Cane River Middle School Principal Alton Robinson as the Yancey County Schools 2014 Principal of the Year.

posted Oct 24, 2014, 6:51 AM by Kay Ball

Displaying 10-21-14 POY Alton Robinson.jpg

At its regular monthly meeting on October 6, 2014, the Yancey County Board of Education recognized Cane River Middle School Principal Alton Robinson as the Yancey County Schools 2014 Principal of the Year.

In announcing Mr. Robinson as POY, School Board Chair Mike Orr stated, “Everyone in this room knows Mr. Robinson’s work ethic, his heart, and his steadfast persistence to make whatever school he is a part of a better place. We thank Mr. Robinson for his commitment to Yancey County Schools and for being our Principal of the Year.”

In being recognized, Mr. Robinson asked his Cane River Middle School staff in attendance to join him at the front of the room to be recognized as well. Mr. Robinson stated, “This recognition is a reflection of the outstanding efforts of the faculty, staff, students, parents, and community of Cane River Middle School.” Mr. Robinson added, “It is a blessing to be principal of Cane River Middle School.”

Mr. Robinson holds a Masters of Arts Degree in Teaching from East Tennessee State University and a Masters of Arts Degree in Administration from Western Carolina University.

During his time with Yancey County Schools, Mr. Robinson was a Science/PE Teacher at Cane River for 1 year, a Science Teacher at Mountain Heritage for 11 years, Assistant Principal at Cane River for 2 years, Assistant Principal at Mountain Heritage for 1 year, Principal at Mountain Heritage for 7 years, and in his current role as Principal at Cane River Middle School for 7 years.

Mr. Robinson has been named MHHS Teacher of the Year twice, was recognized for High School Physical Science EOC Test Scores #1 in the State of North Carolina in 1994, and has been named Yancey County Principal of the Year three times.

While at Cane River, Mr. Robinson is proud to boast of the accomplishments of his students and staff with the following recognitions:

2008-09 & 2009-10 NC School of Distinction

2010-11 Honors School of Excellence

2011-12 Honors School of Distinction

2012-13 & 2013-14 High Performance School Recognition for

NC Department of Public Instruction

2010-11 Public Schools of NC Title I Distinguished Schools Award (Sustained Student Achievement) – Exceptional student performance for two or more consecutive years.

Mr. Robinson will represent Yancey County Schools at the regional level in Principal of the Year competition.

Yancey County Schools with a Top Ten in the State Award for the High School Graduation Rate

posted Oct 10, 2014, 10:51 AM by Kay Ball   [ updated Oct 10, 2014, 10:51 AM ]


On October 3rd State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson presented Yancey County Schools with a Top Ten in the State Award for the high school graduation rate at a banquet in Raleigh. It marks the first time in Yancey County Schools’ history that the graduation rate has been recognized for such an accomplishment. The 2014 graduation rate at Mountain Heritage High School was at 92.1% which has steadily increased over the past few years.

4 Year Graduation Cohort Rates Percentages
2007-2008 75.1%
2008-2009 80.6%
2009-2010 77.2%
2010-2011 78.2%
2011-2012 82.3%
2012-2013 82.7%
2013-2014 92.1 %

Yancey County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Tipton stated, “Our schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade are identifying at-risk students and supporting them in as many ways as possible to enable them to graduate from high school. This award represents the systems dedication to students and highlights the efforts all Yancey County Schools employees make daily.” Mountain Heritage High School Principal Kevin Huskins and Assistant Principal Erik Buchanan were in attendance at the event.

Yancey Schools Receive $600,000 Grant

posted Oct 9, 2014, 11:34 AM by YCS Webpage

Yancey County Schools received word last week that it will receive approximately $600,000 from the U.S. Department of Education to support on-going efforts to improve student achievement, address dropout prevention, and improve college access.

The seven-year grant will be awarded in partnership with Appalachian State University to implement strategies that lead to graduation and ultimately increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

Specifically, the funding will help support and expand GEAR UP, standing for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. This new funding ensures the program will be in place in Yancey County Schools until the 2020-2021 school year. The grant is also potentially renewable.

“This federal funding will bring much-needed resources into the school system,” said Dr. Tony Tipton, Yancey County Schools superintendent. “The grant award will boost continuing efforts for students to reach for the goal of graduation while putting an extra focus on early intervention. It will also provide crucial resources to aid in a student’s decision to continue their education past high school. The more support we have to ensure students don’t fall through the cracks, the better our school system will be.”

