invasive plants are the non-native plants that proliferate in the new location and crowd out the native plants.

The two boats leave the boat ramp and head for a nearby wide finger of the lake that backs up to Flat Creek. Scouring the shoreline, the scientists stop at a lush corner that contains several varieties of plant life. Ronald Garrido, a rising eighth-grader, drops his PVC rake into the water and promptly draws out a clump of Hydrilla. The plant he was searching for was found in a matter of minutes.

Back at the boat ramp, the allotted time for the field labs was quickly evaporating. The students help the instructors pack up the microscopes, tables and iPads. Students are reminded that they must make sure that any samples of the non-native plants can not leave the area in fear of broadening the exposure. It's all too apparent that gaining complete control over the invasive plants seems evasive.

Possibly one day a future scientist will root out the answer that will turn the tide in favor of the native plants. There's a good chance that scientist might have been a Knox STEM Scholar.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Teachers Learn How to Spur Math and Science Education by Working Summer Jobs Inside Tech Firms

Posted by: H
Wednesday, July 30, 2014 at 9:40:00 am

A small but growing number of science and math teachers aren't spending the summer at the beach or catching up on books, they're toiling at companies, practicing the principles they teach.

As American education focuses on closing the gap between the classroom and employers' needs, programs in North Carolina, California and elsewhere are putting teachers temporarily in the workplace.

Chris England is one of those teachers using a fellowship that starts with a summer spell with a company, university or government agency. He is wrapping up a five-week stint in the research and development labs of a Danish company in Franklinton, about 30 miles north of Raleigh. The 25-year-old science teacher went straight to work at nearby Louisburg High School after graduating from college.

"Being able to actually do an experiment and see the problems that come up from that experiment, try to analyze my data, see the problems in my data, revise my experiment — that's stuff that I never did when I was in college," England said.

Now he's working alongside scientists at the company Novozymes, trying to determine whether enzymes — proteins produced by microorganisms that speed up chemical reactions — can be used to capture carbon dioxide at coal-fired power plants. England said he's become more nimble with lab equipment and realized that science-based companies also need office managers and custodial workers.

"It means when I'm going to give career advice, I'm no longer faking it," England said. "I went straight from college into education. I had no, quote, real-world experience. And so when I would give kids career advice, it would be kind of vague. Now it's much more concrete."

England is one of hundreds of North Carolina teachers since 2003 given year-long fellowships of up to $10,000 to improve their intimacy with science, starting with a summer spell with a company, university or government agency. The initiative of the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science at North Carolina State University gets its funding from foundations, companies and the National Science Foundation.

When teachers engage in hands-on science, it improves student achievement, researchers at Columbia and Michigan State universities reported in 2009. Science test scores for students in New York City improved by 10 percent in the years after their teacher participated in a summer program, the researchers found.

Brittani Mallard-Metts spent a couple of weeks at Internet gear maker Cisco Systems Inc. last summer thanks to a program run by the group North Carolina New Schools. Describing the multi-continent video training sessions and workplace got the attention of her students in rural Duplin County, about 80 miles southeast of Raleigh, where the major employers are pork and poultry producers and processers.

"You know when your parents say something, it's like whatever, but if a total stranger tells them the same thing, they get it? Sometimes it's the same thing with a teacher," Mallard-Metts said. "I was able to say. 'I spent these weeks at Cisco, and this is what I did, and this is what I got out of it, and this is how you can use this in your life.' And It made it more valid to them."

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Northside Elementary Awarded LEED Platinum Certification

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 9:00:00 am

Northside Elementary School has received Platinum certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, with the Green Building Certification Institute for the school’s design focused on efficiency and sustainability. It now stands as the first elementary school in North Carolina to be certified LEED Platinum.

Before opening its doors in the fall of 2013, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools worked alongside Moseley Architects to create a school that was capable of supporting 585 students. Where the school now stands was once the grounds of the Orange County Training School, meaning that the site has been a place of education since 1924. A display within the school shows a visual timeline to represent the history of the area, as well as the large case of the original cornerstone of the school.

The design of Northside is built around the concept of sustainability. With this in mind, the design team and the school district cooperated to surpass their own expectations, yet remained on budget and on time for completion.

The school building incorporates signs that describe the sustainability brief descriptions of several sustainable design features utilized at Northside. The signs point to the Building Dashboard, which contains further information about these sustainable features. The teachers of Northside even incorporate these features into customized lesson plans and projects.

The managing principal for the project for Mosely Architects, Jim Copeland, said in a press release that he is proud of what they and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools have accomplished in the formation of Northside Elementary.

For more information about Northside Elementary School, click here.

Originally Posted Here


Monday, July 28, 2014

Innovator Academy Wraps Up in Pitt County

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, July 28, 2014 at 3:45:00 pm

Two weeks of hard work wrapped up for sixth and seventh grade students wishing to be innovators.

