Stand Up for Public Schools
Rolesville High School Fights Hunger with Backpack Program
Wednesday, January 28, 2015 at 10:55:00 am
Every Friday about 11 a.m., a group of Rolesville High School students goes to a windowless room near the cafeteria. The room is full of instant noodles, canned foods and as many as 10 backpacks, which the students fill with two breakfasts, two lunches, two dinners and two snacks.
Later in the day, another set of students will visit their guidance counselor and pick up one of the bookbags full of food to take home. On Monday, they’ll return the bookbag.
Rolesville is the only high school in Wake County that operates Backpack Buddies and one of the few schools that operates the program out of its own building.
“Hunger needs don’t stop in middle school,” said Rolesville High School’s 10th-grade guidance counselor Robert McAuliffe.
Right now, students pack bookbags for about 10 of their peers, McAuliffe said. The school doesn’t make students go through a formal process to receive the food – if McAuliffe or another staff member hears that a family has fallen on hard times, they privately extend the offer to the student’s family.
Each bag comes with enough food to get the student through the weekend, but McAuliffe said he knows many of the students take the food home to share with their families.
There are likely more than 10 students at Rolesville who experience some level of food insecurity. The school has a 43 percent free and reduced lunch rate, higher than the county average of 33 percent.
Rolesville High’s version of Backpack Buddies began with Principal Ericka Lucas and Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles. The two are close friends and when Eagles heard that some students at Rolesville were struggling to have enough food, he asked Lucas if they could do something.
The two pooled their personal money to start building a supply of food and at the beginning of this school year, the National Honor Society, Key Club and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America club took over.
“The students are looking are looking after their fellow students now and that’s really great,” Eagles said.
Students keep track of what food is left and helped organize a schoolwide food drive to stock the closet. On Friday, student volunteers don’t anticipate they’ll need to do another food drive before the end of the school year.
“It’s great to see that people get what they need,” said Victoria Aue, a member of the National Honor Society and FCCLA at Rolesville High.
Brunswick Early College Among Top 20 Best Public High Schools in NC
Monday, January 26, 2015 at 3:50:00 pm
Five schools in southeastern North Carolina made the cut for the 2015 Niche Best Public High Schools in the state.
According to Niche, the school rankings are based on dozens of key statistics and 4.6 million opinions from nearly 300,000 students and parents.
A high ranking presumably indicates the school is an exceptional academic institution with a diverse set of students.
Brunswick County Early College in Bolivia came in at number 15, and was the highest ranked public school of Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties.
Other schools in the area that made the list, include:
24 - Isaac Bear Early College High School
67 - Wilmington Early College High School
89 - Eugene Ashley High School
95 - Pender Early College High School
Raleigh Charter High School topped the list as the best public high school in North Carolina, and Holly Springs High School rounded it off in the 100th spot.
January is School Board Appreciation Month
Monday, January 26, 2015 at 2:40:00 pm
Why are local school boards necessary? Through the operation of the local board of education, the control of education is kept close to the people of the community.
Local school boards keep the public schools in the possession of the public. In any given county, city or special school district the local board is the “voice of the people.”
In continuing the recognition of Elkin City Schools’ board members, the spotlight this week is James Freeman. Freeman is an attorney. He graduated from Mount Airy High School and attended the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where he received his bachelor’s degree in political science. He graduated from the UNC School of Law in 1991.
Freeman is in his third term as an Elkin City Schools board member and has served as chairman and vice chair. Freeman and his wife, Lisa, have three children, Kennedy, Henry and Margaret.
Elkin City Schools applauds ECS Board of Education for their vision and voice to help shape a better tomorrow.
Students Encouraged To Join TCS Cycling Club
Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 1:50:00 pm
Now in its fifth year, the Transylvania County Schools Cycling Club began with a few faculty members at Brevard and Rosmanhigh schools who wanted to expose kids to cycling. The idea was to support students who wanted a new way to get outdoors, then help them identify a group to ride with and provide support.
According to Brevard High School teacher Kevin Spradlin, one of the original faculty organizers, TCS Cycling met those goals early on.
"We rode once a week at various locations," he said. "In a place like Brevard, where do you start? With so much to choose from, students were often amazed at some of the cool spots they were riding right in their backyard."
Generous community support helped the club engage students who might have missed out, and keep them coming back as well.
Noelle Khare, a teacher at Brevard Middle School, saw the success of the club and joined up to provide access for younger students, starting three years ago. "She really jumped in, and since then it's taken off like crazy," added Spradlin.
The roster has climbed to roughly 50 students from around Transylvania County Schools.
Khare said recruiting sixth-graders was a great way to attract members, since eligibility for interscholastic sports doesn't start until seventh grade. This has created a unique window to teach and reinforce some of the most important lessons cycling has to offer.
"We have had some of our riders work as cycling mentors with Trips for Kids out of Asheville," Khare said. "I'd like to trickle down into elementary schools, and offer a 4th-5th grade program with high school kids as mentors. The community has given so much; I want us to get involved in giving back."
