Stand Up for Public Schools

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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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Briarcliff Elementary Celebrates Blue Ribbon Award

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 3:30:00 pm

Teachers and students at Briarcliff Elementary School danced and cheered when they found out the school had been named one of the best in the country, Principal Stephanie Raiford said.

The school is one of five North Carolina schools to be named a 2014 National Blue Ribbon School. Raleigh Charter School also received the award last week.

“I have a dedicated group of teachers,” Briarcliff Principal Stephanie Raiford said. “Everything boils down to having good teachers in your building, who will work hard.”

More than 300 schools of all levels around the country won Blue Ribbon awards. Of those, 48 – including Briarcliff – were recognized for achievement in closing achievement gaps along racial and socioeconomic lines.

The school’s enrollment is more than 25 percent Hispanic and less than 50 percent white. Forty-three percent of the students are classified as economically disadvantaged.

The school was nominated for the award by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, and both DPI and the Blue Ribbon selection committee used a number of test scores and statistical measures to identify the best of the best.

In the 2013-14 school year, the school met its growth expectations, with 75 percent of students testing at grade level.

The year before, under more stringent state standards, 52 percent of students tested at grade level for reading and math – exceeding district and state averages by double digits.

The five-year trend at Briarcliff shows marked improvement, Raiford said.

Next month, she will travel to Washington, D.C., with teacher Robin Lane to accept the school’s award.

“I just think that our teachers are dedicated and intent on making sure every child reaches their potential,” Lane said. “They pour their heart and soul into everything.”

Raiford said the award already has boosted morale. Even students are more enthusiastic about school, she said, even though they don’t understand the magnitude of the award.

“They ask me what it means, and I say, ‘It means you’re doing a really good job, so keep it up,’ ” Raiford said.

“We know we still have a long way to get students where we want them,” Raiford said.

“But this shows what can happen when you have a true community working together,” she added, noting the school’s partnerships with the Cary Rotary Club, the local YMCA and Kirk of Kildaire Presbyterian Church, as well as heavy parent involvement.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

East Chapel Hill Students Speak at National Summit

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 at 12:10:00 pm

This week, two East Chapel Hill High School students traveled across the country to speak at a national conference.

Freshman Kevin Degraffenried and junior Maria Portillo were chosen to speak at the School Improvement Network Innovation Summit in Salt Lake City. They were the only two students who presented.

“The focus of the conference and what they wanted the students to address is the idea of powerful learning in schools,” Bunner said.

They are both part of Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School’s Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program, a support system for minority students that offers many services, including tutoring, leadership development and college and career preparation.

Both students are also part of Minority Student Achievement Network, a national effort to eliminate achievement gaps, and Youth Leadership Institute, a leadership group organized by the Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program.

Both students addressed all conference attendees – about 400 educators from across the nation – and participated in a student panel.

Teresa Bunner, academic support specialist for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’, said she talked the students through their nerves. “I told them, ‘You can do this. I wouldn’t ask you to do anything I didn’t think you could do.’”

Portillo’s speech focused on the importance of connections between teachers and students and how teachers can help students feel more comfortable. Portillo also works with Bunner throughout the year to help teachers become more effective.

Portillo said that during the panel, she and Degraffenried focused on “how to help teachers create culturally responsive classrooms that meet the needs of all students.”

Once the speeches were over, both students felt a mixture of relief and accomplishment.

“It was a great experience,” Degraffenried said.

“I learned so much from it,” Portillo said. “I’ll be more confident in the future going up and speaking to a lot of people.”

The students were back to school Thursday with new lessons from their experience.

“This conference helped me realize I want to do something I’m passionate about,” Portillo said, adding that she’d like to pursue forensics or English when it’s time to consider a career. 

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Friday, October 3, 2014

High Schools to be Honored for Top Graduation Rates

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, October 3, 2014 at 4:40:00 pm

Three Durham high schools were recognized by state Superintendent June Atkinson for achieving 100 percent graduation rates for the 2013-14 school year.

City of Medicine Academy and Hillside New Tech and J.D. Clement Early College high schools will be recognized along with 40 other high schools from across the state during a ceremony at the Sheraton Imperial in the Research Triangle Park.

