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LCPS Teacher of Year search narrowed to three finalists

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Three LCPS teachers from different backgrounds working different assignments have this in common: they are finalists in the search for LCPS Teacher of the Year for 2017-2018.

A panel of judges who interviewed each school’s Teacher of the Year on Wednesday named Maria Johnson of Banks Elementary School, Sabrina Martiello of Kinston High School and Jennifer McLawhorn of Pink Hill Elementary School as the three teachers who will continue in the competition.

“The quality of each Teacher of the Year chosen by our schools ensured that our three finalists would be an exceptional group,” said Robin Roberson, LCPS human resources director, who organizes the LCPS Teacher of the Year award process. “Any one of the three would be a strong representative of the direction the district is moving and the effort our teachers make on behalf of students.”

Johnson, a native of Kinston who grew up in Greenville, teaches kindergarten at Banks Elementary, where she joined the faculty in 2013. Previously, she taught first grade for a year in Littleton and was a student teacher at a primary school in Swadesi, South Africa, as part of a program offered through UNC-Wilmington, where Johnson graduated in 20011 with a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education.

She also holds a master of education degree in elementary education and a master’s of school administration degree, both from East Carolina University. At Banks, she is the school improvement team process manager and leader of a program that assists beginning teachers.

A strong proponent of digital learning, Johnson is a leader in related professional development and her students have given glimpses of their digital skills to the local school board, to school superintendents from the region and to former governor Bev Perdue, who recently toured Banks.

Martiello, a native of Florida, came to Kinston through the Teach for America program and stayed past her two-year commitment period to teach English at Kinston High, where she’s been for four years. She holds a bachelor of arts degree in English from the University of Florida.

She is a mentor teacher at KHS, a member of the school improvement team, yearbook advisor and active in a host of extracurricular activities at her school. She has coached women’s varsity soccer and tennis. She is the founder and advisor of Kinston Leadership Team, a summer leadership program active since 2014.

She is a leader of the district’s Literacy Design Collaborative, which develops resources for literacy instruction. She is scheduled to present from her work this summer at the Southern Regional Education Board’s College and Career Readiness Standards Networking Conference in Nashville, Tenn., and at the Southeast Education Alliance Foundation’s SEA Summit in Swansboro.

McLawhorn teachers first grade at Pink Hill Elementary, where she has worked since 1999. A Lenoir County native and a product of its public schools, she earned a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Campbell University in 1999, graduating magna cum laude, and has since earned National Board Certification, as well as certification as a reading recovery teacher, as a teacher of academically or intellectually gifted students and as a clinical teacher.

She is an active and successful grant writer for her school, a Youth Council member and Mary’s Kitchen volunteer for her church.

A school improvement team leader and grade level chairperson, McLawhorn was also named Pink Hill’s Teacher of the Year for 2003-2004. For the past year, she has taught in the English Language Adult Learners program at Lenoir Community College.

The three finalists were selected by a five-person panel of current and former LCPS employees, including the current Teacher of the Year Alicia Stanley. The judges interviewed each school’s Teacher of the Year and considered her resume and an essay each wrote on what she considered the major issue facing public education today.

The judges will observe each finalist in her classroom next month before selecting the district’s Teacher of the Year.

The winner will be announced at the district’s annual Teacher of the Year banquet on April 27. The district will also announce its Principal of the Year then.

In the past, both honors have been announced in the fall. The schedule was changed to better fit with the schedule for regional and state competitions for both principals and teachers, according to Roberson.

Selected by their school as Teacher of the Year, in addition to the three finalists, are: Tiffanie Chase, South Lenoir High School; Sabrina Goodall, Teachers Memorial Pre-K; Letita Joyner, Lenoir County Learning Academy; Vashawn Daniels, Rochelle Middle School; Jennifer Bell, Southeast Elementary School; Christy Groves, Northwest Elementary School; Caroline Murphrey, Southwood Elementary School; Jessica Jones, Woodington Middle School; Susan Hines, Lenoir County Early College; Sara Pennington, Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School; Melanie McCoy, Northeast Elementary School; Nineva Jefferson, North Lenoir High School; Millicent Sanderson, Moss Hill Elementary School; Suzanna Moye, Frink Middle School and Gwen Smith, La Grange Elementary School.

toy4web

Last Updated on Friday, 24 March 2017 15:46

30 mini-grants worth $13,000 go to staff at seven schools

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A long wish list worth nearly $13,000 got filled this week as the Lenoir County Education Foundation passed out checks to winners of its 2016-2017 mini-grants at seven LCPS schools.