Dozens of Teachers from Kannapolis City Schools Treated to Shopping Spree
Thursday, January 15, 2015 at 10:55:00 am
Dozens of teachers from Kannapolis City Schools went on a shopping spree Tuesday.
They were treated to free school supplies from Charlotte's Classroom Central.
The store collects donated supplies to help students living in poverty.
Kannapolis teachers say 75 percent of their students are on free or reduced lunch, so this shopping trip was a big help.
Kannapolis teachers have two more shopping trips scheduled. Teachers from Union County will also visit the store later this month.
BES Students Turn Trash Into Musical Treasures
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 4:30:00 pm
November was National Recycling Month, and at Brevard Elementary School, students turned trash into musical treasures.
With generous funding from the school's Organization of Parents and Teachers, the school enjoyed a lively performance by Billy Jonas, an Asheville-based musician who plays, well, just about anything -buckets and barrels, keys and cans, bells and body percussion.
Famous for his offbeat instruments, Jonas is also known for saying, "My favorite instrument is the audience."
In anticipation of the concert, media specialist Charlene Cali and music teacher Sarah Moser helped students get into the act, as well.
Cali and Moser sponsored a Homemade Instrument Contest for BES students in second through fifth grades. Students researched recycling during library time, and learned about various instruments and sound production in music classes.
The contest was a tremendous integration of science, research, art, and music, that involved the entire community of Brevard Elementary School in a fun way.
Foundation Awards $15,000 In School Mini-Grants
Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 2:30:00 pm
After making a record $15,000 available for this year's grants, the Transylvania County Schools Educational Foundation (TCSEF) announced another record high at its recent board meeting.
Twenty-seven classroom and enrichment projects for Transylvania County Schools (TCS) have been offered "mini-grants" for 2015, up from 18 the previous year.
TCSEF is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that develops and encourages public and private support of Transylvania County Schools. The foundation's mission is to support innovative classroom and enrichment projects designed by public school teachers.
Thanks to successful fundraising and strong financial performance, TCSEF has continued to expand its ability to nurture unique learning experiences for TCS students, since coming back online in 2007.
"We are excited to have increased the total mini-grant awards from $12,000 last year, to $15,000 for 2015," said Peter Johnson, the foundation's vice chair and finance director. "We are confident that we will be able to increase this amount again next year."
Teachers Earn Certification
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 4:30:00 pm
Nine local teachers earned National Board Certification recently.
The National Board of Professional Teaching Standards recently announced new certifications for teachers who completed work during the 2013-2014 school year.
Onslow County Schools had four teachers to earn national board certification: Jason Barnes, Maria Burdette, Casey Nelson and Ginger Pockette.
Carteret County Schools and Duplin County Schools each had two teachers to receive certification.
In Carteret County, Karen Davis and Katie Salter were certified. In Duplin County, Anna Outlaw and Jennifer Rivenbark earned the designation.
Kara Ball Fernandez, from Camp Lejeune Dependent School, also received board certification in 2014.
North Buncombe Middle Wins Solar Schools Challenge
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 3:35:00 pm
Several local schools won kudos last week for their efforts this fall to incorporate solar education into the classroom. North Buncombe Middle School was named Grand Prize Winner, with others taking first place in their respective categories.
“Each of these schools used solar to bring STEM education to life within the classroom and demonstrated a broad base of support for their efforts from parents, neighbors and friends,” notes the NC Solar Schools website (ncsolarschools.org).
Thirteen public and private schools in Asheville and Buncombe County participated in the challenge, which included classroom education, field trips, presentations and more.
The following schools earned first places: Hall Fletcher Elementary School, public elementary schools;North Buncombe Middle School, public middle schools; Asheville High School, public high schools; and Rainbow Community School, private and charter schools. In addition, North Buncombe High School won a special prize for student leadership.
The Solar Schools team plans to visit each of the schools that completed the Solar Schools Challenge during the week of Jan.26-30 to recognize them for their efforts and achievements. For more info, visitncsolarschools.org.
Young Einsteins Experiment with Soda, Flight and Water
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 2:50:00 pm
Carteret County Schools Support Law Enforcement Day
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 11:45:00 am
Carteret County Schools took part in activities Friday to mark law enforcement day.
East Carteret High School students and staff members recognized Sheriff Asa Buck and all law enforcement during breakfast.
Principal April Lilley says, "It is a pleasure to work with our county's law enforcement officers because they are dedicated professionals who have made the commitment to serve and protect. We presented Sheriff Buck with an East Carteret High School football helmet. Just as that helmet protects the most important body part of our players, we acknowledge and appreciate your protection of the most important component of our society, our children."
Sheriff Buck also attended activities at Harkers Island Elementary School, where he was interviewed about his job by students in kindergarten, first grade and second grade. Their questions ranged from asking what his favorite food was and his favorite sport to how many people are in jail and how often he uses a gun.
