Newsletter Articles

PPS talks education with Senator Louis Pate and Senator Don Davis

Recently PPS leadership sat down with Senators Louis Pate and Don Davis to talk about the role of parent and community engagement in local public education.

Senator Louis Pate represents District 7 and is Deputy President Pro Tempore of the Senate for the 2017-2018 Session and has served 8 terms in the NC General assembly: 4 in the Senate and 4 in the House. Senator Don Davis is himself an educator who represents District 5 and has served 4 terms in the NC Senate. He serves on the Senate Education Committee.

Senators Pate and Davis both expressed strong commitment to our public schools and acknowledged the importance of parental engagement in education. PPS shared the work we have been doing in Pitt County to strengthen public education, including our recent annual Community Conversations report. Davis and Pate praised the hard work of local teachers and administration in making our schools places where every student can succeed. As Senator Pate noted, "Based on what I have experienced on my visits to Pitt County Schools, the education of the children is in good hands." We couldn’t agree more! Thank you again to Senator Pate and Senator Davis for taking the time to learn more about our organization and you, its 2,200+ members. You can reach Senator Pate at Louis.Pate@ncleg.net or Senator Davis at Don.Davis@ncleg.net.

PPS plans Back to School Spirit Week for August 21-25

Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County is kicking off the new school year with a week full of activities that support our organization, our members, and our teachers. Each day, events are scheduled to either raise funds for PPS, inform parents, or celebrate teachers. Please turn out to Basil’s and Buffalo Wild Wings and support these local restaurants who are donating proceeds to support our work!

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Monday, August 21 - Basil’s will donate 10% of its proceeds ALL DAY for take-out or dine in to Parents for Public Schools if you mention us to your server, the hostess, or write PPS-PC on your final bill. The PPS Board will be holding a meet and greet at 6 p.m. at the restaurant. Please join us, support us, and learn more about what we do. Thank you to Basil’s!

Tuesday, August 22 - Join our ED Kylene Dibble for a Facebook LIVE event from 12 noon to 1 p.m., as she gets pointers for parents from elementary, middle and high school principals. Highlights will include important transition tips and schedule overviews. Parents will have an opportunity to weigh in with their questions.

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Wednesday, August 23 - EAT WINGS RAISE FUNDS! Join us from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and mention PPS to your server and support our organization. Buffalo Wild Wings will donate a percentage of its proceeds to us.  Thank you to BWW for supporting us and public education in Pitt County!

Thursday, August 24PCS System-wide Open House - Look for us at your Open House. We will be at all 37 schools and can sign you up for our informative e-newsletter. If you want to be the parent in the know, find us and sign up. There is no charge to join. Times vary, please check with your school.

Friday, August 25 - The Greenville –Pitt Chamber of Commerce Education Network Luncheon supports public education and strengthens the relationships between local businesses and our schools. The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and you can register by clicking here.

Learn About Digital Education in our first PEP Academy Program

Do you know how to make a dollar bill come to life with just the click of an iPhone? Did you know that teachers can play competitive games to find out what information their students have retained using various technological devices throughout the room? Do you ever feel like your child knows WAAAY more about technology than you do? Then this workshop is for you! Mark your calendars for September 26th, 6pm to 8pm, at Eastern Elementary School for our first PEP Academy program of the year.  Lauren Boucher, Instructional Technology Facilitator for Pitt County Schools, will present her popular program “DIGITAL NATIVES”, where parents can experience the latest educational technology being used in Pitt County Schools. Learn how to use some of the most common technological tricks to interact with your child using activities they are most familiar with.  The seminar is free, but registration is encouraged to help us plan for materials. You can register by clicking here

End August 2017 Issue

Annual Community Conversations Report Presented to Board of Education

PPS presented a report to the Board of Education on June 5 generated from this year’s 31 Community Conversations. This year’s conversations involved 511 participants, including 320 parents and community members, 143 teachers and 48 students. Fifty-four percent of participants were white, 41 percent were black, 3 percent were Hispanic and 2 percent were listed as other. 60% of the participants were women. During the Community Conversations participants discussed the strengths and weaknesses of Pitt County Schools, as well as parental engagement, customer service and numerous other issues.