All three Durham schools are specialty high schools with small enrollments and focused learning opportunities.

City of Medicine Academy educates and trains students to work in the health services and medical care fields, Hillside New Tech is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-focused school and J.D. Clement is an early college program on the N.C. Central University campus where students can earn up to two years of college credit while earning their high school diplomas.

Hillside New Tech and J.D. Clement achieved 100 percent graduation rates the previous year.

Meanwhile, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will be among 12 school districts recognized by Atkinson for achieving the highest district graduation rates in the state.

CHCCS four-year graduation rate was 90.8 percent.

DPS posted an 81.5 percent graduation rate, its highest ever.

The school district also had one of the state’s top graduation rates for the 2013-14 school year.

DPS’s graduation rate has steadily risen for six consecutive years, improving from 63.0 percent in 2008-09 to 81.5 percent in 2013-14.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Cabarrus Schools Get Multi-Million Dollar Federal Education Grant

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

Cabarrus County Schools is the only school system in North Carolina and one of 71 school systems across the nation to receive a School Climate Transformation grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

CCS will receive $3.7 million over five years to improve school learning environments through its Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) initiatives.

MTSS is a three-tiered system of support for all students and staff, which includes Responsiveness to Intervention (RtI), Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), and Comprehensive Learning Supports.

The Department of Education made the grant awards under four new grant programs that were included in President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s “Now is the Time” plan to make schools safer, reduce gun violence and increase mental health services.

In all, the School Climate Transformation grants to school districts will provide more than $35.8 million to 71 school districts in 23 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The funds will be used to develop, enhance, or expand systems of support for implementing evidence-based, multi-tiered behavioral frameworks for improving behavioral outcomes and learning conditions for students.

“We are honored to receive this grant to use best practices to build our MTSS capacity in 16 of our schools” said Deputy Superintendent Jason VanHeukelum. “We expect this program to have a substantial impact on decreasing office discipline referrals and suspensions, increasing attendance, and building MTSS capacity to positively impact our students, teachers, schools, and community.”

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Forsyth Co. STARS Program Aims to Break School-to-Prison Pipeline

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, October 3, 2014 at 2:55:00 pm

The “Students Taking Action and Reaching Success” or STARS program aims at breaking the school-to-prison pipeline.

The program in Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools is helping sixth to eighth grade students stay focused on the good rather than the bad.

"They'll meet during the day once a month then have a coaching model where there will be adult coaches that will work with some of the students to help them academically, behaviorally and socially. Then the after school programs runs for two hours," said Flat Rock Middle School principal Becky Hodges.

In 2013, African-American and Latino youths were referred to Forsyth County Juvenile Court counselors five and three times more than the rate of their white counterparts.

Tymarrah Dubose is one of 65 students this year in the program, but has been involved the last two years.

"Teaches you about business and if you're going for an interview it teaches you how to dress, and yes ma'am, no ma'am, yes sir, no sir,” said 8th grader Tymarrah Dubose, a student of Flat Rock Middle School. “It teaches you how to be a young adult at a young age and it gets you a real good experience."

Educators want to target that age group in even more schools.

"We did a comparison of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Durham city and county. Winston-Salem had the highest poverty rate at the lowest percentage of adults who had a high school degrees," said Executive Director of the Center for Community Safety at Winston-Salem State University, Alvin Atkinson.

Officials said it takes a community to raise children, so partners of the STARS program are asking people to get involved because educators here at Flat Rock Middle School said, it pays off.

"We have seen success both behaviorally with students having less suspensions, less disciplinary codes and also academic gains growth in the tutoring as well as I think coming from the character education and character development piece," said Hodges.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Wizards Wow Yadkin County Fans

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 3:55:00 pm

The Yadkin All-stars team looks on as Rashaan “Rocket” Barner of the Harlem Wizards takes a time out to tango with a fan at center court.

The young and the young-at-heart enjoyed a unique sporting event last Saturday night at Forbush High School as the Yadkin All-stars took on the world famous Harlem Wizards basketball team. 

The game was the kick-off fundraising event for the Yadkin County United Fund.

“It was fun. We had a good time,” said Yadkin County Schools Superintendent Dr. Todd Martin, who played for the All-stars. Martin praised the Wizards and said it was a great event for the community.

