The regular meeting of the Mount Airy Board of Education on Tuesday at Jones Intermediate School focused on community involvement, progress with strategic planning and Jones curriculum facilitators.
“One thing you can say about Mount Airy is how giving our community is,” began Schools Superintendent Dr. Gregory Little as he opened the meeting. “Those small acts by individuals and businesses make our community great.”
Little recognized Surry Community Bank employees Vickie Packard, Beth Atkins, Meegan Utt, Janie Lankford, Dianne Lawson and Mark Towe for supporting the Hungry Bears Backpack Program with $140. He said they chose to give to the program instead of giving Christmas gifts to each other this year.
First year Lego League robotics coaches Suzanne Bumgardner, Marcy Marion and Landon Branson were recognized for their efforts leading the school teams. Little said South Data had awarded the coaches a $500 stipend for their efforts and the school district would match this stipend.
“Once again I’d like to stress how very appreciative of South Data and their support of this program,” said Little. “This project is a model for community and school partnerships.”
Marion told the board about one student participant in the league who initially was struggling academically until put in a leadership role on a team programming the robot. She said this had renewed the student’s interest in classes and the student scored a 94 percent on the last unit test and is doing well in all classes. She said it was his hardest test of the school year and he continues to be successful.
Board Chairman Wendy Carriker received the Bronze Award for successful completion of school board training during the 2011-2012 academic year from the N.C. School Boards Association Academy for School Boardmanship. Little also reported that Jones School was the school with the highest percentage of staff participation in the United Fund with 48.7 percent. The district’s central office was recognized for having a participation percentage of 93 percent.
Little told the group work continues this week on the city schools community-based strategic planning initiative with a final steering committee meeting to review and give any additional input to the final plan on Jan. 28. He said the board would receive the plan on Feb. 5 for its final input before it can be adopted at the Board’s Feb. 19 meeting and unveiled to the general public. Strategic plan steering committee members Tanya Taylor and Zane Poindexter thanked the board for giving them a chance to participate.
“I feel like this was truly a community-based effort,” said Taylor, who also serves as communications director for the Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce. “We all had different opinions but it all came together. We are all proud of what came to fruition was this (plan). ” She also said it was good to build relationships with board members and hear their concerns as part of building partnerships with parents and schools.
Poindexter, who also serves as city fire chief, was also appreciative of the planning process.
“I feel honored to be a part of this,” said Poindexter. “I learned so much about city schools I didn’t know. There are parts of this strategic process I’m going to take back with me to help my profession. The facilitators helped and didn’t push us one way and many of us agreed to disagree. You are a district that has children’s good at heart.”
Little said the fact many members hold multiple roles in the community helped the planning process. The board next heard a presentation from first-year curriculum facilitators Patty Burgess and Emily Goins.
“We are here to see what they (teachers) are doing right in a classroom,” said Goins. “One major thing is just listening to new teachers. Often a new way of looking at something cam make the biggest difference.”
The two told the board daily activities to ensure a deeper understanding of the Common Core and Essential Standards curriculum included coaching the best instructional practices observed among teachers, generating and researching resource and a greater part of progress assessments driving pupil instruction.
Burgess said a part of the new approach in mathematics amounts to a grater focus on fewer concepts for deeper understanding and linking topics in cross curriculum areas so students will be able to explain their thinking. She said the approach amounts to students learning the why of mathematics as well as the how and learning to persevere.
“Being a curriculum facilitator is a call to service,” said Burgess. “Thank you for the chance to work with the wonderful professional educators and these precious students.”
Other projects discussed at the meeting included funding for a new track at Mount Airy High School tentatively scheduled to begin in late winter or early spring and the formation of Mount Airy High School Alumni Association that could emphasize re-connecting with alumni that move out of the area, and efforts to recognize district employees “who have done great things in the past.”
David Broyles can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.