The funding provides a variety of interventions to students and their families including college visits, summer programs, career exploration, mentoring, job shadowing, tutoring, college advising, and financial aid. In addition, professional development is offered to school and district staff to share best practices and to assist with the creation and strengthening of a college access culture in the schools and the community.

“We have excellent students in Yancey County,” Tipton continued. “We know they have the drive to continue their education after high school, but are also aware that sometimes, just a fraction of them actually attend and more importantly graduate. The program is a tremendous resource that is available to every student in the targeted grades. We feel that a potent GEAR UP program in our school district has demonstrated in the past and will continue to prove the importance and accessibility of a multitude of post-secondary options.”

In partnership with Appalachian State, the GEAR UP grant allows the University to engage the western North Carolina region to promote improved access and preparation for the university experience.

“We are very appreciative to have Appalachian State as a partner in our effort to ready students for college or career,” said Colby Martin, Director of Grants and Compliance for the school system. “To add them to what is already an impressive GEAR UP program led by community partnership liaison Eric Klein and student services coordinator Samantha Briggs, will help us market the schools as a checkpoint to each individual student’s broader lifetime goals.”

The GEAR UP program has yielded amazing results since its inception in 2000. 92% of students in middle schools and 90% in high schools where GEAR UP funding has been put in place plan to attend college. 95% of 9th grade students in GEAR UP high schools are currently registered for a college preparation course of study.

“We want to help students develop their college ready skills, critical thinking, problem solving and analytic skills,” Jennifer Wilson-Kearse, the executive director of Appalachian’s GEAR UP program, said. “We know that employees need a certain set of skills to be successful. Those skills are the same across a broad range of employment opportunities, but sometimes our students are coming out of their educational experience without those skills.”

“We have the capacity to touch so many lives,” she continued, “in a way that we know is going to ultimately increase the economic development in Western North Carolina because we will be increasing the (educational) capacity of the students in the region who are our future workforce.”

Eighty-five Percent of YCS Third Graders Meet Reading Proficiency Standards

posted Oct 9, 2014, 11:31 AM by YCS Webpage

Eighty-five percent (84.7 percent or 155 students) of Yancey County Schools third grade students met the reading proficiency standards under North Carolina’s Read to Achieve program according to the Improve K-3 Literacy Accountability Measures Comprehensive Plan for Reading Achievement report. In comparison, seventy-nine percent (79.2 percent or 91,919 students) of North Carolina public school third grade students met those proficiency standards. The State Board of Education members received the report at their meeting in Charlotte on Thursday.

These third graders demonstrated reading proficiency through one of the following options:
passing the Beginning-of-Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading assessment;
passing the End-of-Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading assessment;
passing the retest of the End-of-Grade 3 English Language Arts/Reading assessment;
passing the Read to Achieve Alternative Test;
passing an alternative assessment for reading; or
successfully completing the reading portfolio.
Another 12 percent (22 students) from the YCS third grade population were exempt from third grade retention for good cause (impacts English Language Learners and some students with learning disabilities). In total 97 percent (177 students) were promoted to the fourth grade, 10 percent higher than the state average.

The remaining three percent of third graders were either retained in the third grade or placed in a transitional class or accelerated class with a reading label and identified to receive additional help. Overall, across the state, 116,128 third grade students were tested.

State Superintendent June Atkinson said, “We are glad that third grade reading is receiving additional attention under Read to Achieve. As students move through elementary school, this additional focus on reading will help to keep them on track to succeed at the next grade level.”

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey said Board members fully support programs that help ensure student academic success. “We know that third grade is a pivotal year for future academic success, and reading proficiency plays a critical role. We want to make sure that we support not only our early learners, but also our elementary school teachers so that they can work in concert to ensure students build a strong foundation in reading.”

The North Carolina Read to Achieve Program is a component of the Excellent Public Schools Act passed by the North Carolina General Assembly during its 2012 session. The goal of the program is to ensure that every third grade student is reading at or above grade level by the end of the school year. Students who are not reading at grade level by the end of third grade receive extra support, including reading camps, guaranteed uninterrupted blocks of reading time, and intensive reading interventions so that they will be more prepared to do fourth grade work.

