Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Board Approves Seven Administrative Appointments

The CHCCS Board of Education approved seven administrative appointments at its meeting on Tuesday evening.

Beverly Rudolph
Beverly Rudolph was named principal of Carrboro High. Rudolph has been the principal at Culbreth Middle since 2011. Prior to that, she served as assistant principal at East Chapel Hill High from 2007-2011. She also taught English/Language Arts in Edgecombe, Buncombe and Cabarrus County Schools. Rudolph earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina – Asheville, her Master of School Administration from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and is currently pursuing her Doctorate in School Administration and Supervision from the University of Virginia.
Drew Ware

Drew Ware was named principal of Phillips Middle. He has been the principal of Estes Hills Elementary since 2013. Prior to that, he served as a principal, assistant principal and classroom teacher in the Wake County Public School System. Ware earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of School Administration from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. He is currently working toward his Doctorate of Educational Leadership.

Arrica DuBose
Arrica DuBose was named principal of Seawell Elementary. She has been the principal of Creekside Elementary in Durham Public Schools since 2012. She has also served as a school improvement specialist for Title 1 schools, parent involvement district coordinator, summer school administrator and teacher for Durham Public Schools. She also spent five years as an assistant principal in the Wake County Public School System. DuBose earned her Bachelor of Science from Winston-Salem State University, her Master of Education from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Educational Leadership from East Carolina University.

Two assistant principals were named. Michael Brown will serve at Morris Grove Elementary and Tomeka Ward- Satterfield will serve at Carrboro High.

Dr. Elaine Watson-Grant, currently the school district’s coordinator of dual language and world language, has been named Director of Elementary Education. David Bouldin, currently of Chatham County Schools, has been named Exceptional Children’s Compliance and Educational Programs Coordinator.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Board Candidate Information Session

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools understands the value of strong leadership. And for a school system, that leadership starts with the Board of Education.

With the candidate filing period underway, the school district is planning an information session for any community members who might be considering a run for the Board.

The session will take place on Tuesday, July 18 from 4-5 p.m. at Lincoln Center – the school district’s central office, located at 750 South Merritt Mill Road. All interested are welcome to attend.

“We wanted to offer an opportunity for potential candidates to learn more about the future direction of the school system and how Board members can move the district forward,” said Superintendent Pam Baldwin. “This is a non-committal meeting for the purpose of providing information and answering questions.”

Anyone interested in attending is asked to RSVP to Jeff Nash, Executive Director of Community Relations, at jnash@chccs.k12.nc.us.
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Friday, June 30, 2017

MSAN Presentation: “A Classroom in Color”

The week after classes ended for students, many CHCCS teachers went right back to school - at the Summer Institute for Professional Learning. Among the many workshops teachers could choose from, one stood out as the only option led by students: “A Classroom in Color” from our district’s Minority Student Achievement Network (MSAN). The nine MSAN members, eight of them from our high schools, and one Chapel Hill High graduate who’s UNC-bound, led four sessions of their group-designed workshop. The reviews from those who attended were full of enthusiastic and reflective praise. The feedback was so positive, in fact, that superintendent Dr. Baldwin asked the students to present the workshop once more, this time to dozens of district administrators during Leadership Week. That session closed with a standing ovation from participants.
The content of the Classroom in Color workshop draws from discussions and brainstorming the students engaged in during their annual MSAN retreat in the mountains last winter. Throughout the year, they analyzed the CHCCS Student Code of Conduct, and they shared their experiences with microaggressions in various school contexts. With support from members of the Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate staff Marlow Artis and Lorie Clark and Director of Equity Sheldon Lanier, MSAN presenters addressed strategies to provide more equitable solutions to the disparities in instruction and discipline that students of color encounter. As Artis tweeted after the initial sessions, “Our #MSAN students are not afraid to ask the tough questions at the @CHCCS Summer Institute.”
Not only did they tackle the tough questions, but they designed a workshop that kept district staff engaged, starting with three essential questions:
“In what ways will you examine and analyze challenges that impact minority students?”

“In what ways will you change your approach to instruction and discipline to eliminate disparities and predictability based on race?”

