Three Yancey County Schools are North Carolina Title I ‘Reward Schools
Three Yancey County Schools are among only 78 other schools from around the state that have been recognized as Title I Reward Schools for High Performance for 2014-15, based on results from 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years according to the NC Department of Public Instruction.
These three schools are South Toe Elementary, Micaville Elementary, and Bald Creek Elementary. By Title I standards, a “High Performance” school has the highest absolute performance over a number of years for all subgroups, including the “all students” group, on statewide assessments.
Based on these standards, Bald Creek Elementary School has qualified to apply to represent North Carolina in the National Title I Distinguished Schools Program. Cane River and East Yancey Middle Schools have both been honored as National Title I Reward School nominees in the past. The announcement of North Carolina’s national representatives for 2014 will be made sometime after the first of the year.
According to State Superintendent June Atkinson in a press release, “It is no small accomplishment when high-poverty schools are recognized for strong student achievement. By maintaining high expectations and engaging in hard work, these Title I schools collectively demonstrate the belief that all children can learn."
Mountain Scaritage Friday Night Football
Don’t miss out. The Mountain Heritage Varsity Cougars will take on the Avery Vikings at 6:30pm on October 31st at E.L.Briggs Stadium. In the spirit of the season, Mountain Heritage High School, along with local businesses and community groups, will be hosting the first annual Mountain Scaritage Trick-or-Treating and Fall Festival from 6:30pm through half-time of the football game. Children 12 and under in costume will be admitted free into the stadium for the football game and festival with a paying adult.
Festival will be free to participants and will include Trick or Treating, creepy (or not so creepy) face & body painting, train rides on the Haunted Scaritage barrel train (6:30-National Anthem), lots of carnival games, creepy corn hole, spooky tales around the campfire, freaky photo booth, haunted trails, lots of prizes to win, and much, much more. You might even get locked up in the prison of potions….but, don’t worry, Sampson will be sure to bail you out.
At half-time, you will have an opportunity to rattle your bones in our hair raising dance-off and enter the Scaritage Costume Contest. So, come join in the fun as we celebrate Fall and watch our Cougars Vanquish those Vikings.
Mountain Heritage banner sponsors are invited to host an activity or booth. If you are interested in sponsoring a student group booth or hosting an activity, contact Cindy King firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Cane River Middle School Principal Alton Robinson as the Yancey County Schools 2014 Principal of the Year.
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.
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
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 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 (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 http://goo.gl/Qg5y7e. Questions may be directed to the NCDPI Communications division at 919.807.3450.
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.
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 (http://www.yanceync.net/parents/power-school-parent), 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.
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.
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.