School board fullof accolades forteachers, students

By Mary Katherine Murphy - [email protected]

LAURINBURG — There was no short supply of accolades at Monday’s regular meeting of the Scotland County Board of Education.

In its monthly “teacher feature,” the board recognized I. Ellis Johnson Elementary School Teacher of the Year Rebecca Pierce, who has taught in the system for three years.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to see my students graduate in the future and come back and be valuable assets to our community,” Pierce said.

The board also heard from Spring Hill Middle School career and technical education teacher Carolyn Bates, a recent recipient of the TSA Middle School Program Excellence Award. Bates credited her students, whose taped performance working on a water scarcity project was part of her portfolio.

Even at the middle school level, Bates said, career and technical education aims to prepare students for the workforce through project-based learning, credentialing, and internships.

“We teach them a lot of things about technology, but we teach them about the workplace and we teach them how to get along with others,” she said. “The basic focus of this project is to teach students social skills so that when they enter the workplace, they’ll be equipped to deal with human problems.”

Also on Monday, the board recognized nominees for the following scholarships:

— The University of North Carolina’s Morehead-Cain Scholarship: Scotland High School students Carrie Dean, Chason Hine, and Walter Jackson and Scotland Early College High School students Erin Zhang and Supreet Goraya.

– North Carolina State University’s Park Scholarship: Scotland High School students James “Jeb” Britt and Lindsey Stone and Scotland Early College High School student Erin Zhang.

– UNC-Charlotte Levine Scholarship Program: Scotland Early College High School students Tyra Cole, Taylor Davis, and Marquisia Wilson and Scotland High School student Mimi Pham.

– Davidson College John Montgomery Belk Scholarship: Scotland High School senior Carrie Dean.

In other business, curriculum superintendent Valarie Williams updated the board on a professional development session held last week at Scotland High School, involving 450 teachers, facilitators, and administrators.

“All of the teachers had the opportunity to vertically plan, which means that the sixth grade teachers had the opportunity to talk with seventh grade, so they talked with grade levels up and grade levels down,” Williams said.

“We had a lot of teachers to say that they need more opportunities to be able to share with other teachers, not only vertically planning, but planning with teachers in other buildings.”

With a nod to Veterans’ Day, Superintendent Ron Hargrave cited statistics reflecting the unsuitability of many prospective military recruits, who do not have a high school diploma or even if they do fail basic literacy tests.

“It used to be that if you were not going to college, and you were not sure what you were going to do, then all the counselors directed you to join the military,” Hargrave said. “But that time has come and gone, and that is no longer ‘the other option’ if you don’t perform well in school.”

Hargrave expressed his frustration with the fixation on testing on the state level, with the concern that excessive testing is counterproductive to student learning.

“I can guarantee you that on the battlefield nobody’s going to stop and ask you: ‘did you pass that test?’ But they do want to know if a person is able to think, if you’re able to analyze situations, if you’re able to communicate. Those things are vitally important, and those are some of the tools that, because we’re so focused on getting students ready to pass a test, that we’re not preparing them for.”

Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.

By Mary Katherine Murphy

[email protected]

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