County schools may test mobile safety program

David Broyles Staff Reporter

September 4, 2013

DOBSON —The Surry County Board of Education heard a presentation Tuesday night at its regular meeting about a new school safety application for mobile devices which will be tested locally soon.

Generate Design + Mobile representatives Steve Lopiano and Pesh Prajapati made the presentation. The proposal calls for a customized application which would allow staff, students, teachers and parents an easy way to report crimes with Iphones, tablets and Android cellular phones.

Lopiano explained the initial project for the 15-year old company came about as Wake Forest University responded to school shootings. Prajapati told officials there a system using devices which young people regularly use for communication would be the answer.

Core features of the proposed system are push notifications and tips which may be sent in text or pictures. The system also supplies the exact location of where the tip came from as well as location maps.

“Safety is not a once a month activity,” said Lopiano. “It’s got to be something pertaining to all grades.” He said the application would also allow weather alerts and school closing alerts to be sent out as well. Users will be in three tiers, a top level, a level for teachers and faculty and a third level for students so select groups may be sent alerts when everyone doesn’t need to be notified. Avery County already has a similar system. The application can be used to send out bullying alerts. No date for an official roll out of the program has been set and some preliminary testing in local schools will be conducted.

Surry Early College teacher Jonathan Amos was named Surry County Schools Employee of the Month in the first such award for the system. Teachers may be nominated by any faculty and staff from throughout the school system for the honor. Amos was also presented a $50 check from Walmart in Mount Airy which sponsored the recognition program this month.

Shoals, Copeland and Westfield elementary schools were announced as winners of the $1,000 one Health Award for a high standard of excellence in students wellness and safety prevention. Teacher Quality Coordinator and Public Information Officer Sonia Dickerson told the group Zone Health is a school obesity program which encourages making healthy changes to the school environment.

She said the Surry County School System School Health Advisory Council began a relationship with NC Prevention Partners and the obesity program in 2011. Dickerson said Zone Health is used by more than 80 school districts. She said Surry County is the only system in the state to win the award. Representatives from Shoals present were Principal Dana Thomas and Teacher Kim Clayton. Teachers Stacie Jesup and Ron Hill and Principal Sandra Scott represented Copeland and Principal Holly Whittaker and Teacher India Lambert represented Westfield.

Dickerson said earning the award is not an easy task with four phases each school as to accomplish before receiving Zone Health honors. Franklin Elementary won the first award in 2011-2012. Each school will receive $1,000. Westfield plans on creating a fitness room by purchasing exercise equipment and an interactive gaming console with games encouraging physical activity to keep students moving.

Shoals plans to use their money for a “Fitness on the GO” program to purchase three game systems with games supporting physical activity. The consoles will also be available for use in all classrooms when the health and fitness room is occupied. Copeland’s plans include purchasing new playground equipment and taking students to the local community center.

This field trip will be used as a reward for the school’s Positive Behavior Incentive Support (PBIS) program and will offer students new workouts and team building exercises.

Shoals Elementary School was recognized as an American Heart Association (AHA) Gold level Fit-Friendly Worksite. Dickerson said this was the first year schools were able to compete for the distinction which was previously only for companies. The efforts of Physical Education Specialist Kim Clayton as leader of the Fit Friendly project were praised.

The AHA program recognizes employers who “go above and beyond” in regards to employee health incentives. It was founded to address the problem of many Americans spending most waking hours at sedentary jobs. According to the AHA, the lack of regular physical activity raised the risks for a host of medical problems including high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

In other honors, District Finance Officer Wanda Mitchell and finance staff were honored for receiving the State Board of Education Award of Excellence in Financial Management. Mitchell and her staff earned a total of 12 points in the seven areas considered. This is the maximum possible points an agency may earn. Mitchell praised the work of her entire staff for the success.

In other action the board approved a surplus auction sale set for Sept. 28 at 8 a.m. with a rain date of Oct. 5. The sale will be held at the District’s maintenance warehouse. The board also approved a request from the North Carolina Department of Transportation to obtain 50 surplus student lockers. The lockers will be used at the NCDOT, Yadkin County Maintenance Office.

Reach David Broyles at or 336-719-1952,