Thursday, May 24, 2018

CHCCS Hosts First Family Engagement Summit

The planning began in June 2017, led by Roslyn Moffitt, Director of Title I/ Family and Community Engagement, and developed by a team of CHCCS staff from across departments and schools. The vision was to present a free educational and community- building summit for all families associated with the district. On Saturday, April 14, at Culbreth Middle School, the vision became a triumphant reality. More than 100 adult participants attended the summit.
The Family Engagement Summit was a true testimony to the fact that we are in this together,” said Dr. Misti Williams, Executive Director of Leadership and Federal Programs. “The energy that morning at Culbreth was incredible as our staff, community partners and families came together to discuss our most important asset, our children. No matter what the topic, there was an obvious commitment to conversation and understanding around information shared, learning acquired and just plain fellowship with others.”  
The summit’s theme, “Building Student Self-Confidence,” was chosen to align with the district’s increased emphasis on the whole child, so the workshop topics went far beyond academic issues.
The mission of the summit was to create opportunities for families to connect - and to learn more about their children’s needs and how to address them, both at home and at school. One of the first committee goals was to develop a communication strategy to inform all CHCCS families about the summit. From the earliest planning meetings, the team was mindful and vocal about how too many parents “fall through the cracks” with the traditional communication tools. Helen Atkins, Coordinator of English Language Learners, called upon her entire staff to assist with publicizing and registering non-English speaking families, and translators were on hand for the workshops.
As parents and others arrived to coffee, juice and pastries, they browsed a hallway filled with vendor tables from district and community organizations, including El Centro Hispano, Triangle Bikeworks and Book Harvest, who donated books for the families. The program opened in the Culbreth Auditorium, with Superintendent Dr. Pam Baldwin welcoming participants. A local girls’ choral group, Sisters’ Voices, provided a musical interlude of traditional and popular songs.
The featured speaker was Mary Andrews, long-time family literacy advocate in the community (and former reading specialist with CHCCS). Andrews talked about the tremendous importance of reading and speaking with children from infancy, in everyday conversations, as well as while sharing the magic of books. She punctuated her talk with a demonstration of how many books she keeps in her handbag, at the ready for her grandchildren, or her own reading appetite.
Participants chose from 14 workshops, led by a variety of district staff and community experts. The topics ranged from “Everyday Math at Home” to “Helping Your Child Find Resilience” and “Mastering Complex Tasks,” and the content was carefully designed to address different stages of development and grade levels, from Pre-K to high school. Sessions also specifically targeted Exceptional Children and English language learners.
One popular choice was a workshop on understanding “Cyber Security,” presented by Hugh Harris of the Public Protection Section of the North Carolina Department of Justice. “The event was fantastic. I loved the enthusiasm of the attendees and organizers of the event. I really enjoyed meeting everyone involved,” Harris said. “Because the internet is a major part of our daily lives, it’s important for families to understand there are online risks to our personal information and safety. It’s valuable for parents to have honest, open conversations with their kids to help them stay safe online.” Harris recommended visiting to learn detailed information about internet safety.
A mother who attended Harris’ workshop praised the value of his presentation. “Now I know how to back up my mom-cop rules. Now we can talk about it and explain the reasons (for cyber safety). It helped me understand the why.”
Another workshop that drew many participants was “Summer Reading for K-5,” co-led by Carolyn Sirera and Alma Berg, both Title I interventionists. Their session was filled with hands-on activities and introductions to websites with self-guided reading supports.
Stefanie Mazva-Cohen, social worker at Culbreth and a core member of the planning team, said, “I always like the expression, ‘Life is made of moments, not milestones.’ What I loved was going into sessions and seeing parents accessing the information in their native language with the support of our CHCCS translators. Community and district folks were getting to know us as parents and families - and we were benefiting from their wealth of knowledge.”
When the workshops wrapped up, most participants stayed for a taco bar lunch, provided by Chartwells School Dining Services. Because the summit offered free childcare, nearly 75 children also spent the morning at Culbreth, and after board games, activities in the gym and a movie selection, many of them joined their parents in the cafeteria. High school volunteers pitched in with various stations and tasks. They were key in providing childcare.
Families nearly filled the cafeteria, mingling with both friends and new acquaintances. Dr. Williams called out numbers for the Walmart gift card raffle, with five families receiving $50 cards (provided by Public School Foundation) - and plenty of excitement was generated among the participants.
“At the end of the sessions, families lingered over lunch, to continue conversations and to connect. Those moments made the summit priceless,” said Mazva-Cohen.
Janet Cherry, CHCCS Director of  System of Care, said the event was "a refreshing day with parents and students, full of excitement and camaraderie. Looking forward to next year!"
Moffitt said, "The Family Engagement Summit was a wonderful vision that came to life. A cross section of individuals worked extremely hard to ensure that parents and families would have a meaningful day of workshops geared toward student success. It is important for families and educational staff to work together for the benefit of our students! We’re looking forward to the next summit to be held in October of 2018. ‘We  love our families’ is not just a catchy saying. It is one of our core beliefs!”