When Sheriff Buck asked the students what they needed to do to stay out of trouble the answers varied from "don't smoke" to "don't steal" to "don't hurt anyone" to "do what's right."
The sheriff's final stop was to meet with student council members at Smyrna Elementary School, who also interviewed him about the role of law enforcement in the county.
Forsyth Co. Schools Receive AED from Hospital
Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at 9:10:00 am
Wake Forest Baptist Medical presents two Forsyth County schools with an AED Friday to raise awareness about heart health and remind people February is heart month.
The hospital's Heart and Vascular Center donated a defibrillator to West Forsyth and Reagan High Schools before the men's basketball game. During the presentation at West Forsyth gym, there was also a CPR lesson to teach people signs of cardiac arrest.
“What we know is if we can educate the public for early recognition, to call 911 and to perform compression, only CPR we can double or even triple the chance of survival,” director of Race Cars Project at Duke Clinical Research Institute, Lisa Monk said.
Health workers said they not only want to teach students, but teach their parents how to help someone suffering from cardiac arrest.
"So four out of five cardiac arrests are in the home and so it's most likely you'll perform CPR on someone you love,” Monk said.
If an AED is available, Monk said to use it as well.
"The importance of an AED is when people collapse. Many times it's a heart rhythm that they can use the defibrillator to put it back into a normal rhythm,” she said.
It’s a lesson to show students and parents they don’t need to attend classes to administer compression, only CPR, and help save a life.
All Winston-Salem Forsyth County high schools have AEDs. This donation makes it the fifth defibrillator at West Forsyth.
January is School Board Appreciation Month
Friday, January 9, 2015 at 3:15:00 pm
Special events take place in North Carolina in January for National School Board Appreciation Month.
The North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA) sponsors the annual recognition.
Elkin City Schools is joining with other districts throughout the state to recognize the important contribution school board members make to their communities.
“We benefit every day from the dedicated energies and countless hours devoted by a group of more than 700 men and women across the state,” said Dr. Randy Bledsoe, superintendent. “These people unselfishly contribute their time and talents toward the advancement of public education.”
Bledsoe added, “Even though we are making a special effort during January to show appreciation to our school board members, we recognize their contributions reflect a year-round commitment on their part. They are dedicated individuals who are committed to the continuing success of our public schools and students.”
The men and women serving Elkin City Schools are: Dr. Richard Brinegar, chairman; Haley Sullivan, vice chairman; James Freeman, board member; Dr. Jane Riley, board member; and Frank Beals, board member.
Elkin City Schools focus this week is Dr. Richard Brinegar.
Brinegar’s favorite quote: “Education is the best provision for the journey to old age” — Aristotle
Brinegar is a veterinarian. He is an Elkin native and attended Wake Forest University. He has college degrees from Surry Community College and an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. He has a master’s degree from Indiana University and a doctorate of veterinary medicine from North Carolina State University.
Brinegar and his wife, Ava, have three children, Joshua, Daniel and Paul. Brinegar enjoys spending time with his family. He also enjoys music, sports and reading.
Early College Earns High Marks
Friday, January 9, 2015 at 12:30:00 pm
Several months after being recognized as one of the top 300 high schools in the nation, Richmond Early College High School has received another honor.
The school, which opened in 2007, was recently ranked as the 73rd-best high school in the state by Niche, a company founded by students of Carnegie Mellon University and originally known as CollegeProwler.com.
“We are absolutely thrilled REaCH was recognized in the publication,” Dr. Cindy Goodman, superintendent of Richmond County Schools, said in a statement.
Schools are graded on academics, health and safety, student culture and diversity, teachers, resources and facilities, extracurricular activities, parent/student surveys and sports and fitness.
“From what I understand, the data from 2011-2012 was used in the determination,” Goodman said. “I think we need to acknowledge the roles Dr. Larry Weatherly, Mr. Joe Richardson and Mrs. Lawanda Walker all played in the recognition as well as Dr. George Norris, (Principal) Michael Chapman and the staff of the early college.”
Goodman also credited the strong partnership the school system has with Richmond Community College and its president, Dr. Dale McInnis, a sentiment McInnis mirrored.
“I’m really proud of the early college,” McInnis said. “It’s been a big success story for the county.”
McInnis said the early college “creates hope,” as many of the students are first-generation college students.
“We have a very diverse group of students,” added guidance counselor Amy Williams.
“If a student’s applying, they know they want to come here,” said Russell-McInnis. “So they’re generally more motivated, determined to accomplish their goal.”
While at the early college, students take a full high school course load in addition to college classes, taking up to five years. Some have finished in fewer than four.
“These kids want to be here,” Dale McInnis said. “You can tell a kid is going to succeed here when they’re more excited about it than their parents.”
While some students go off to universities, others stay at RCC. McInnis said many have enrolled in the college’s nursing program.
