Stand Up 4 NC Public Schools
5 NC Students Receive National Scholarship Award
Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 4:10:00 pm
Five North Carolina students received a national honor Friday in the form of college scholarships.
Gov. Pat McCrory recognized the students and addressed them as they received Buick Achievers Scholarships.
The students each get $25,000 for school each year up to four years. Those in a qualified five-year engineering program are eligible for an additional year.
“I want to congratulate these students for their hard work and commitment to learning,” McCrory said.
Lauren Chesnet, of Mount Airy, North Carolina, will continue her education at Appalachian State University this fall, majoring in industrial design.
Haley Sink, of Thomasville, North Carolina, plans to attend Duke University this fall and will major in economics.
Stewart Martin, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, will attend University of North Carolina at Charlotte this fall and plans to major in mechanical engineering.
Jason Brown, of Collinsville, North Carolina, will continue his education at Virginia Commonwealth University this fall. Brown is a chemical engineering major.
Cristian Munoz, of Charlotte, North Carolina, will continue at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the fall. Munoz is majoring in mechanical engineering.
Sink is the first in her family to attend college.
“This scholarship is absolutely amazing. It means coming out of school without any debt, to really pursue my dreams and know that there’s people behind me 100 percent,” Sink said.
The scholarships are awarded to 50 students across the county pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and math related to the automotive industry.
Camp Invention a Success at MAMS
Tuesday, August 18, 2015 at 10:40:00 am
For the second year in a row Mount Airy City Schools offered Camp Invention as part of its science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) program.
Camp Invention, a 25-year-old program which began in Akron, Ohio, is a curriculum-based program which focuses on the development of “creative, inventive-thinking skills,” according to the city school system.
“At Camp Invention, there is no right or wrong answer. Many of the projects focus on process. Children learn through trial and error,” said Shelia Chase, STEAM instructor at Mount Airy High School. She was in charge of overseeing the staff and program at Camp Invention.
All totaled, the Mount Airy summer program hosted 34 participants attended this week, along with the director, two instructors, four leadership interns, two counselors-in-training, a camp parent and a parent volunteer. The program’s goal is to keep the student-to-adult ratio no higher than 8-to-1.
During the camp children rotated through a schedule that included four modules each day and incorporated a variety of hands-on activities ranging from creating an invention from a discarded household appliance to brainstorming their way home from a strange planet.
This week children used gears and gadgets from dissected machines and other materials to create prototypes of inventions that they believed will help improve the world.
There is not a lot of emphasis placed on inventing a working device in five days; rather, emphasis is placed on fostering inventive-thinking and creative problem-solving skills through immersion that will serve children throughout their lives, according to Chase.
“Of course, there are children who leave the program with a working invention. Recent inventions include insect catchers, ball-throwing robots, arm extenders made out of PVC pipes and other innovations,” she said.
Each leadership intern is assigned to one group of children and up to two counselors-in-training for the week.
“The leadership interns mentored their CITs, set a tone of excitement and team spirit for the week; facilitated activities as needed, helped all participants engage in the experience, supported participants in problem solving and assisted in providing a safe environment,” said Chase.
Teachers Return from China with New Ideas
Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 2:50:00 pm
Eight Guilford County Schools teachers and staff members spent part of their summer in China, gaining new cultural experiences and new ideas for their classrooms.
The teachers each applied for and were accepted into the Fulbright-Hays Group Project Study Abroad program through UNC-Greensboro. The teachers participated in university courses as well as cultural experiences in China in an effort to design curriculum activities in collaboration with Chinese teachers.
“We’re planning to hold a Chinese New Year Festival in our ACES programs,” says Crystal Slade, an ACES program coordinator and one of the educators who went to China. “We’re working with UNCG to bring in some Chinese students to teach our kids Chinese phrases and read Chinese folktales that are similar to stories they’re already familiar with in order to compare the two.”
Slade says she’s also working on other projects to include throughout the year that will expose students to a new culture. They’ll read the book “A School Like Mine,” which looks at different schools around the world, and ACES students will make their own posters about their schools. She’ll share pictures and her experiences from her summer and plans to create a pen-pal partnership with some of the teachers she met overseas.
“In this global economy, it’s important for our students to be exposed to the various cultures around the world,” says Charlos Banks, executive director of student services and character development. “That’s why our ACES programs are working to expand on topics covered in class and give them a greater understanding of the world around them.”