“Make no mistake those guys are really talented. They’re all former college players and most of us are not, but they’re also good guys to be around and we had a lot of fun playing against them and it was for a good cause. We’re trying to raise money for the Yadkin County United Fund, so it was a winning proposition all the way around. We had a good time with some great people. I think the crowd was entertained and enjoyed it and we did some good for the citizens of Yadkin County.”

The Yadkin All-stars team was comprised of various members of the community including a number of teachers and coaches and representatives from local law enforcement, including both Sheriff Ricky Oliver and Yadkinville Police Chief Tim Parks. School board member Sam Crews and Chairman of the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners Kevin Austin also took to the court.

The All-stars gave it their best shot though they knew their chances of besting the Wizards were pretty slim. The team ran some warm-up drills before the starting buzzer sounded. Sheriff Oliver drained a number of shots from the three-point line during the warm up.

Despite their most valiant efforts though, the high flying Wizards quickly topped the All-stars with some fancy slam dunks and super-fast passes. Children and adults alike cheered loudly for both teams and roared with laughter as the Wizards pulled out all sorts of sneaky stunts to distract the All-stars, like pulling members from the audience to dance at center court in the middle of the game.

After a particularly flagrant foul from one of the All-stars, he was subsequently chased in and out of the gymnasium by one of the Wizards brandishing a pink plastic bat. At one point it appeared a wrestling match, followed by a football game, broke out at center court when one of the Wizards tackled an All-stars player prompting a pile up of members of both teams. It was all smiles though when the players disentangled themselves to continue the game.

Wizards players took to the stands to visit with fans during the game and signed autographs following the event. The kids had a chance to get in on the action as well. Several children were selected to play a game at center court during half-time. Just as the final buzzer sounded ending the game, all the children in attendance were invited to join the Wizards on the court for an impromptu dance party.

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pitt Co. Teachers Involved with STEM Drug Abuse Research

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 2:45:00 pm

The Science Education Against Drug Abuse partnership picked six teachers in the district to design experiments for students to understand drug addiction.

This is a partnership that also includes researchers from East Carolina University and Temple University.

“Students are going to be learning the scientific method,” said Brock Letchworth, Pitt County Schools spokesman. Letchworth says through the process of scientific method they'll also learn STEM careers like bio-mechanical research.

Pitt County Participants in SEADAP

Kaitlin Brown (A.G. Cox Middle School)
Elaine Theus (Hope Middle School)
Ashley Jones (Grifton School)
Jennifer Stevens (Farmville Middle School)
Kim Rispress (Ayden Middle School)
Blair Driver (Pactolus School)

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Five NC Public Schools Receive National Blue Ribbon

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Tuesday, September 30, 2014 at 3:40:00 pm

Five North Carolina public schools today were named 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. These schools are among 287 public and 50 private schools where students either achieve very high learning standards or are making notable improvements in closing the achievement gap.

North Carolina public schools receiving this prestigious recognition are:

  • Briarcliff Elementary, Wake County Public Schools;
  • Caldwell Early College, Caldwell County Schools;
  • Raleigh Charter, Wake County;
  • Shoals Elementary, Surry County Schools; and
  • West Elementary, Cleveland County Schools.

“These great schools are fulfilling the promise of American education—that all students, no matter their name or zip code, can flourish when schools provide safe, creative and challenging learning environments,” Secretary Duncan said. “National Blue Ribbon Schools are models of consistent excellence and a resource for other schools and districts. We celebrate them for their tireless effort and boundless creativity in reaching and teaching every student.”

For the past 32 years, this prestigious award has been bestowed to just under 7,900 of the nation’s most successful schools. Schools selected model excellence in leadership, teaching, curriculum, student achievement and parental involvement.

State education departments nominate public schools that meet the rigorous criteria for consideration. Once all nominations are received, the U.S. Secretary of Education invites the nominated schools to submit applications for possible recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.

Representatives from each of these schools will be honored at a conference and awards ceremony to be held Nov. 10-11 in Washington, DC. They will receive a plaque and a flag signifying their National Blue Ribbon School status.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Students on Track to Graduate Thanks to Success Program

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Monday, September 29, 2014 at 4:35:00 pm

Hundreds of at-risk students in Pitt County are on track to graduate with high goals, and they're only in middle school.

