Stand Up 4 NC Public Schools

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

High School Opens Pantries for Students in Need

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at 12:55:00 pm

This article was featured in February 2016 issue of American School Board Journal


The best pantries are stocked to meet unexpected needs. That’s the thinking behind the pantries that operate inside North Carolina’s Washington High School, discreetly providing students in need with resources from nonperishable food and hygienic products to school supplies and clothing.

“We started this because we had some students whose basic needs were not being met,” says Principal Misty Walker. “If we want to help them with their academics, we have to help meet their basic needs.”

Open since September, the closets are stocked by school administrators, the student government organization, and various community partners in Beaufort County.

Students only have to approach an administrator in confidence to privately take what they need from the shelves. Foods like cereal bars and vacuum-sealed meals with pull tabs are popular, Walker says, noting that administrators often have to encourage students to stock up and not be shy. “Especially over a long weekend, you want to make sure they have enough,” she says.

The school does not keep track of students who use the supplies but will help them or a family member connect with community services that can provide greater assistance. Walker adds that there’s never been an announcement about the program’s availability. “Word just gets around,” she says. “When a student has needs, they usually know another student who has needs.”


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Anson Honors Dr. Altheria Smith Patton for Life of Service

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 12:35:00 pm

Civic, educational and religious leaders joined more than 200 former students, colleagues, relatives and friends Jan. 16 at the Lockhart-Taylor Center in Wadesboro to celebrate Dr. Altheria Smith Patton’s recognition from Gov. Pat McCrory.

The governor awarded Patton the Order of the Long Leaf Pine — North Carolina’s highest civilian honor — on Dec. 12 in recognition of the 60-year veteran educator and school administrator’s life devoted to educating Anson County students.

Anson County Schools and alumni associations hosted a countywide celebration this month where the state award, municipal proclamations and other honors were presented.

Wadesboro Mayor William Thacker and mayors of all municipalities in Anson County proclaimed Jan. 16 as Dr. Altheria Smith Patton Day. Town Manager M. Alexander Sewell, a fellow Rotarian, presented the Town of Wadesboro’s proclamation, on behalf of the mayor.

He spoke of Patton’s consistency and loyalty to the town and remarked, “We’re so honored and pleased that she’s a citizen and resident of Wadesboro.”

Sheriff Landric Reid spoke of the importance of his relationship with Patton despite being sheriff for just 14 months. Representing the county, Reid presented the Anson County proclamation and emphasized “what an honor and a privilege it is to acknowledge Dr. Patton, while she could see and hear our appreciation.”

Superintendent Michael Freeman and Board of Education Chairwoman Dr. Bobbie Little spoke on behalf of Anson County Schools and shared personal stories of Patton’s impact on their lives.

“Dr. Patton — Miss Patton at the time — and my mother were the only two people who thought I could do and be more,” Freeman said. “Dr. Patton urged me to apply for and attend college. She had a way of making you feel that you were the only student in the school. She is the reason I am where I am today.”

Little and others shared their experiences with Patton and anecdotes about her “persistence and kindness.”

Dr. Jim Sims was scheduled to present the Order of the Long Leaf Pine but due to illness was unable to attend. However, a former student and the lead organizer of this event and award application, Dr. L. Diane Bennett, a Charlotte entrepreneur, presented The Order of the Long Leaf Pine to Patton before an adoring and appreciative crowd.

“What an honor it is to honor the woman that inspired greatness is us when we didn’t see it in ourselves,” Bennett said. “God bless you, Dr. Patton.”

Little, a fellow Long Leaf Pine recipient, affixed the Society of the Long Leaf Pine lapel pin to Patton’s jacket.

Patton’s remarks, befitting her English teacher style, centered on two poems — “Silence” by Edgar Lee Masters and “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.

“Silence” captured her emotions of the day and “The Road Not Taken” epitomized her life and “the choice that changed my life forever…staying in Anson County, despite numerous other opportunities.”

She ended by thanking everyone, and offered a particularly heartfelt thanks to the men and women of East Polkton Alumni Association, to whom she said: “I fell in love with you and your families; you accepted me in your homes and into your lives…that’s the reason I stayed. Thank you all. God bless you.”

Originally posted on the Anson Record


Friday, January 15, 2016

Students Have a Shot with PBS

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, January 15, 2016 at 2:55:00 pm

From left, seniors Erin Sanders, Cameron Kurtiak (blue shirt center), Seth Denton and Conrad Tolbert film an interview for a PBS story with their TV broadcasting class at Forestview High on Jan. 12, 2016.

Rolling in five, four, three, two, one.

The Forestview High Library became a makeshift television studio Tuesday. Students in the school’s award-winning TV broadcasting class positioned multiple stand lights, steadied video cameras atop tripods and switched on wireless microphones. Then they pressed record and began the interview.

