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From the Desk of Avery Supt. Burleson: Summer’s Flying By, Back-To-School Aug. 22

To the Editor:

It is difficult to believe that summer is almost over, and on August 22 students will be coming back to school. I do hope our students have spent time with their families, enjoyed their summer vacation, and are excited about coming back to school to experience another year of learning.

Supt. Burleson
Supt. Burleson

We have had a great summer together. With generous assistance from the community, we have had an impressive summer school program for our young people and staff. We have offered our teachers leadership opportunities through several workshops, STEM Camp for our rising ninth grade students, Camp Med for our junior and senior allied health sciences students, and work-based learning and job placement for other students. Relying on our own community, we have had a very successful Administrators’ Retreat and have an exciting orientation planned for our new teachers. In addition, we have dedicated teachers who have advanced their skills by attending classes and others who are preparing for National Board Certification. We also have applied for and received several grants to enhance student opportunities.

This year we are anticipating an enrollment of over 2,000 students in our school system. I want to take this time to thank our entire community for their support of our school system and each student we serve. When we recruit teachers to our school system, we share with them the support we receive from parents and our entire community.

Without the help of many hard working individuals, we would not be ready to start school this year. Our maintenance staff and custodians have worked very hard getting buildings ready for students. Our teachers are putting in long days preparing the classrooms and lessons. Our teacher assistants and school clerical workers are working diligently to have everything ready when students enter that first day. Many of our child nutrition employees have worked throughout the summer providing meals for the summer feeding program and will continue to serve nutritious meals during the school year. Our transportation department has been active this summer in getting our buses ready to go, reviewing bus routes, and making them as efficient as possible. Consequently, we are very proud of the work that has been accomplished this summer and are excited about the 2016/2017 school year.

This year, I encourage students to set goals to make this the best year they have ever had, to work hard, and to get involved in their schools. I also appreciate the way our students represent our school system and encourage them to continue to use the lessons they have learned at home, in the faith community, and at school to be good citizens in our community. It is always encouraging to hear the positive stories of how Avery County Schools’ graduates make a difference in our community and in the lives of others.

We continue to focus on students and their successes. Therefore, one of our primary goals is to continue to reduce or eventually eliminate our drop out rate. In the past, we had far too many students dropping out of school, and it will take all of us working together to continue to reduce the number of young people who are leaving school before graduating. Over the last four years, we have cut in half the number of students who have dropped out and have been a leader in North Carolina in the graduation cohort rate. While this is a significant reduction, we still have a lot of work ahead of us if we are to provide each student in our school system a quality education. If anyone in our community would like to share ideas they may have in reducing the dropout rate, I would love to hear from you.

For us, another important goal is to create community schools. We believe that our schools should once again be the center of the community where they are located. We want to open the schools for community use and to invite the community to visit with us, for our schools belong to the community.

To create a learning environment where students can be successful is another major goal. It is important for us to let our students know that we care about them, and we want them to be successful. In order for our students to be as successful as possible, we will continue a collaborative, cooperative working relationship between the schools, the parents, the businesses/industries, the community college and the entire community. If we set a goal to help students achieve success, and we expect our schools to provide opportunities for success, then all of our students will have a greater chance to succeed.

With everything all of us have been faced with in terms of economic downturns, budget cuts, budget uncertainty, and shortage of staff, we have experienced incredible accomplishments and it is due to dedicated people, positive attitudes and community support.

I also want to remind everyone of our third annual Back to School Bash for our families which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016 in the Avery High School gym and cafeteria. This event brings together community partners to offer FREE school supplies and information vital for a safe, successful school year. The Back to School Bash will feature law enforcement, fire/safety demonstrations, required forms to complete, free/reduced lunch applications, school registration packets, information about student health and insurance, various activities, FREE haircuts, clothing, backpacks, school supplies and food! The day once again promises back-to-school assistance for families, as well as a time to celebrate the start of another new school year. We continue to need volunteers to assist with the event so please feel free to contact me if you would like to volunteer.

As another school year begins, let’s be aware of the importance of watching out for school buses. Be extra alert when you are driving and see a school bus. Please know that there are no roads in Avery County where you do not stop when the school bus red stop sign is out. It is also very important that our students be very cautious when entering and exiting the bus.

My hope and prayer is that this school year will be the best ever for our school system and for each student we serve. If we, as a school system, can help you, we want to hear from you. I have an open door policy, and I encourage you to visit with me at your convenience. If you are unable to stop by our office, please feel free to call me. I would love to discuss your concerns regarding our school system. I am always open to suggestions on how we can better serve our community.

I am looking forward to the new school year and working with you to provide each of our students the best education possible.


David Burleson