Several early college graduates have gone on to teach with Richmond County Schools and RCC or work for Duke Energy. Another is pursuing a career in computer animation.
“Watching them grow and watching them mature over four or five years is really special,” McInnis said. “Every child that comes through here has a chance to set their own path, create their own journey.”
Cape Fear River Watch Raises Money to Preserve Environmental Field Trips
Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 4:25:00 pm
An out-of-the-classroom learning experience comes with a price tag, but one Wilmington non-profit is raising money to ensure students in New Hanover County continue to take environmental field trips, despite gradual decreases to the school system's allocation budgets.
New Hanover County Schools spokesperson Valita Quattlebaum said the school system doesn't have a specific fund for field trips, but allocation budgets where field trips are paid have been reduced by 28 percent since the 2008-2009 school year.
“It's tough for us to find new teachers who have funds available in their school to do an extra field trip because travel expenses to this site can be expensive for schools,” Cape Fear River Watch Education Specialist Kay Lynn Hernandez explained the reasoning behind their new fundraising campaign to raise money for school bus transportation to environmental field trips at Greenfield Lake. “Expenses for travel are costly for schools and we want all the kids in 4th grade here in New Hanover County to come out and enjoy our raindrop journey program.”
Hernandez said the Raindrop Journey program coincides with the 4th grade curriculum and teaches kids about a variety of environmental issues while they enjoy paddle boats and playing specialized games.
“They are running, playing and having a great time while learning about how they can protect water quality in New Hanover County at the same time,” Hernandez said.
They launched their IndieGOGO campaign asking for more than $9,000 to fund school bus transportation for field trips, summer camp scholarships, and to expand their education center and Lock and Dam #1.
“All the funds will go towards educational programs that Cape Fear River Watch offers to kids in our community,” Hernandez said.
West Stanly Middle Students Team with Cabarrus Class
Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 3:15:00 pm
Less than a semester after getting their Chromebooks, Stanly County middle-schoolers tackled a new level of technological collaboration.
Using Google applications and Skype, an online video conferencing tool, Michelle Reasso’s media class at West Stanly Middle School jointly worked on research papers and presentations with students from a completely different school system.
“One person from our class paired up with one of theirs,” Rylee Linnell, one of Reasso’s dozen or so students, said as she prepared to Skype with her partner, a fifth-grade student at Coltrane-Webb Elementary School in Cabarrus County.
“We share our notes and stuff through Google Docs (an online word processor),” Linnell said.
They wrapped up the project with a field trip to Coltrane-Webb where, after meeting their partners face-to-face for the first time, they delivered joint presentations to both classes and teachers.
“We wanted them to be able to use the technology in a way it is being used today,” Reasso said.
Meteorologist Puts STEM in Student Forecast
Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 10:30:00 am
Brandon Locklear knows weather. As a senior meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Raleigh, Locklear puts his profession to work every day to protect lives across the region.
“I have 15 years at the National Weather Service. The one reason that I am there today is because of AISES — American Indian Science and Engineering Society,” he said. “While at N.C. State University, AISES gave me an opportunity through a paid internship at the weather service in Raleigh and I did so well, I guess that they wanted me to work there full-time once I graduated.”
Locklear spoke to students at Purnell Swett High School this fall through a special STEM project.
STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. For the past two years, the school has welcomed engineering presenters and researchers to talk with students about careers in STEM-related fields.
“In the National Weather Service, there are all kinds of opportunities, including Alaska and Hawaii. You have meteorologist in the private sector, marine biologist, oceanographers and forensic meteorology is also really cool. It involves using weather to predict when certain crimes happened,” Locklear said. “You could be a meteorologist in the Air Force. The military has all these drones, so they have to produce forecast to use a drone. Weather is not going anywhere. It is a good job.”
For students like 11th-grader Jaimson Lowery, the STEM Project has changed his perspective on his future, which in turn caused him to change courses.
“I already have changed my classes. Originally I was going to take calculus this year, but I changed to chemistry because I want to go in AP,” Lowery said. “Since I am going into the medical field and engineering, I thought it would be very helpful.”
Brandon Locklear said that, more than anything, he hopes the students will see other futures along their path and put their education to work.
“I wanted to convey to them if you just stick with it there will be ups and there will be downs, but we can persevere and be successful with anything you put your mind to,” he said. “It doesn’t matter that you come from a small rural county.”
School Resource Officer Develops Friendship with Students, Staff
Monday, January 5, 2015 at 3:05:00 pm
As School Resource Officer Mitch Schelinder patrolled the halls of White Oak Elementary School one morning before Christmas break, dozens of children walked up to him for a high-five or fist bump on their way to and from class.
Although his main purpose is to protect the students and staff against potential threats or to diffuse an angry parent situation, “Officer Mitch” has quickly proven he is much more than police presence – he is also a friend to those at the school.
“It’s not a job for me, it’s fun,” he said.