Click here to see more pictures from the summit.

A huge shoutout to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation for creating and providing magnets, pens, t-shirts and Walmart giftcards. Thank you team!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Morris Grove Elementary Dedicates a Month to Wellness

For the fourth year in a row, April was Wellness Month at Morris Grove Elementary, and the focus was on health lessons and activities for both students and staff. In the hallways, posters outlining the Road to Better Health reminded Geckos about the most important steps to building healthy bodies and minds.
One of the favorite activities was the Wellness Month Bingo that allowed students the full month of April to complete and color in each square for a successful bingo card. Squares shared tips like No screen time for an hour before bed; No fast food for a whole day; and, Take a “mindful” walk and pay attention to what you see, hear and smell. A 5th grader said, “The bingo board gave me things I could tell my family to help them stay healthy.”
Morris Grove nurse Lara Statile leads a team of teachers, staff and parents that meets regularly. “The mission of the Morris Grove Wellness Team is to  support the entire school community - students, staff and families - to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle by creating a culture that encourages positive relationships with health and wellness throughout the school year,” she said. “The focus on health culminates during Wellness Month in April. Our hope is that the various activities that occur during Wellness Month help to educate students and staff on the importance of maintaining good health and how they can achieve that goal in fun ways.”
Starting with the first week of April, everyone learned about Mindfulness and explored ways to practice basic mindful activities. Lucie House, the director of Minded, came to the school and led a staff workshop. Nicole Bohlen, 1st grade teacher, said, “Wellness month gave us an opportunity to bring up so many important topics within the classroom. The kids loved learning how to be mindful and practice breathing with techniques like ‘helicopter breathing’ and putting their hands on their bellies to feel their breaths! The more we surround kids with information regarding their health, the more they will apply it to their everyday lives.”
Week Two focused on Physical Activity, which perhaps came more naturally than mindfulness for some Geckos. For the staff, ESL teacher Molly Crawford taught a barre class at the school.
During Week Three, attention turned to nutrition and hydration. One of the high points of that week was when the Chartwell’s team set up in the cafeteria during lunch, behind a large table of fresh North Carolina strawberries. One 1st grade student said, “I really loved the strawberries that we got to try in the cafeteria!”
On the final Wednesday of April, a group of students, parents and staff represented Morris Grove at the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. They set up activities for market-goers to enjoy, including a scavenger hunt. They offered tastes of kale and sweet potato wedges and asked tasters to vote on their favorites. The attention-grabbing activity that afternoon was a Smoothie Station where people could pedal an exercise bicycle with a blender attached - whir, whir, whir - until a delicious fruit smoothie materialized, cold and refreshing.
The last week’s focus was, appropriately enough, sleep! A third grade student shared, “I learned that it's important for me to get 10-11 hours of sleep. I didn't know that before, and now, I try to get that much.” The Wellness team composed a list of sleep tips to share with staff, under the heading, Why all this fuss about sleep? “Many of us have forgotten what it feels like to be truly rested,” was an observation that probably resonated with the entire staff at this time of year.
Adaptive Curriculum teacher assistant, Alexa Payne, said, “I really liked all of the practical tips each day on the MGE morning news.”
And another 1st grader said, “Wellness Month helped teach people how to stay healthy.” Well-expressed, Geckos! And a big shout out to Lara Statile and the Wellness Team who created such a comprehensive exploration of pathways to better health.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Signing Day

Student-Athletes at East Chapel Hill High made their college intentions known on Monday, May 14 at their signing day. The list below shows the name of each student, the college s/he will attend and the sport in which the student will participate.