Educator Provides Opportunity to Disadvantaged Students
Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 9:05:00 am
Ever since she was a little girl, Helen Devlin has wanted to teach others.
Devlin, originally from Philadelphia, said she would play teacher in her neighborhood with the other children, who would serve as her students.
“From the time I was real little, I decided,” Devlin said. “I’m very nurturing, I guess, and that’s part of it.”
She taught various subjects in Catholic Schools in Philadelphia for seven years before meeting her husband, when she began moving around to follow his career. In 2000, she ended up in Hickory and began substitute teaching before getting a full-time job at Hickory High School.
Today, Devlin is the director of the S.T.A.Y., or Sustained Training All Year program at Hickory High. The federally-funded program offers extra help to low-income students with barriers. Barriers are identified as anything that may present a challenge to students’ success—such as being at a low level in math or reading, being a parent or pregnant while in school, or living in a group home.
“I tell them I become their mentor, their school mom, and their drill sergeant,” Devlin says, who is no stranger to what she calls the “bad cop routine.”
S.T.A.Y. works year round to keep up with the grades, attendance, college applications and personal issues of around 20 high school students.
“My husband says I raise other people’s children,” Devlin said, shrugging with the hint of a smile.
During the school year, S.T.A. Y. meets twice a week to discuss student success in the classroom and outside of it. But during the summer, Devlin’s schedule gets even crazier—with trips to colleges, lessons on how to ride public transportation and even taking students shopping for food and work clothing.
“If they do all the work, then during the summer, we get them jobs,” she said.
There are 14 job sites that the program partners with throughout the community, including Lowes Foods, Goodwill, Lenoir-Rhyne University and the school district’s own administration building.
Students are paid through the S.T.A.Y. grant and transported to their job sites with help from Devlin and public buses, as many don’t have cars, she says.
“A lot of these kids are coming from homes that—you wonder how they’ve gotten this far, because of situations in the home,” Devlin said. “We all have ‘stuff,’ but some of these kids have more ‘stuff’ than normal.”
For many, the job is the first time they have made money on their own, as well as an opportunity to learn job skills and create connections that will help them network post-graduation.
The employment program lasts five weeks during the summer. Some temporary employers even offer students full time jobs after the program ends if they prove their work ethic, Devlin said.
“I can lead them, but at some point they have to take the initiative,” Devlin said. “We’re trying to prepare them for college and the workforce. At some point, they leave us and (enter) the real world.”
Devlin has been invited to weddings, baby showers, birthdays—and more recently, a baby naming ceremony. But for her, the real rewards lie in watching students grow.
“Those are the ones that like me,” she said, laughing. “Some are challenges… some of the high maintenance ones will come and see me and say, ‘you told us this stuff when we were here and now we’re out in the real world and we can see it.’ There’s good days and bad days, but sometimes you just need one good day.”
S.T.A.Y. also does community service projects, such as planting a community garden across from the school and cooking and preparing a meal for the Salvation Army once a year, which she says is no small feat.
“We work hard,” Devlin said. “They’re exhausted when they’re done, and they’ll go, ‘that was really cool. That was really neat.’ Because here’s people who have nothing, and we’re doing something really neat.”
Delvin recalled one year when a student was serving a meal at Salvation Army and her father came through the line, needing a meal himself, which struck a nerve for the student and reminded Devlin the importance of helping others.
In addition to her efforts with S.T.A.Y., Devlin is highly involved with the Kiwanis Club of Hickory. She was its first female president in 2005 and now serves on the board as well as advising the Circle K and Key Clubs at the college and high school levels, respectively.
“I’m very community-oriented,” she said. “We all need to give back to our community.”
Devlin also takes extra time to collect everything from prom dresses to food for students.
She is in charge of the school’s “Prom Closet,” which community members and businesses donate new and used prom dresses, tuxedos, shoes and more for students who may not be able to afford prom otherwise.
She also keeps a food pantry for students to make sure they don’t go hungry and a clothing closet for students who may be out of uniform or unable to afford the school’s required khakis, blue or black pants and collared shirts.
On July 24, Devlin donated her hair to Locks of Love for the seventh time, despite her reservations about donating her now gray hair.
“It takes me two years to grow it,” Devlin said. “I said, ‘Gray-haired ladies need wigs too.’”
