Monday, September 18, 2017

Mary Andrews Named National Family Teacher of the Year

Mary Andrews isn’t sitting still in retirement. On the contrary, she’s building on her 40-year teaching career by expanding family literacy programs throughout the Chapel Hill community. Today, Toyota and the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) surprised Andrews during a reading event with local families with the news that she is the 2017 Toyota Family Teacher of the Year.

Andrews and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation also received a $20,000 check to further Family Reading Partners (FRP) program outreach.

“Mary’s dedication to working with families to change the academic and life trajectories of vulnerable parents and children is impressive,” said Dr. Joshua Cramer, vice president, NCFL. “Her work is in alignment with NCFL’s mission to eradicate poverty through two-generation education solutions for families. We are proud to recognize her as our 2017 Toyota Family Teacher of the Year.”

Andrews’ FRP and READ2ME programs are designed to model and encourage reading together as a family. Facilitators teach parents how to interact with their children to promote kindergarten readiness and reinforce that parents are their child’s first and most important teacher.

Additionally, the program works to address the 30-million word gap many low-income children face upon entering kindergarten.

“Mary’s work with Chapel Hill and Carrboro families makes a visible impact on our school system and our community,” said Superintendent Pam Baldwin, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS). “We are grateful for her continued work to support families in our district. She is building a legacy of family literacy that is contagious and inspiring.”

Andrews’ literacy programs began on a small scale during her teaching career and were later adopted district-wide. Once retired, she expanded programming to reach more low-income community members with young children, including:

     • Teenage parents: high school students join Andrews monthly during lunch to complete an FRP session and receive books for their babies;
     • Recovering mothers: monthly in-home sessions are held through the UNC Hospitals’ HORIZONS program;
     • Refugee families: In partnership with the Refugee Support Center, Andrews finds bilingual books and hires interpreters to spread the message;
     • Parents of newborns: Andrews visits low-income parents referred by Orange County Health Department and, upon invitation, returns every six months with new books until the child reaches kindergarten;
     • Early Head Start: Andrews meets families at Early Head Start centers for FRP lessons and book giveaways; and,
• Family Success Alliance: a county-wide collaborative using a multi-generational approach to overcome poverty for families.

The Toyota Family Teacher of the Year award, a national honor now in its 21st year, recognizes families play a crucial role in the success of children, and salutes educators who are exceptional at using intergenerational approaches to engage students and their families in education.

Andrews and runner-up Fernando Gonzalez, of Tucson, Ariz., will be recognized for their accomplishments at the annual NCFL Families Learning Conference in Tucson on October 9. The conference convenes the nation’s most progressive experts in education, policy, and family and parent engagement to discuss and share the latest information regarding multigenerational approaches to learning.

“We’re proud to recognize Mary Andrews as Toyota Family Teacher of the Year for the dedication to countless children and families through her unique literacy programs,” said Mike Goss, general manager, social innovation, Toyota Motor North America.

Gonzalez, a family literacy specialist with Make Way for Books in Tucson, was chosen as the Toyota Family Teacher of the Year runner up. Gonzalez works to empower parents to embrace their role as the first, best and most important teacher in their child’s life, as well as to become advocates for their children’s education. With this recognition, Make Way for Books received a $5,000 grant to continue Fernandez’s work engaging families through six-week programs that meet families where they are – in apartment and mobile home communities, social service agencies, and neighborhood centers.

Goss added: “The work of Mary and Fernando will increase children’s upward mobility and ability to break intergenerational cycles of poverty. This will pay dividends for these students, their families, their schools and their communities for generations to come.”

The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL) is a national nonprofit organization working to eradicating poverty through education solutions for families. Partnering with educators, literacy advocates, and policymakers, NCFL develops and provides programming, professional development, and resources from the classroom to the community that empower and raise families to achieve their potential. For more information on NCFL visit

Toyota (NYSE:TM), creator of the Prius hybrid and the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, is committed to building vehicles for the way people live through our Toyota and Lexus brands. Over the past 60 years, we’ve built more than 30 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 44,000 people (more than 34,000 in the U.S.).  Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold nearly 2.6 million cars and trucks (2.45 million in the U.S.) in 2016 – and about 85 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 15 years are still on the road today. 

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Teacher Workday, September 21 / Día de trabajo para maestros, 21 de septiembre

Teacher Workday Scheduled
There is a Teacher Workday scheduled for Thursday, September 21.