Now, thanks to a $1.27 federal grant from the 21st Century Community Learning Center Program, 150 more students can experience it too.

Just 8 years ago, only about half the students in Pitt County were graduating. Yet, now that rate is up to 82 percent.

Part of that success is because of the Student Success Academy, which is a partnership between Pitt County Schools and The United Way of Pitt County.

The first group of kids who experienced the program graduated this past year and paved the way for other young learners.

"I want to go to Yale, and I want to be a lawyer," said Imari Allen.

"I want to graduate high school and go to college and when I get out of college, I want to be a pediatrician,” said Ian'Dya Cox. 

These young kids are setting big goals. 

"Playing football as I get older and helping me make my middle school team and high school team and college team so I can go to the professionals,” said Javante Mayo.

The Student Success Academy is leading students to set goals.

"It's about beginning with the end in mind,” said Mayo. “It helps me set goals and talk about how I can achieve my goals."

Mayo knows if he gets good enough grades, he can play football in high school and college. Whether he goes to the NFL or not, he's setting goals and that's all that matters. And with the help of the United Way of Pitt County, this program is expanding to help more kids set goals.

"On a daily basis, these children will have support in the afternoons from the time they get out of school until 6pm or 7pm,” said Robin Dailey.

Dailey is the director of the Student Success Academy and says students spend time on activities focusing around science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math. She says 6th grade is the best time to do it.

"If students do well during that time, then their work in middle grades and high school will be much more on track."

These kids say before the Student Success Academy, they weren't all that excited about school.

"I didn't really know a lot about math and I used to hate math,” admitted Cox.

Yet that all changed when Cox got involved in the success program this summer. She's proof the program increases kids interest in learning, community activism and school engagement. 

"I think it helped me a lot. I'm looking forward to going to college now,” said Cox.

The grant will be dispersed over the next four years.

Pitt County Schools expects the graduation rate to keep increasing as more students who were once part of this program successfully complete their senior year.

Originally Posted Here


Friday, September 19, 2014

Buncombe Schools Receive $1.19 Million Grant

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, September 19, 2014 at 4:55:00 pm

The student services program for Buncombe County Schools has received a $1.19 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to address “social, emotional and mental health issues” of students and the impact on school performance, according to David Thompson, director of student services for the county school system.

The grant, which will be allocated over three years, will allow county schools to hire five new counselors for county elementary schools, Thompson said.

“Right now, I have seven schools with only a part-time counselor,” Thompson said. “As a result of this grant, there will be at least one full-time counselor in every elementary school.”

Thompson hopes to have the additional counselors on board this fall.

The project is called “Schools with CLASS: Counselor Leaders Advancing School Safety.” Thompson said school officials will be working with local physicians, mental health agencies and others in the community on this effort.

The program should help increase student access to mental health support. School officials hope to see less bullying and disciplinary action and better student performance.

The grant will allow the system to train staff and implement “trauma-focused strategies to address students who are at-risk due to adverse childhood experiences such as, homelessness, abuse, neglect, loss of a parent, etc.” and to put in place a digital accountability system to track bullying reports, according to a news release.

Other aspects of the grant include “a research-based social-emotional curriculum that includes anti-bullying and academic learning strategies” and training counselors and social workers in Triple P Parenting, “a research-based parenting program utilized throughout the community,” according to the release.

The program also provides support for students from military families who may be having issues because of deployment of a parent or family member.

Originally Posted Here


Friday, September 19, 2014

STEM Teacher of the Month Brings CSI into Classroom

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, September 19, 2014 at 4:30:00 pm

Crime scene investigations in the classroom are helping Greene Central High School retain students and it's incorporating all the elements of STEM under one subject matter. 

With the help of one of the school's teachers, Kristin White, together they've created a program that's getting students ready for a career in forensics. “Forensics is a multi-faceted occupation and there are lots of different avenues in it," White explained. 

White has spent her entire teaching career at Greene Central and says teaching Forensics has helped her to become more innovative in the classroom. "I haven't been afraid to just try it and create a crime scene in the middle of school and have the kids photograph it learn about the protocol and the evidence collecting that it takes," she said.