Officer Schelinder, a corporal with the Cape Carteret Police Department, enjoys his time spent in the school. “I’ve got to say, I’ve never had a bad day working here,” he said. “I can’t say that about working the road.”
Out of more than 85 staff members, there are just three other men who are on the school grounds, a custodian and two physical education teachers, according to Officer Schelinder. So he became a mentor for students who may not have a strong male presence in their home lives.
There are roughly 825 students at the school, which teaches pre-K through fifth grade, and Officer Schelinder knows nearly all of them by their first names. He also knows all of the staff members, who greet him warmly when he passes by or enters a classroom.
When he isn’t guiding school traffic in the morning and afternoon, patrolling the sprawling school grounds, or teaching the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) course to fifth-graders, he said he tries to remain a silent partner in the school and bring a smile to the children’s faces.
Thankfully, the only reason he has had to remove his handcuffs from his belt is to show curious students, like one fifth-grader on the playground.
“Do you have your handcuffs,” she asked before requesting to see them.
“I’m at an elementary school, I always have my handcuffs. You guys get rowdy,” he joked.
Students Exceed Expectations of Canned Good Drive
Friday, December 19, 2014 at 9:20:00 am
The number of canned goods collected by students at Haywood Elementary School had reached 2,041 when first-graders took the stage for their Christmas program on Friday.
“The canned food drive was the focal point, and it was a very big success,” Interim Principal Anna Roberts said. “You never know if (donations) will be a little or a lot, but our students and their parents showed out.”
Roberts said the collected items are earmarked for the Backpack Club for Anderson Early Childhood Center, Haywood Elementary and East Side Intermediate — schools in the Haywood County school system.
“The drive also supports other non-profit community organizations, but it’s not the only time students are encouraged to serve,” Roberts said. “There’s also an angel tree, where a child’s age and gender is taken off the tree, and gifts are purchased. Students also sell Christmas cards, and the money goes to the Carl Perkins Center.”
Roberts said handmade Christmas cards are sent to military personnel.
“We’re happy they are learning at an early age to give to the community,” Roberts said.
The success of the drive had Roberts thinking of what she hopes will become a tradition at the school.
“I can see it continuing,” Roberts said. “If I’m principal, we will continue, but if not, hopefully the next principal will.”
Lowe’s Gives $50,000 for Playground
Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 9:15:00 pm
The Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation has awarded $50,000 to North Wilkesboro Elementary School to fund a Beanstalk Adventure Playground for the school.
The two-level playground, with ropes courses, slides and tunnels, is designed to provide students and others in the community with a safe, challenging and fun place to play, stated a press release.
With the $50,000 from the Lowe’s hometown grant total, about $70,000 has now been raised toward a goal of nearly $90,000 for building the playground.
“The Lowe’s hometown grant program is dedicated to helping meet critical needs in our local communities,” said Maureen Ausura, chairman of the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation. “By supporting North Wilkesboro Elementary School, we’re contributing to a cause that’s important to our customers and employees.”
“It is not just a playground. It will be an educational resource for the school. It has a researched-based curriculum guide teachers can use to teach academic subjects and skills through teamwork and physical tasks,” said Beth Horrell, art instructor at the school.
Mrs. Horrell has been the driving force in this project but she gave credit to Ken Lyall, Rodney Graham, Brandon Stewart and North Wilkesboro Elementary Principal Delania Smith.
“It is very safe, yet challenging, attractive, and fun. It promotes physical fitness, improves upper body strength and balance, and builds self-confidence. We believe this playground will be a wonderful asset to our school, and to the education and health of our students,” said Mrs. Horrell.
Students Complete Service Education Project
Wednesday, December 17, 2014 at 1:10:00 pm
On September 8, 2014, the students of Brevard Middle School's seventh-grade class began working on their community service projects. The assignment was to work for at least seven hours, doing a service to benefit the community.
Several people volunteered for more than ten hours, and a few worked for over twenty. Some students volunteered at The Bread of Life, preparing food and packing boxes. Other students worked at Free Rein, teaching disabled children how to ride and caring for the horses. A few students gave their time to the Full Moon Farms, raking leaves and learning about wolf-dogs. Others volunteered at the Friends for Life Forever farm, helping senior, abused, and disabled animals.
Still others worked at The Transylvania County Animal Shelter, feeding and grooming animals, and being yanked around by very high-energy dogs. Students also worked at other charities, and some students helped out in the community by keeping up community gardens, tutoring younger children, helping out at church, and raking leaves. One student helped a physics professor at Brevard College, testing materials and cleaning up after classes. Another planted flowers on the sidewalks downtown.
All in all, this project was a very fun experience and more than a few students are going to continue volunteering at these charities.
Sand Ridge's Bridget Grady Named State's Top Assistant Principal
Friday, December 12, 2014 at 2:40:00 pm
Bridget Grady, assistant principal at Sand Ridge Elementary School, was lured to the Dec. 2 Onslow County Board of Education meeting under false pretenses.
