Stand Up for Public Schools

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Students Complete Service Education Project

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
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.

Lessons learned from service include thankfulness and the power of "paying it forward."

All in all, this project was a very fun experience and more than a few students are going to continue volunteering at these charities.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Sand Ridge's Bridget Grady Named State's Top Assistant Principal

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, December 12, 2014 at 2:40:00 pm

Grady honored

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.

Originally Posted Here


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Four North Carolina Schools Receive $20,000 STEM Grants from Verizon

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
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."

Originally Posted Here


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

19 Buncombe Teachers Earn Board Certification

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
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.”

Read Full Article Here


Monday, December 8, 2014

Wake Schools Ranked No. 1 Nationwide in 'Gold Standard' Teachers

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
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.

Originally Posted Here


Monday, December 8, 2014

Skyline/Skybest Invests $165K in Area Schools

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
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.

Read Full Article



Monday, December 8, 2014

Onslow Co. Assistant Principal Receives Statewide Award

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
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.

Originally Posted Here


Friday, December 5, 2014

Youngsters Teach Others About Water Conservation

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
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.

Read Full Article Here



Thursday, December 4, 2014

Arts Ball Proceeds to Support School Cultural Programs

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
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.

Read Full Article Here


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Mount Airy schools declared District of Distinction

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
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.

Originally Posted Here


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Former Athlete Encourages Students to Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 9:25:00 am

Former pro football player Roman Gabriel III talked to hundreds of students in Craven County Thursday about the potential that awaits those who pursue their dreams.

Gabriel, a North Carolina native, played for the University of New Mexico while pursuing a degree, and then proceeded to play for the Oakland Raiders and the U.S. Football League. After his football days, Gabriel became the founder and president of Sold Out School Alcohol Abstinence Education Program, which started in N.C. public schools four years ago. 

As founder of Sold Out Youth Ministries, Gabriel is passionate about speaking to youth about the dangers of alcohol and about the potential that awaits those who actively pursue their goals.

“Our goal is to use kids to be a catalyst for change,” he said. “Yes, we want students to find out what their dreams and goals are, but we also teach that they must make a plan to reach those goals.

Reaching goals involves being alcohol and drug abstinent, Gabriel said. That’s why he encourages youth to take a four-part pledge, in which they promise to themselves not to partake in either.

“We also work with law enforcement to find out what we can do to help them on their end,” he said. “And, what we’re finding that is with this program, incidents in the schools are decreasing.”

The program encourages students to believe in themselves, treat others the way they wish to be treated and establish successful habits.

Gabriel spoke about the value of setting goals — both for the long term and short term — and working on the steps necessary to achieve those goals.

“If you truly want to succeed, it’s not about the short-term gain. You have to sacrifice having fun and hanging out with your friends and playing video games,” Gabriel said. “It’s about perseverance, and it’s about helping other people by being the best that you can in the moment you’re given.

Last year, the N.C. Sold Out School Program influenced more than 50,000 students, hundreds of teachers and coaches, and countless parents through the ongoing schools community program. According to Sold Out, the program has seen an average 65 percent of middle school students to take a public alcohol abstinence pledge to be accountable to their teachers, coaches, parents and fellow students.

“We are so excited to be approved to work with Roman Gabriel and Sold Out,” said Debbie L. Hodges, director of Student Support Services for Craven County Schools. “I have talked to other counties and they seem to love this program. The follow-up is the best part. Students can continue to have access to resources 24/7 with the website. I also like that the online pledge is more of a personal commitment and allows for follow-up with the student to encourage and support them along the way. So many programs have an assembly, get students to pledge and then it’s over and forgotten. This is different.”

Gabriel will be visiting other Craven County Schools to spread the message, which is funded through the Coastal Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention and Carolina East Foundation.

Read Full Article Here


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Program Lets High School Students Earn IT Certifications

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 4:10:00 pm

Twelve North Carolina teachers are taking part in a nationwide pilot program that allows students to earn up to five information technology certifications before graduating from high school.