Justin Tucker - Swathmore College in Pennsylvania

Maya Levin - Mary Washington
Kyndra Miller-Greene-  Transylvania University

Jeb Byerley - Roanoke College
Justin Wernoski - Denison University
Ryan Fajack - Erskine College 

Katie Agatucci - College of Wooster (Ohio)

Chris Chao - Davison college

Isabel Green - Grinnell College (Iowa)
Victoria Jones - Oxford College of Emory

Caroline Baldwin - Haverford College

Track & Field 
Kayla Carson - Appalachian State
Sykai Tolbert - Mount Olive


Chapel Hill High had its signing day on May 22. Here are their student-athletes, college choices and sports.

Aniya Taylor - Catawba Valley Community College

Anne Crabill - Duke University
Shannon Wulff - Wofford College
Katherine DeHart - US Coast Guard Academy

Jake Smith - UNC-Wilmington
Ryan Lonegan - Sewanee

Austin Shuping - Appalachian State University

Gina Kim - Duke University

Cross Country/Track & Field
Katherine Dokholyan - Brown University
Madeleine Mount-Cors - Pomona College
Nat Romaine - East Carolina University
Anna Stouffer - John Hopkins University
Grace Tate - John Hopkins University
Dylan Blankenship - Appalachian State University
Julia McAfee - UNC-Asheville
Greta Travaglia - Oberlin College

Thomas Bretzman - University of North Carolina
Beau Brauer - Occidental College
Jordan Ren - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Field Hockey
Ines Yofre - Appalachian State University
Bryn Davis - Wake Forest University

Bailey Rose - Belmont Abbey

The following student-athletes are from Carrboro High.

Gabby Adams - Carlow University

Destiny Cox - UNC-Chapel Hill
Penny Newall - Bryn Mawr University

Jadin Dewith - Florida Southern

Quincy Monday - Princeton University

Jacob Steinert - Lewis University

Congratulations to all of our student-athletes!

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Middle School 101

Middle School 101 is a program offered by Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools to ease the transition from 5th to 6th grade by providing students the opportunity to navigate their new schools and learn some of the procedures of Middle School. Middle School 101 is open to all incoming 6th graders. The program operates as a middle school transition camp for all rising 6th graders in the district. There are two sessions of Middle School 101. Session 1 will be held from July 24-July 26. Session 2 will be held from July 31- August 2. Camper hours are from 10-2 daily. Each camper can only attend one session. 

Transportation is offered for campers, as well as lunch. There will be 70 spots offered per school per week. If you are interested in your rising 6th grader attending Middle School 101, please complete the Registration Form as soon as possible to reserve your spot. 

If you have any additional questions about the Middle School 101 program, please contact Aaron Acome or Sarah O’Shea, Assistant Principals at Smith Middle School (919) 918-2145. Thank you.

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CHCCS High Schools Earn High Rankings

U.S. News & World Report recently released its 2018 edition of Best High Schools. The rankings evaluate more than 20,500 public high schools nationwide to identify schools that best serve all of their students – including historically underserved populations – and assess the degree to which students are prepared for college-level coursework.

East Chapel Hill High, Chapel Hill High and Carrboro High finished as the top three traditional high schools in North Carolina. Of the 582 North Carolina high schools that were eligible, only 17 were awarded gold medals. Our three schools each earned a gold medal.

"Top-ranked schools succeed in three main areas: exceeding expectations on state proficiency tests, offering challenging coursework and graduating their students," said Anita Narayan, managing editor of Education at U.S. News.

The Best High Schools rankings feature data on a number of factors, including enrollment, graduation rates, diversity, participation in free and reduced-price lunch programs and the results of state assessments, as well as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate test data.

“I'm proud of our students and our team of educators,” said Superintendent Pam Baldwin. “They are committed to ensuring every child has an excellent school experience. It is a privilege to work with them as we pursue this goal together. "

U.S. News worked with RTI International, a global research firm, to implement the comprehensive rankings methodology.

To see the full list of North Carolina High Schools, click here.
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A Fun Classroom Can Happen at All Levels

Having fun in the classroom sounds like a simple thing to do, but don’t let that fool you.  It can be difficult finding ways to make a lesson fun that don’t take away from a student’s learning.  Know this: it can be done and at all levels of education - elementary, middle and high school.  A fun day of learning doesn’t necessarily have to include glitter and glue (although it can!).  It can be holding a class outside, having a student-led discussion, or even using a special piece of technology.  When educators make an effort to bring fun into their classrooms, everyone learns.

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Budget and Finance Office Awarded Highest Form of Recognition

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting by the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA). The award was presented to the school district's Finance Office for its comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR). The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government agency and its management.

