Goble, the parent of a student in the band at East Surry High School, attended the meeting to address the board concerning actions taken in regards to the band and chorus programs at East Surry and Pilot Mountain Middle School.
“About a week ago, I became aware through various sources of changes being made to the East Surry and Pilot Mountain Middle School band and chorus programs. I spent a few days trying to verify and listening to the things that were being said,” said Goble during the meeting. “What I heard was threefold — Number one, the programs were being realigned so that one teacher would teach chorus to students from sixth grade to 12th grade; number two, that Chris Lawson (band and chorus teacher at Pilot Mountain Middle) was being given the choice of which one he wanted; and, number three, that the decision had been made and Mr. Lawson was taking over band.”
Goble said he then made contact with Diane Beane, principal at East Surry, and Superintendent Dr. Ashley Hinson. He was told by Beane that no official decision had been made as to who would lead the programs. He explained that he, and those at the meeting to support him, had two main concerns. The first was the way the decision to change the programs was made. He explained that he expected there to be a period for parent and student feedback before a final decision was made to change the program. The school system said there was not a period for public comment because it was a personnel matter.
“I am not completely opposed to it. I can see the wisdom in having the same teacher handle each program from sixth grade through 12th grade — it allows the teacher to implement a system early and develop it for six years,” said Goble. “... So while I wish there would have been more input, I do not believe I would have fundamentally disagreed with the ultimate outcome.”
The second concern, which also was expressed by Jewel Hefner, parent of an East Surry band student, deals with how the situation is being handled in regards to the decision-making process on program leadership.
“I am at a loss as to understand why a teacher would be given carte blanche to decide the outcome of not only his career, but another teacher’s career,” said Goble.
He went on to mention several occasions during the past years when the school system has moved employees around in an effort to maintain jobs in a difficult economy. He noted that those employees were not given an option.
“Why was this situation different? Especially when the superintendent had already given his word that current East Surry High music director Jonathan Chesson would have three years to implement his vision, one agreed to by our superintendent and Mrs. Beane,” said Goble.
In a January meeting with Beane and Hinson, according to Goble, Chesson was asked to work up an action plan with measurable goals and progress checks. Goble stressed that he was not arguing about who should lead the program, but rather the way the decision is being handled.
“The program change, I believe, will be great for students and the overall success of both chorus and band. We need to examine how the choice is being made and why we are letting a teacher make that call when it has already been made by our superintendent when he gave Mr. Chesson three years to implement his vision,” said Goble.
Hefner reiterated many of Goble’s points about allowing Chesson to have the three years to implement his plan to improve the band program.
“All I ask this evening is that that word be held to allow Mr. Chesson those three years promised to turn that program around,” said Hefner. “I’m extremely passionate ... to see this program succeed.”
“I’m glad they came to air their comments,” said Board Chairman Earlie Coe after the meeting.
“I hope those concerned will work with us for an outcome that is best for the students in the chorus and band programs at East Surry High School and Pilot Mountain Middle School,” said Hinson when asked about the open forum comments at the conclusion of the meeting.
approved for ESHS
Also at Monday night’s meeting, the board approved a request to make improvements to the greenhouse facilities at East Surry High School.
During the past few years, Jill Reinhardt, director of career and technical education and technology for the school system, has been working to make improvements in each of the CTE areas starting with allied health and construction. This year, she has moved to agriculture and feels that it would be wise to spend money on updating the greenhouses at East Surry. Improvements already have been made to the greenhouses at North Surry and Surry Central high schools.
The improvements would include constructing an additional greenhouse on the campus and would cost $20,028.71. That money would come from CTE program improvement funds and state CTE money.
“I’m trying to improve each of the high school sites and improve the instructor activities with Pilot Mountain Pride,” said Reinhardt. “All three instructors have been through GAP training and are now working to certify their sites in order for students to be able to sell through Pilot Mountain Pride. We are also working to allow students to get GAP certified.”
In order to sell produce through Pilot Mountain Pride, growers must have Good Agricultural Practices training and their growing facilities must meet certain requirements.
Because of East Surry’s proximity to Pilot Mountain Pride, Reinhardt sees an opportunity for a year-round partnership.
In other actions:
n The board approved a Surry County Schools Camp Med for the second year. This will allow rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders in Surry County Schools to participate in a three-day summer camp sponsored by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the Northwest Allied Health Education Center. Through this camp, 20 students who are interested in pursuing careers in the health field will get exposure to the many aspects of that field.
n The board also approved a Project Youth Entrepreneurship Surry summer camp. Rising sophomores from Surry County Schools, Mount Airy City Schools and Elkin City Schools will be given the opportunity to attend a two-day camp in June on the campus of North Surry High School to attract students to the world of entrepreneurial thinking. Funding will come from the Surry County Board of Commissioner’s support funds for Project YES.
n The board approved the revised student handbooks for the 2011-12 academic year to lay on the table for 30 days. There will be four handbooks next year instead of the usual three. There will be an elementary handbook, a middle school handbook, a high school handbook and a separate handbook for Surry Early College High School of Design to accommodate Surry Community College’s requirements as well. The school system recommends continuing the purchase of student planners as well and explore having students in seventh through ninth grade use their laptops as planners.
n The board approved an Eagle Scout project request from Trent Day, a freshman at Surry Central High School, to install two benches on the playground at Dobson Elementary School. When the playground was relocated this year, benches were not installed.
n Board members also got a look at a study by the Center for American Progress which analyzes school systems across the country based on student performance and the amount of funding available. According to the report, Surry County Schools exceeded the group’s expectations in student performance based on the little funding available to the schools.
Contact Morgan Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1929.