The Middle School Innovator’s Academy is a two-week, team-based education workshop for innovators from Pitt and Wake County Public Schools. Participants are specially selected for the program, which is taught by ECU and NCSU faculty, undergraduate and graduate students. 

Participants learn creative ideation skills, practical sketching techniques, 2-D and 3-Ddigital imaging essentials, physical model building strategies and presentation skills. The students present their creative innovations at the graduation ceremony. 

Emerson Asbell created an automatic lawn mower. He says he came up with the idea to free up some of his father’s time. 

Wayne Godwin, the program’s director says they are always amazed by the projects students come up with.

"The idea that someone goes into a closet and invents a new idea is just not realistic.” Godwin said. “It takes teams to do these kinds of things. Putting them all together is what creates this energy that you feel today."

The courses take place in ECU’s state-of-the-art Innovation Design Lab. This is the academy's fifth year. DSM was one of the Academy’s sponsors.

“At DSM we are trying to make things better for people today and generations to come and watching these kids develop all these ideas is just incredible." DSM Site Director Jim Lawless said.

The follow up to the program will be in the classroom. Come this fall, 3 Pitt County Middle Schools will have Science- Technology- Engineering and Math labs.

Originally Posted Here


Monday, July 28, 2014

Onslow County teacher honored for STEM Teacher of the Month

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, July 28, 2014 at 12:50:00 pm

Marshall Smith is a fifteen year educator, coach and now he’s STEM Teacher of the month. He says his general idea of teaching is figuring out what students want to learn and helping then figure out a way to learn it. 

Smith teaches engineering at White Oak High School. He says he prepares his students for real world experiences. “The way the real world works, nobody's ever going to give you a worksheet and say work out this problem nobody's ever going to say here's a quadratic equation figure out the zeros. What they will do is say this projectile is going to be flying and you throw a ball, how far is it going to go how high did it go,” he said. 

When his students graduate, they’re already earning college credit and many we talked to say Smith has helped them shape their future.  Julien Fogel is heading off to college this fall and will major in aerospace engineering. Fogel says it’s a benefit to have a teacher that wants to teach you, but he's not going to hold your hand the whole way through and thinks that teaching style will help prepare him for college. 

Turning out successful students like Fogel and his classmates… is something smith says makes his job worthwhile, he explains, “ education has to be fun I think that every day you come in my classroom, you have to go out in a better mood than when you came in, because then you want to come back.” 

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Friday, July 25, 2014

A Summer of Learning: Vance's Reading Program Well-Attended

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, July 25, 2014 at 9:35:00 am

Summer School 02

Vance County Schools’ summer reading program has been seeing higher attendance every day, according to summer school Principal Lanisha Daye.

“I am really impressed with the number of kids,” she said. “I think this is going to be very beneficial for them in the long term.”

This is the first summer since the state’s Read to Achieve law has been implemented.

The legislation requires third-grade students in North Carolina public schools demonstrate reading proficiency by the end of the year, based on their end-of-grade exams, in order to be promoted to fourth grade.

The law also allows students to attend a summer reading program in their district where they have another opportunity to take the exam.

Vance County Schools started the program on July 2, and it will run until July 31. Students meet Monday through Thursday at Aycock Elementary from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Anne Joyner, Vance County Schools language arts curriculum specialist, said roughly 200 third-graders qualified for the summer program, and about 160 of those students are enrolled.

There were approximately 535 third-grade students enrolled in Vance County schools during the 2013-2014 school year, according to district spokeswoman Terri Hedrick.

She said each student sees two different teachers in the course of the day — one teacher focuses on reading foundations and the other on reading comprehension.

“Within a four-hour block, they will receive about two hours of instruction from each teacher,” she said.

Trixie Brooks, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said the district is in the process of determining which students will not be promoted to fourth grade because the state is still adding qualifications to the law that would exempt certain students — such as those who are taking English as a second language classes.

“We are not making any hasty decisions,” she said. “We are not talking retention at this point because there are so many exemptions in the legislation.”

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Burke County Students Build Robots as Part of Project Lead the Way

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, July 24, 2014 at 4:10:00 pm

STEAM Academy students use VEX Robotics kits to create sorting machines

Wayne Whaley recently purchased eight VEX Robotics kits for his “Project Lead the Way” class at the STEAM Academy in Morganton with a $12,560 grant from the Community Foundation of Burke County.

Students began with building simple machines like levers and pulley systems. Then they progressed to learning about complex machines and programming. They put that knowledge to use in completing their final design projects using the kits to build a full autonomous sorting machine.

The VEX Robotics Design System provides a starter kit to expose students to robotics and get them interested in science, technology, engineering and math.

The STEAM Academy, which just completed its inaugural year, is located on the campus of the North Carolina School for the Deaf in Jeter Hall with the purpose of providing both advanced placement and honors courses for students who are interested in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture & Math) careers.