Devlin refers to her fellow staff members at Hickory High School as her “extended family,” saying she couldn’t do all she does without the help of so many others.
“Sometimes people ask me, ‘what do you teach at Hickory High?’ and my answer is, we all teach at Hickory High,” Devlin said. “Whether you’re the janitors, the cafeteria ladies, the bus drivers, the teachers the counselors, the office staff—in one way or another, we’re a family and we all teach. You don’t have to be in a classroom to teach.”
To give back to her fellow educators, she has organized pot-lucks and a chili cook-off in the media center. She even hosts a red hat group called Red Hot Tornadoes that she calls her “girl’s night out” for faculty and staff.
“Once I get a project, I run with it,” she said.
Hickory City Schools spokesperson Beverly Snowden said she is an awe of Devlin’s constant energy and motivation to help others.
“She’s tough—but with a loving heart,” Snowden said. “Mrs. Devlin knows their hardships and she does everything in her power to help her students through tough times.”
Snowden said Devlin is a personal inspiration to her—someone she treasures and looks up to.
“Giving is her way of life,” Snowden said. “Helen Devlin doesn’t hesitate to brainstorm methods that will open doors for her students or direct them to a greater path. She is a blessing to so many young people in our community.”
Schools Recognized for Healthier Environments
Friday, July 31, 2015 at 12:15:00 pm
Some New Hanover County Schools were recently recognized with awards for creating and sustaining a healthy and safe environment for students.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program is a national initiative founded by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation. The alliance's aim is to help schools improve physical education, health education and nutrition by providing a school health index in which staff can self-access their school’s policies and programs for promoting health and safety.
According to the program’s website, the guide is then used to develop an action plan on improving those policies and programs and is currently used at nearly 29,000 schools around the country -- 788 in North Carolina. Resources offered by the alliance include national experts and online and printable guides to help take steps to develop healthier environments for kids to learn and grow -- including creative ways to get them to eat their fruits and vegetables.
To earn a national award at the bronze, silver or gold levels, schools must meet best practice criteria established by the program’s expert panel in all of the program’s six modules: school safety; health education; physical education; nutrition services; health promotion for staff; and family and community involvement.
In New Hanover County, 11 schools currently participate in the program, and three schools were recognized at the most recent county Board of Education regular meeting for achieving national level status.
NC Students Become Smokies Park Rangers for a Summer
Tuesday, July 28, 2015 at 2:50:00 pm
Ten North Carolina teenagers spent the summer getting the real-life, hands-on feel of what it's like to be a ranger with the National Park Service. On Thursday, July 23, they "graduated" from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park's six-week, paid High School Summer Intern Program, as their families, teachers, park staff, and Smokies Superintendent Cassius Cash looked on.
"We have done so many things in six weeks - wildlife management, resource education, which is my favorite, trail crew and vegetation crew, fisheries, we studied dragonflies and salamanders, we worked in the ozone garden to see how bad the ozone is affecting the plants – we have done tons and tons of stuff," said Kyra Mehaffey, 16, a senior at Pisgah High School.
The Smokies also hold a Teachers in Parks program, as well as a high school internship for students from Tennessee. The park sits on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee.
Participants will complete the programs just before the new school year begins, allowing them to return to the classroom with a wealth of knowledge and experience gained from a summer working with rangers in a national park.
"These programs are mutually beneficial," said Susan Sachs, Education Coordinator for the Appalachian Highlands Science Learning Center in the Haywood County, North Carolina, section of the park.
"The students and teachers get an in-depth study of resource education techniques, scientific methods, and field research to enhance their skills and talents, and, in turn, the park creates advocates through better understanding of and appreciation for the Smokies. Teachers will bring the knowledge into their classrooms and the interns will share their education and experience with the local community through their friends and family."
During their time in the park, teachers work alongside park rangers in the field assisting with resource management activities and education programs. When not in the field, teachers are working with Resource Educators to develop elementary, middle, and high school curriculum for the popular Parks as Classrooms program.
In partnership with American Conservation Experience, student interns from different local high schools within the surrounding communities, assist scientists and park staff with field research and education programs while exploring possible career opportunities. They get exposed to and gain knowledge about a variety of areas while working in the park, including wildlife biology, fisheries science, botany, forest and stream ecology, preventative search and rescue, archaeology, Appalachian history and park management.