The 30 grants awarded and their total value of $12,962 were both records for the program, according to Laura Lee Sylvester, executive director of the Foundation and president of the Kinston-Lenoir County Chamber of Commerce, its parent group.

Thirty-four teachers and an elementary school principal shared in the bounty. Some of the grants – all capped at $500 – went to teams of teachers.

Compared to 2015, the last year the grants were awarded, the Foundation passed out six more grants this year and allocated an additional $2,600 to the program. Traditionally, the mini-grants are awarded in December after judging of applications due at the end of October; last year, flooding from Hurricane Matthew forced a delay.

The Education Foundation’s Prize Patrol, headed by Sylvester and Foundation board chair Tonya Adams, surprised the winners at their schools Wednesday and Thursday, presenting checks and balloons.

“We’d like to have enough money and award enough grants to have the Prize Patrol out for three days next year,” Sylvester said. The mini-grant program is supported primarily through community events like the Adult Spelling Bee held in February and last week’s fundraiser luncheon keynoted by former North Carolina governor Bev Perdue. Planning is underway on other fundraisers to expand the program, Sylvester said.

This year’s grant winners have a range of uses for the money, many oriented toward the digital technology that has become the heart of teaching and learning in LCPS.

Several teachers plan to buy headphones for their students’ iPads. Andrew Gorman of Woodington Middle School plans to use his $440 to subscribe to Brain POP, an app he thinks will make social studies concepts easier to grasp for his seventh graders.

Amy Taylor, the exceptional children’s teacher at Pink Hill Elementary, has $500 to spend on therapeutic exercise equipment for her students.

Julie Rouse, digital learning specialist at Pink Hill, wrote a $500 grant request to buy digital books that her group of at-risk readers will read to dogs from the SPCA shelter, an exercise that studies show helps students improve their comprehension and reading fluency since they’re practicing in a fun, non-judgmental environment.

Michelle Hill, principal at Southwood Elementary, has a like amount to help finance her Parent Reading Night project, when parents of K-2 students will come to school for three reading nights and receive a book to take home. Hers was one of four grants awarded at Southwood – two focused on reading, one of computer coding and another on building model solar cars.

“Receiving grant money will provide our students opportunities to engage in hands-on activities,” Hill said. “We are excited at Southwood because we had a dream and with help from Education Foundation mini-grants, our dreams will come true.”

Grant winners, their school and the amounts of their grants are:

Kim Hipkiss, North Lenoir High School, $500; Caren McCarter, Banks Elementary School, $500; Crystal Hodges, La Grange Elementary, $302; Jennifer H. Sutton, La Grange Elementary, $445; Allison Mittman, Moss Hill Elementary, $179; and Catherine Lynch, Moss Hill Elementary, $395.

Also, from Southwood Elementary, Kara Howard, $450; Angeli Jarman, $350; Melissa Ball, Taylor Davis and Jamie Dixon, $500, and Michelle Hill, $500.

Also, from Woodington Middle, Tiera Jones and Anna Rouse, $300; Kellie M. Wolfe, $500; Kelly Dawson, $500; Mellany Davis and Shirley Whitley, $499; David Roach and Lee Taylor, $329; Andrew Gorman, $440; and Selina Shoaf, $500.

Also, from Pink Hill Elementary, Amy Taylor, $500; Walter Upthegrove, $248; Barbara Bena Miller, $401; Katelyn Ball, $421; Kelly Bluhm, $475; Melissa Boone, $475; Jessica Bryan, $403; Jennifer Grubbs, $489; Darlene Holloway $497; Traci Howard, $471; Helen Lewis, $400; Julie Rouse, $500; and Jean Turner, $487.

A photo album of our winners is here.

grants4web

Last Updated on Friday, 03 March 2017 16:20

Early registration for pre-K, kindergarten begins March 6

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Early registration for entering pre-school and kindergarten students in Lenoir County for the 2017-2018 school year will be held March 6-10 at all LCPS elementary schools during regular school hours.

To be eligible, kindergartners must be 5 years old on or before Aug. 31, 2017, and preschoolers must be 4 years old on or before Aug. 31, 2017.