“We’re learning not only how to communicate with people, but how to better use technology and see different experiences and different ways of life,” said class member Seth Denton. “It’s really neat that you’re not just in a classroom using a textbook.”

It’s all in a day’s work for the six seniors in the class. And it’s paying big dividends.

In November, the students claimed second place in a statewide video contest sponsored by the N. C. School Boards Association. They had to create a short video on “What’s Super about Public Schools.” They competed against 24 other schools.

Made with the school’s cameras and video editing equipment, their award-winning submission depicted shots of academic and athletic activities at the school. Propelled by a heart-thumping soundtrack, the video includes a science lab table being lit on fire, a top-down view of the school captured from a drone and a time lapse video of the crowd at a football game.

“We went around Forestview and went to different classes and saw what they had going,” said class member Erin Sanders. “We just recorded what was happening, and we put it all together.”

The victory also earned the class $2,000 to purchase new broadcast equipment. They bought a brand new Canon Rebel camera, upgraded the video editing software and are planning to purchase another computer or two.

“It’s making a big difference because we need the technology,” said Melissa Heilig, a class advisor and school librarian.

Teacher Sally Griffin also advises the class.

They’ll need that technology to produce top-notch content as North Carolina’s only school selected to participate in the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs program. The nationwide program connects middle and high school students to local PBS stations and news professionals to produce original, student-generated video reports. The best reports are broadcast by PBS or published to the organization’s website.

PBS has assigned a mentor to help students learn skills such as interviewing and videography. Forestview’s class has already completed two videos under the program. Its documentary about fighting stereotypes followed a female student in an almost all-male karate class.

“The big thing that the PBS people are teaching us is, if you’re doing a big story, what are you going to ask those people that people are actually going to care about to make them want to read your story?” said Heilig.

The class filmed its third PBS story Tuesday when they interviewed Forestview High freshman Jasmine Love. Love recently had to leave school to receive treatment for a brain tumor. It also forced her to put off joining the step and basketball teams.

When the step team decided to do a fundraiser for Love, the TV broadcasting students knew it was the perfect opportunity to film her story. They also shot interviews with teammates and footage of the team’s step routines.

Student Jordan Pippins says the class is not only interesting and fun, but it also teaches responsibility.

“We have so much freedom, but we have to meet deadlines,” he said. “When we’re adults, we’re not going to have a teacher come in telling us when stuff is due. So it helps us keep ourselves in check.”

It’s a lesson they’re unlikely to leave on the cutting room floor.

Originally posted by Eric Wildstein on the Gaston Gazette


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Durham County School in the Running for National Competition

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 2:10:00 pm


Riverside High in Durham is North Carolina's Best in State high school winner for the Verizon Foundation's App Challenge.  This is the third time in the four years that the contest has been run that a team from Riverside has taken that prize.  Tim Velegol, the faculty advisor for the team said, “I think the chief advantage that Riverside students have had going for them (and I think they would agree) is being part of a rigorous course of study that starts their freshman year.  Their Introduction to Engineering Design course hammers home the engineering design process, with a heavy emphasis on defining the problem and brainstorming.”

One of the constraints that the Verizon Foundation stipulated is that the app be applicable to solving problems for their age group and community.  The team’s app, Dollar Savvy, aims to use gameplay to prepare teens for financial independence.  Click here  to see a video of the team explaining the app.

Riverside fielded two teams (the other developing a different app).  Both teams ranged from sophomores to seniors and there is nothing co-curricular about the effort – it is a fully independent undertaking.

Sophomore Emily Spero said, "I'm so proud of my team for making it this far!  The creativity, work ethic and ingenuity everyone displayed was inspiring and I am lucky to have been a part of it.  Now I just hope that we will make it far enough in the competition to actually develop our app, because I feel like it can actually make a difference in teens nationwide. Go Dollar Savvy!"

In addition to winning the national competition, the team also has a shot at the Fan Favorite Award.  To win they need to get more texts and tweets than the other 49 state winners.  The team that gets the most votes will receive a $15,000 prize, the opportunity to work with MIT experts to build its concept into a working app, and an all-expenses-paid trip to the TSA conference in Nashville, Tennessee in June 2016.  To vote for Dollar Savvy, text “DOLLARSAVVY1” to 22-333 or tweet “We won Best in State for North Carolina!  Now we’re up for the App Challenge Fan Favorite award. Text DOLLARSAVVY1 to 22-333 #VZAppChallenge”


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Girl Wrestles for N.C. High School – and She is Legally Blind

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, January 12, 2016 at 1:00:00 pm

Liana Mutia just can’t understand what the big fuss is all about.

“I don’t think there’s anything interesting about me,” said Mutia, of Millbrook High School.

However, most would say a female wrestler competing in a male-dominated sport is indeed interesting. But what is even more amazing is she is legally blind.