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SOLAR KICKOFF at East Chapel Hill High

      Under a sunny sky on the freshman hill at East Chapel Hill High, students gathered to celebrate the hard work and risk-taking by four of their fellow Wildcats. The Solar Kickoff on Wednesday, September 13 represented the official announcement of a Duke Energy Carolinas/NC GreenPower Schools Going Solar grant to install solar panels at the school. The award also includes monitoring equipment, training for teachers and a curriculum for students.
     “The kickoff was both a culmination, celebrating the work of Megan, Emily, Connor, Michael and the Solar Panel Project participants, and also just the beginning of moving towards a renewable energy future at East and CHCCS,” said Dan Schnitzer, District Sustainability Coordinator.
      The grant application was competitive. More than three dozen schools sought the grants; East Chapel Hill High was one of seven winning schools. “The students have led the charge from day one,” Schnitzer said, “finding the grant, organizing themselves, showing up, working hard and not being deterred or distracted.”
     The four students came together during the spring of 2016. Emily Liu and Megan Doherty had participated in UNC’s Institute for the Environment program Climate LEAP where they first discussed sustainability with CHCCS school board member Annetta Streater. Connor Diaz and Michael Swers were members of Eastainability, an East club who joined forces with Liu and Doherty to create the Solar Panel Project. As Doherty said to the kickoff audience, “We were a small club with huge dreams.”
       Streater, who also spoke at the kickoff event, directed the students to Schnitzer. He first asked the students to conduct an energy audit at ECHHS and then shepherded the grant-writing project to its completion. He claimed he had little more to do with the grant application than checking for grammar and providing the tax ID number, but the students laughed at their mentor’s modesty. “He gave us energy and motivation,” Doherty said. They had reviewed examples of professional grant proposals, but Schnitzer encouraged them to look at well-written student proposals as models. “He was so knowledgeable about how to write grants.”
         Once the panels are installed in 2018, students will be able to monitor energy production and consumption at East, gathering real-time input data. Representing Duke Energy, district manager Indira Everett congratulated the project participants, and shared news about the expansion of renewable resources in North Carolina. The state currently ranks second in solar energy installations, after California, and Duke Energy has invested over five billion dollars in solar and wind projects.
       Vicky McCann, vice-president of NC GreenPower, shared her excitement about the impact their nonprofit can have on North Carolina schools and students who use the technology. NC GreenPower piloted a Solar Schools program in 2015 and collaborates with Duke Energy to provide the grants and panel installations.
         Superintendent Dr. Pam Baldwin said that when she was a science teacher, this was the kind of experience she longed for her students to have every day. Learning from the sustainability initiative will be “relevant, engaging and fun,” she said. “Too often What If’s prevent us from doing what is truly amazing.”
        “This project has definitely influenced my college field of study,” said Liu. “I want to go into environmental science and the STEM field.”
       “Thank you for setting the bar,” Mayor Pam Hemminger said to the four students. "This is truly a great example of our young people leading the way toward a renewable energy platform for our community."
         The students said they hope that the solar panels will provide a model of sustainability for CHCCS and the community, and show that youth voices can and will be heard. As one of them noted, every time future students walk by the panels, hopefully they’ll think about what they can accomplish.

      “They embody the mindset of creating the change they want to see,” Schnitzer said. “I’m extremely proud to have worked with these students and the staff throughout the school and district that supported this project.”

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

MSAN Kickoff

During the first week of the school year, 26 high school students gathered at Phoenix Academy for an evening kickoff meeting of the Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN). In little more than two hours, the young people shared introductions, ate dinner, reflected on the past year’s accomplishments and began looking ahead to the many activities already planned for 2017-2018. Representing newcomers and veterans, the three larger high schools and all four grade levels, the students laughed and joked together, even as they worked steadily through a full agenda.