Public schools in North Carolina have offered computer engineering classes for years, but the lone industry certification that the course was aligned with was found to be difficult for even seasoned IT workers. So, Raleigh-based ExplorNet and The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning revamped the curriculum to provide certifications in CompTIA’s A+ and Strata programs and Microsoft Technology Associate certifications in operating systems, networking and security fundamentals.

"Having those on their resume, being able to say, 'I've earned these credentials just coming out of high school,' that positions them really well to be competitive," said Rachel Porter, executive director of the Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning.

Lawrence Mitchell at Apex High School is one of the North Carolina teachers participating in the pilot program. He said it helps him accomplish his mission as a teacher.

"That's what we're focusing on now: To give our kids a competitive edge because we're in a global society. Every little bit helps," Mitchell said. "(These are) good credentials that say, 'I have some knowledge, and I have some proficiency in this area.'"

Apex High senior Stefan Benedict said he hopes the certifications give him a boost in his job search once he graduates.

"I'm certified in this, and employers are going to be like, 'Oh, I've got a job opening for this, and you've got the certifications for it,'" Benedict said.

Other area schools in the pilot program include Wakefield High School, Cary High School, Hillside High School, Lee County High School and Northern Nash High School.

Originally Posted Here


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ACS celebrates National Principals Month

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 12:35:00 pm

National Principal Appreciation Month was established to thank school principals for their dedication and commitment to education.

Ashe County Schools understands well that the key to student success is a great school, and the key to a great school is a great principal.

October 17 was declared Ashe County School District’s Principal Appreciation Day.

The central office staff provided a luncheon for all five district principals and assistant principals in the system. Each school had prepared a video emphasizing “Why their principal was a ROCK STAR.” These videos were embedded with statements from teachers and students “shouting-out” their appreciation for all the hard work their principals do on a daily basis. During the month, these employees will receive other thoughtful deeds depicting our appreciation of their service and leadership.

Thank you Jason Krider, Ashe County High; Earl Pennington, Ashe County Middle; Jennifer Robinson, Westwood Elementary; David Blackburn, Mountain View Elementary; Callie Grubb, Blue Ridge Elementary.

Read Full Article Here


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Walmart Teacher Rewards Appreciated

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 3:10:00 pm

Greg Tippett stands with Jonesville Elementary School teachers after giving them gift cards.

Local teachers from Jonesville and Elkin elementary schools benefited this week from a Walmart Teacher Rewards Program in which local Walmart staff raised money for the teachers to help supplement school supplies. The funds were raised from purchases from a drink machine.

Greg Tippett, an Elkin Walmart representative, handed out the cards and explained the funds come at a time when funding for school supplies has become critical. He thanked the many teachers for often pulling from their own pockets to help students have the school supplies they need.

Teachers thanked Walmart and Tippett for the extra help. The store also donated cakes for the occasion.

The Teacher Rewards program is an extension of Walmart’s ongoing local education initiatives that help students better prepare for their future, said Tippett.

According to a press release from Walmart, “In 2013, Walmart and its foundation donated more than $44 million to fund education programs across the country.”

Read Full Article


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Deer Clan Dancers Perform for Swain Schools

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at 9:20:00 am

The Deer Clan Dancers, all EBCI tribal members, performed for Swain County elementary school students at the Swain County Center for the Arts on Tuesday, Oct. 21.  Shown (left-right) are Ricky Joe Taylor, Daniel Tramper, Teresa Reed and Scrappy Sherrill.  (Photo courtesy of Eugenia L. Johnson)

Swain County Schools celebrated Native American heritage and culture by having school assemblies at Swain County Center for the Arts for the high school and middle school.  The five assemblies featured Daniel Tramper and the Deer Clan Dancers, all EBCI tribal members, performing a variety of pow wow style dances.  They performed both northern and southern plains style dances, gave some of the history of each dance, and sang.