Turned out, though, that what she called a “white lie” was a happy one: She had been named the 2014-15 North Carolina Outstanding Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year.
“I was shocked,” Grady said Friday of the announcement, which came from Dr. Rick Stout, superintendent of the county school system. “I knew I was in the running, because all of the county winners are, and I’d been asked to submit a résumé and a paper. But I never thought I’d win. It felt surreal.
“But now that I’ve had time to reflect on it a little, I have to say I’m very humbled,” she continued. “I would never have thought that I’d done anything to merit this. But I’m honored, and I give all the credit to the people I work with here at the school and throughout the county.
“I’ve been in this school system for 22 years now, and there have been and still are so many amazing professionals: teachers, administrators and staff, everyone. It’s a team, a collaborative effort, and we’re also very fortunate here at Sand Ridge to have the best students and parents, too.”
Students at the school, Grady said, help make it easy to be an effective assistant principal, because they are “wonderfully polite and well-behaved and talented.” The parents, she said, are eager to be involved with the school and with their children.
“We have a very special school,” she said of Sand Ridge, which draws a preponderance of its population from military families that live in the Hubert community near the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune. “We have an emphasis on global awareness, and we’re an AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) school,” and both of those things require extraordinary commitments to excellence from all school personnel, from the principal throughout the staff.
Sand Ridge is in its fifth year as a themed school: “Sand Ridge Elementary School: A Global Partner,” and has partnerships with World View of UNC-Chapel Hill and has total Spanish immersion classes for kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade students.
“I’m very fortunate that I get to come to work here every day for 7-1/2 hours and get to work so closely with such great professionals and talented students and have such strong support from our families,” Grady said. “I’m very blessed to be here.”
Grady has been the assistant principal at Sand Ridge for eight years. Prior to coming to Sand Ridge she was assistant principal at Swansboro Middle School. She holds a bachelor’s degree from UNC-Wilmington, a master’s degree in education from N.C. State University and a master’s in school administration from East Carolina University.
Information from Shirley Prince, the executive director for North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals Association, provided by the county school system office, states that Grady’s tremendous award “serves as a way to honor assistant principals who are doing a superb job.”
Grady will serve as North Carolina’s representative for the National Outstanding Assistant Principal Award Program, which promotes educational excellence for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade schooling and calls attention to the fundamental importance of the assistant principal. Recipients of the state award had to demonstrate exceptional leadership in a particular school program and high expectations for their school.
The NOAESP will share the best practices of each state recipient in a document to be disseminated to all members.
Grady will also be recognized at the Spring 2015 NCASA/NCPAPA conference.
Four North Carolina Schools Receive $20,000 STEM Grants from Verizon
Thursday, December 11, 2014 at 2:10:00 pm
Governor Pat McCrory congratulated students and teachers in Angier, Burlington, Coats and Dunn today upon receiving$20,000 Innovate Learning Grants from Verizon. The grants highlight the importance of STEM education and promote opportunities to study STEM subjects and achieve in these fields. Angier Elementary School in Angier, Hillcrest Elementary in Burlington, Coats Elementary School in Coats and Harnett Primary in Dunn are among 80 underserved public schools across the country who will receive the grant from Verizon.
"I would like to thank Verizon for its generous grants. North Carolina has the talent and the work ethic to continue to produce nation's premier scientists and engineers," Governor McCrory said. "I'm confident in our students and their ability to excel in STEM subjects and look forward to the strides these schools will make as they champion STEM education. Closing the skills gap in our state between employers and our workforce depends greatly on fostering interest in STEM subjects and other areas at a young age."
According to Verizon, schools will use its Verizon Innovate Learning grants for teacher professional development or programs that leverage new technologies like 3D printing and robotics, as well as coding.
"We created this program to boost innovative STEM initiatives in underserved schools nationwide, and we salute the 80 schools chosen to receive these grants," Rose Stuckey Kirk, Verizon's vice president of global corporate citizenship and president of the Verizon Foundation said in a statement. "These schools' programs will expose more students in underserved schools to STEM fields, offering them hands-on, project-based learning opportunities to help increase their interest and achievement in STEM."
19 Buncombe Teachers Earn Board Certification
Wednesday, December 10, 2014 at 3:30:00 pm
Buncombe County school officials announced this week that 19 county school teachers achieved National Board Certification, and 30 teachers renewed their certification in the 2013-2014 school year.
Overall, Buncombe County Schools ranks 17th in the nation with 520 board certified teachers, accounting for close to one-third of all Buncombe County Schools’ certified staff.
BCS also ranks fifth in the state in the number of board certified teachers.
“This is an incredibly impressive achievement because National Board Certification is a great indicator that teachers have met the profession’s highest standards,” Susanne Swanger, associate superintendent for Buncombe County Schools, said in a news release. “It’s a challenging process that gives teachers the tools to define and measure excellence in teaching, and builds on the knowledge and skills required to enhance student learning.”