Her students are completing blood analysis, using I Pads to collect and organize evidence and they're learning to collect fingerprints from various surfaces. White tells us her students can learn all aspects of forensics that include bugs, bones, blood and DNA. The class also helps her students learn the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to careers in the field of crime scene investigations. "So much of our reality shows and Hollywood side of what forensics look like have kind of skewed their thinking so they really think these forensics labs have a lot of high tech gadgets and they make lots and lots of money, so we bring them back to reality and we show them that this is really what it is," said White. 

With the honor of STEM Teacher of the Month comes a $200 prize. White tells us she will use her winnings to buy cool blue lights and other neat forensic gadgets to help her students in the classroom. 

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Friday, September 19, 2014

NC Chief Justice Visits Asheboro High School

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, September 19, 2014 at 3:55:00 pm

North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice, Mark Martin, spoke to an honors history class at Asheboro High School Tuesday.

"In a democracy, we are the government and we have to be informed and we have to take informative steps to learn how our government works," said Martin.

Martin gave students insight into how the justice system works and how judges earn their positions.

"It felt nice meeting him," said student William Aquino. "He told us a lot about the federal government and the state government, how we appoint our judges and how different it is."

"I like that he was able to come, even for a short amount of time and talk to us and take time out of his schedule," said student Meredith Priest. "It's neat."

Martin says he is happy to speak to students because it is important to help educate the youth.

"We can have the finest scientific and mathematics instruction in the world, but if our young people do not understand the rights and the responsibilities that are found in our Constitution and our law, we don't have a great future ahead of us," said Martin.

Prior to his appointment by Gov. Pat McCrory, Martin served as senior associate justice of the court.

Originally Posted Here


Friday, September 19, 2014

Durham Public Schools Breakfast Initiative Wins United Way Grant

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, September 19, 2014 at 11:25:00 am


Students in five Durham public schools will receive free breakfast in their classrooms this fall, thanks to a grant from United Way of the Greater Triangle.

Durham Public Schools was selected from among 40 organizations that presented ideas to solve childhood hunger as part of a United Way contest called the Social Innovation Challenge – 100,000 Kids Hungry No More.

The district was awarded $50,000 to expand the “breakfast in the classroom” program, which tries to bring breakfast to more students using kiosks – stand-alone carts containing a cooler for milk and juice, and trays for muffins, breakfast biscuits or cereal bars.

Teachers say that the self-serve breakfast allows students to settle in, socialize and start class on schedule.

Most of all, delivering to classrooms increases the number of students who get a good breakfast, said Jim Keaten, executive director of Child Nutrition Services at Durham Public Schools. Some students, especially high school students, don’t participate in self-serve breakfasts because of stigma or because of transportation difficulties, Keaten said.

“I think there are people not eating who need it,” he said.

The Durham school system now offers free breakfast to all students starting this school year, Keaten said. But Keaten’s budget allows him to add two schools to the “breakfast in the classroom” program; the $50,000 grant will allow him to add five more schools this year.

“By making breakfast free for all students and delivering meals to classrooms, this investment will impact over 2,500 students immediately with expected growth over three years to impact 25,000 students daily,” said Mack Koonce, president and CEO of United Way of the Greater Triangle.

Wake County, the state’s largest school system, offers free breakfast to students at eight elementary schools and serves an average of about 28,000 free, reduced and paid breakfasts each day.

This fall, Durham Public Schools served 19,107 breakfasts in the first week of school alone. More than 20,000 students are on the free-and-reduced breakfast plan, said Keaten.

Durham Public Schools and three other finalists in the United Way innovation contest – Grocers on Wheels, Pennies 4 Progress and Yes2Fresh – each received help in honing their ideas. United Way of the Greater Triangle hopes to connect all four finalists to funding sources.

The finalists were judged by a panel of business and nutrition experts during the United Way’s CEO Sleep Out on Sept. 11. The CEOs awarded the Durham Public Schools with an additional $5,000.

United Way will continue the Social Innovation Challenge with different topics each year. The goal is to apply the Triangle’s entrepreneurial and research edge to solve social issues and engage the community.