In addition to playing the drum for the dancers, John Grant Jr. told a story about instructions from a father to his three sons and how the third son gave the gift of love and compassion and another story about how the woodpecker created the first flute out of a tree limb that was used by a young man to woo his girl.  He also described the difference in the old-style northern songs with no words and the contemporary northern style songs with words.  He sang a northern two-step song and a southern plains song.

At the end of high school and middle school assemblies, several students from the audience were asked to join the dancers on the stage for the Friendship Dance.  At the end of each of the elementary school assemblies, six teachers and six students were invited to the stage to participate in a musical hoop game to the rhythm of Ricky Joe Taylor’s drum.  The storytellers closed with the Cherokee words for “till we meet again” since there is not a word in the Cherokee language for goodbye.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Conover Teacher Wins $25K Milken Family Foundation Award

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, October 24, 2014 at 4:45:00 pm

Angie Sigmon

Angie Sigmon, a K-3 teacher at Shuford Elementary School in Conover, was named North Carolina's latest Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award winner and the recipient of a $25,000 prize. State Superintendent June Atkinson made the surprise announcement during a school-wide assembly last Friday (October 17).

Sigmon, whose career has spanned 13 years, is among the nation's 40 most recent recipients of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award, which carries with it an unrestricted financial award of $25,000 and membership in a network of over 2,600 past recipients from across the nation.

Sigmon’s colleagues say she leads by example and always models for her students and fellow teachers how to act, engage and follow through with tasks in a successful way. Co-workers say she spends countless hours planning for lessons, promoting community involvement among her students, fundraising for field trips and building a love of technology in her classroom and throughout her school. Her hard work, encouragement and her belief that every student can be a leader enables her students to grow academically and socially.

In 2013-14, less than 50 percent of Sigmon’s students were at grade level in math and reading at the beginning of the year. By the end of the year approximately 80 percent of students were performing at grade level or above and all students made their growth goals.

She currently serves as grade-level chair for second and third grade and is the School-Wide Assistance Team chairperson. She is an Instructional Consultation Team Facilitator, a Technology Team member and she was selected to host the school’s iPad pilot classroom and open her classroom to visitors from other districts. The National Board Certified teacher was named the Shuford Elementary First Year Teacher of the Year in 2002, Teacher of the Year in 2007 and 2011 and the Newton-Conover City Schools Teacher of the Year in 2012. 

Sigmon earned a bachelor's degree in elementary education and psychology and a master's degree in reading education (K-12) from Appalachian State University.

Originally Posted Here


Friday, October 24, 2014

Students Get Taste of Hispanic Heritage

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, October 24, 2014 at 2:15:00 pm

Contributed photo | Parade participants during the Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at St. Pauls Elementary School were attired in various traditional outfits from several Hispanic countries.

Wearing a traditional dress from the Dominican Republic, Margarita Hortencia Martinez Soto recently gave students at the Robeson Early College High School a true taste of Hispanic heritage.

Soto joined with other students to spotlight various countries and customs from Hispanic communities across Latin America. The students performed a show, which included traditional dancing and singing, and even tasted Mexican bread, or “pan,” donated by a local bakery.

Earlier this month, Soto coordinated the schools first Hispanic Heritage Month program through her Spanish class at the Early College.

“It is good to be able to explain to people where we originate from. Some of my family originates from a ranch, but some are from the big city,” Soto said. “It is good to educate them on how Mexico really is.”

“I was really pleased that the Hispanic students taught two of their American classmates a typical dance called the ‘Cumbia,’ and I thought they did a nice job,” said Delores Jones, a Spanish teacher at the Early College High School.

“As you know in the U.S., the Hispanic population is growing tremendously and sometimes we have a tendency to push them to the back, but they are a part of us,” Jones said. “A lot of these students are born in America, so we have always had other cultural days celebrated such as Native American History and Black History month, so now they are coming into play. We should honor Hispanic heritage because it is part of our culture.”

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Friday, October 24, 2014

World Series Pitchers with Roots in North Carolina

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, October 24, 2014 at 11:40:00 am

Students and staff at South Caldwell High School were decked out in San Francisco Giants colors on Tuesday in support of a favorite son who will be on the mound in game 1 of the World Series.

