MESSAGES 2012 :: MAY 24, 2012

MAY 24, 2012 - Teachers' Biweekly Messages

Did you know that North Carolina's high school graduation rate was the highest in state history in 2011? In 2012, when the data are in, I expect that our graduation rate will show another year of improvements. As you watch your students move to the next grade or walk across the stage at commencement exercises, I hope you will celebrate their success. There are some who want everyone to believe that North Carolina schools are failing. I don't see failure in the young people who are graduating this spring and I don't see it in the many measures of performance that place our state at or above the national performance averages. Education, as you know, is a cumulative process. Each year, children build on what has happened in the year before. That is why elementary school and middle school teachers share in the success of each and every high school graduate. Every teacher at every grade helped each student along the way. Thank you for your impact on our students. I see so many successes in North Carolina public schools, and I see great opportunity to build on those successes to make our schools even better than they are today.

The General Assembly is in Raleigh for its short session. I encourage you to follow its proceedings until members conclude their business in late June/early July. One important bill for all educators to read is Senate Bill 795, Excellent Public Schools Act, available online at www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2011/Bills/Senate/HTML/S795v1.html . While the General Assembly is in session, State Board of Education Legislative Director Ann McColl will be posting weekly legislative summaries. These summaries, in addition to other resources, can be found online at http://legislative.ncpublicschools.gov/ (click on Current Updates and then 2012 Legislative Updates). You also can follow Ann via Twitter at McColl_Ann.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Teachers' Message:

  1. Reflections from 2011-12 North Carolina Teacher of the Year
  2. Greetings from 2012-13 North Carolina Teacher of the Year
  3. North Carolina Extended Social Studies Standards Posted for Comment
  4. READY Outreach Meeting Posted Online
  5. 2011 NC Youth Tobacco Survey Results
  6. North Lincoln Middle School Joins "Schools to Watch"
  7. Collinswood Language Academy Recognized by Spanish Education Ministry
  8. ChildObesity180 Recognizes Three North Carolina Physical Activity Projects
  9. LEARN NC Offers Summer Professional Development Opportunities
  10. Literacy and Leadership-Using News and Information
  11. 2013 Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers
  12. Biweekly Message Breaks for the Summer

Reflections from 2011-12 North Carolina Teacher of the Year

I can still hear my son whispering in my ear, "Mom, I am so proud of you" just before the North Carolina Teacher of the Year banquet began. I was sitting at the table clutching my index card with a few lines carefully crafted, hoping to be "The One." My school system representatives and my family were sitting anxiously awaiting the announcement and then Dr. Atkinson called my name. I never cried because I knew this award was won by my students and not because of anything great I had done. I also knew all the regional winners could have stood on the stage where I was standing and represented the profession as well, if not better, than I could. I was honored and humbled.

As I began my term as the North Carolina Teacher of the Year, I was quickly confronted with the perception that public education was broken. But as Dr. Atkinson has stated on more than one occasion, while there is a need for remodeling, reform, and changes there also are pockets of excellence that exist across this great state. I have had the opportunity to witness firsthand the hard work of teachers and their relentless dedication to this profession and to their students. I have felt the despair and desperation as the budget to support education continues to decrease and the demands on teachers seem to increase. Even with these pressures, teachers still manage to create engaging lessons and educational opportunities for their students. Several districts have used creative forward thinking to provide students with opportunity and secure resources that ensure every child receives a quality education. I say thank you to the warriors that are on the front line and have been forced to stretch themselves far too thin to educate the children in North Carolina.

Most of the speaking requests I have received have been quite simple: motivate my staff, inspire my teachers and remind them of their purpose. Each time I took the stage, I attempted to evoke the passion and emotion needed to stay the course. It was always refreshing to hear educators respond with their personal stories about their students and the various reasons why they teach. Many of them thanked me for the words of encouragement, but I gained more passion and purpose from their strength. For so many students, teachers are all they have, and they count on us to be there. They need us because we have their opportunity for success. This year has made me proud to be a part of this profession, and I am assured that teachers make a difference. I am often reminded of the question Dr. Bill Harrison asks at the end of every State Board of Education meeting, "What have you done for children today?"