Niya Fearrington, student body president at Carrboro High School, is a passionate advocate for MSAN. “It’s truly been a catalyst for my life… learning how to advocate for student voice.” She says her friends in different Triangle school districts ask how they can develop MSAN groups, too, but for now, CHCCS has the lone chapter in North Carolina.
The national MSAN mission, embraced by the district’s chapter, is “to understand and change school practices and structures that keep racial achievement gaps in place.” MSAN school districts tend to share a tradition of high academic achievement with connections to university communities: Madison, Cambridge, Evanston -- and Chapel Hill-Carrboro.
One of the national goals of MSAN is to create and share professional development activities for teachers and administrators, with a clear equity lens. Last year the CHCCS group developed a workshop for teachers and staff called “Classroom in Color,” which they rolled out in June at the Summer Institute for Professional Learning. Plans for this year’s activities include new venues and audiences for “Classroom in Color;” one version will be delivered in Spanish during the Dignity in Schools National Week of Action.
Niya says that she and her fellow scholars are excited about finding bigger stages for sharing the workshop. As a CHCCS “lifer,” kindergarten through senior year, Niya says she and other presenters found it especially rewarding to recognize former teachers, assistant principals and principals in their audiences. “It was exciting to show off our progress over the years.”
Last fall this student organization hosted the national three-day conference at the Chapel Hill Sheraton. The high school participants from 19 districts nation-wide evaluated last year’s conference as highly successful and inclusive.  This October, a dozen scholars will travel to Cleveland, Ohio to attend the annual conference and to reconnect with friends in the network, as they hone their action plans for the coming year. The theme is F.O.C.U.S. - Fighting Our Cause Unified in the Struggle.

Advisor Lorie Clark says, “Our students understand the concepts of systems but have learned to use their voice to fight for equity and a quality education for all students.”
Lorie Clark and Marlow Artis of Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocates supervise the district MSAN group, under the direction of Equity department’s Dr. Sheldon Lanier. To find out more about MSAN, visit

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Streater Resigns from Board of Education

Annetta Stokes Streater, who has served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education since 2006, has submitted her letter of resignation. Her last board meeting will be on Monday, September 18, 2017.

“I have had the honor and privilege of serving the children and staff of this district for the past 11 years – and what a rewarding commitment it has been,” said Streater. “At this juncture in my life, I find it necessary to be responsive to increasing family and work commitments. I’m confident the Board and administration will continue on this path of improving instruction and operations with a student-centered approach through an equity lens.”

During her time on the Board, three new schools were constructed and several others have been renovated. Her support of the district’s sustainability efforts resulted in two of the schools receiving Platinum and Silver LEED certifications. Both the dual language Spanish and Mandarin programs were expanded, including the district’s first magnet school, Frank Porter Graham Bilingue Elementary. Specialty academies were created at the high schools, and the district’s alternative school received its designation as a high school.

Most recently she voted to add specific language to the Board’s bullying policy that specifically bans the display of the Confederate flag and other threatening symbols from our campuses.

“I hope our community has benefitted from their decision to elect me as a Board member,” said Streater. “I will certainly miss the work, including the passionate dialogue that goes into overseeing our public schools. But you’ll see me in other arenas continuing to advocate for high quality education.”

“Ms. Streater has been a tremendous asset to our school district and our community,” said Board Chair James Barrett. “She has worked tirelessly for the benefit of students and families. We are all grateful for the opportunity to have served with her in this important work.”
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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Growth Rates and School Performance Grades Improve

State Releases 2016-17 Accountability Data

School accountability data was released earlier today to the State Board of Education. Student achievement results in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools remain among the highest in the state in all major categories.

“I am delighted to receive confirmation that the hard work of our students and staff is producing a quality return. It also speaks to the amazing support of our parents and community,” said Superintendent Dr. Pam Baldwin. “While it is nice to see comparably high scores, we still have individual students who are not succeeding and, therefore, our work is not even close to being finished.”

In 2016-17, 94 percent of schools in the district met or exceeded expected growth in 2016-17. This number is up from 83 percent the previous year. Statewide, 74 percent met or exceeded expected growth last year.

School performance grades, required by state law, are based primarily on overall proficiency rates on the state’s standardized end-of-grade tests, and to a lesser extent, the growth students make during the year, irrespective of performance level. Eighty percent of the grade is based upon the percentage of tests earning a score considered grade-level proficient. Twenty percent is based upon growth, measured by a statistical model that compares each student’s predicted test score, based on past performance, against his/her actual result.

In Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, 94 percent (17 out of 18) of our graded schools scored an A or B last year, compared to 35.8 percent of traditional public schools statewide. Additionally, two of our schools moved up one letter grade with Frank Porter Graham Elementary moving from a C to a B, and Carrboro High moving from a B to an A.

Two schools, Glenwood Elementary and East Chapel Hill High, earned an A+. The “+” is added when the school’s achievement gap is less (better) than the state average.

Graduation rates remained mostly level. The four-year cohort graduation rate for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools dropped slightly from 90.2 to 89.6 percent. The state rate reached a new high at 86.5 percent. The five-year cohort graduation rate for the school district was 91.9 percent, a drop from the previous year’s 92.2 percent. The five-year cohort rate for the state is 87.5 percent.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction has posted a variety of data reports on its website. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education will receive a full report at its October 19 meeting.