Madison Bumgarner graduated from South Caldwell in 2007 and immediately went pro. "He is a very special person," said his former High School Coach Jeff Parham. Bumgarner led the Spartan baseball team to the state championship in his final year there and since then has won two World Series rings with San Francisco.

In the off-season, he lives on a farm near Lenoir.

As students cheered for Bumgarner in Caldwell County on Tuesday, in McDowell County, the cheers were for Greg Holland. He graduated from McDowell High School in 2004. After a stint at Western Carolina University, he went to the pros as well. He became an All-Star and is now the closer for the American League Champion Kansas City Royals.

"He worked very hard to get where he is now," said his former high school JV coach Alex Smith. Smith stays in contact with Holland, who lives in Asheville in the off-season, and says he is down to earth and has not forgotten where he came from.

Coaches from both McDowell and South Caldwell say their former players always wanted to be in the "Big" games. They never competed against each other in high school, but might do it tonight on the biggest baseball stage of them all. Bumgarner is slated as the game 1 starter for the Giants and Holland is the closer for the Royals and could very well be used

if Kansas City is ahead or the game is tight moving into the 9th inning.

No matter who wins, officials from both schools say students are the winners, learning that dreams can come true through perseverance and hard work.

Originally Posted Here


Friday, October 24, 2014

Guilford, Henderson, Polk, Transylvania, and Buncombe Schools Recognized

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, October 24, 2014 at 9:25:00 am

Two Guilford County elementary schools  were among 78 across North Carolina recognized as Title I reward schools; six schools in Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties were also named; Buncombe County Schools had eight schools on the list.

Title I schools typically have large concentrations of students from low-income families. 

Title I "reward schools" are Title I schools that have significant academic achievement.

A "highest performing school" is among the top 10 percent Title I schools in the state based on standardized test performance, according to the department website. 

A "high progress school" is among the 10 percent of Title I schools in the state making the most academic progress for all students, according to the department website. 

Members of the Title I Distinguished Schools Advisory Council will review the portfolios and, along with on-site visits, determine one school for each category to represent North Carolina in the national Title I Distinguished Schools Program.

Title I is the largest federal education funding program for schools with high percentages of children living in poverty. Its aim is to help students who are behind academically or at risk of falling behind. A school's eligibility is determined by the percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price meals.

State Superintendent June Atkinson congratulated staff and students at these schools, saying, "It is no small accomplishment when high poverty schools are recognized for strong student achievement. By maintaining high expectations and engaging in hard work, these Title I schools collectively demonstrate the belief that all children can learn."

Other schools in Western North Carolina were also recognized as reward schools including Bethel Elementary and Riverbend Elementary in Haywood County, Cartoogechaye Elementary and South Macon Elementary in Macon County, and Bald Creek, Micaville and South Toe elementary schools in Yancey County.


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Union Co. High School Remembers Former Head Football Coach

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 12:15:00 pm

A Union County high school football team returned to the field Monday night in their first game since unexpectedly losing their head coach.

Piedmont Coach Ron Massey died of natural causes a little more than a week ago.

Massey spent a quarter of a century mentoring young men in high schools across the state, and his death is uniting and inspiring a still grieving high school family.

As is customary, the Piedmont Panthers ran through a pregame smoke. But little about the game was normal.

“It's not every Friday night. But we're going to try and treat it like that,” said Coach Belk.

Spectators took part in a moment of silence to honor Coach Massey who has been coaching at Piedmont since 2008.

The Piedmont family is responding, purchasing more than 300 shirts for a Coach Massey memorial fund.

Massey's mother Beverly Starr and other family members attended the game.

“He was a father to the fatherless, he was a brother to the brotherless, he was a son to the motherless,” said Starr.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Volunteers Share Agriculture Ideas with Stanly Students

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 at 11:45:00 am

Bill Smith

Where could one find nearly 700 third graders, cows, chickens, turkeys and honeybees?  