“How will you collaborate with students and stakeholders to acknowledge and embrace their voices?”
Participants jotted down answers on Post-It notes and students led a brief discussion before moving on to a Prison to Pipeline PowerPoint and then a competitive game to check for understanding. Though the pace was fast-moving, it’s likely that teachers will revisit those essential questions, perhaps again and again, when they return to classrooms in August.
The workshop closed with a student-led restorative justice circle. Nearly everyone shared at least one observation or realization. Students described the challenges that shape their experiences as the sole student of color in Advanced Placement classes - or being told that an A.P. or honors class “isn’t a good choice for you.” One young woman noted how often she feels called upon to “speak for a whole race” when she’s the only African-American student in a class. Several presenters spoke about their priorities as MSAN members, to advocate for other students who believe their voices aren’t heard - and to make classrooms more welcoming and fair.

Tiffany Newsome, who has just completed her principal internship at Smith Middle School said, “I was very moved by the experiences that the MSAN students shared. They reminded me of the call to action that every educator has to do whatever it takes to see all of our children succeed. I learned from this session that we can have the best of intentions, but if our students don't feel supported, then we have missed the mark!”

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Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Superintendent Column June 2017

Pam Baldwin

Greetings to all my new friends and neighbors. Thank you for welcoming my family to this wonderful community. These past two months have been a whirlwind, to be sure, but I think we are off to a flying start.

It is relatively common practice for new superintendents to begin work on July 1, coinciding with the advent of a new school year. At first, I was slightly concerned about starting this job on April 1, and wondered how that might play out logistically in terms of planning and decision-making. However, as I start to get settled into the role, I am now thinking the April start date was rather advantageous.

Experience has taught me that before any significant planning and decision-making can take place, I will need to devote a considerable amount of time to listening and questioning. That has been, and will continue to be, my primary focus.

To that end, I have been touring our schools, meeting with teachers and principals, talking with students and parents, participating in media interviews, pouring through data, soaking up the history and trying to get a handle on the hot topics that are important to our community.

This crash course in Chapel Hill-Carrboro culture, has been both interesting and enlightening. Every day brings an energizing “a-ha” experience. I am eager to continue.

While I obviously have a long way to go, there are a handful of trends that I have already noticed as I make my rounds. These have been very easy to spot, and I want to share a few now.

First, I have no words to describe how impressed I am by the compassion to help one another…particularly our most vulnerable children and families. I cannot count how many people have mentioned the need to ensure EVERY child succeeds. That has been my mantra, and I came prepared to rally the troops to get public buy in. However, this community is already on board. Equity is clearly a common priority, and that will ensure our work brings life-altering impact.

Next, we have amazing educators, starting with our school principals. They are quite savvy. I get the impression they have mastered that tricky balance
between casting vision and leading implementation. Too much of one, and not enough of the other, results in either stagnation or frustration on the part of their employees. This is a group that really understands that challenge.

Our teachers are innovators. They inspire students to think both more and differently. They understand their mission and come to work prepared. They work well into the evenings, utilizing data to meet the specific needs of their students. True professionals.

Additionally, never have I seen a central office collaborate as effectively as this group I have inherited. They truly enjoy working together and encouraging one another. When I walk through Lincoln Center, I hear laughter, but also intense professional discussions. They welcome new challenges and readily acknowledge their role in ensuring the success of our schools. Refreshing indeed.

Another trend I have noticed is the immeasurable community support offered to our schools. I feel like this community has truly adopted its schools. What a great feeling for a new leader! From the PTA Council to the Public School Foundation to the Chamber of Commerce to the local businesses, non-profits, university staff and faith communities, everyone is invested in the triumph of our students.

Our parents put in more collective time and energy than any I have ever known. The Volunteer Office is hitting home runs with their recruiting, training and placing of talented and dedicated helpers. Our partnerships are producing tangible, measurable results.

All of this sounds very positive, and it should, but I also recognize we have many issues needing to be addressed. We have crumbling buildings, new staff in key positions, legislative challenges, and a teacher shortage that is impacting schools nationally. However, the single biggest problem is the disparity in performance among the different groups of children. Once EVERY student reaches her/his potential, then we can celebrate. Until then, we will roll up the sleeves and dig in.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.
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Turnip the Beet Award for CHCCS!