The academy is a partnership between Burke County Public Schools, the North Carolina School for the Deaf, Western Piedmont Community College and the N.C. School of Science and Math.

Originally Posted Here


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Taylor Tapped for Superintendent Initiative

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 8:45:00 am

The non-profit group, Strategic Leadership By Design, has announced Mount Airy City Schools will take part in the Aspiring Superintendent Fellows Program, an initiative seeking to increase North Carolina’s pool of qualified top school district leaders.

Assistant Superintendent Bryan Taylor has been chosen as a participant in the program.

A veteran educator with 21 years experience, Taylor has been in his current position of assistant superintendent since 2004. Prior to that, he served in roles including executive director of human resources, director of Exceptional Children, director of Student Services, and as director of federal programs.

“I’m honored to be accepted into this program and look forward to working with Dr. Coble and his group to broaden my base of knowledge and expand my opportunities,” said Taylor.

The two-year fellows program’s goal is to increase the number of well-prepared potential superintendents through experiential learning and executive coaching. The leadership development includes both a year-long series of seminars addressing topics such as cultural change within organizations and development of high-performing teams as well as state-of-the-art assessments that allow fellows to understand their specific development needs. The coaching component extends over both years.

The fellows program has been developed and is delivered by Strategic Leadership By Design, a non-profit led by Janice Davis, a former deputy state superintendent of public instruction and Granville County superintendent. Larry Coble, a former superintendent in four North Carolina school districts and executive director of the 15-district Piedmont Triad Education Consortium, is the fellows’ program seminar leader.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Greensboro SRO Earns State Award For Service

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, July 21, 2014 at 12:10:00 pm


A Greensboro school resource officer earned a state award for going above and beyond.

Officer B.L. Harris was awarded the Hank Snyder "Beyond the Call of Duty Award" at the North Carolina Association of School Resource Officers Conference last week.

"Going above and beyond the call of duty is just how Officer Harris is wired," said his supervisor, Sgt. M.J. Harris. "He is about making a positive impact on his students, and meeting the needs of people within his community."

Police say Officer Harris is known for his sincere conversations with troubled youth. He talks with them about their roles as leaders and their future, and he stresses the importance of being good citizens in the community.

He is also quick to intervene when he students get off course – firmly yet fairly resolving discipline and disorder issues in the school. He once mediated differences between rival gang members in the same classroom so that the teacher could present the lesson in safety.

The SRO is also known for his community outreach efforts. He started a program called "Kicks for Kids" to collect new and gently used shoes for children in need. During 2013, he received approximately $8,088 worth of shoes and clothes for students.

He organized a cleanup of Claremont Homes, getting city workers, residents and other police officers to remove unsightly debris and pick up large quantities of trash.

During the summer, Officer Harris solicited local barber shops and beauty salons, obtaining more than 250 vouchers for free services for students who could not afford them

Harris will start the 2014-15 academic year as the SRO for Grimsley High School.

This is the third consecutive year that School Resource Officers from the Greensboro Police Department have earned recognition at the North Carolina Association of School Resource Officers Conference. Last year, Officer O.E.Hudson, Jr. was recognized as the CC McGee School Resource Officer of the Year, the highest state award named in memory of the late former Assistant Sheriff of Forsyth County. In 2012, Officer C. M. Rouhlac earned the same award for being the best SRO in the state.

Originally Posted Here


Friday, July 18, 2014

Rockingham County Schools Graduates Earn Millions in Scholarship Offers

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, July 18, 2014 at 11:15:00 am

Rockingham County, NC – The seniors who make up the Classes of 2014 in our district are very talented in academics, the arts, athletics and more. Combined they earned more than $17.8 million in scholarship offers.

Dr. Rodney Shotwell, superintendent of RCS states, “Thanks to the diligent work of our high school counselors and the Carolina Advising Corp Advisors, we are pleased that our high school seniors’ achievements have been recognized through the offering of more than $17.8 million in scholarships from institutions of higher education and the military. Especially, we are grateful for the support of our community, our businesses, industrial and civic groups working to contribute scholarships for our youth. The scope of these awards reflects the capability of our students in competing academically with seniors across the country."

Over the past five years, Rockingham County Schools’ seniors have been offered an impressive total of$86,387,911 in scholarships!

See scholarships by high school here.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Onslow Students Compete in National Conference

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, July 18, 2014 at 9:25:00 am


Five Onslow County students traveled to Kansas City recently to represent the school district and North Carolina during the week long 50th annual National Leadership and Skills Conference.

June 23-27 they joined more than 6,000 outstanding career and technical education students, all contest winners at the state level, to compete in 99 different hands-on trade, technical and leadership fields.