“I was legally blind for a couple of years, but it’s really this year that the eyes started to get bad,” Mutia said. “I really couldn’t hide it anymore this year.”

Mutia has been losing sight since her sophomore year but that hasn’t stopped her from competing. Judo is her primary sport but Mutia wanted a new challenge – and so she turned to wrestling.

Her parents at first were skeptical.

“I mean, it’s a boys’ game,” said Bern Mutia, Liana’s father. “So I said, ‘OK, let’s try it just don’t take any unnecessary risks and don’t get hurt.”

In practices and matches her opponent is required to always keep contact with her. That’s the only “advantage” Mutia is given. On the mat, there are no special privileges – everyone is equal.

“She’s a good teammate,” said Millbrook wrestling coach Scott Saby. “She works hard and competes and that’s what’s great about her.”

Being visually impaired, believe it or not, does give Mutia one advantage.

“It’s less scary – not knowing what they look like anyway,” Mutia said.

Not that her opponent’s appearance would matter. Mutia is fearless and has had success this season, winning four matches against six defeats.

“A good record for a girl and a blind girl to be in there,” said her father.

But to Liana Mutia, wins and losses are not what’s most important.

“Wrestling kind of distracts me from my eye sight,” she said. “It makes me feel pretty normal.”

But more than anything, she is thankful for her teammates, who look out for her and help her get around.

If she had one wish, she said,  “I’d like to see what they look like.”

Originally posted by Todd Gibson on 8News


Friday, January 8, 2016

New Take on Chicken Coop Earns Raleigh School $3000 Grant

Posted by: Mike Gonzalez
Friday, January 8, 2016 at 12:00:00 am

On Tuesday morning, the WakeEd Partnership and Wake County school and business leaders came  together to help support STEM education.

They did it by challenging schools to produce a great idea that a company can invest in and help students learn at the same time.

The prize: a $3,000 grant to the winning school to help build their idea.

And a group from A.B. Combs magnet middle school came up with a great idea that’s giving chicken coops a boost in technology.

For 5th grader Aiden Beemish, creating a new-age chicken coop meant pitching the idea he and his fellow classmates from A.B. Combs developed in front of more than 100 people – which Aiden called nerve-wracking.

The competition was called an “Idea Crucible”– a “Shark Tank” style competition between teachers and students within Wake County public schools. In the competition, science, technology, engineering and math are all part of the winning equation.

Chelsea Broughton, the STEM coordinator at A.B. Combs, said, “We looked at the different components a chicken coop needed to have and looked at the different grade levels and what the kids we thought developmentally could handle.”

On Tuesday morning, the final four teams out of more than 170 that entered pitched their idea to six judges.

Judge Colleen Dotson, an engineer at host company Biogen, said she was impressed by what she saw in the chicken coop.

“What was really cool is they were implementing all facets of science, engineering, technology and math,” Dotson said. “The fact it would have an automatic opening and using of a door and it would be sustainable.”

The chicken coup designed by A.B. Combs students took the top prize.

“This is awesome – a dream come true,” said Aiden.

This year, 43 businesses in the Triangle were involved with WakeEd to help mentor students and teachers in various areas on business and technology.

Originally posted on WNCN


Friday, December 18, 2015

Hoke County Schools Superintendent is One of Four Finalists for National Title

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, December 18, 2015 at 9:05:00 am

Dr. Freddie Williamson

Hoke County Schools Superintendent Freddie Williamson has been named one of four finalists for the 2016 National Superintendent of the Year.

The announcement was made Tuesday by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, which is a co-sponsor of the annual contest.

The winner will be announced at AASA's National Conference on Education, which is scheduled for Feb. 11-13 in Phoenix.

The other three finalists head public school systems in Cincinnati, Charlottesville, Virginia, and Vancouver, Washington.

AASA Executive Director Danial A. Domenech said in a news release that the four finalists for the 2016 national title all have demonstrated "a steadfast commitment to excellence in the work they do."

Williamson has headed the Hoke County schools for nine years and worked more than 30 years in public education. He began as a teacher, then worked in various aspects of school administration for more than 25 years.

In November, he was named the 2016 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year.

The AASA release said Williamson is known for "his transformational leadership style, no-excuses philosophy and innovative approach to addressing challenges."

AASA says applicants in its National Superintendent of the Year program are measured by four criteria, including creativity in meeting the needs of all students, personal and organizational communication skills, a focus on continual improvement for self and staff, and community involvement.

The Hoke school system has about 8,600 students at 14 schools - eight elementary schools, three middle schools, two high schools, including one early college high school, and an alternative school that combines middle and high school classes.

Since 1988, two North Carolina superintendents have been named National Superintendent of the Year.