On Tuesday, March 7, registration will be held from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and Spanish interpreters will be available at each school from 2-7 p.m.

Preschool registration for children who will be 3 years old on or before Aug. 31, 2017, will begin June 1.

Early registration is encouraged by Lenoir County Public Schools in order to ensure children meet all the requirements to begin school on the first day and that parents and guardians have an opportunity to get answers to questions concerning immunization, transportation, food programs and other aspects of the preschool and kindergarten programs.

The 2017-2018 school year begins on Aug. 28, although kindergarten and pre-K students will have staggered enrollment for the first week of school.

Certain documents are required to register kindergartners and preschoolers.

Required for kindergarten registration are: a certified birth certificate, a full and complete record of the child’s immunization, the child’s Social Security card and a document verifying address.

One of the following serves as an address verification document: current power, gas or water bill; current federal or state incomes tax documents; place of residence listed by the Department of Social Services for home visitation and receipt of benefits (excluding Medicaid); or a current lease or mortgage statement.

Required for preschool registration are: a birth certificate; verification of household incomes, such as the most recent pay stubs; verification of benefits received the previous year through TANF, child support, Social Security, unemployment or other household income; and verification of guardianship, if applicable.

More information on kindergarten registration is available by calling Gloria Gilchrist at 252-527-1109.

For additional preschool registration information, call Partnership for Children of Lenoir & Greene Counties at 252-939-1200 or Meredith Gurley at 252-527-8099.

After March 10, children can be registered for the 2017-2018 kindergarten program at all Lenoir County elementary schools. Preschool registration will also continue after March 10 at Partnership for Children offices at 1465 Hwy. 258 North, Kinston.

kreg

 

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 February 2017 23:13

Perdue 'excited' about LCPS's approach to digital learning

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Former North Carolina governor Bev Perdue affirmed the value of technology-driven instruction that allows classroom teachers to personalize students' lessons -- the direction LCPS has been moving for the past three years -- during a visit to Lenoir County on Wednesday.

Perdue, who served from 2009-2013 as the state's first female governor, pushed the marriage of technology and education as a public official for more than two decades and is now putting an exclamation point on that campaign as founder and chair of the non-profit Digital Learning Institute, or digiLEARN.bev_banksfb

During a brief tour of Banks Elementary School, she saw the digital learning practices that Perdue and digiLEARN advocate put into action. In Maria Johnson's kindergarten class, young students used their iPads to work in small groups or individually on different lessons. The school's principal, Kellan Bryant, showed Perdue how the iPads, videos produced on them and QR codes that take students directly to digital resources via their iPads figure into Banks' Black History Month project. Ashley Hood, Banks' digital learning specialist, explained the K-5 school's approach to teaching coding techniques.

Superintendent Brent Williams, who accompanied Perdue on the tour along with Associate Superintendent Frances Herring and Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II, gave the former governor some background on the district's digital learning initiative as they walked the halls at Banks. In its third year, LCPS provides iPads to all 8,700 students and iPads and other digital devices to all classroom teachers, as well as providing support for those teachers in developing techniques and lessons that focus on the capability of digital tools and the value of individualizing instruction.

"Lenoir County has set the standard. I've never seen anything like it in eastern North Carolina," Perdue said in an interview after speaking at a fundraiser luncheon for the Lenoir County Education Foundation. "I'm really excited about what's going on in the classroom here."

It was the invitation to keynote the luncheon that brought Perdue to Lenoir County, which she represented for years as a members of the state House, prior to her serving in the N.C. Senate and two terms as lieutenant governor. The event raised funds to support the Foundation's mini-grant program, which annually awards grants of $500 or less to dozens of Lenoir County teachers.

She told the group of about 90 educators, business leaders and others at the luncheon that changing what and how students learn is necessary for their survival.

"They're facing a world that is hard for many of you to imagine," Perdue said. "The issue is how to teach these children so they will have the skill set they need to survive in this world of adaptive change."

 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2017 21:23

LCPS sending 20 entries to regional science fair

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Allison Manning wants to be a dentist when she grows up, so she’s interested in teeth, particularly in the things that make healthy teeth unhealthy. She identified one of the culprits with the experiment she entered in the Lenoir County Science Fair on Thursday.