Ethan Smith, a 2014 graduate from Richlands High, finished fourth in the Related Technical Math competition. His teacher, Ken Brown, said the competition involved taking a two-hour written test to determine competence of skills required to solve mathematical problems commonly found in the skilled trades and professional and technical occupations. Skills demonstrated include addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of whole numbers, fractions and decimals; applied word problems; percentages; ratio proportions; averages; area; volume; metric measures and traditional — Imperial — measures and trigonometry.

John Mercer, Drew Mercer, Keegan McNamara and Evans Morgan, 2014 graduates from Jacksonville High came in 12th in the nation in the TeamWorks competition. Their teacher, Kenny Kellum, said the teams were required to build a construction project over three days that demonstrated their ability to work together using carpentry, electrical, plumbing and masonry skills per “competition specified” building codes. Each team was required to understand the project elements based on a detailed blue print and special instructions presented at the pre-competition orientation. Each team had to write a project completion “action plan” and each member had to present a part of it as one of the “key” elements of the competition. In addition to judging the presentations, teams were critiqued on their ability to construct the project per “competition specified” building codes; jobsite safety and cleanliness; organized and correct ordering of materials from the competition material depot; proper use and accountability of tools and equipment and the rate of completion of the project for the team.

Drew Mercer attributes the team’s success to Kellum.  “He has actually been a huge influence on us,” he said. “He works with you … and he gives you his absolute best.”

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

School Board Approves Expanding Pre-K Program

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 2:40:00 pm

The Cabarrus County Board of Education unanimously approved expanding its early childhood programs, with two classrooms serving 36 students next school year, during the board’s combined work session and business meeting on Monday.

Tara Nattrass, director of elementary education for Cabarrus County Schools, presented a proposal to expand the early childhood programs by leasing space at All Saints Episcopal Church in Concord and using dual subsidy funding that Cabarrus Partnership for Children receives and will provide.

“We know early childhood programs have a big impact on students. … We know we have children throughout the county we are unable to reach,” Nattrass said.

The dual subsidy funding is federally funded and comes to the state, said Ann Benfield, executive director for Cabarrus Partnership for Children. The More at Four and Smart Start programs are provided by Cabarrus Partnership for Children, which must spend 30 percent of its funding in childcare subsidies, Benfield said.

Cabarrus County Schools currently has 176 students at Long School that are funded by Head Start and the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program (NC Pre-K); 108 students at Carl A. Furr, W.M. Irvin, Rocky River and Winecoff elementary schools that are funded by NC PreK; and about 200 students at the Mary Frances Wall Center. There are still 300-400 students on the waiting list, though, and Nattrass said the board asked about a year ago how it could expand its early childhood programs.

“I can see it’s very much a win-win for the children and for the school system. … We can only serve so many, but the number on the waiting list keeps going up and up and up. This will provide more services for more children,” Shue said.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Facebook Joins Initiative to Provide Free Wi-Fi to Students in Rutherford County

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 11:10:00 am

Students in North Carolina’s Rutherford County School District will be part of a pilot program aimed at bringing them free Wi-Fi as the result of a collaboration between Facebook, the Town of Forest City (where the social network has a data center), Rutherford County Schools, and PANGAEA Internet.

The partners announced in a press release that the first phase of their initiative will launch immediately, to 75 to 100 homes in the neighborhood surrounding the Rutherford Opportunity Center in Forest City, adding that the town was chosen due to its high concentration of students and a 2011 initiative by the school district to provide a personal laptop to every middle- and high-school student.

Officials of the school district found that nearly one-half of the students who received laptops did not have Internet access at home, prompting the initiative.

The Town of Forest City is providing the space and power for the Wi-Fi end points, while Facebook is providing the actual end points, and the network signal is coming from PANGAEA.

The parties said future phases will include expanding access to more students, as well as improving network performance.

Keven McCammon, site manager for Facebook’s data center in Forest City, said in the release:

Connectivity can open up new opportunities for everyone, and we’re excited to partner with Forest City, the Rutherford County School District, and PANGAEA Internet to help bring that access to more of Forest City’s students. Facebook has called Forest City home for more than three years now, and we are proud to be able to help the community continue to invest in its future.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Reidsville High Graduates Earn Perfect Attendance All 12 Years

Posted by: H
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 2:40:00 pm

Getting an award for perfect school attendance for a year is one thing, but getting it for all twelve years of schooling that's another!

Justin Cunningham, a recent graduate of Reidsville High earned that title. On Monday he received a plaque from the Rockingham County School Board for outstanding attendance for twelve years.

Cunningham says his motivation for not missing any days of school was his parents but he also really likes school.

He plans to attend North Carolina A&T State University in the fall. He also plans to study Secondary Education and Mathematics. He says one day he would like to return to Rockingham County Schools as a teacher.

Joseph William Norman Johnson, a senior from Dalton McMichael High also earned the recognition. But he couldn't make it back from a trip to Florida to receive his award.

Originally Posted Here

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Program Encourages New Hanover County Students to Think

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 at 10:40:00 am

New Hanover County Schools rolled out a new summer learning program Monday called the Think Lab. It focuses on teaching rising kindergartners and rising sixth graders how to think critically.