Wake Schools Ranked No. 1 Nationwide in 'Gold Standard' Teachers
Monday, December 8, 2014 at 3:00:00 pm
For the ninth consecutive year, the Wake County Public School System has the most nationally certified teachers of any school district in the country, the system announced Thursday.
With 90 teachers recently earning certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the district currently has 2,455 nationally certified teachers. The certification is considered to be the ‘gold standard’ in teaching.
“Achieving national certification is no easy task," Superintendent Jim Merrill said in a statement. "It’s a true indicator of a teacher’s profound commitment to the very best for his or her students. We are quite proud of these dedicated professionals.”
The certification process, which can take up to three years, requires teachers to take on leadership roles, collaborate with peers and analyze their teaching practices and their impact on student learning. Certifications must be renewed every 10 years.
Once a North Carolina teacher is nationally certified, they’re eligible for a 12 percent increase from the state.
Skyline/Skybest Invests $165K in Area Schools
Monday, December 8, 2014 at 1:35:00 pm
SkyLine Membership Corporation has awarded grants totaling $165,000 to five county school systems to augment efforts to enhance the use of technology across the curriculum. The grants target schools’ technology needs ranging from a variety of technology enhancements including SMART Boards and related equipment to 1 to 1 (1:1) initiatives, which include wireless devices for students’ use at school and at home, and other special initiatives which extend Internet access to those students who need it at home due to special circumstances, including health-related issues.
The grant program was established in 2006 to enhance the use of technology in the classroom. “At that time, two schools from Ashe and Avery counties had received significant Impact grants through the state that led to a technology transformation at those schools,” said SkyLine Chief Executive Officer Jimmy Blevins. “SkyLine wanted to provide additional support to schools to enhance technology, and after consulting with each of the five school systems in our service area footprint, a common need was Smart Board interactive white boards.”
The program has had a positive impact and helped to fill the technology needs gap at schools across the region.
This year’s funding continues to focus on technology and helping schools to ensure all of their students will be on par with their peers in accessing these essential learning tools.
Since the grant program began, funding toward technology has totaled nearly $500,000. Funding for each county school system is based on the percentage of members served in each of the cooperative’s five-county service area.
Onslow Co. Assistant Principal Receives Statewide Award
Monday, December 8, 2014 at 12:40:00 pm
An assistant principal in Onslow County receives a prestigious statewide award.
Bridget Grady, assistant principal at Sand Ridge Elementary School, has been selected as the 2014-15 North Carolina Outstanding Elementary Assistant Principal of the Year.
This award serves as a way to honor assistant principals who are doing a superb job, according to a release from Shirley Prince, the executive director for North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals Association.
Grady has been the assistant principal at Sand Ridge Elementary School for eight years; prior to that she was assistant principal at Swansboro Middle School.
She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina – Wilmington; an M.Ed from North Carolina State University; and an M.S.A from East Carolina University.
She holds licenses in School Counseling, Curriculum and Instruction and School Administration.
Grady will serve as North Carolina's representative for the NAESP National Outstanding Assistant Principal Award Program, which promotes educational excellence for pre-kindergarten through eighth grade schooling and calls attention to the fundamental importance of the assistant principal.
Recipients of this award had to demonstrate exceptional leadership in a particular school program and high expectations for their school.
The NAESP will be sharing the successes and best practices of each state recipient in a document to be disseminated to all members.
Grady will also be recognized at the Spring 2015 NCASA/NCPAPA Conference.
Youngsters Teach Others About Water Conservation
Friday, December 5, 2014 at 3:10:00 pm
While many adults may not understand the importance of water conservation, a number of fifth-graders in Craven County have been drenched in it.
As part of the Craven County Water Conservative Initiative, a poster contest was created for the students as part of a way to show how much they know about “Less Means More.” Poster contest winners were awarded Monday night at the N.C. History Center.
Posters were judged on appearance, creativity and the message of the posters, according to Linda Staunch of the Conservative Initiative.
“The most important thing was, did you get it; did you know that water conservation is important, and why it is important,” Staunch said.
Children were not required to complete the posters for a school assignment; it was just something they took the initiative to do. There were posters with tips such as checking faucets for leaks and using a broom instead of a hose to clean the sidewalk, to turning off the water while brushing your teeth and taking five-minute showers.
The reason the group involves youth is simple, Staunch said.
“If young people can understand how important it is to conserve, we can rest knowing that our future will know this and do things to conserve as well,” she said.
For the teachers, watching their students succeed beyond the classroom was rewarding.
“The kids really took the requirements and used their imagination,” said Karen Swanner, a fifth-grade teacher at Arthur W. Edwards. “The kids really listened, learned and took what they had learned and were very creative with their projects.”
The posters will be available for viewing for the next two weeks in the N.C. History Center.