Participants indicated they were increasingly satisfied with Pitt County Schools but wanted the system to have more welcoming campuses, better marketing, more books and printed learning material, more teacher training, more volunteer opportunities and a life skills curriculum. ”The biggest finding I think we saw is that the needle on public education is moving, that people are for the most part are very happy with what’s happening in public school,” Kylene Dibble, the group’s executive director said in an interview. “We found that people really value the teachers and the administrators in the schools, that they not only feel like they are doing a good job teaching, that they feel like their children, are safe, nurtured and well-cared for in the schools.”

To see the report, including PPS’ recommendations to the Board of Education, click HERE.

PEP Class Members Make Big IMPACT

Students from Pitt Academy Transition Center benefitted from a new afterschool program this year created by two participants in PPS’ Parent Engagement Program. Desha Lane and Judy Spell-Dupree designed IMPACT Youth to give the students broader exposure to organizations and opportunities in Pitt County, and to help these students develop valuable interpersonal skills. The program was a partnership between Antioch Church Ministries, the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office and Pitt County Schools, and was supported by PENCO and the Pitt County Child Community Collaborative with funding provided by Trillium Health Resources.

Students were coached on behavior skills as well as receiving valuable mentoring from community stakeholders in addition to career readiness and job shadowing experiences.   Activities for the students included a roundtable discussion with Sheriff’s deputies, and during a recent Spring break Educational Outing, students visited North Carolina Central University and Shaw University, and toured the U.S. Attorney’s office. Students also volunteered their time and talents with the Food Bank, Pitt County Sheriff’s Office Senior Check Program and assisted the Council on Aging with distribution of Thanksgiving meals and Christmas gifts along with Caroling at a Farmville Nursing Home.

For more information on IMPACT Youth, please contact Judy Spell-Dupree at 252.830.4053.

5 Tips for Summer Learning

1. Read Every Day

The Research

At the middle school level, reading four to five books over the summer has a positive impact on fall reading achievement comparable to attending summer school (Kim, 2004).

Suggestions

  • Take your students to the library often and let them choose which books to check out.
  • Listen to books on CDs. These are especially good on especially on long car trips, and can often be checked out from your local library.
  • Subscribe to a magazine.
  • Take turns reading to each other.
  • Allow your kids to stay up a half hour later at night as long as they're reading.

2. Use Math Every Day

The Research

The largest summer learning losses for all children occur in mathematical computation, an average of 2.6 months (Cooper, 1996).

Suggestions

  • Ask your kids to make change at the drive-thru.
  • Show your child how to go to Cool Math to play math games.
  • Make up math word problems in the car and at the dinner table based on everyday situations like mileage, estimated time of arrival, portion sizes, etc..
  • Let your child measure things for you.
  • Cook together, letting your child figure out the ingredient measures.
  • Roll 2 or 3 dice and ask your child to add, subtract, or multiply the result. Give a penny for each right answer.

3. Get Outside and Play Every Day

The Research

Intense physical activity programs have positive effects on academic achievement, including increased concentration; improved mathematics, reading, and writing test scores; and reduced disruptive behavior (Journal of School Health 1997).

Suggestions

  • Find ways to ensure your child is active for 60 minutes each day.
  • Have him or her walk the neighbor's dog, go swimming, play badminton or soccer, take walks, or go for family bike rides.
  • Teach your child to garden and do yard work.
  • Look for safe, fun ways to play outside together year-round.
  • Go to Family Corner Magazine and PBS Parents for more ideas.

4. Write Every Week

The Research

More freshmen entering degree-granting postsecondary institutions take remedial writing courses than take remedial reading courses (NCES 2003).