During the summer, students lose about two months of knowledge and skills that they have learned in school. More than half of the achievement gap between lower-income students and higher-income students is due to a lack of summer learning opportunities, according to the National Summer Learning Association.  

The county is putting an extra focus on Title I schools, which serve a student population below or near the poverty line.

The Think Lab is a free five week program offered to rising kindergarten students registered to attend any of New Hanover County's Title I elementary schools and rising sixth grade students who will attend D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy or Williston Middle School.

D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy Principal Eric Irizarry said the program gives students an extra academic boost.

"We want all students to learn to be 21st century learners. So just getting them to be at Virgo for five weeks during the summer and getting those skills and working with some of our veteran teachers is a real advantage for our students," Irizarry said.

School officials said the program offers students 20 additional days of learning outside the traditional school year. Students participate in activities that build their vocabulary, critical thinking and leadership skills.

D.C. Virgo Instructional Coach Sabrina Hill-Black said the Think Lab is a great chance to get students ready for the new school year.

"A summer camp where there is learning happening, they're mentally engaged, actively engaged. They are getting a fresh start," Hill-Black said.

Rosa Mack is a parent of a student in the Think Lab and she said she is thrilled that her son is getting the opportunity to understand that life is a learning experience.

"It's a joy to know that he's not on the street and he's still learning. He's an A, B Student and I want him to stay on top so being here is helping him keep the skills that he needs to have," Mack explained. "It's really keeping him abreast to let him know that life is always a learning experience."

School officials said 670 students are participating across the county to get a jump start to their school year.

The program is all day, four days a week for five weeks, starting July 14, ending on August 14, 2014.

Interested parents can get more information and register their student at the Title I school they will be attending in the fall. Principals have the registration forms and parent transportation request forms. Transportation, breakfast and lunch will be provided as part of this program.

Originally Posted Here


Monday, July 14, 2014

Wake County Students Return from Ghana Ready to Serve

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, July 14, 2014 at 4:15:00 pm

While kicking a soccer ball with dozens of students on a bumpy field in the village of Kitase in Ghana, three Wake County high school students noticed that the two goalies were using gloves that were falling apart.

The following day, the boys bought gloves for them at the market, but realized that the students were also playing in the only shoes they owned – broken flip-flops.

Peyton Cabot and Parker Savage, both 17, and Martin Bell, 18, are back in North Carolina now, with a plan to raise funds at Heritage High School for soccer equipment – cleats, vests and gloves – to send back to Ghana.

For three weeks, 12 Wake County high school students traveled to various regions in Ghana – visiting both cities and villages – with goals of learning and serving. No day was the same, except in the growing realization of the distance between their daily reality at home and their African experiences.

“One of the coolest parts for me was to see the students go from a general state of helplessness to becoming leaders comfortable in any environment,” said Miles Macleod, an English teacher at Heritage High School and co-founder of the service-learning program Project Wisdom.

Each day, the students fulfilled a role on the team: fetching water, preparing meals or cleaning up.

They mastered washing their own laundry – some for the first time – by purchasing bars of soap from the local village and fetching buckets of water.

For about half the trip, the students slept in the village where they volunteered. One night, they stayed in a traditional mud hut covered by a thatched roof and showered with a bucket of rainwater, their heads peeking over a shoulder-height cement wall.

Those days, some students slept on a mattress on the floor or in a bunk bed, dealing with spotty bathroom facilities, no electricity and 100-degree temperatures.

Although they were surprised by the pollution-littered beaches and sheepish about dancing in front of county chieftains, nothing struck them as much as the poverty they encountered.

In the northern regions, the students met tiny children with swollen bellies.

“I see that on TV, but I never thought I’d have a child holding my hand and walking around the village with me,” said Heritage student Victoria Nguyen, 17. “It really hurt.”

One of the main goals of the trip was to create a service-learning project for Heritage High School students in the coming school year.

As well as buying gloves, Cabot, Savage and Bell exchanged contact information with the Dutch coach, a man who has dedicated his life to assisting Ghanaian soccer players.

“Not having that equipment is holding them back from being good,” Savage said. “If they are good players they can go to the best schools.”

Nguyen plans to join with three other students to create a Ghana-themed field day at Heritage after school starts. Participants will earn a spot by donating canned goods or an article of clothing.

She had to step outside during a classroom tour, overwhelmed by the passion students had for learning. Several third-graders pored over homework while sitting on the cement floor.

The students will work for the next year or more to establish their projects. Many desire to return for the next trip in two years as college-age counselors.

Heritage student Emily Orander, 16, found a dramatic difference in Ghanaian students versus her American peers.

“Bullying happens to me all the time,” she said. “We were telling one (Ghanaian) girl about bullying and she didn’t even know what it was. That’s just how kind they are.”