I would like to say thank you to the staff and students at Graham Middle School, where the school motto is "Educating Everyone Takes Everyone." I would also like to express my gratitude to the Alamance-Burlington Schools System, Mr. Brandon Patterson and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as well as the North Carolina State Board of Education. As Amy Enquist eloquently stated, "Anything that is worthy of your passion is worthy of your preparation." Educators make a difference, so use your passion and preparation to keep inspiring greatness in our students. –Tyronna Hooker, 2011-12 North Carolina Teacher of the Year

Greetings from 2012-13 North Carolina Teacher of the Year

I am honored to be named the North Carolina Teacher of the Year for 2012-13. Since I was young, I have always had a dream to teach and to help others. I believe that students today have a great deal of potential within themselves, however they need us to help guide them to be successful. Through North Carolina's Teacher of the Year selection process, I have been able to meet eight outstanding teachers who help their students succeed each day. These eight teachers are North Carolina's Regional Teachers of the Year and will work with me to make up the "North Carolina Teacher Team." We will be working together this coming school year to be a resource and a voice for teachers statewide.

Each year the North Carolina Teacher of the Year travels across our beautiful state visiting schools, districts and universities. I am very excited to be given this opportunity, and look forward to meeting many of North Carolina's wonderful teachers. Over the next year, I want to help teachers connect with other teachers across the state in order to collaborate on lessons to help students learn. Our students need to work together with students not only in our own schools, but also with students across our state and the globe.

In addition to having the opportunity to talk with teachers across the state, I also will have a seat on the State Board of Education and be a voice for all teachers. I want to extend the offer for you to contact me (darcygrimesnctoy@gmail.com) if you have any thoughts or concerns that you would like me to discuss. I look forward to meeting many of you in the upcoming year. Enjoy your summer break! – Darcy Grimes, 2012-13 North Carolina Teacher of the Year

North Carolina Extended Social Studies Standards Posted for Comment

NCDPI staff have posted the Extended Social Studies Standards for review and comment at www.ncpublicschools.org/acre/standards/extended . The standards include Civics & Governance and U.S. History (American History) I and II courses. Please send feedback via email to feedback@dpi.nc.gov by Friday, June 1. Staff will consider all comments during the documents revision process. If you have any questions, please contact Clair Greer at Claire.Greer@dpi.nc.gov.

READY Outreach Meeting Posted Online

NCDPI hosted READY Regional Outreach meetings across the state in February and March as part of the READY Initiative to ensure that educators are prepared for the many changes coming to the state's public schools this fall. Principals and lead teachers, along with superintendents and communications directors were the major participants at these meetings.

The Regional 3 READY meeting held at NC State University's McKimmon Center on March 12 was recorded to give everyone an opportunity to have access to the information that was shared. This recording is available on iTunesU at http://itunes.apple.com/itunes-u/ready /id415314572 and is segmented according to topics covered.

2011 NC Youth Tobacco Survey Results

The release of the 2011 NC Youth Tobacco Survey (NC YTS) results brings with it positive news to North Carolina youth. First, thank you for participating in this important statewide survey. We had a 91 percent response rate among the selected high schools and middle schools. This is one of the highest response rates in the nation! The teen cigarette smoking rate in North Carolina reached an historic low in 2011. The survey finds that the high school smoking rate dropped to 15.5 percent from 16.7 percent in 2009 and the middle school smoking rate dropped to 4.2 percent from 4.3 percent in 2009. These are all-time lows for each group.

Since 2003, middle school smoking dropped by 55 percent from 9.3 percent to 4.2 percent and high school smoking decreased by 43 percent from 27.3 percent to 15.5 percent. Also, current use of any tobacco product among high school students lowered to 22.5 percent from 25.8 percent in 2009.

As a reminder, the Healthy NC 2020 Objective is to reduce the percentage of high school students using any tobacco product to 15 percent or less. For more information about the NC YTS results visit the NC Division of Public Health's Tobacco Prevention and Control Branch website at www.tobaccopreventionandcontrol.ncdhhs.gov . See the NEWS section for a fact sheet, summary tables and the NC DHHS press release.