Suggestions

  • Ask your child to write a weekly letter to his or her grandparents, relatives, or friends.
  • Encourage him to keep a summer journal.
  • Have her write the family's grocery list.
  • Organize a secret pal writing project for adults and kids at your church or in your community.
  • Make it a game: give your student a random topic, set the timer and say “go” and let them write for 10 minutes. Make a jar full of writers prompts on slips of paper (there are many writers’ block websites with creative prompts to choose from).

5. Do a Good Deed

The Research

Students learn better and "act out" less when they engage in activities to aid in their social-emotional development, such as community service (The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning, 2004).

Suggestions

  • Encourage your child to help-out neighbors or friends.
  • Volunteer with a local service group or nonprofit organization.
  • Work on a service learning project.
  • Suggest that your child set aside part of his allowance for charity.

Have a great summer!

Reprinted in part from Reading Rockets

End June/July 2017 Issue

Student with learning disabilities gains early admission to Yale Medical School

PCS recent graduate Jonathan March has just accepted an offer to join Yale’s School of Medicine Class of 2023. But his road to one of the country’s most coveted academic prizes wasn’t what you might expect. Jonathan has always struggled academically in school due to his learning disabilities. Jonathan is dyslexic, has auditory processing disorder and ADHD.  He graduated from J.H. Rose in 2014 squarely in the middle of his class, without ever taking an AP class. But participating in ECU’s STEPP program, and volunteering with ECU’s chapter of an innovative mentoring program called Eye-to-Eye, changed his life in ways no one could have predicted.

The STEPP program provides students with learning disabilities “comprehensive support throughout the university experience. By partnering with these students, their families, and a variety of educational communities, the STEPP Program fosters a network of opportunities and resources to empower and support students from admission to graduation from East Carolina University.”

Eye to Eye is “the only national organization run by and for people with learning "disabilities" such as dyslexia and ADHD. From one-on-one mentoring and inspiring speakers to large-scale culture change, Eye to Eye's outcomes focus on the strengthening of essential social-emotional skills, including self-esteem, self-advocacy, and community building.”  It was at a national meeting of Eye-To-Eye chapter coordinators that Jonathan met the Dean of Yale’s School of Medicine. After a lengthy chat, which included talking about Jonathan’s volunteer work as an EMT at Eastern Pines Fire-Rescue-EMS, the Dean encouraged March to apply to Yale’s medical school (and waived the application fee). On March 31, 2017, March received the letter of a lifetime:

Yale Letter of Admission

Congratulations Jonathan—you are an inspiration to us all!

End of the Year Testing Hacks

For studying before the test:

  1. Shut off the social media: selfcontrol and other apps like it let you block access to distracting websites for a specified period of time.
  2. Research shows that studying in several sessions over time is much more effective than studying in a last-minute marathon. Repetition and practice are the keys.
  3. Mnemonic devices are a proven useful tool—here’s a bunch of them:

https://www.mnemonic-device.com/

  1. Make up a song! Remember School House Rock (still available on YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/user/SchoolhouseRockTV1) or singing your ABCs? Putting information to music makes it easy to remember.
  2. Use tutoring technology to reinforce concepts and clear up any lingering questions: khan academy or Crash Course and Crash Course Kids
  3. Make some high-tech Flashcards: check out Flashcards or StudyBlue
  4. Take breaks and get exercise. Research shows most people can’t focus for more than about an hour at a time without a break, so build breaks into the study schedule. Exercise is a good break activity because it can make you more alert.

For performance on test day:

  1. Don’t stress—it’s only a test. Keep testing in perspective. A test may (or may not) be a useful guide to where your student is on her learning journey, but it certainly does not define her! Encourage a positive attitude.
  2. Hydrate--hydrate--hydrate.  Being dehydrated can negatively affect memory.  
  3. Eat a good breakfast. Many experts suggest including protein in your pre-test meal.
  4. Breathe! Teach your student how to breathe deeply, in and out slowly, to calm down if they get anxious.
  5. Take your time. Read each question carefully, and don’t rush through.

