Friday, 11 January 2019 19:10

Awards and accolades highlight Richmond County school board meeting

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Members of the group Positive Vibes pose with school board members after sharing their success stories. Members of the group Positive Vibes pose with school board members after sharing their success stories. Pam Simmons - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — The chamber of the Richmond County Board of Education was packed Tuesday as several teachers, staff and students were honored at the year’s first meeting ― also the first with Dr. Jeff Maples as interim superintendent.

East Rockingham Elementary presented Inspiring Excellence Awards to three of its staff members: first-grade teacher Briana Coan, bookkeeper Tammy Deese, and bus driver Tamara Martin. 

Kelly DeLong then introduced Hamlet Middle School math teacher Ismael Gomez as the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics Outstanding Secondary Math Teacher for 2018. He received this award at the annual conference in Greensboro in November. 

Richmond Senior High School Athletic Director Ricky Young recognized two of the coaches as SEC Coaches of the Year: Mike Way, the girls tennis coach; and head football coach Bryan Till. Expressing gratitude for the award and the recognition by his fellow coaches, Till spoke of the improved image, culture, and success of the football program, and its reflection not just on him, but also on his many assistant coaches.

Hamlet Middle School student Jace Bendell reported to the school board about the Elves on the Run 5K Race held Dec. 15. 

Because “every child deserves a Christmas,” Jace helped organize this fundraiser which directly benefited Richmond County students. Many local sponsors assisted, with 150 people signing up for the race. 

“I applaud you for being a role model,” Maples said to the young organizer.

Plans are already in the works for the 2019 Elves on the Run, scheduled for Dec. 14.

Kindergarten teacher Tonya Baldwin and physical education instructor Rebekah Burleson, both of West Rockingham Elementary and both winners of Pee Dee Electric Bright Ideas grants, were at the meeting.

Baldwin received a $1500 grant for “Take-Home Math Baggies” and Burleson received a $1200 award for “Are You in the Zone?” which included fitness-testing software and fitness equipment. They thanked Pee Dee Electric for the funds and urged other teachers to apply for the grants.

Dr. Julian Carter introduced Brandy Heath and Phillip Waddell, two of the teacher assistants who are now candidates for the Teacher Assistant Scholarships, being reimbursed for some of their educational expenses while working towards teacher certification.

Richmond Senior High School Assistant Principal Alan Parker was next on the agenda, speaking about “the good things happening” at the school.

The most important thing, he said, is academics. 

In 2017, Parker began a group for young black female students after studying the data and seeing the need for them to decrease their time in out-of-school suspensions, fights and other incidents. 

The group, Positive Vibes Only, meets on a regular basis, has increased from 17 to 41 students and has led to several success stories.

Several of the students addressed the school board members, dressed in their personalized black T-shirts. The young ladies shared their personal successes from being a part of this group, such as improved attitude, improved grades, “staying drama-free,” and plans for entering the military and college following graduation.

Dr. Pam Patterson gave an update on federal programs.  Ashley Chapel, the county’s alternative school, is on the list for Comprehensive Support and Improvement, due to its low graduation rate. 

Four of the elementary schools, all of the middle schools, and the senior high are all on the list for Targeted Support and Improvement, which will supply additional funding at each school to focus on improving support for students with disabilities. 

Professional development, additional staff training, and possibly a summer institute may be needed to utilize the federal funds that must be spent by the end of the summer. 

Patterson added that the federal monitoring visit in early December went very well, with only a few improvements that need to be addressed. 

Board members gave brief reports about their visits to the schools and various programs and concerts throughout December. 

Maples said he has been enjoying his  visits to the schools this week, giving him an opportunity to meet the students and encourage them. He thanked everyone who attended the school board meeting and for all of the programs they provide for the schools and the students.

Dennis Quick, executive director of auxiliary services, presented policies for adoption, as well as new policies for review. The school board members also approved field trips for Beta Club members to attend the annual convention in Greensboro.

As the meeting drew to an end, the board members then went into closed session to review personnel matters.