Originally Posted Here


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Wake County Wins $9.6 Million Federal Grant for Magnet Schools

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 2:50:00 pm


Five Raleigh magnet schools will share $9.6 million in federal dollars that will allow them during the next three years to boost programs stressing themes such as the arts, technology, foreign languages and Stephen Covey’s leadership principles.

Wake County school officials announced Wednesday that a new U.S. Department of Education Magnet Schools Assistance Program grant will accelerate the magnet programs begun last school year at Carroll Middle School and Fox Road and Green elementary schools. The money will also help two longtime magnet schools – Moore Square Middle School and Poe Elementary School – that changed their programs last year.

The money will go toward staff training, new equipment and renovations to support the five schools.

“Without the receipt of the grant dollars, we would have been looking in other directions to find the dollars or have had to forgo improvements,” Cathy Moore, Wake’s deputy superintendent for school performance, said at a news conference Wednesday at Poe Elementary School.

Annice Williams, Poe’s principal, said she’s ready to buy instruments to start a strings program, shoes to start a tap dance class, costumes for theater and dance classes, and textbooks for the Mandarin Chinese class.

Williams said she also plans to refurbish the campus, located on Peyton Street near downtown Raleigh. Additions include expanding and renovating the stage, soundproofing the music rooms and setting up a portable outdoor stage.

Making magnet schools physically and academically attractive are keys to luring in students, experience has shown.

Since 1982, the magnet program has been Wake’s main venue for providing choice and promoting diversity. Wake’s 35 magnet schools, many in low-income neighborhoods or at schools with high concentrations of students receiving subsidized lunches, offer unique programs to attract suburban students.

Wake’s magnet schools have won numerous national awards over the past 32 years. Combs Elementary School in Raleigh was named the top magnet school in the nation in May by Magnet Schools of America. The trade organization, which will hold its national conference in Raleigh in April, also gave awards to 23 other Wake magnet schools this year.

Wake has repeatedly turned to the federal Magnet Schools Assistance Program, whose goal is to promote diverse schools, to start new programs or overhaul existing magnets. With Wednesday’s announcement, Wake will have received more than $45 million since 1985.

But before Wednesday, Wake had struck out twice in recent years, including requests for $10.3 million in 2010 and $12 million in 2013.

When Wake didn’t win last year, the state’s largest school district turned to local dollars for a scaled-down startup at the five schools. Williams, the Poe principal, said the local dollars allowed the school to begin in a “piecemeal way,” but not enough to really enhance the new focus on performing arts.

“It has a huge impact on the five schools that will be receiving that $9 million over a three-year time span,” said Beth Cochran, Wake’s senior director of magnet programs.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Vance Early College High Earns National Accreditation

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, September 11, 2014 at 9:45:00 am

Vance County Early College High School started classes in August with a national certification and commitment to stellar student performance.

Principal Michael Bullard said the school received its first accreditation in June from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement, an organization that assesses schools for high standards and continuous improvement.

The SACS stamp of approval has to be renewed every five years.

Bullard said he and his staff are glad the three-year process of paperwork and self-evaluation has come to an end.

“We are just glad to have it,” he said.

District spokeswoman Terri Hedrick said the milestone is something every school should be proud of.

“Accreditation from this organization is very impressive and something that all of our high schools strive for every time their accreditation comes around,” she said. “It’s a very involved process.”

Vance County Early College High School first opened its doors August 2008. Bullard said administrators have always sought ways to create a better learning environment for students.

“That was just some extra eyes to look at us and tells us, ‘This is what we suggest,’ ” he said. “Now we’ll take it and run with it.”

Bullard said representatives analyzed all facets of the school and its operations during a two-day visit. One issue they found was the need for more teacher communication.

“And we have already done that,” he said. “Every Wednesday they get together now to talk about their issues.”

SACS also found the school needed more use of student data in the classroom and enhanced community involvement, according to Bullard.

To address that, he said more newsletters will be distributed and teachers will incorporate test scores into creation of their lesson plans.

Mark Elgart, CEO of the AdvancED — the parent organization for SACS — said in a statement Monday becoming accredited creates an entire school dedicated to lifelong learning.

“Vance County Early College High School is to be commended for engaging in this process and demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement,” he said in the release.