N.C. Summer Nutrition Program Sponsors Receive

First-Ever Turnip the Beet Awards

Buncombe County Schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Rockingham County Schools and the YMCA of Western North Carolina are among the first summer nutrition program sponsors nationwide to receive the Turnip the Beet awards. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sponsors the award to recognize outstanding summer nutrition program sponsors that work hard to offer high quality meals that are appetizing, appealing and nutritious.

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction School Nutrition Services Section Chief Lynn Harvey said that the state’s summer nutrition program sponsors work hard to ensure that North Carolina public school children don’t go hungry when school is not in session. “It’s exciting to see four of our program sponsors’ efforts recognized by the US Department of Agriculture with the Turnip the Beet award. We know they work hard to provide meals that are nutritious and appealing to children, and to ensure that those who need these meals the most are aware of their availability,” she said.

Buncombe County Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools received a Gold Turnip the Beet award. The YMCA of Western North Carolina received a Silver Turnip the Beet award, and a Bronze Turnip the Beet award was given to Rockingham County Schools.

The goal of Turnip the Beet award is to showcase sponsors who go above and beyond to ensure their meals are both nutritious and appetizing. States volunteered to participate in the recognition program, and all sponsors participating in the one of programs were eligible to apply. Applications were evaluated on a list of criteria, including serving local foods, variety of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, low fat or fat free dairy products, and culturally-appropriate meals. Recognized sponsors demonstrated excellence in a variety of ways including providing fresh fruit daily, serving a variety of whole grains, conducting taste tests with the children (and incorporating the feedback into the menus), and offering nutrition education activities along with the meals.

For 2016, 49 sponsors from across the country earned Bronze, Silver or Gold Turnip the Beet awards. All awardees will receive a certificate and will be featured in USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Summer newsletter. Gold and Silver awardees will be highlighted in a USDA blog post, and Gold awardees will be identified as Turnip the Beet winners on the FNS Capacity Builder website.

Summer meals are critical in the lives of millions of our nation’s youth, whose risk of food insecurity increases during the summer months when they no longer have access to the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. North Carolina Summer Nutrition Programs serve meals at no cost to children and teens, ages 18 and younger, at almost 3,000 locations across the state. North Carolina Summer Nutrition Programs work with sponsors, local education agencies and community partners to help feed hungry children by serving meals to students when school is out.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction School Nutrition Services administers the state’s Summer Nutrition Programs using federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Citizens and organizations interested in more information about getting involved as a site provider or volunteering at a summer meals site should contact NCDPI Summer Nutrition Programs Manager Cynthia Ervin.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Paw La La - 2017 Curtis Scholar