PPS Hosts FB Live Event with BOE member Betsy Flanagan on School Uniforms

PPS hosted a Facebook Live event on May 12, 2017 with BOE member Betsy Flanagan. Parents chimed in with questions and comments about PCS uniform policy. Some were in favor of discontinuing uniforms for PCS students, with commenters pointing out the difficulty of purchasing 2 sets of clothes and finding uniform clothing at certain times of the year. Other parents supported the uniform policy, citing its social benefits and making mornings easier for busy parents. Many made suggestions on improving the uniform policy, including:

  • Allowing more color choice system wide
  • Allowing spirit wear
  • Considering different standards for different grade levels
  • Allowing more flexibility in the types of clothing allowed

Thank you to everyone who participated in this event. The BOE is currently reviewing the uniform policy, and we will keep you updated on any changes.

PPS is considering using Facebook LIVE for future events, and we want to know what you think:

Please take this 2-question SURVEY to let us know if and when Facebook LIVE events could work to inform and engage you.

End May 2017 Issue

J.H. Rose becomes AP Capstone School

J.H. Rose high school will begin participating in the College Board AP Capstone program in the 2017-2018 school year. AP Capstone is comprised of two AP courses, AP Seminar and AP Research, and is designed to complement and enhance study in other AP courses. Typically students take AP Seminar in grades 10 or 11, followed by AP Research. In AP Seminar student study 2-4 relevant issues in depth yearlong through inquiry and research, culminating in a student project and presentation. AP Research is a yearlong class in which the student conducts investigation and research on a single topic, culminating in an academic paper and oral defense of that paper. J.H. Rose will offer AP Seminar to 11th graders beginning in 2017. For more information see https://advancesinap.collegeboard.org/ap-capstone.

Thank You to Our Wonderful Interns

PPS-PC has been very fortunate to have the assistance of two ECU seniors this year, Caitlin Wyant and Taylor Joyner. They have helped us maintain a strong presence in the community by increasing awareness of PPS-PC at numerous community events, making sure we stay connected to education news in the community through social media, and researching other parenting programs in the country as we establish best practices. In addition, they have helped us carry out our main programs, PEP, Community Conversations, and School Tours. Caitlin is originally from New Jersey, but the warm weather of Eastern North Carolina led her to attend East Carolina University.  In May she will graduate with a Bachelors of Social Work degree.  She chose social work because it allowed her to learn about societal issues while giving her the resources and knowledge to advocate for a positive change in society.  Caitlin says that “PPS-PC has been an inspiring and educational internship that will support me in becoming a successful social worker as I start my career.” Taylor Joyner is a senior at East Carolina who will be graduating in May. She has majored in communication and has been working with PPS-PC since the start of the school year. After graduation, Taylor will be attending Queens University to get her Masters in Communication and pursue her goal of becoming an academic advisor. Many thanks and best wishes to Caitlin and Taylor!

Social Media Whiz Needed

Are you a parent who has social media and website development skills and experience? Maybe you are currently staying home and are interested in keeping your resume up to date. Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County is seeking a parent volunteer who could help us with our social media and web based needs for a few hours per week on an ongoing basis. We are conducting an application and interview process as we look for this valuable member of our team. For more information and a full volunteer job description, or to submit a cover letter and resume, please contact Kylene Dibble at kdibble@ppspittcounty.org.

End April 2017 Issue

Everything You Need to Know About Kindergarten Registration

Kindergarten registration is ongoing in March for the 2017-2018 school year.  Your child must be 5 on or before August 31, 2017 to be eligible for admittance into Kindergarten for the 2017-2018 school year.  The specific dates depend on the school, and there are several documents you need to have with you to register.

To register your child, please bring the following information to the school at which you want to register:

  • Proof of age (certified birth certificate)
  • Court order for guardianship (if student is living with someone other than the parent)
  • Two proofs of residence (such as light bill, phone bill)
  • Immunization/Shot Record and Kindergarten Health Assessment

TIP: DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO GET YOUR CHILD’S PHYSICAL! Doctor’s schedules fill up, so don’t wait until right before the school year to try and schedule a doctor’s appointment.