Originally Posted Here

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Brewer Recognized as Coach in 2014 Shrine Bowl

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 2:35:00 pm

Brewer receives Shrine Bowl green jacket

Avery football head coach Darrell Brewer was recognized during a pregame ceremony at MacDonald Stadium on Friday, Aug. 29, prior to Avery's football game with McDowell.

Accompanying Brewer on the field for the special presentation was Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Secretary Emeritus John S. Davidson Jr. and Shrine Bowl administrator French Harvey, in addition to AHS athletic director Jay Smith, AHS principal Todd Griffin, Superintendent of Avery County Schools David Burleson, Superintendent of McDowell County Schools and former AHS principal Mark Garrett and wife of one of Brewer's mentors, the late Charles "Babe" Howell, Peggy.

"It's a very humbling experience. There are a lot better coaches than I am out there who never get this kind of an opportunity," Brewer said. "I think it brings a little respect home to Avery County from across the state. I appreciate the Shrine Bowl representatives coming for this ceremony and the folks who were able to share this recognition on the field. It's a great honor and I'm looking forward to the experience."

The Shrine Bowl is played each December to raise funds for Shriners Hospitals for Children, including the hospital located in Greenville, S.C., as well as for state pride. Shriners Hospitals for Children is a healthcare system of 32 hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing specialty pediatric care, innovative research and teaching programs. Children up to 18 years of age with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal-cord injuries and cleft lip and palate are eligible for admission and receive all care in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patient's ability to pay. Shriners has treated more than one million children, including many children in Avery County alone.

This year's 78th Shrine Bowl football game will be played on Saturday, Dec. 20, at Wofford College's Gibbs Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. Tickets for the game will be available beginning in mid-October at select locations or by clicking to the Shrine Bowl website at

Originally Posted Here


Friday, August 29, 2014

RSS Students Among State Bus Safety Poster Contest Winners

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, August 29, 2014 at 4:30:00 pm

Two Rowan-Salisbury School System students were among four statewide who received top honors in North Carolina’s 2014 National School Bus Safety Week Poster Contest.

Sydney Steelman, who is in fourth grade at Morgan Elementary School, won the grades 3-5 category, while Grissel Hernandez, a sixth-grader at Southeast Middle School, won the contest for grades 6-8. They join Sara Maw, of Franklinton Elementary in the Franklin County Schools, who won for grades K-2, and Leonard Johnson, of Liberty Middle School in the Burke County Schools, who won in the special education category.

Two other Rowan-Salisbury students also placed highly in the contest. Baydn Sweatt, a third-grader at Morgan Elementary, came in second in the grades 3-5 category, and Victoria Amaro, an eighth-grader at Southeast Middle, took second place in the grades 6-8 category.

The contest theme — “Be Smart — Be Seen, I Wait in a Safe Place!” — emphasizes that students should stay safe at their school bus stop — most importantly, waiting back from the roadway and preparing to board in a single file. If the bus stop is on the opposite side of the road, students should make eye contact with the bus driver before stepping into the roadway.

“The message to students, as reflected in this year’s poster theme, is clear: stay safe by making sure you can be seen by the school bus driver and other motorists,” Derek Graham, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction’s Transportation Services Section chief, said in a news release.

“Because some motorists break the law and do not stop for the school bus stop sign,” Graham continued, “students must be aware and take extra care at the bus stop and especially when crossing the street.”

Graham added that students participating in this year’s contest learned the importance of school bus safety rules as they worked on their posters.

Each of the first place winners will receive a plaque featuring his or her artwork and a school bus safety puzzle, also featuring the student’s winning poster. Winning posters are featured on the state’s School Bus Safety website,, under “New to Web Site.” First place winners also will compete in the National School Bus Safety Poster Contest.

Originally Posted Here



Friday, August 29, 2014

Foundation Prize Patrol Visits Hall Fletcher

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, August 29, 2014 at 2:45:00 pm

The Asheville City Schools Foundation’s “prize patrol” was at Hall Fletcher Elementary Tuesday afternoon delivering news about $16,000 in grants to the teachers at the school.

The foundation provides grants of up to $5,000. Representatives of the organization have visited each city school this year, awarding grants of more than $85,000.