On June 30, the Americans split into groups with students at Challenging Heights – a school and rehabilitation center for more than 700 young people who survived or are at risk for slavery.

One of the Ghanaian students asked about high school break time in America. One of the American students mentioned how he drives off-campus for lunch. The Ghanaian students’ eyes grew wide at the prospect of a student owning a car.

“It’s like saying here, ‘Oh yeah, I drive my helicopter to work,’ ” Macleod said. “The Ghanaian students couldn’t believe it. My students never would have fathomed that an everyday fact of life is such an immense privilege.”


Monday, July 14, 2014

Public School System Searches, Discovers Avenues to Help

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, July 14, 2014 at 1:45:00 pm

Vance County Schools will not be dead last in cohort graduation rates another year, according to district administrators.

Superintendent Ronald Gregory said new initiatives are well underway to get students graduating on time. So far, one-on-one coaching and vocational programs have helped.

In May, career and technical education director Willa Clark told the board of education that Vance County students in the program exceeded state goals in reading and math, graduation and secondary school completion.

Across the school system, about 415 seniors graduated and received $2.5 million in scholarships this spring. Graduation cohort rates are expected to be released within the next 30 days.

Gregory said the district should start seeing the results soon of their efforts soon.

“Our graduation rate won’t be in the 60s like it was last year,” he said. “We are looking at a increase of about 9 percent.”

Last year, the district’s rate for students entering ninth grade and graduating after four years was 64.9 percent — a rank of 115 out of 115 school systems in the state. The state average was 82.5 percent.

Vance was 113 of 115 at 68.2 percent in 2013, and 111 of 115 at 68.2 percent in 2012. Its graduation rate has regressed in two of the past six years (59.5 percent in 2007 to 49.3 percent in 2008).

“We were slapped with the graduation rate last year,” Gregory said.

Assistant superintendent Trixie Brooks said they are still finding avenues to help students who are behind.

“We are not relaxing,” she said. “We are spreading our work further.”

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Students Learn Native Traditions During Camp

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, July 14, 2014 at 12:15:00 pm

Myla Locklear watched closely as art teacher Lezlie Woods-Jacobs demonstrated how to make a beaded medallion during the 20th annual Indian Education Summer Enrichment Camp.

The 8-year-old then placed a native symbol inside the wooden center and strung beads around it.

“I think it is really fun because it is really creative,” Locklear said. “It gives kids a new opportunity to learn new things. We are learning how to do beadwork, painting, pottery, drum and dance.”

Locklear joined about 300 students from the Public Schools of Robeson County who attended the camp. The students are members of various state tribes including Lumbee, Tuscarora, Haliwa-Saponi and Coharie.

“We work with academics as the students go over reading, math and science in the morning with teachers from the county. After lunch, we do cultural activities such as drum and dance, field trips to museums, universities, state parks, P.E. classes in the afternoon, arts and crafts and much more,” said Kenny Clark, IEA Cultural Enrichment Specialist.

Students traveled to several state landmarks during the weeklong camp. The third grade group visited Town Creek Indian Mound. The fourth grade group made stops at Lumber River State Park, Old Main at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the Robeson County Museum.

The fifth and sixth grade groups traveled to the North Carolina Natural Science and History Museum in Raleigh. The seventh and eighth grade groups went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where they received a tour of the campus and talked with a group of American Indian students about their career choices.

“We want to help them academically to try to improve their EOG scores for next year through reading, math and science, but also culturally to teach them where they come from and instill some pride about being Native American,” Locklear said.

The IEA Camp is unique to the region due in part to Robeson County’s large American Indian population. Some students begin the IEA Camp in third grade and continue each year through the eighth grade, before returning to volunteer through the 12th grade.

This summer, older students in the IEA high school clubs will travel across the country to participate in national programs in Oregon and Colorado.


Friday, July 11, 2014

HCAM Forensics Academy Places 7th in National Competition

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, July 11, 2014 at 8:45:00 am

Hickory Career and Arts Magnet High School (HCAM) participated in the recent 50th annual SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held in Kansas City.

The conference, a showcase of career and technical education students, represented more than 15,000 students, teachers and business partners. More than 6,000 outstanding career and technical education students, all state contest winners, competed in 99 different trade, technical, and leadership fields.

Representing HCAM in the national SkillsUSA competition, the Forensics Academy, instructed by Seth Bailey, placed seventh in the national competition. The HCAM student team included Carson Freeman, Noah James and Brandi Jones.

Emily Wright, representing the HCAM Cosmetology Academy, instructed by Kim Ray, was a N.C. state winner, and she also competed on the national level at Kansas City.

Students worked against the clock and each other, proving their expertise in occupations including electronics, computer-aided drafting, precision machining, medical assisting, culinary arts, crime scene investigation and cosmetology.

Contests are run with the help of industry, trade associations, and labor organizations. The test competencies are set by industry.