Most registration sessions will be held in the media center or main office. Please check in at the office for further instructions.  If you do not register your child during these dates, you may register him or her at any time by contacting the school.

Early registration ensures bus transportation on the first day of school.

If you wish to choose an Open Enrollment school, see the following article on Open Enrollment.

The Kindergarten registration schedule is as follows:

Schools

March Dates

Time (s)

Ayden Elementary

March 7th, 8th and 9th

March 9th

8:00 am – 2:00 pm

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Belvoir Elementary

 

March 6th, 7th and 8th

 

8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Bethel  School

March 16th

8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Chicod School

March 6th and 7th

8:30 am – 12:30 pm

Creekside Elementary

March 7th and 8th

9:00 am – 2:00 pm

Eastern Elementary

March 7th and 8th

March 9th

8:30 am – 2:00 pm

8:30 am – 6:00 pm

Elmhurst Elementary

March 7th and 8th

8:30 am – 2:00 pm

Falkland Elementary

March 7th and 8th

March 9th

 

9:00 am – 4:00 pm

3:00 pm – 6:30 pm

 

G. R. Whitfield School

March 15th, 16th and 17th

8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Grifton School

March 8th, 9th and 10th

8:00 am – 2:00 pm

H. B. Sugg Elementary

March 15th

March 16th

8:00 am – 5:00 pm

5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Lakeforest Elementary

March 6th – 10th

March 6th

9:00 am – 2:00 pm

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Northwest Elementary

March 7th, 8th and 9th

8:00 am – 2:00 pm

Pactolus School

March 21st, 22nd and 23rd

8:00 am – 5:00 pm

Ridgewood Elementary

March 21st and 22nd

8:30 am – 4:00 pm

South Greenville Elementary

March 13th – March 17th

8:30 am – 4:00 pm

Stokes School

March 13th, 14th and 15th

8:30 am – 2:00 pm

W. H. Robinson Elementary

March 21st and 22nd

8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Wahl-Coates Elementary

March 21st, 22nd and 23rd

8:00 am – 2:00 pm

Wintergreen Primary

March 8th and 9th

8:00 am – 2:00 pm

Remember: Your child must be 5 on or before August 31, 2017 to be eligible for admittance into Kindergarten for the 2017-2018 school year. Here are some useful forms from the PCS website:

For more information, visit the Pitt County Schools website : https://www.pitt.k12.nc.us/

Open Enrollment Applications for Next Year Will be Accepted Beginning April 3rd at 8 a.m.

Open Enrollment allows students in Pitt County to attend a school other than the schools in the school district where they reside. Applications  for open enrollment (Form TR-85) will be taken beginning April 3 at 8 a.m. at the PCS central office on 5th street. 

Open enrollment requests are taken on a first come-first served basis. Remember, bus transportation is not available for open enrollment students, and there are some restrictions on athletic participation (see below).

Procedure for Open Enrollment

A request must be initiated by the parent/guardian of the student involved by completing a Student Reassignment Form TR-85.

  1. The completed form must be delivered to the Pitt County Schools Student Assignment office located at 1717 W. Fifth St., Greenville, NC.
  2. Open enrollment applications will only be accepted between April 3 and June 29 prior to the year of enrollment.*
  3. All approved kindergarten through 12th grade transfers will be for the exit grade of the school for which they are approved unless otherwise stated.
Due to the high level of interest in open enrollment, the school system has the following procedures in effect for April 3rd:
  • Applications received via hand delivery, email, or fax after 8 a.m. on April 3 will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Any applications that are emailed or faxed prior to 8 a.m. on April 3 will be included with the applications received in the mail that day.
  • After processing applications hand-delivered, emailed, or faxed after 8 a.m. on April 3, the school system will evaluate capacity at the schools requested.
  • If the number of requests received prior to 8 a.m. on April 3 or via mail that day exceeds the seats available at a specific school, approval will be determined by random selection. Those not approved for their first choice will be offered their second preference.
  •  If the capacity at a specific school has been reached by the number of applications received after 8 a.m. in person or via email or fax, all requests received prior to 8 a.m. or via the mail will be offered their second choice.
  •  If first and second choice schools are not available because they have reached capacity, the third choice listed on the open enrollment form will be offered.