All convened at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center in Albemarle this month for the 10th Annual Ag Awareness Days. The brainchild of Extension Director Lori Ivey, the event spanned three days, with approximately 50 volunteers per day working 12 stations in and around the Ag Center to educate county third graders on the importance of agriculture to the economy.

Ivey realized the need for the educational opportunity for today’s youth when her own son did not know the origin of bacon.

“I think this day is important because most students are one to three generations removed from the farm,” she said.

“Agriculture touches our everyday lives from the food we eat to the clothes we wear to the fuel in our vehicles.” 

Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in North Carolina. With Stanly County’s rural acreage, farming provides economic development opportunities for the region.

“Not a lot of industries in North Carolina are growing at the rate that agriculture is,” Ivey said.

Students from public and private schools in the county traveled to the Ag Center to spend a day learning about the value of agriculture. Rotating between 12 stations, the youth were educated on a variety of ag related topics, including soybeans, cotton, livestock, poultry, soils, nutrition and honeybees. They saw and touched animals; they tasted various agricultural products; they listened to presentations by county experts in numerous ag related industries.

Ivey and her extension staff would like to thank the many agencies and individuals that helped make the annual hands-on learning event successful.

Originally Posted Here



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NC high School Students Work With Solar Power

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 4:00:00 pm

Students in Kathleen Abraham's freshman Earth Environmental Science class each had methods they believed would make their passive solar model homes absorb and retain the most heat.

One West Henderson High student covered the outside of his model in aluminum foil, another painted the inside walls, and one used black fabric for imitation blackout curtains. Several used aluminum foil wads on the inside of their homes as insulation, while others used chunks of a yoga mat for the same purpose.

Since the heating and cooling processes remained uniform for each house, Abraham said the experiment challenged her students to hypothesize about and discover what variables of their house designs captured and retained heat.

"Some of it's the material, some of it's the angle," she said.

Landon Coley's group built a pyramid-shape structure out of the black foam board, and found that the heat from the heat lamp melted their clear plastic window.

"I have burgundy walls," said Dakota Records. "Dark colors attract heat."

Parker Gillespie's group opted to use wood and nails for the structure, instead of foam board and hot glue or masking tape, and thought the airtight model would retain heat the best.

Kara Bonello made a blackout window out of black fabric to cover the skylight in her model's roof, hoping it'd help keep heat from escaping.

Regardless of how the structure was built, each student's model house was placed under a heat lamp to imitate daytime, and nighttime's cooler temperatures were simulated by fans blowing cool air over ice cubes and onto the houses.

The students checked the houses' temperatures every 30 seconds during the "daytime" to see how quickly their passive solar model heated up, and every 30 seconds during "nighttime" to gauge how well the models retained heat in cooler temperatures.

"This project was a way for them to start creatively thinking," Abraham said.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

State Superintendent Tours County Schools, Talks with Educators

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 at 3:20:00 pm

Dr. June Atkinson, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction, visited Davidson County Schools Tuesday touring schools, talking with students and gathering input from educators.

"I appreciate the opportunity to be here," Atkinson said. "I've visited the county many times in the past, and it's been a while. I'm just really grateful for being here. I had such a great time at all the schools."

Dr. Lory Morrow, superintendent of Davidson County Schools, invited Atkinson to the system because she said it was important as the state superintendent that she sees the district's success, its struggles, and has time to interact with all the stakeholders.

"We had a very positive visit," Morrow said. "Dr. Atkinson was able to see top-quality instruction at the elementary, middle and high school levels, interact with students and teachers, and learn about our successes and areas we're focusing on. Dr. Atkinson advocates for all school districts in North Carolina, but today we were able to demonstrate to her all the excellent things going on in our schools."

A roundtable discussion touched on testing, school report cards, more flexible calendar laws, teacher evaluations, state final exams, Read to Achieve and administrators' pay.

Atkinson told the educators that everything discussed she was already familiar with because educators from around the state are asking the same questions and voicing the same concerns. She even encouraged everyone to develop a great relationship with their state representative to communicate issues.