North Lincoln Middle School Joins "Schools to Watch"

North Lincoln Middle School (Lincoln County Schools) recently joined the state's Schools to Watch having recently received this distinction from the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. North Lincoln Middle was designated a school to watch because of its emphasis on strong academics, sensitivity to young adolescents' needs and interests, and commitment to equal access to a high-quality education. Their selection brings the total number of North Carolina Schools to Watch to 40. To read more about North Lincoln Middle School's selection and the Schools to Watch program in general, please visit www.ncpublicschools.org and click on the appropriate link under "News."

Collinswood Language Academy Recognized by Spanish Education Ministry

Congratulations to Collinswood Language Academy (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) for being one of four US elementary schools recognized by the Spanish Education Ministry for having a top dual language/immersion program. A representative from Collinswood will receive a formal invitation from the Spanish Ambassador's office to attend a presentation ceremony at the Spanish Embassy in Washington D.C. at the end of May.

ChildObesity180 Recognizes Three North Carolina Physical Activity Projects

A North Carolina teacher, a business school student and an elementary school recently received awards from ChildObesity180 as part of its children's physical activity contest. Last February, First Lady Michelle Obama asked schools throughout the nation to submit effective programs that promote activity and prevent childhood obesity. Over 500 schools from all 50 states submitted information about their programs. Receiving the $25,000 "Technology Innovation" award were:

  • Laura Fenn, a fifth grade Chapel Hill teacher, who developed "The Walking Classroom," which uses an all-in-one dedicated audio player to deliver educational podcasts to students as they walk.
  • Coleman Greene, an UNC-Chapel Hill Business student, who developed Sqord, an online social game powered by physical activity. Ward Elementary School (Winston-Salem-Forsyth Schools) received the "Praiseworthy Pioneer" award and $2,500 for developing the Read and Ride program (www.KidsReadAndRide.com). Students can ride exercise bikes while reading fun magazines and books.

For more information on this innovation competition, please visit www.activeschoolsasap.org/innovation-competition .

LEARN NC Offers Summer Professional Development Opportunities

LEARN NC's summer schedule of online professional development courses is available online at https://ncelearning.org/index . All LEARN NC courses are asynchronous, so you can work on them at any time and at any place. If you're interested in becoming an online instructor, LEARN NC has lots of Carolina Online Teacher (COLT) course sections to choose from at http://www.learnnc.org/lp/pages/2802 . Please visit https://ncelearning.org/sectionsopen? for a full list of available courses. All courses are aligned to the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards and are based on a researched model for effective online professional development.

Literacy and Leadership: Using News and Information

The N.C. Newspaper in Education program, a program of the NC Press Foundation, offers two recognition opportunities for teachers and students:

Prepare to Lead is a writing opportunity for students in grades K-12. Teachers are asked to submit student writing samples by June 15. Check PREPARE to LEAD on www.AllThingsVoting.org for specific topics for students in grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12 and recognition opportunities for students who participate. Also, explore lessons on leadership, information about voting in North Carolina, and reviews of children's books on voting and leadership posted on the site.

Dave Jones Award is for teachers who incorporate current events and local news in their teaching to promote literacy and civic learning. Share your ideas on websites and at an educational conference. Receive other recognition. To find out more, look for the TEACHERS! link online at www.ncpress.com/ncpf/ncnie/newindex.html .

2013 Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers is a five-year, $175,000 award available to outstanding science or mathematics teachers in North Carolina public schools. The purpose of this award is to recognize teachers who have demonstrated solid knowledge of science or mathematics content and have outstanding performance records in educating children. This five-year award presents opportunities for professional development and collaboration with other master science or mathematics teachers who will help to ensure their success as teachers and their satisfaction with the field of teaching. The Career Awards for Science and Mathematics Teachers is a partnership between the North Carolina State Board of Education (SBE) and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund. The SBE is providing additional salary support to secure 12-month contracts for award winning teachers. Teachers may self-nominate, but be sure to read over the guidelines for more details. Program information, including guidelines are available online at www.bwfund.org/pages/379/CASM/ . The deadline to apply is Sept. 18.

Biweekly Message Breaks for the Summer

The Teachers' biweekly email message will take a break for the summer following this issue and resume its normal biweekly distribution schedule on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Using our school information database, we will refresh this email list in August and hopefully capture all current addresses when the first message of the new school year is sent. If you have any questions over the summer, please don't hesitate to email Lynda Fuller at Lynda.Fuller@dpi.nc.gov.