Of the 18,373 students eligible to attend a reading camp held by local districts during the summer, 12,827 (69.8 percent) students attended. Of that number, 3,426 (26.7 percent) were reading proficient at the end of the camp. Yancey County School’s Summer Camp was able to take 20 of the 26 students required to attend to reading proficiency by the end of the six-week camp.

Students who are retained may be placed in a third grade accelerated class, in a third/fourth grade transition class with a retained reading label, or in a fourth-grade accelerated class with a retained reading label. If these students retake the reading test by Nov. 1, complete a reading portfolio, or pass a local alternative test and demonstrate proficiency, they are promoted to the fourth grade and the retained reading label is removed. These students continue to have the opportunity to show proficiency by local alternative or completed portfolio throughout the rest of the fourth-grade year to have the retained reading label removed.

To view the full report, please visit Questions may be directed to the NCDPI Communications division at 919.807.3450.

Yancey Schools Awarded $1.3 Million for After School Programming

posted Sep 5, 2014, 11:34 AM by Kay Ball   [ updated Sep 5, 2014, 11:34 AM ]

Yancey County Schools was recently notified that it had been awarded a four-year $1,360,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This funding will provide free afterschool programming at all eight district elementary and middle schools. The grant also allows for free summer programs.

The 21st Century Community Learning Center (CCLC) grant will build upon the experience gained in a previous four-year afterschool grant that ran at Burnsville, Micaville, and South Toe, East Yancey and Cane River schools. Bald Creek, Bee Log, and Clearmont Elementary schools are additional sites for this new four-year cycle.

The purpose of 21st CCLC program is to provide students with academic enrichment opportunities along with activities designed to complement students’ regular academic programs. These services include tutoring and mentoring, homework assistance, academic enrichment (such as hands-on science or technology programs), community service opportunities, music, art, sports, and cultural activities.

“The 21st Century program will provide many children with opportunities they might not otherwise be able to access while improving the grades of our schools’ students,” said Dr. Tony Tipton, Superintendent of Yancey County Schools.

“As I have been incredibly impressed with the coordination and community involvement from our previous efforts, I hope that our next phase will expand upon this earned understanding and prior federal investment to affect as many children as possible.”

These centers provide safe environments for students during non-school hours. In addition to providing tutoring, fun experiential opportunities, and time for free play, the afterschool grant provides funding for transportation to designated points in the county.

“The afterschool program has become an invaluable resource in the county where students are able to receive added academic support, but in a learning environment where it is not just ‘more school’,” said Colby Martin, Director of Grants and Compliance for Yancey County Schools.

“In addition, the funding allows for school staff to be compensated for extra responsibility. More than 80% of funding (or approximately $1 million) from this award will go toward providing jobs in our school system – jobs that address a key need in our county: extended learning.”

Of the approximately 150 applications submitted to the State Education department from Local Education Agencies, nonprofit organizations, religious institutions, and for-profit entities, Yancey County Schools’ grant proposal was ranked #1 after the three-prong evaluation process was completed. “I believe this is a testament to the over-achieving and terrific program the staff and the schools have implemented over the last four years,” Martin added.

The 21st Century Community Learning Center is called M.A.G.I.C., standing for “Making Academic Gains in Children.” The goals of the program are to: 1) provide high quality learning activities; 2) provide high quality enrichment programs to afford students varying extracurricular experiences; and 3) provide family learning opportunities.

“This program is crucial to our rural community,” said April Lambert, parent of a student at South Toe Elementary. “The special and one on one work from the staff is invaluable and provides a time to build the students' relationships with their teachers.

“It also provides a location for exposure to programs that otherwise would be impossible to attend or reach the number of kids at one given time,” she continued. “Due to this program and supportive parents and teachers, other activities have come to our school such as Girl Scouts, 4-H, Girls on the Run, TRAC's fiddle and old time music class, dance classes, and gardening programs.

“And for the parents of those kids involved,” she added, “full time work is possible knowing that the children's needs are being met during the extended hours. We are so grateful for this program continuing in our community and all that it offers to our kids.”

If any family is interested in accessing these free services for their children, enrollment should take place in September and with the program beginning in October.