"You don't need to underestimate how powerful your voices are. Keep talking," she said.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Buncombe Schools Foundation Awards $20,000 in Grants

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, October 17, 2014 at 2:40:00 pm

The Buncombe County Schools Foundation has awarded over $20,000 in educational enrichment grants to the schools in the Buncombe County system for this season’s grant cycle.

These classroom grants, funded by Duke Energy Progress, the Murray Foundation, The Streb-Fisher Fund, and the Buncombe County Schools Foundation, will help fund reading programs for middle and elementary students, science, technology and math projects, music and art supplies, field trips, and curriculum items for special needs classes, according to a news release from the foundation.

“Our foundation partners have once again answered the call to provide funding for classroom grants, teacher and employee development, and student scholarships,” Lisa Adkins, foundation executive director, said in a news release. “These grants are so much more than simply dollars and cents. While they provide an essential mechanism that can literally breathe life into ideas that inspire innovation in our students and teachers, the truly exciting part of all of this is how these dollars will improve education here in Buncombe County Schools in ways we may never fully know or appreciate.”

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Friday, October 17, 2014

4-H Gives Students Hands-On Science Lessons

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, October 17, 2014 at 12:10:00 pm

Contributed photoMatt Gordon of the N.C. Forest Service demonstrates tree and forest health during a recent 4-H Science Adventures program held at Camp Millstone.

In an effort to engage Richmond County youth outside of the classroom, Richmond County 4-H recently partnered with Richmond County Schools, local professionals and volunteers to offer 4-H Science Adventures for all the fifth-grade students in the county.

More than 550 Richmond County students participated in the program during National 4-H Week Oct. 6-10, enhancing their scientific knowledge and skills. Students and teachers alike were educated on humanity’s relationship with other organisms and the non-living physical environment combining natural (biology, geology, chemistry, physics), applied (geography, agriculture, and engineering), and social (economics, sociology, and ethics) sciences. 

The 4-H mission is to help young people become self-directing, productive and contributing members of society. The learn-by-doing methods of 4-H result not only in learning practical skills, but also in the development of sound judgment, a sense of responsibility, individual initiative, leadership and citizenship experience. 4-H school enrichment programs, such as 4-H Science Adventures, are designed to enhance students’ classroom learning with experience-based learning.

The programs are free of charge to Richmond County youth due to support from United Way of Richmond County and the Farm Bureau of Richmond County.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Richmond County Chamber Promotes New Education Initiative

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 3:35:00 pm

Understanding that the schools are crucial to the future of our community, the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Richmond County Schools to implement a new education initiative entitled “The Leader In Me.”

The chamber recently hosted a special meeting to talk to members of the community about program.

At the meeting, Chad Smith, a representative from Franklin Covey, spoke to those in attendance about the benefits and outcomes of the program. Members in attendance also heard from Richmond County Schools Superintendent Dr. Cindy Goodman, L.J. Bell Elementary School Principal Yvonne Gilmer, teacher Misty Gibson and four students about the benefits of the program.

This new initiative is a whole-school transformation model that improves performance of all other programs. Based on “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” “The Leader in Me” produces transformational results such as higher academic achievement, fewer discipline problems and increased engagement among teachers and parents. Proponents say “The Leader in Me” equips students with the self-confidence and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century economy.

This new initiative falls in line with the chamber’s current program of work to support workforce and education programs in the community. The Richmond County Chamber has identified the “Leader In Me” as a program that will enhance education in Richmond County and grow future leaders.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Rockets Launch Creativity of Kannapolis, Cabarrus Students

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 2:25:00 pm

Imagine that a natural disaster has left people isolated on a remote island, and you need to build a rocket to deliver food to them.

That’s what 4,000 students in the Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City schools faced, in a scaled-down version, as they participated in the “Rockets to the Rescue” experiment Oct. 8.

The experiment was part of the seventh annual 4-H National Youth Science Day, which required the elementary through middle school students to react to this fictional scenario.

