DOBSON — The Surry County Schools Educational Foundation received recognition from the Surry County Board of Education in a meeting of both boards Monday. This meeting was held in the board of education administrative offices. The foundation’s regularly scheduled meeting afterwards featured a presentation of educational support championed by the group.
“It is amazes me the hours you (the foundation board) have put in to help us,” commented Board of Education Chairman Earlie Coe. Co-chairman Brian Gates was also complimentary of the foundation, which is entering its second year.
“We had lofty goals and dreams with the idea of the foundation. We hoped the right people would be brought to the table for the task,” said Gates. “This (meeting) is a testament that today we do have the right ones. We are very fortunate to also have had the right person on our staff (foundation liaison Melissa White) to step into this role.”
Board member Sue Stone spoke positively about the effect of foundation support on students.
“It (the foundation’s work) is certainly going to make a difference for our children,” said Stone. “You have filled their personal needs for clothes on some occasions as well as some to go to state competitions.”
Board member Clark Goings said he respected how many different organizations the foundation members were involved with and all they had accomplished on behalf of county schools.
“As I learn more about my being on this board and the work of the foundation, I learn of the work of the foundation,” said board member Brian Moser. “I want you to know I am always available to assist you and I’m grateful for what you do.”
“I didn’t bring this winter weather with me,” joked new Surry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves after it was pointed out he came from the Ashe County School System. “I have met with Foundation Board President Brent McKinney as well as Ms. White, and in the two years it’s been established, the foundation has done some magnificent things. On behalf of our students, thank you for all you have done for our schools.”
Reeves pledged his support to the foundation and said it is very important to have partnerships to “serve education for students and enrich the environment where they can think beyond their dreams as well as beyond their parents’ means.”
McKinney thanked the board and said this was a great start for the foundation’s second meeting. He also was direct about the foundation’s purpose.
“We do not have a vision to be a mediocre organization,” said McKinney. “We want (our schools) to be competitive every way. Not to interfere with education but to focus on how to help you (the board). We need you to guide us.”
Retired Surry County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ashley Hinson, who now serves on the foundation board, was also complementary.
“It warms my heart to have us all in the room together,” said Hinson. “I cannot think of a better group to assemble to accomplish this vision. I know every one of you loves our school system, kids and communities.”
In the foundation meeting which followed, Central Middle School teachers Martha Hyde and Emily Dollyhite thanked the board for purchasing books used in an across-the-curriculum project last year about the Holocaust. Hiatt explained students could choose between six different books in the four-week module again this year.
Hyde said the project-based learning activities included guided questions to teach students about the impact of extreme groups on the atrocities committed by Germany in World War II. Students were asked to complete multimedia components to go towards a Holocaust museum exhibit which will be shared with other students in the school and county.
She said components of the learning module include math, English language and fine arts. Presenter Dollyhite said books students may choose from include “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne, “Milkweed” by Jerry Spinelli and “Night” by Elie Wiesel.
Mathematics projects include students comparing the population of Dobson to the population of North Carolina and then the United States population so students can better grasp the magnitude of the estimated six million victims of the Holocaust. Geometry will be used to construct a Star of David to lead into discussion of different stars used to mark persecuted groups.
She said the fine arts components goal is to have something personal to each student expressed by that student to “bring it all home to them” historically. Dollyhite explained students will be asked to write journals as they examine the history behind this as well as poetry in preparation to a field trip to the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum.
Another important component of the program supported by the foundation is 97-year-old veteran Pete Carroll who is a WWII Concentration Camp Liberator to speak with students about his experiences. Hyde and Dollyhite said they hope to be able to have Carroll back again this year to talk with students.
Hyde told the foundation a total of 230 eighth-grade students at Central Middle will participate with 150 going on the field trip. Foundation Board Attorney Fred Johnson, himself a former history teacher, told the two he was impressed at how powerful their program would be for students.
“You have developed a way to present the consequences of extreme cruelty and racism to a population that is becoming more diverse each day,” said Johnson. “I admire what you’re doing.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.