Paw La La arrived in North Carolina when she was seven, unable to speak English and worried about her far-flung family, many of whom had precarious futures. She had never left the Thai refugee camp where she was born, and she struggled to make sense of her new American culture, especially the social and educational expectations for a first grader at Frank Porter Graham Elementary.
Paw’s full name means “unique miracle flower” and in her adopted community, she mirrors that image in much of what she does. Late in May, Paw received a phone call that seemed like a miracle-- a representative from the organization Global Citizen notifying her that she is one of six American winners of the 2017 Curtis Scholarship. The year-long mentorship will send her to South Africa for ten days this summer, to a major rock concert in Central Park, NYC in September, as well as provide frequent opportunities to engage with the other Curtis Scholars and to build her skills and awareness as a human rights activist. Although her parents speak little English, they understand that they have given permission for Paw to explore the world. She smiles when she says, “My father just says, ‘Present yourself well. Behave.’”
At Carrboro High School, where Paw just completed her freshman year, she has already developed a powerful presence as a leader and creative thinker who is committed to connecting the racial and ethnic groups in a very diverse but sometimes segregated high school community. Paw speaks proudly of CHS, “It’s an amazing school. There are so many great relationships.”
What she doesn’t say is that she’s already been instrumental in bridge-building herself.  Her AVID teacher, Melissa Zemon, says that Paw “is always considering how to improve the lives of others… Her long-term plan is to provide additional safe havens for Burmese refugees. Paw wants to create a stronger bond between the Carrboro High student body and the newcomers and English as a Second Language students.” With that goal in mind, she and several AVID classmates planned and hosted a breakfast for students in the Newcomers class this year, and they intend to replicate and expand with similar initiatives next year.
As a student, Paw can be both relentless and voracious. “I want to be really open-minded,” she says. When she reflects on possible career plans, such as international public health, journalism, public policy, she understands that the road to college and graduate school will bring challenges. “I don’t give up easily. Even when I have it hard, I just try and see what I need to do to succeed.”
Matt Cone, who recommended Paw for the Curtis Scholarship, is a Carrboro High social studies teacher and a fervent advocate for the young woman and her role in the school community. Although he has not yet taught Paw in a class, he selected her as one of a small group of students to travel to a documentary film festival in Missouri last fall. Beforehand, he gave the participants ideas for books to read in preparation for the festival. “Whereas most of her peers treated my suggestions as suggestions,” Cone says, “Paw was dogged in tracking down this work.  Whether I was exposing the students to lectures about Black Lives Matter or articles about healthcare in rural settings, Paw was determined to soak this material up…On our drive to the airport in St. Louis, I asked Paw what she took away from the film festival. She turned to me and said, ‘I became brave!’”
The notion that attending a film festival made Paw brave is ironic, listening to her describe the frequent drills in Thailand when she and others in the refugee camp had to hide in the jungle for long periods. Memories of those early years now feel like “fading dreams,” but she loves going to the farmland at Transplanting Traditions outside Carrboro, where she can sit in a bamboo hut on the property because it allows her to connect to her childhood again. Melissa Zemon says, “Paw's childhood experiences are her anchor and her wings all in one.”
Mostly she looks to the future, and as she prepares for her trip to South Africa, she eagerly follows the daily Curtis Scholar updates and links from Global Citizen; the weeklong citizen action challenge in June, #StandwithRefugees, could not be a more perfect fit for this young refugee “miracle flower.” Nelson Mandela’s book Long Walk to Freedom is at the top of her reading list, with many others to finish before her travels begin. So much information, so many calls to expand her activist horizons.
“I look forward to growing a lot,” Paw says.
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Finance Awards

Ruby Pittman
Ruby Pittman, Senior Executive Director of Budget and Finance, has garnered awards for excellence in financial reporting for the 13th consecutive year. The awards from the Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO) and the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) represent the highest forms of recognition in financial reporting.
In the letter of notification, the GFOA applauded Ms. Pittman’s achievement. “Congratulations for having satisfied the high standards of the program. We hope that your example will encourage others in their efforts to achieve and maintain an appropriate standard of excellence in financial reporting.”
The ASBO Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting award also signifies exemplary fiscal accountability and transparency. Their website states that the certificate, “Shows your community that your district is credible and committed to fiscal integrity.”

"Ms. Pittman and the Finance team do a great job managing all of our school district budgets," said Assistant Superintendent Todd LoFrese. "They bring an extraordinary amount of experience and expertise to their work."
Congratulations to Ms. Pittman for once again upholding the highest standards in financial reporting!
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Monday, June 19, 2017

McDougle Middle School BOOKS on BREAK

A free book distribution may not be the first activity that comes to mind when considering ways to excite middle school students. Yet the recent Books on Break giveaway at McDougle Middle School generated plenty of enthusiasm from the 101 students who chose books from a Book Harvest collection.

The event was hosted by Jennifer Parks, the media specialist at MMS, but she worked initially with Nancy Zeman, super-volunteer with Books on Break, to create a pilot template for our middle schools. Once the books were donated, Parks received plenty of support from Jennifer Spaeth and other language arts teachers who invited students to participate in the distribution.
Book Harvest, the fast-growing nonprofit based in Durham, usually partners with elementary schools in the region. This year the organization donated more than 16,000 books to CHCCS elementary schools. Yet the need for, and pleasure in, owning books doesn’t end in fifth grade - nor does the summer slide of learning loss disappear.
On June 5, small groups of 6th, 7th and 8th graders arrived at the MMS media center to browse through the 400+ books available. Parks noted that students scooped up all of the Rick Riordan selections quickly, as well as novels by Kwame Alexander and RJ Palacio. She said that “lots of students were excited to come and pick out books who don’t show a similar excitement checking out books during the year.” The enthusiasm didn’t stop when students had selected their three books-- they wanted to advise and make recommendations to their friends who were still choosing.