“I got three teeth from the dentist office my aunt works at,” Allison said in explaining her experiment after the science fair’s awards ceremony Thursday night. “I soaked them in three difference liquids – vinegar, Mountain Dew and water. I recorded the data for seven days and on the seventh day the one that was soaked in vinegar was the worst.”

In the same quantity, Allison surmised, acidic liquids cause more harm to human teeth than sugary liquids – bad news for coffee drinkers and a little reprieve for consumers of soda. It’s information the Contentnea-Savannah K-8 student can store for future use – “I want to take care of other people’s teeth,” she said – but can bask in now that it won her a ribbon in the county science fair and a ticket to the regional science fair along with 24 other LCPS students.

The regional representatives from elementary and middle schools and county winners in the four categories in each of those two divisions were announced Thursday evening after judges had spent the day looking over 88 entries and quizzing the 100 young scientists who devised the experiments.

“The quality of the entries was very good. You could see the effort that went into them,” Mary Riddick of Contentnea-Savannah K-8 said before recognizing winners. She and fellow CSS teacher Nichole Hathaway coordinated the event, which drew about 60 percent more entries than last year.

Joining Allison as LCPS’s elementary division representatives to the regional science fair in Wilmington next month are Jaiden Champion and Blayden Curry of Pink Hill Elementary; Mason Jones, Riley Hoover, Jaelyn Burkett and Maddox Jenkins of Southwood Elementary; Kayln Brock, Leanna Kivette and Eli Kearney of Banks Elementary and Sean Olesen of Northwest Elementary.

Middle school students moving on to regional competition are Emma Dawson, Tyler Sears and Riley Craft of Frink Middle; Jackson Heath and Jared Carlyle of Contentnea-Savannah; and Lydia Goff, Parker White, Olivia Howell, Macy Sanderson, Natalie Dail, David Phillippe, Sydney Whitchard, Allison Rosborough and Dawson Barnett of Woodington Middle.

For Natalie Dail, a seventh grader who’s competed in the annual science fair since third grade, this is her second selection as a regional representative but will be her first trip. Last year, a scheduling conflict prevented her from attending. She’s planning to go this year, she said, taking an entry that compares the potential of different fabric types to take dye.

“I was testing if the fabric type made a difference in the reaction process in fiber-reactive dye. I was seeing if natural fabrics dyed better than synthetic fabrics,” she said.

Her hypothesis was that natural fabrics would “because they would take in the molecules a lot better than synthetics would.” She was right. “Because we added soda ash solution, it made the molecules in the natural fibers bond more with the dye than the synthetics did.”

Her entry finished second in the middle school chemical science category, a category swept by Woodington students. County winners in both the elementary and middle school divisions are chosen in four categories – biological science, chemical science, physical science and technology/engineering – but regional representatives are chosen on the basis of their entry’s score, regardless of division.

In some cases, students worked as a two-person team on entries and county-level judging sometimes resulted in a tie for one of the three top places.

County winners in the elementary division by category are:

Biological science: Nyzir Holmes, Southeast, first place; Abigail Hull, Bank, second place; and Alexis Heath, Southwood, third place.

Chemical science: Mason Jones, Southwood, first place; Allison Manning, Contentnea-Savannah, second place; Jaelyn Burkett, Southwood, second place; and Kayln Brock and Leanna Kivette, Banks, third place.

Physical science: Riley Hoover, Southwood, first place; Austin Williams, Banks, second place; and Susanna Swindell, Banks, third place.

Technology/engineering: Eli Kearney, Banks, first place; and Vanessa Garner, Banks, second place.

County winners in the middle school division by category are:

Biological science: Mary Lynn Dawson and Lyndsay Williams, Woodington, first place; Paige Lancaster, Woodington, second place; and Sara Jones, Contentnea-Savannah, third place.

Chemical science: David Phillippe, Woodington, first place; Lydia Goff and Parker White, Woodington, first place; Natalie Dail, Woodington, second place; Sydney Whitchard and Allison Rosborough, Woodington, third place; and Olivia Howell and Macy Sanderson, Woodington, third place.

Physical science: Britney Rouse and Madison Killette, Frink, first place; Nathan Carlyle, Woodington, second place; and Avery and Macy Rouse, Woodington, third place.

Technology/engineering: Riley Craft, Frink, first place; Tyler Sears, Frink, second place; Jenna Steele, Frink, third place; and Kewonnie Hooker and Qua’Mir Grandy, Rochelle, third place.

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