Please remember that bus transportation is not available for open enrollment students.  Also, there is a one-year moratorium for athletic participation on any student who accepts an open enrollment transfer to D.H. Conley, J.H. Rose, and South Central High Schools. Any student who falls into this category must sit out all sports for one year from the transfer date. This moratorium does not apply to rising 9th graders.

Academically Gifted Programming Offered in Pitt County Schools is Expanding

Academically gifted students in Pitt County have a growing number of opportunities for enrichment. Typically the entry point for these services begins in third grade, and a new “Go Grow” program includes even more students.

Students who are academically gifted or who demonstrate the intellectual potential have special services available to them in Pitt County Schools. Identification begins in third grade by testing as follows in this flow chart: 

AIG Photo

The new Go Grow program includes students who may not fit the traditional definition of gifted, but who exhibit intellectual or academic potential.

AIG Go Grow

 For more information, visit Pitt County School’ website: www.pitt.k12.nc.us.

End March 2017 Issue

School Board Chair Advocates on Capitol Hill for Public Education 

Caroline Doherty, former PPS-Pitt County Board of Directors member and current Pitt County Board of Education Chairman, was in Washington D.C. recently with the National School Boards Association for their annual Advocacy Institute.  Over 700 Board of Education members from around the country, including 23 from North Carolina, heard from Virginia Foxx, Chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Education and the Workforce and Lamar Alexander, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and from other ranking members of both committees who also spoke at the Institute.  

After hearing how Congressional education leaders are planning to change federal education policy this session, delegations of school board members from around the country visited with their elected Senators and Representatives from their home districts to advocate for four priorities important to all public schools.  These priorities are:

  • maintaining federal investments in public schools at least at the current level in Title I, special education (IDEA), and related education funding;
  • reauthorization of the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to include strong credentialing programs, career pathways, and partnerships; and
  • reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act to allow more flexibility in meeting healthy meal requirements and increased reimbursement levels to meet other federal requirements; and
  • support for evidence-based choice options that level the playing field so that all schools that receive public funds are held to the same accountability standards so they can be appropriately compared, and for public funds to be used within public schools to advance curricula and choice and not used directly or indirectly through tax credits, vouchers, or a choice system to fund education at any elementary or secondary private, parochial or home school.  

Several BOE members from eastern NC school districts met with Representative Walter Jones, Representative GK Butterfield, and with the education staff of Senator Burr and Senator Tillis to advocate for these priorities for public schools in NC.  Neither Senator was able to attend the appointment with the school board delegation from eastern NC.

Learn about Kindergarten Registration, Open Enrollment and Academically and Intellectually Gifted Programs at our February Meeting

Please come to our February 28, 2017 meeting to hear from PCS experts about several hot topics:

Kindergarten Registration: Learn when, how and other details regarding upcoming Kindergarten registration. In partnership with PCS, PPS-Pitt county will be offering school tours of all Pitt County elementary schools in February so you can see the Kindergarten programs for yourself and meet other rising Kindergarten families.

Open Enrollment: The popular program is continuing this year. Learn when and how to register for Open Enrollment slots in PCS schools.

Academically & Intellectually Gifted: Learn more about PCS’ Academically and Intellectually Gifted programs, including entrance requirements and new developments.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, February 28th at J.H. Rose High School Lecture Hall (signage will direct you to the event that evening). Registration is required and may be completed by clicking here: REGISTER.