“Some are for arts in education. Some are for technology and science materials in the classroom. And some of them are for teacher learning. That’s a big part of what we do is grant fellowships for teachers so that they can be at the top of their game,” said Kate Pett, foundation executive director.

To acknowledge teachers, representatives of the foundation show up with a large check and balloons. It’s the second year for what they call the “prize patrol.”

“For teachers to get some of the basic materials they need, they need to set aside time and write a grant. It’s an effort worth acknowledging,” Pett said. “That’s why we want to make prize patrol a big deal because for teachers to win a grant it means they had to go above and beyond.”

The grants are especially crucial given funding reductions for supplies and other materials.

“I think about a school like the middle school where it’s so important we get technology in the hands of kids, and with 800 kids to serve this year, that’s really a challenge,” Pett said. “The amount of money that we’re getting from the state to support technology isn’t nearly adequate.”

Pett said the foundation was able to purchase 50 Chromebook laptops for Asheville Middle School students.

Originally Posted Here


Friday, August 29, 2014

College Professors Teach Courses in Lenoir County High Schools

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Friday, August 29, 2014 at 12:25:00 pm

High school students earning college credit just got a lot easier to do in Lenoir County.

For the past several years, students could earn college credit through Lenoir Community College online. 

This year, LCC professors are inside high school classrooms teaching courses and offering face to face instruction.

Students say while they're only a few days into the year, it's already making a difference.

"It definitely makes my schedule a lot more challenging. It limits my free time after school,” said South Lenoir senior, Erin Jones. “But if I can go ahead right now and learn what it will be like in college, it will make the transition a lot easier when I actually go."

The partnership with the public schools and the community college offers nearly a dozen new face-to-face classes through the North Carolina initiative Career and College Promise program. It's open to juniors and seniors. The courses offered through the high school and college partnership are free. The students don't even need to pay for the cost of books. This year the district paid about $50,000 countywide for text books. Administrators say that money was budgeted using local tax dollars.

Dr. Grimes is the Vice President of Academic and Student Services for Lenoir Community College. She says having professors in the high school gives students an opportunity to take college courses who otherwise might not be interested.

"When you can get a student who feels successful and wants to do more, then you know you've done the right thing,” said Dr. Grimes.

"When you're a senior, you're wondering about next year. You're wondering what your classes will be like, what your teachers will be like,” said Jones. “This helps you get an understanding of it and helps you make the adjustment into college a lot easier. I definitely feel better now that I'm taking them."

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Anson Students Flock to Back-to-School Bash

Posted by: Haley Hepburn
Thursday, August 28, 2014 at 11:55:00 am

More than 2,000 people attended the Back-to-School Bash in uptown Wadesboro Aug. 16.

More than 2,000 people turned out for the Back to School Bash,held on Aug. 16, prior to the start of the new school year on Aug. 25.

“There were great speakers from different professions, such as school and law officials, politicians, probation officer, educational advisor, youth performers, educational vendors, lots of children and parents and grandparents and more,” said Sarah Burns, program manager with the Caraway Foundation, one of the organizations that put on the event. “Children and parents had a chance to speak and get information about college, medical, law, literacy, children organization, mentoring, safe acts, but most of all children received some school supplies, uniforms, and shoes if they needed them. Families were out spending time together, fellowshipping with friends they had not seen in awhile, children exercising by way of (running, dancing, walking), their mind was challenged with health questions, an estimation game, and learning that people are concerned and care about them and their future.”

Children from all grade levels, as young as 2 years of age to college, were provided with something for their age level and some things from the Anson County School supply list. A team of volunteers and community leaders helped orchestrate this event, including Kesler Chapel AME Zion Church, H.O.L.L.A!, County Commissioner and Faith-Based Center of Hope CEO Vancine Sturdivant, Anson County Sheriff-Elect Landric Reid, The Caraway Foundation and many others.

“We want to thank the great citizens here in Anson County for believing and supporting what this event was planned for: our TODAY, our TOMORROW, our CHILDREN,” Burns said.

The Caraway Foundation plans a Collegiate Preparedness Seminar in the near future. “We hope students will plan to attend to get helpful information about preparing for college,” Burns said.

Originally Posted Here