Originally Posted Here


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Five Educators from McDowell Picked for State Program

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 4:00:00 pm

Five educators from McDowell picked for state program

Five teachers from McDowell County were recently selected as part of the NC Governor’s Teacher Network.

Out of 1,500 applications, only 450 educators from across the state were chosen to serve for one year developing projects that support key Race to the Top initiatives in their schools and districts.

Network teachers will continue to teach in their districts, but will also design and deliver individual projects that address needs in the classroom, school or local education agency.

Projects will fit into two pathways, professional development and instructional resources.

They will also generate unit plans, lesson plans that seamlessly integrate the formative assessment process in daily practice, at least one benchmark assessment/quiz, and a final classroom summative assessment that can be accessed through the instructional improvement system.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Educators Schooled on Community Service: Learns About Autism During Volunteer Work

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, July 10, 2014 at 10:30:00 am

ARC_Summer of Service 037.jpg

A district-wide effort has school staff volunteering throughout Guilford County this summer, but principals and other administrators confessed Monday to receiving far more than they are giving.

When Nicole Hill, principal of Frazier Elementary in Greensboro, stopped in Monday morning at The Arc of High Point, a camp through The Independence Place for children with autism spectrum disorder was in full swing.
She and other Guilford County Schools personnel there to complete hours for the system’s “Summer of Service” settled in beside the children to help with story time and painting.

“I don’t think I’m benefitting them in any way,” Hill said. “I think they’re benefitting me.”

“On a daily basis, you meet children with different developmental needs,” Hill said. Experience with the disorder and knowing how best to serve the children are key, especially for educators, she said.

Working with the children at The Arc, 153 E. Bellvue Drive, on Monday heightened the group’s awareness and understanding of autism, according to Traci Morris, a school counselor at Nathanael Greene Elementary.

“What I’ve noticed is that everybody comes in and they feel a sense of duty,” she said, “but then, at the end of the day, there’s just such a passion for what they’ve seen and where they’ve been.”

Stepping out into the community and giving back is important, especially when educators are working to teach character education within the school system, said Johnita Readus, principal at Sumner Elementary in Greensboro.

“We’re connected,” she said. “It’s not just the children. We’re modeling what we expect them to do. It’s not something that’s a requirement, but this creates lifelong learners to be able to give back to their community, to give back to an organization, to be part of society. It’s not just, ‘What can you do for me?’ but ‘What can I do for others?’”

Readus and Hill said it might be their jobs to educate, but, on Monday, they were the students.

“It’s one of those experiences where you realize how blessed we are,” Hill said. “And any time you can work with students that have some type of disability or exceptionality, it really opens your eyes to some of the challenges that are out there, and it opens up your heart for them."

“If anyone is getting anything out of this,” she said, “it’s me.”

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Educator Grabbing Attention with Technology

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, July 7, 2014 at 11:35:00 pm

She’s being named a STAR Discovery Educator for her commitment to using digital learning to inspire student curiosity.

The recognition is given by Maryland-based Discovery Education, a provider of curriculum-based digital services. It’s a division of Discovery Communications, which owns TV’s Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.

Being named a STAR Discovery Educator allows her to share resources and teaching methods with other educators across the world. Free webinars are also part of the distinction.

The goal is to improve student achievement. It’s about using technology to engage students.

“We can share lessons, resources and ideas,” she said.

Jenkins works out of the Gaston County Schools central office but travels regularly to eight elementary schools.

Sometimes she co-teaches lessons using technological devices.

Two other instructional technology facilitators with Gaston County Schools are already STAR Discovery Educators.

Teresa Thomassen earned the recognition four years ago.

Lisa Montgomery was named last year and said the online networking helps her open up conversations with teachers about how to use technology in lesson plans.

“When they see all the things you can use, it makes them want to use it,” Montgomery said.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Hoggard Students Win Contest

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, July 7, 2014 at 12:30:00 pm

Two Hoggard High School teams recently won first and second place in the Authors on America Contest, sponsored by the N.C. Bar Association's Foundation Law-Related Education Program. A committee of attorneys scored more than 30 submissions based on content accuracy, relevance and creative illustrations. Two Hoggard teams came out on top, led by teacher Cathleen Allman.

First place went to “Elections at the Zoo” by Miguel Chavez and Chris Stojanoff. In second place was “Three Branches of Government” by Lilly Lee and Madeleine Meinhold.

First-place winners receive a bound copy of their book, an 8GB Nook HD Tablet, a school plaque and a certificate.

Second-place winners receive a bound copy of their book, a leather bound journal, a school plaque and certificate.

The winners' books will be published for use in the Lawyers for Literacy Program. The program, which began as a pilot program in New Hanover County last year, is made up of volunteer judges, attorneys, paralegals and law students. It has since been replicated in several cities statewide, including those in Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte.