In 2013, the title was won by Mark A. Edwards, the superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District, and in 2004 it was won by William R. McNeal Jr., then superintendent of the Wake County schools.

Originally posted on the Fayetteville Observer


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Watauga High School’s Spanish Teacher Carmen Scoggins Wins National Award

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, December 17, 2015 at 1:40:00 pm


Watauga High School Spanish Teacher Carmen Scoggins is the recipient of the national Award for Excellence in Foreign Language Instruction Using Technology, presented by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and the International Association for Language Learning Technology (IALLT).

Scoggins, who also teaches at ASU, said she is proud of the award “as a reflection of how the faculty at Watauga High School works very hard to serve our students as well as we possibly can, including through continuous innovations in the effective use of instructional technology.”

Scoggins was nominated for the award by two classes of her students that each wrote letters of recommendation. Her nomination was supported by letters from Principal Marshall Gasperson, Assistant Principal Kelly Walker, and other colleagues.   Appropriately, the student letters were composed using technology (a Google documents application) to produce a single letter from each class.

Students in her Spanish I class praised Scoggins as “an incredible teacher who puts a lot of her time, money, and patience into making sure that we do the very best we can…The variety of resources she employs is diverse and extensive, which helps students develop a well-rounded technological familiarity.”

Spanish III students lauded Scoggins for instruction that demonstrates “not only her love of technology but also her skilled integration of technology into the classroom setting” and her ability to “select just the right tech tool for the job…She makes us watch and listen to and then reflect on our own videos and audio files and even though it is awful, we learn from our mistakes and improve our proficiency in the language… She implements current technologies during every class to provide fun, engaging, and creative lessons.”

Principal Gasperson described Scoggins as “a model teacher with a toolbox of technology tools that she shares with everyone she knows.  Her colleagues turn to her for suggestions on using technology and her students rely on her to guide them through the Spanish-speaking world in a variety of ways.”

Read full article on the High County Press


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

North Lenoir Senior Funds Musical Instruments for Disabled Students

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, December 15, 2015 at 9:20:00 am

Holly Holder, 17, right, a North Lenoir High School senior, ordered musical instruments for mentally disabled students. She is seen collecting the instruments with teachers Stacy Britt, center, and Edna Howell Thursday at North Lenoir High School.

Many students at North Lenoir High School don’t give much thought to the school’s mentally disabled students. Most don’t interact with them at all.

Holly Holder is not most students.

Holder, 17, has been working to fund a special gift for the 20 mentally disabled students at her school – percussion instruments.

A senior at North Lenoir, Holder has been working to bring music to the mentally disabled for almost four years.

“They love it, and they pick up on music very well,” Holder said.

Last year, Holder led a group of 20 disabled students in a concert, teaching students to sing and to do small hand motions while she played guitar for them. The show was a success and this year she wants to expand on the idea.

With the help of a group of band and choir directors, Holder was able to find beginner percussion kits containing finger cymbals, triangles, tambourines, maracas and other percussion instruments.

In order to fund the instrument kits, Holder turned to the Internet.

In October, she created a page, and began asking her fellow students for donations.

“It was amazing. I put it on my Facebook and in 10 minutes my friends started sharing it and donating,” Holder said. “Other students who I didn’t really know would come up to me in the hall and ask me how they could donate.”

While the fundraiser didn’t fully meet its $600 goal, it did raise enough to purchase one kit for each student at North Lenoir. Holder plans to distribute the kits to students next week.

“Our kids love music, we are really excited,” said Edna Howell, exceptional children teacher at North Lenoir High School. “We’ll hear a lot of noise, but we are game for it.”

Stacy Britt, another exceptional children teacher at North Lenoir, said many of her students are non-verbal, but will appreciate the new instruments.

“It’s a way for them to express themselves, to interact with their non-disabled peers,” she said.

Holder said she plans to use the new percussion kits to teach students how to play music, and hopes to host another concert in February.

The fundraiser Holder started to buy the kits is still open through the end of the holidays. Any extra money brought into the fundraiser will go towards buying similar kits for disabled students at other Lenoir County schools.

Read full article on


Friday, December 4, 2015

N.C. Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year Selected

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, December 4, 2015 at 2:30:00 pm

For the second year in a row an Onslow County assistant principal will serve as the North Carolina representative for the National Association of Secondary School Principals' Assistant Principal of the Year Program.

The program recognizes outstanding middle level and high school assistant principals who have demonstrated success in leadership, curriculum and personalization. The North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals Association announced Monday it selected Brad Staley, the Assistant Principal at Northside High School, as its 2016 North Carolina Secondary Assistant Principal of the Year.

Last year Bridget Grady, the assistant principal at Sand Ridge Elementary School was named the state's top assistant principal.

Staley be recognized at the Spring 2016 NCASA/NCPAPA Conference.

Originally posted on WCTI 12