Their rockets, made of household items and less than 2 feet tall, had to fly yards instead of miles. With air as the propellant – supplied by a launchpad made of PVC pipes and an empty 2-liter soda bottle – there were no ignitions or explosions, so the experiment was both safe and environmentally friendly.

Kannapolis Intermediate School students designed and built their rockets to deliver a payload of four raisins to the imaginary island that was marked off on the softball field.

On the first attempt, Meredith Katz’s class managed to land a rocket on the island. A few others landed in the area marked as water, close enough that the survivors in the scenario could reach the food with a short swim.

Ten-year-olds Chloe Johnson and Louisa Roche jumped on the soda bottle together, but it still did not make it to the island.

“I am disappointed that it didn’t make it into the circle. I have learned that we made the rocket too heavy,” said Louisa.

The girls agreed, though, that the project was exciting and fun, “My old school never did anything like this. Today I learned about force and motion,” said Chloe.

“Participating in high-quality, positive youth development programs like 4-H NYSD offers youth(s) and adults the opportunity to engage in scientific exploration and work together to build the next generation of our nation’s scientists, engineers and mathematicians,” 4-H Program Associate Beverly Bollenbecker said.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Yadkin Students Honored at School Board Meeting

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 4:25:00 pm

Several students were honored at Monday’s meeting of the Yadkin County Board of Education held at Forbush High School.

Four students from Yadkin County, Michaela Allred, Alexandria Wingler, Olivia Wingler and Victoria Wingler, recently served as North Carolina Senate pages. North Carolina State Sen. Joyce Krawiec attended Monday’s meeting to recognize the students.

Each student was presented with a certificate by Yadkin County School Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin.

A number of students who were part of the Forbush MiddleSchool championship hunter safety team also were recognized at Monday’s meeting. The group was recognized earlier this year on the Senate floor at the state capitol.

Matthew Lineberry, Austin Stanley, Jacob Matthews, Brady Carter, Colton Bullin and Timothy Matthews were presented with certificates by Martin and Krawiec at Monday’s meeting.

“You guys are what’s right with Yadkin County Schools,” Martin said. “All of the students that were recognized here this morning, y’all are why we do what we do and why we’re proud. You make us proud. Thank you for representing Forbush and Yadkin County Schools in such a positive way. The world needs to see more positive stuff about our kids and y’all do it every day so thank you.”

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Duke Energy Grant Gives Craven County School a STEM Lab

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 2:20:00 pm

Craven County fourth graders are learning about magnets, rock crystals and even medicine, thanks to an $8,000 grant from Duke Energy.

STEM teacher Tiffany York said each station has its own topics the kids will focus on. She said it gives them hands-on learning experience and frees up teachers from lectures.

"They're actually able to walk around to the different stations and help the kids with their learning," York said.

The county already has STEM labs in their Havelock elementary schools, but saw the need for more, especially in rural areas like Cove City.

"And as you can see the children are very engaged, they're collaborating, they're reading, they're figuring things out on their own," lab facilitator Cindy Williams said. "They're using materials, using computers, to teach themselves basically, and we become more of a facilitator role."

Originally Posted Here


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Henderson County Nurse Named NC School Nurse of the Year

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, October 9, 2014 at 11:00:00 am

Delores Parris, a registered nurse who has worked in Henderson County Public Schools for 15 years, was recently named the North Carolina School Nurse of the Year.

“Delores' dedication to the welfare of Henderson County children is worthy of recognition,” Henderson County Health Director Steve Smith said in a statement. “The Henderson County Board of Health and department staff are proud of her efforts. She exemplifies the work ethic and commitment of the entire school health nurse staff to improve health and the academic success of our school aged youth.”

The award acknowledges the contributions of school nurses statewide by focusing on one school nurse annually who has demonstrated excellence in school nursing practice.

Former school nurse and colleague Robbie Goolsby said Parris has been a positive role model not only to her students but to her peers as well.

“Her hands have bandaged visible and invisible wounds, touching so many lives in so many ways beyond the scope of nursing,” Goolsby said.

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