From the Desk of ACS Supt. David Burleson – Staff Development Editorial

Published Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 10:00 am

From the Desk of ACS Supt. David Burleson: 

Feb. 26, 2014. One of the issues that any school system faces is how to prepare teachers to meet the needs of students in an ever-changing educational environment.  With the changes made in North Carolina over the last year including Common Core, a different accountability model, and the many requirements placed on our teachers, it becomes imperative to provide quality staff development. In Avery County we have taken that task very seriously.  Most recently, Appalachian State University, one of the premier teacher preparation universities in the nation, and Avery County Schools have joined together to provide staff development in math and reading.

Supt. Burleson

Supt. Burleson

The first program began last spring when ASU offered a reading specialist program for teachers in grades kindergarten through first grade here in Avery County. They are in their second semester and working in their classrooms utilizing new classroom strategies gained while in class.  This year teachers in grades second and third entered the same specialist program, but with unique strategies targeting students in those grades. We plan to start a third group next semester to work with the remainder of our elementary and middle school language arts teachers. We are very proud of our teachers who have given the time and put forth the effort to be enrolled in these classes, even knowing that the General Assembly will not be paying any additional salary for advanced degrees. This confirms the caliber of teachers we have in Avery County and the passion they have for children.

One of the biggest changes in the Common Core has been the math curriculum.  Recognizing the challenges, ACS partnered again with Appalachian State to provide training on site as well as working with teachers in their own classrooms modeling lessons and coordinating the way our curriculum is paced throughout the year. This program will run through the remainder of this year and through the summer.  Thankfully, we have been able to obtain some grant funds to help pay for the majority of this training along with staff development monies from the state of North Carolina. Our belief is that instead of dong one-day workshops where teachers go to different areas, we have brought those trainings to Avery County. This allows us to not only save time and money, but also allows us to develop new resources for our faulty and staff here at home.

Another very significant training for our staff this year is called Darkness to Light sponsored by the Williams YMCA.  This program trains educators and others in the community to recognize the signs of child sexual abuse.  We believe this is an area that must receive proper attention and we intend to ensure that all faculty and staff are trained in the program by next year. Our goal is to do everything in our power to protect our children and to help our staff recognize and resolve issues our students bring to school with them. 

Avery Middle School, through the leadership of Chris Turner, has started a program that will help students who have concerns and challenges with social skills. This program will be facilitated through our school counselors where all students in each school will be served.

Lastly, we continue to be proactive to target school safety. We appreciate the work that our SRO, Tim Winters and Sheriff Kevin Frye do to provide training on a monthly basis helping to make our schools as safe as possible.  Training videos and protocols are practiced on a regular basis with all staff. Each of our faculty and staff members have procedures manual explaining what they should be doing in every emergency situation that could possibly occur in the schools.  The recent lockdown at Avery High is a perfect example of what a student and staff member should do following the guidelines that have been put in place. Thankfully, there was no issue that came out of the lockdown, but there easily could have been.  We are very proud of our students, faculty, and the community for embracing the safe school procedures that we have put in place.

As we look toward spring, I want to thank our bus drivers for their dedicated service this winter as they have worked to keep our students as safe as possible each day.  Also our transportation department, Mr. Brian King, Mike Simerly, and Hardrock Stamey for checking roads and for keeping our buses maintained for safe operation; and Ms. Linda King for taking care of the tedious paper work, routing of school buses and keeping our whole transportation department working effectively and efficiently.

On a sad but appreciative note, we want to congratulate Mrs. Leslie Laws and Mrs. Sharron Jennings on their retirement this week.  Both ladies have done a wonderful job for the Avery County Schools and the students we serve.  Their dedicated service will be greatly missed. 

As always, we appreciate what the community and the parents mean to our schools.  Keep looking for spring and may God bless each of you! 

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