Parent Portal System for Yancey County Schools

posted Sep 5, 2014, 11:14 AM by Kay Ball

This year Yancey County Schools, will be opening the NC HOME BASE/PowerSchool Parent Portal. This state-wide student information system was first implemented in the 2013-14 school year for teachers and administrators. The second phase of implementation now opens up both the parent and student portals for use this year. Access to the Parent Portal will allow parents to gain helpful information on their child’s attendance, current grades, and other valuable resources. The portal is a “single sign-on” meaning that families with multiple children in Yancey County Schools can link all students to the one username and password set up by the parent(s).

The system will go live on September 5th for all Yancey County School parents as that is the day teachers will begin to input student data. Each student’s data will be updated during the first nine weeks a minimum of every other week, usually being refreshed on a Friday. As teachers become more familiar with the Parent Portal portion of Home Base, they will be expected to have fresh information available to families at the end of every week.

“We feel like this resource for parents will really be a “game-changer” on two levels. One, this will help teachers get timely information to a parent regarding their child’s performance in class, and then two, based on that information, the parents can partner with the school in tackling any issue early before it becomes a bigger problem down the road,” according to Shane Cassida, YCS Curriculum/ Home Base Director. “It is not just a matter of having information. It is about having the right information in the right time. The Parent Portal makes that possible for parents of students in YCS,” he went on to say.

Home Base/Parent Portal Information letters are going home this week to parents of all YCS students. This letter will have information needed for parents to “create their account” for accessing the system. The following link on the Yancey County Schools Homepage (, created by Kay Ball, YCS Technology Director, will give parents a quick video tutorial in creating the account and a user guide for getting the most out of their Parent Portal account.

2014 Summer Resource Guide for Kids

posted Jun 5, 2014, 6:18 AM by Kay Ball   [ updated Jun 5, 2014, 6:20 AM ]

We hope you find this Summer Resource Guide helpful as you plan summer activities for your children. We hope this helps you keep them active and engaged while they are enjoying a summer break.

PRESS RELEASE from YCS April Board Meeting

posted Apr 8, 2014, 10:42 AM by Kay Ball   [ updated Apr 8, 2014, 10:42 AM ]

MHHS Dropout Rate is Lowest in School History

Mountain Heritage High School Principal Kevin Huskins reported at the regular meeting of the Yancey County Board of Education on April 7th that the Mountain Heritage High School dropout rate has just been announced for the March 2013-March 2014 timeframe and is the lowest in the school’s history. The previous dropout rate of just over 3% from March 2012-March 2013 improved to 1.6% for this past year.

Across North Carolina the state average dropout rate dropped from 3.01% last year to 2.45% this year. Superintendent Tony Tipton stated, “While Yancey County Schools will continue to improve on that number, it is still great news and this accomplishment is shared by every teacher, every bus driver, and every employee our children come in contact with throughout their years with YCS.

Graduation Date Set

Superintendent Tipton presented a revised 2013-14 calendar to the Board for approval that reduces the number of school days from 180 to 178 instructional days. The Board also approved Saturday, June 14th (11:00 a.m.) for the graduation ceremonies at Mountain Heritage High School. The last day of school for students, currently, is a full day on Friday, June 13th. However, this date could change if more days are missed. Dr. Tipton reminded the Board that we missed a day in late May last year because of flooding.

Support Person of the Year 2014

Dr. Tipton informed the Board that beginning this year, Yancey County Schools will recognize the YCS Support Person of the Year. This came as a suggestion from MHHS Social Studies Teacher Mr. Jim Rose. This recognition is added to the line-up of Principal of the Year, Teacher of the Year, and Volunteer of the Year in an effort to recognize a non-certified school staff member, central office staff member, assistant principal, maintenance, or transportation staff member.

Nominations are currently being submitted by principals and the Board will select and recognize the Support Person of the Year 2014 at the June 2nd regular meeting.

Inclement Weather Adding 15 Minutes to School Day

posted Mar 10, 2014, 9:50 AM by Xan Robinson

Yancey County Schools are committed daily to each child's education and safety. However, sometimes road conditions force us to delay or cancel school across the county. Because we run buses across the county with only one high school and two middle schools, we cannot develop snow districts where some students go to school and others do not. When we have roads that are not safe in limited parts of the county we can decide to have school, but with no buses on icy roads. This is not an option when large areas of roads across the county are not safe, as was the case last Friday, March 7th. Most of the county had clear or spotty roads; however, the South Toe community main road and many side roads were unsafe for buses and teen drivers. This forced us to call school off for all Yancey County Schools. You might ask “Why not have school in all other schools and let South Toe Elementary make up the day?” Students at East Yancey Middle and Mountain Heritage that live in that area would also be negatively impacted.