Originally Published Here


Thursday, July 3, 2014

Around the Schools: A Career in School Nutrition Honored

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, July 3, 2014 at 12:30:00 pm

Kathy Oakley, executive director for Child Nutrition Services for Alamance-Burlington Schools, was awarded the Mary Long Beasley Distinguished Service Award by the School Nutrition Association of North Carolina.

Each year the award goes to a director of a school nutrition program whose career shows a dedication to serving children and contributing to the profession.

Oakley’s nomination letters praised her concern for needy children and for keeping the ABSS program financially stable in the face of changing federal directives and rising food costs.

Oakley started her career with Burlington City Schools 38 years ago, working her way up from a cafeteria manager to direct the district’s program. She is a graduate of Alamance Community College and has an associate’s degree in food service.

Originally Posted Here


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Chapel Hill Ranked No. 1 Small City for Education

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 3:45:00 pm has ranked Chapel Hill as the #1 small city in the nation for education.

Executive Director of Community Relations for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Jeff Nash, says that Chapel Hill deserves this recognition because of all the people that make it happen.

“The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are fortunate to be in a very ‘edu-friendly’ community,” says Nash. “Not only the teachers and the school personnel, who do a wonderful job every day working with our children, but it’s also a lot of other groups, including elected officials, like our school board and our county commissioners who are a very big part of the success of the school district. Also, the parents and the community in general always work hard to ensure that we sustain the success of our schools. We’re very fortunate to be in this community, and we look forward to many, many more years of even greater success.”

Nash says he believes that in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro community, education comes first.

“The community makes education the top priority,” says Nash. “You see it in the county commissioners to fund the schools at a level higher than many other school districts. You see it in local taxpayers, who are willing to be taxed at a higher rate for the sake of excellent schools. You see it in educators who really want to be here and want to work in our district. You see it in students who have goals, and they work hard to attain those. You see it in parents as they make sure students are prepared and ready for school each day, they come in and volunteer, they help out with school, they support their teachers and principals. So, it’s really a team effort.”

Originally Posted Here



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Northern Nash Graduate Receives Golden LEAF Scholarship

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 11:20:00 am

The N.C. State Education Assistance Authority recently selected Quadeshia Batts as a recipient of a $12,000 Golden LEAF Foundation Scholarship.

Batts is a graduate of Northern Nash High School and plans to attend William Peace University.

Batts is one of 215 students selected to receive a $3,000 scholarship each year for up to four years of study at a participating North Carolina public university or private non-profit college or university. Recipients are from rural, economically distressed North Carolina counties and are selected based on a number of criteria, including a review of school and community service activities, goals and expressed intent to contribute to rural communities upon graduation from college.

The Golden LEAF Foundation created the Golden LEAF Scholarship program to broaden educational opportunities and provide support to students from rural counties, with the hope that after graduation, recipients will provide leadership in these communities.

“The Golden LEAF Board of Directors has been pleased to assist more than 10,100 students from families in rural communities attend college since 2000,” said Dan Gerlach, Golden LEAF president. “The Golden LEAF Scholarship is one of the many tools we have to help fulfill our purpose of growing North Carolina’s rural economy. Our hope is that through this scholarship opportunity, scholars will be able to gain valuable knowledge and skills and come back to their hometowns or another rural area to help our communities prosper.”

Originally Posted Here


Monday, June 30, 2014

Two Buncombe Students Win Morehead-Cain Scholarships

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, June 30, 2014 at 4:45:00 pm

Two Buncombe County Schools’ students were recently awarded the prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholarship to UNC Chapel Hill. Sarah Gilmour, a 2014 graduate of Owen High, and Travis Broadhurst, a 2014 graduate of North Buncombe High School, learned of the honor this spring.

The Morehead-Cain provides full funding for four years at UNC Chapel Hill, including tuition, fees and all living expenses, plus four summers of educational experiences for all recipients.

Gilmour plans to study political science or Peace, War, and Defense, which is a combination of political science, philosophy and history. Broadhurst will study physics with the intent of pursuing graduate studies in astronomy, meteorology or geophysics.

Competition is high for the scholarship.

“At first, I couldn’t believe I had won,” Gilmour said. “I thought I had opened up the wrong letter and was rereading the letter announcing I was a finalist. But then my disbelief turned into pure joy and relief. I had spent so much time on my application and had worked so hard in high school, but now it was all worth it.”

Broadhurst said, “I was with my mother looking at my laptop and as soon as I read that I had received this great honor, I jumped up and ran around the house yelling at the top of my lungs. I was so elated and thankful for this amazing opportunity.”

Both students credited parents and teachers for the role they played in receiving the scholarship.

“I can’t thank my parents and teachers enough for all their encouragement and help over the years,” Gilmour said. “I could not have done this alone.”

UNC Chapel Hill says the Morehead-Cain is the first merit scholarship program established in the United States. It was begun in 1945 and inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University.

Originally Posted Here