Arts Ball Proceeds to Support School Cultural Programs
Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 12:05:00 pm
With a goal of raising $35,000, the Surry Arts Council has announced all proceeds from its annual arts ball will be used to provide free cultural arts programs for schools in Surry County.
All of the schools traditionally participate with both donations and attendance. Surry Arts Council Board members, school personnel, and dozens of volunteers work to organize the event, sell tickets, and insure the arts remain a part of our area school programming.
According to council spokesperson Melissa Sumner, in addition to directly paying for arts programs, the arts ball leverages grants including a cARTwheels grant from the North Carolina Arts Council that funded a six day residency with artist Mike Wiley, who hosted a teacher workshop prior to the residency.
Wiley’s residency included four school presentations reaching 2,500 students in addition to 16 workshops in Mount Airy City Schools, Surry County Schools, and Millennium Charter Academy which reached hundreds of other students.
In addition, a South Arts Grant will be matched by Arts Ball funds and support a week long residency with the Savoy Family Cajun Band from Eunice, Louisiana. The band will visit all of the middle schools and present both concerts and workshops. Recently, 15 presentations of an anti-bullying show “The Pirates of Bully Bay” were hosted in all elementary schools.
Local musician Jim Vipperman is taking dozens of guitars and fiddles to Cedar Ridge and White Plains Elementary Schools and to Jones Intermediate School as part of the Traditional Arts Programs (TAPS) grant that funds an introduction to playing these instruments.
Sumner said hundreds of students are reached with hands-on learning through this program. Vipperman is a Brown-Hudson Folklore Society Award winner for teaching excellence and passing on our music heritage. He spends six weeks in schools introducing third-fifth grade students to fiddles, guitars, and area music. Students are then able to attend the weekly free year-round lessons at the Historic Earle Theatre every Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.
Arts programs funded by the Arts Ball facilitate more than 25,000 student contacts. It is the arts council’s goal to send at least one program to each school in the Surry County School system, the Mount Airy City School system and Millennium Charter Academy. Most schools receive two or three programs. Each of the 12,000 students in the schools is also bused to one or more programs at the Andy Griffith Playhouse, the Historic Earle Theatre, or the Blackmon Amphitheatre.
Hundreds of students visit the Andy Griffith Museum, the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall, and the Siamese Twins Exhibit at no cost. Ally Coe, a Surry County School teacher, worked with the Surry Arts Council to develop a Surry County Musical Heritage Tour of the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall at the Historic Earle Theatre that connects with curriculum content in the first through the eighth grades. This effort was funded in part by a grant from the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.
Other arts programs include outdoor concerts in the spring with the John Brown Jazz Band for more than 3,000 school students. These concerts will be held at the Blackmon Amphitheatre on Monday April 27. Other programs include TheatreWorks USA’s Click Clack Moo and their production of Junie B. Jones. ArtsPower’s production of Rainbow Fish for all K-2 students and Laura Ingalls Wilder for all fourth and fifth grade students.
Mount Airy schools declared District of Distinction
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 12:05:00 pm
District Administrator Magazine has named Mount Airy City Schools as one of its inaugural Districts of Distinction for its work in the STEAM program centered around the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. According to school officials, the magazine is a national publication distributed to educational leaders around the country.
The annual award was created to honor school districts that are leading the way with innovative ideas that improve student achievement and whose programs can be duplicated in other schools.
Mount Airy City Schools began its STEAM initiative as a response to the standard set by parents, staff, and business leaders during the school system’s strategic planning process. “Its goal was to provide a pathway for Mount Airy City Schools to build upon its history and tradition of success while moving the district forward into the future,” according to information released by the school system.
School Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little said STEAM has impacted children from every grade level. He noted Tharrington Primary and Jones Intermediate put STEAM in place through exploration rooms and a STEAM specialist. Mount Airy Middle School created SWAG (Students with Ambitious Goals) which allowed all children to choose, based on their interest, an academic competition class every afternoon and initiated the Google Learning Project, a 1:1 initiative for students.
Mount Airy High School implemented STEAM through a program that partners with the local community college and provide an “early college” type experience on campus by teaching scientiﬁc visualization. The high school also partners with the prestigious NC School of Mathematics and Science each day to teach Advanced Placement courses and STEAM courses such as forensics and aerospace engineering.
Officials report these initial steps have been tremendously successful for the district and signiﬁcant achievement results have already been seen in literacy and math. The district reports double digit growth in elementary literacy and high school mathematics in just one year. In addition to these numbers, elementary and middle school science saw a signiﬁcant increase in achievement.
“We want our students to think critically, informatively solve problems, be conﬁdent leaders and responsible citizens with a passion for learning,” Dr. Greg Little stated. “In short, we want to create innovators. Our work with STEAM is designed to cultivate innovative thinking and social responsibility as students seek to make Mount Airy a better place to live.” He indicated Mount Airy City Schools will be featured in the November issue of District Administrator magazine. This is the third national award that the district has received in the last three years.