Grants received from Alcoa, Friends of the Smokies license plate funds, Great Smoky Mountains Association and the federally-funded Youth Partnership Program expanded the two successful programs this summer.
Triad School Resource Officer Honored For Saving A Life
Monday, July 27, 2015 at 2:55:00 pm
A school resource officer (SRO) at Southeast High School was honored for saving the life of a school bus driver.
Corporal James O. Strickland was recently awarded the Hank Snyder Beyond the Call of Duty Award from the North Carolina Association of School Resource Officers (NCASRO) for his heroic act. In January, Cpl. Strickland was on-duty at Southeast when a bus driver suffered a cardiac arrest in the parking lot.
Guilford County Schools (GCS) officials said Strickland jumped into action, climbed on the bus, and applied AED pads to the driver. He then administered CPR until EMS arrived. The driver regained a pulse before leaving for the hospital.
A paramedic on scene told school officials that without Strickland's help, the driver would not have survived.
"Cpl. Strickland has made a significant impact on our school," says Assistant Principal Rebecca Draper. "He established a rapport with students and staff quickly and easily and has done a great job of keeping Southeast High safe."
Couple donate $1M to Guilford County's Say Yes initiative
Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 4:00:00 pm
An anonymous couple pledged $1 million to support the $28 million Say Yes to Education initiative in Guilford County, according to a Tuesday announcement from the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro.
Say Yes to Education is a national nonprofit organization that partners with communities with the goal of graduating all students from high school and then providing funding for college tuition. Guilford County is a top contender among finalists for the partnership. Total pledges have now reached $25.25 million.
"We are delighted to be part of this gigantic effort and wish to remain anonymous, as this is not about us,” the donors said in a statement through the foundation. “It is about giving students the opportunity to pursue a college degree. This program is also about building stable families and encouraging personal responsibility, because without this individual commitment Say Yes to Education runs the risk of becoming just another educational initiative.”
Maurice “Mo” Green, superintendent of Guilford County Schools, said he is grateful to the individuals for their generosity and for their commitment to helping young people succeed.
"Knowing we have this level of support in the community gives added strength to all of us in Guilford County Schools," he said.
NC High School Student Wins Presidential Environmental Award
Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 3:25:00 pm
North Carolina high school junior Sharon Chen earned a President’s Environmental Youth Award for developing a new, green method to recover copper from wood, which was presented at a ceremony at the White House today.
“To solve our future environmental challenges, young people need to understand the science behind the natural world – and create a personal connection to the outdoors,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said. “These teachers and students are demonstrating the important role of environmental education, and showing how individual actions can help address climate change, protect the air we breathe, and safeguard the water we drink.”
Chen’s project, entitled “A Green and Novel Technology for Recovering Copper and Wood from Treated Wood Waste—Part 1,” stands to serve a dual purpose in environmental stewardship, diverting wood and copper from landfills and reducing the need for sourcing new raw materials from natural resources. Chen, a Durham, North Carolina, resident, completed the project at North Mecklenburg High School, though she now attends North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics.
Forty-three other students were honored at today’s ceremony, constituting an additional seven projects.
Thousands of Computers Coming to Cabarrus Classrooms
Thursday, July 16, 2015 at 4:50:00 pm
Thousands of new computers will be in the hands of students in Cabarrus County this fall thanks to funding from Cabarrus County commissioners.
Both the Cabarrus Board of Education and Kannapolis City School Board approved lease/purchase agreement that will finance the new computers with the county funding. Both boards expressed thanks for the county funding.
“It gets us a million dollars worth of technology right now,” Crabtree said.
Officials with both school systems said the computers are needed for increasing on-line testing and textbooks and on-line education content.
Kannapolis will be replacing about 1,000 net books, which are seven years old. Those computers will be used by an afternoon program but won’t be repaired or serviced by the school system.
Cabarrus Assistant Superintendent Kelly Propst said the student- to-computer ratio will now be 1.3 to 1 at the high school level, 1.4 to 1 at the middle schools and 1.5 to 1 at elementary schools.
“There will be enough computers for every student in another year if the commissioners fund it. We will get there,” Propst said.
Officials with both school systems said this is the biggest technology financial commitment by Cabarrus County Commissioners in more than a decade.