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Delayed Opening, Sept. 14 / Fechas para apertura demorada de las escuelas, 2141 de septiembre

Delayed Opening Scheduled for September 14
The district has approved a plan for schools to operate on a Delayed Opening schedule eight Thursdays during the 2017-18 school year.  Schools will open two hours late, allowing teachers to use the time for collaborative planning or professional development.

On these days, buses will run two hours later than the normal schedule and schools will open to students two hours later than usual. Schools will dismiss at their normally scheduled time.

  • Elementary Schools begin at 9:50 a.m.
  • Middle Schools begin at 10:20 a.m.
  • High Schools begin at 10:45 a.m.

Fechas para apertura demorada de las escuelas, 14 de septiembre
Las escuelas públicas de Chapel Hill-Carrboro han aprobado las fechas para apertura demorada de las escuelas, correspondientes a ocho (8) jueves durante el año escolar 2017-2018.  Las escuelas abrirán 2 horas más tarde, para darle a los maestros tiempo para preparar y planificar las clases, así como tiempo para educación continuada.

Esos días los buses recogerán a los niños 2 horas más tarde de lo acostumbrado y las escuelas abrirán sus puertas a los estudiantes 2 horas más tarde de lo acostumbrado. Las clases terminarán a la hora regular.

  • Escuelas de Primaria empezarán a las 9:50 de la mañana
  • Escuelas de Secundaria Media empezarán a las 10:20 de la mañana
  • Escuelas de Secundarias Superior empezarán a las 10:45 de la mañana

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Friday, September 1, 2017

Convocation - You'll Want to See This!

I recently attended my first CHCCS Back-to-School Convocation. This is an annual event held a few days prior to the start of school. It was truly amazing. I was not prepared for the magnitude of what I was about to encounter. Many staff members have told us this was the most impactful Convocation they have attended, and have asked for the links to the video. While this is designed as a staff event, I thought parents and community members might be interested to check out this amazing event. 
My favorite line was when Niya Fearrington, our emcee (and student body president of Carrboro High) commented, "I didn't know Dr. LoFrese could be so funny. We'll see how funny he is the next time he redistricts my neighborhood!"
You will notice a three-part challenge I have issued to our staff. Please consider taking on this challenge along with us…also hold us accountable. I know it is a long video, but I’m sure you will find it worthy of the investment of your time. Be prepared to laugh, ponder and maybe even shed a tear along the way.

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Monday, August 28, 2017

Labor Day Holiday, Monday, Sept. 4 / Festivo Día del Trabajo, Lunes, 4 de sept.

Schools and Offices Closed
District schools and offices will be closed on Monday, September 4 for the Labor Day Holiday.  School will resume as usual and district offices will be open on Tuesday, September 5.

Escuelas y oficinas cerradas
Las escuelas y oficinas del distrito estarán cerradas el lunes, 4 de septiembre, por el día festivo del trabajo.  Las escuelas reabrirán sus puertas como de costumbre y las oficinas del distrito estarán abiertas el martes, 5 de septiembre.

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Monday, August 21, 2017

First Day of School: Grades 1-12, is 8/28; PreK/Head Start is 9/5 / Primer día de escuela: 1º-12º grado, el 28 de agosto; PreK/Head Start, el 5 de sept.

First Day of School Scheduled for Different Grades
The First Day of School for grades 1-12 is Monday, August 28.

Kindergarten Orientation and the First Day of Kindergarten are school based.  Please contact your child’s school for details.

There are two days of staggered entry for PreK students, August 31 and September 1.  The first full day for PreK is Tuesday, September 5.

Please remember to watch for bus riders getting on/off buses and for families walking to and from school.

El primer día de escuela programado para los diferentes grados
El primer día de escuela para 1º-12º grado es el lunes, 28 de agosto.

La orientación y el primer día de kindergarten varían dependiendo de la escuela. Por favor póngase en contacto con la escuela de su hijo(a) para los detalles.

Hay dos días de entrada escalonada para los estudiantes de PreK, el 31 agosto y 1 de septiembre.  El primer día completo para PreK es el martes, 5 de septiembre.

Por favor recuerde tener cuidado con los estudiantes que se están subiendo y bajando de los autobuses y con las familias que caminan hacía y desde la escuela.

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