As mentioned before, when there is a chance of inclement weather, the process to close schools is a team effort that begins around 4:00 a.m. The Transportation Staff gets out and travels all across Yancey County checking road conditions. Our Transportation Director Kenny Renfro contacts the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the Yancey Sheriff’s Department, and the North Carolina Highway Patrol, as well as national and local weather centers. Our goal is to have a decision between 5:00 and 5:15 a.m. Several buses leave by 5:30 a.m. Please remember, we are trying to make a decision about road safety two or three hours in the future. We greatly appreciate the patience of our staff, students and our parents as we work through this process.

The questions now are “Where does Yancey County stand on days?” and “When will we get out of school for the summer?” Here is a recap of where we stand with our calendar: First of all, the North Carolina General Assembly changed the calendar legislation from requiring 180 days and 1,000 instructional hours to requiring 185 days or 1025 instructional hours. The General Assembly also required us to begin school two weeks later than we have in the past. Due to this fact, our school system opted for a school calendar with 18o days of instruction which allowed us to schedule 1,056 hours of instructional time for the school year. This provided Yancey County Schools with a “bank” of 31 extra hours of instructional time. To date, we have missed a total of 16 student days. Several delays and early dismissals have cut into our “bank of time”. This has resulted in the need to gain some time either during the school day or by adding extra days at the end of the school year, resulting in going later into June.

While we have some hours still “banked”, we still have several weeks of possible inclement weather.

Currently we have begun the process of having Saturday as a make-up day for inclement weather days missed Monday through Thursday. This is not an option that anyone likes but does allow us to make up time instead of extending the school year. North Carolina’s Governor Pat McCrory announced that he is looking into the possibility of forgiving some inclement weather days seeing that all of North Carolina has been impacted by severe weather this winter. This could allow all school districts to get out of school a few days earlier in June.

Beginning Monday, March 17th, Yancey County Schools will add 15 minutes to the end of the school day through the remainder of this school year. School will begin the same time as always but will dismiss 15 minutes later than normal. Simply put – Parents - pick up your child 15 minutes later than normal and the buses will arrive 15 minutes later than normal.

Adding this time, adds 1 hour and 15 minutes per week for a total of an extra 15 hours “banked”. This adds 2 ½ days of instructional time that can be forgiven by the Superintendent, if needed. This will allow us keep vacation days at Easter and still finish school around mid-June.

Once we hear what the governor decides about forgiving inclement weather days, we will have a better handle of what we can do in Yancey County and when school will end.

Currently our calendar shows Yancey County Schools’ last day at Tuesday, June 17th. This was the projected end date at the start of the year since we began school two weeks later than normal.

Once a decision has been made regarding “forgiven days” by the Governor, an exact last day of school and graduation date will be easier to determine.

Inclement Weather School Calendar Change

posted Jan 27, 2014, 8:54 AM by Xan Robinson

The month of January has brought with it several days of extremely cold weather and unsafe road conditions forcing us to miss a total of 10 days thus far this month.

We want to remind everyone that with the passing of Senate Bill 187, Yancey County Schools started school two weeks later than normal on August 19, 2013. As you know, this automatically pushed our end date two weeks further into June. However, with the loss of so many days during the month of January and as in preparing the remaining winter months, we are, as in the past two years, implementing the automatic Saturday School plan.

Any time school is closed Monday-Thursday due to bad weather, Yancey County Schools will plan on having Saturday School. Whenever school is missed on a Friday due to bad weather, the decision to have school on that following Saturday will be decided as quickly as possible. Safety of the roads on Friday and whether they will be clear enough by Saturday to have school will be the main factor in the decision for Saturday School, however, previously scheduled weekend events will also be considered when making the decision. Please remember state law dictates that students cannot go to school more than five days a week. We will follow traditional early dismissal hours for Saturday School – Elementary at 11:30 a.m., High School at 11:45 a.m. and Middle Schools at 12:00 noon.

Based on previous feedback, we understand that Saturday School is not popular, however losing a winter Saturday is preferable over losing Spring Break days or going to school further into June.

This plan will begin February 3rd. As always, parents will be notified by the school system’s phone notification system, as early as possible, when Saturday School will occur. We appreciate the understanding and support from parents and staff. Our number one priority will always be student safety.


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