Summer slide is a major factor in widening achievement gaps. Research shows that gaps in student achievement increase more during the summer, so efforts to provide ongoing literacy support make a real difference. Thanks to the organizers of McDougle Middle School’s pilot Books on Break event, the initiative may expand to other middle schools next spring, and more of our students will bring books home for the summer.
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Friday, June 16, 2017

CHCCS Announces New Administrators

At its June 15 meeting, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education approved a series of administrative placements.

Marny Ruben, current principal of Seawell Elementary, will be the new principal of the Hospital School. She will replace Nancy Yoder, who is retiring.

Tomeka Ward-Satterfield, current principal of Phillips Middle, will be an assistant principal at a school to be determined.

LaVerne Mattocks, current principal of Carrboro High, will be the district’s executive director of secondary schools and student services.

 Christy Stanley, current coordinator of English/Language Arts 7-12 and Social Studies, will be the district’s director of secondary instruction.

Karen Galassi-Ferrer, current assistant principal at Morris Grove Elementary, will be the new assistant principal at Frank Porter Graham Bilingue Elementary. She will be replacing Jose Nambo, who will be returning to the classroom as a fifth-grade teacher at the same school.

Chassity Coston will be the new assistant principal at McDougle Middle. She is replacing Melda Dunn who is retiring. Coston is new to our school district. She most recently served as an administrative intern at Knightdale High in Wake County after five years as a math teacher in Durham Public Schools.
These changes will take effect on July 1.

Marny Ruben

Tomeka Ward-Satterfield

LaVerne Mattocks

Christy Stanley

Karen Galassi-Ferrer

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Baseball Vs. Cancer

A powerful fundraising force in CHCCS athletics has been building since 2015, initially through the dogged efforts of one Chapel Hill High School baseball player, Garrett Liebe, but spreading to the rest of his teammates, and now to rival East Chapel Hill High baseball. The fundraising organization is Vs. Cancer, and the amount raised from the CHHS vs. East baseball game on April 26 topped $20,000 from both programs.
Lee Land is the head baseball coach at Chapel Hill High, and he is currently atop the list of fundraisers for Vs. Cancer; his team is the number one fundraising team - in the country. “It’s unbelievable what we’ve raised,” Land said. “I’m so proud of these guys.” Three years ago the team raised $7,000 and they’ve set their goals higher each year.
The Raleigh-based national nonprofit Vs. Cancer was founded by Chase Jones, a former UNC baseball player who was diagnosed with Stage IV brain cancer during his freshman year in 2006. He attributes his remission of ten-plus years to community support, in addition to gains in cancer research.
Jones’ first major fundraising endeavor was BaseBald, and asking athletes to shave their heads was a notable feature. BaseBald set the groundwork for Vs. Cancer, whose motto is Empowering Athletes, Helping Kids with Cancer, and all donations raised through their website are divided equally between a local medical center and national pediatric oncology research.
Garrett Liebe was in fifth grade when he played in support of an earlier Jones fundraising organization. When he was a freshman at CHHS, Garrett first volunteered with Vs. Cancer, which set the collaboration between his team and the nonprofit in motion.
The baseball players at CHHS and East shaved their heads before the rivalry match-up, even though it was the week of prom. The game was played at CHHS, and Coach Land conjectured that fundraising totals rose in part because it was the Rivalry Game. The Tigers prevailed 2-1, which now makes them 3-0 in Vs. Cancer games.
Coach Land plans to play Vs. Cancer games against East every year, and he anticipates that the fervor of the existing rivalry will only intensify. Although CHHS had a two year head start building their fundraising momentum, Land predicts his crosstown rivals will up the ante in future contests.  “They’ll be coming after us next year, and that’ll motivate us that much more.”
Although original organizer Garrett Liebe will be playing baseball at the University of the South next year, his younger brother Colin Liebe, also a baseball player at CHHS, will take up the Vs. Cancer mantle.
In a 2015 interview Chase Jones said, “Athletes are often the most visible people in a community. Whether they’re a hometown hero or a professional baseball player, people will rally around them,” he says. “They can use that platform to help kids beat cancer.”


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