An Award of Financial Reporting Achievement has been awarded to Ruby Pittman, Senior Executive Director of Budget and Finance, as her department is primarily responsible for preparing the award-winning CAFR.

"We are very fortunate to have Ms. Ruby Pittman heading up our Budget and Finance Office," said Superintendent Pam Baldwin. "Her team does a great job overseeing all financial operations. They are well-experienced and extremely helpful."

The CAFR was judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive "spirit of full disclosure" to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the CAFR.

Government Finance Officers Association is a major professional association servicing the needs of nearly 19,000 appointed and elected local, state, and provincial-level government officials and other finance practitioners. It provides top quality publications, training programs, services, and products designed to enhance the skills and performance of those responsible for government finance policy and management. The association is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, with offices in Washington, D.C. 
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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Northside Teacher Goes NASA

Sandy Athey, a teacher at Northside Elementary, was recently invited by NASA to attend a behind-the-scenes tour of Kennedy Space Center and the launch of TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) and Falcon 9 Rocket as a social media correspondent. The Public School Foundation generously provided a grant to cover expenses.

The News & Observer selected Sandy as their Tar Heel of the Week, and published a terrific article utilizing a question/answer format for Sandy to describe her experience. You can read the article here.

Congratulations, Sandy!
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Memorial Day Holiday, May 28 / Día festivo de Conmemoración, 28 de mayo

School and District Offices Closed for Memorial Day
Monday, May 28, CHCCS schools and district offices are closed in observance of the Memorial Day Holiday.  School will resume as usual and district offices will be open on Tuesday, May 29.

Las escuelas y oficinas del distrito están cerradas para el Día de Conmemoración
El lunes, 28 de mayo, las escuelas y oficinas del distrito de CHCCS están cerradas en observancia del Día de Conmemoración.  Las escuelas y oficinas del distrito estarán abiertas en su horario normal el martes, 29 de mayo.

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Two Carrboro High DECA Students Compete at Internationals

In April, for the first time ever, two district students competed at the DECA International Career Development Conference (ICDC). Kirby Thornton and Leanne Joyce of Carrboro High School traveled to Atlanta for the three-day 2018 competition. DECA advisor and Marketing Education teacher, Julie Francis, traveled with them. When they returned, Francis reported with pride the accomplishments of her students; Joyce placed in the Top 10 of the Business Growth Plan competition in Entrepreneurship, while Thornton received honors in Food Marketing. Joyce established her 501c3 non-profit, Positive Impact for Kids, when she was in middle school, after being diagnosed with a heart condition.
DECA is an international Business and Marketing organization, whose mission is to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management around the world. The annual ICDC is open to two separate divisions: High School, with 200,00 members in 3,500 schools, and a smaller Collegiate division with more than 15,000 students in 275 colleges and universities. This year’s conference hosted 19,000 DECA members, so Thornton and Joyce found themselves in the midst of more business-oriented youth than they could have imagined.
“DECA is one of the coolest things I’ve been a part of because of the networking ability you have at a conference,” said Thornton. “It’s commonplace at ICDC to walk up to anyone and ask them where they’re from, what event they’re doing, or any other random question you may have. Our hotel had open areas, and kids from all different states would congregate and play cards together. It was really awesome to have that kind of community.” Thornton said it was especially a privilege to be the only two students representing CHCCS.
The whirlwind experience in Atlanta was the culmination of months of preparation and competitions at the local and state levels. Joyce placed second in the North Carolina competition for Business Growth Plan with her 30-page growth plan. Before traveling to internationals, she revised it once more and also prepared for an onstage interview by judges of the event. Thornton needed to prepare for both a test and role play scenarios for her Food Marketing competition.
For students who commit to DECA throughout their high school years, the pay off and increased confidence can be substantial. “My involvement in DECA has taught me so much about myself and about other people,” said Thornton. “I’m always so proud when I get to see members of my chapter improving at every competition. I’m especially proud of the younger kids. It always seems to be the young, quiet freshman that shows the most improvement. Most importantly, I’ve learned that everyone has leadership capabilities. Anyone that takes the initiative to join has the qualities they need to be successful in DECA.”
“Carrboro High DECA is an amazing opportunity for students who are interested in Business and Marketing,” said Francis. “This organization prepares students to get first hand knowledge about Business and Marketing as they enter the next phase of their education and career.”
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