College Bound? Charting a Course for College Admissions

The first step in preparing for high school is to talk to your guidance counselor, who will be able to direct you to a number of resources to get started. PCS has also compiled this useful chart to give you a snapshot of different academic pathways in high school, depending on your student’s college goals. Click here to go to the PCS website:   High School Course Selection Guidelines

End January/February 2017 Issue

PPS Forum Gives Voters Opportunity to Meet the Board of Education Candidates, Hear Their Views on Parent Engagement

Parents and community members turned out to meet the candidates running for the Pitt County Board of Education recently at a forum hosted by Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County. The candidate forum was emceed by PPS Board member Diane Taylor. Each candidate was asked to respond to the question ““If elected to the Pitt County Board of Education, how will you ensure that parent voices are heard and considered in Pitt County schools?”

The responses of the candidates were varied and focused on parent engagement.

Mildred Council, a board member since 2012, stressed the importance of parent participation. “I’m always advocating on behalf of parents that you must get involved,” she said. “Some do, some do not. You’re not going to get it to 100 percent, but you keep trying.” 

Incumbent Benjie Forrest said his own personal experience as a parent trying to communicate with the BOE is what led him to run for his board seat. “Voices weren’t being heard,” he said. “I would make telephone calls to school board members, and I would never get a return call.” Since he has been on the board, he said that he returns all calls, emails and texts within 48 hours.

Betsy Flanagan, a longtime school volunteer and parent leader from Farmville, stressed the importance of using social media and email to better connect with parents. She also advocated for more direct interaction between Board members and parents, suggesting that board members might host public community conversations.

Robert Moore, a PPS board member, told the crowd to pay attention to the work PPS is already doing to advance the role of parents in education in Pitt County. He noted that PPS’ Community Conversations were an excellent way for parent opinions to reach Pitt County’s education leaders.

Current BOE member Mary Blount-Williams underlined the importance of providing better customer service to parents every time they walk into a school. She also stressed the value of parent involvement in Parent-Teacher Associations. “You have to include everyone,” she said. “PTA is an organization that gives that opportunity to do that.” 

After the formal presentation part of the forum candidates mingled and talked with parents and community leaders at length. Candidates participating in the forum were: District 1 candidate Robert Moore, District 2 candidate Mildred Council, District 3 candidates Mary Blount-Williams and Herbert Wright, District 4 candidates Betsy Flanagan and Marc Whichard, District 5 candidate Anna Barrett Smith, District 6 candidate Connie Blake and District 9 candidate Benjie Forrest. 

Candidates not present at the forum due to prior commitments were Billy Peaden, District 3; Worth Forbes, District 6 (Forbes was represented by his son at the forum); Caroline Doherty, District 7; and Melinda Fagundus, District 8.

All nine school board seats were up for election in November.

Historic Election Brings Changes to the Pitt County Board of Education; Many Board Members have a Connection to PPS

In November all nine seats on the Pitt County Board of Education were open for election. Five incumbents were re-elected and sworn in at the December Pitt County Board of Education’s meeting. Returning to the Board are Mildred Council in District 2, Mary Blount-Williams in District 3, Worth Forbes in District 6, Caroline Doherty in District 7, and Benjie Forrest in District 9.

Four new board members were also sworn in at the meeting. District 1’s new representative is Robert Moore. Moore served on the Board of Education in 2013-2014. He was also a board member and director of school tours for Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County until he stepped down to join the BOE. His three children graduated from J.H. Rose High School.

District 4 also has a new representative: Betsy Flanagan. Flanagan is an accounting and finance consultant who has three children attending Farmville schools. She has been an active school volunteer for the last ten years, working with Parent Teacher Associations,  School Improvement Teams and the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports(PBIS) team. Last year, she completed Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County’s Parent Engagement Program.

Anna Barrett Smith is District 5’s new representative. Her three children attend Eastern Elementary, E.B. Aycock Middle School and J.H. Rose High School. She is currently participating in Parents for Public Schools’ Parent Engagement Program and has held leadership roles many times  in the Eastern Elementary PTA and E.B. Aycock Booster Club.

Melinda Fagundus will represent District 8. She is a member of Parents for Public Schools and a current participant in its Parent Engagement Program. Her children attend J.H. Rose High School and C.M. Eppes Middle School, where she has volunteered extensively.

After all nine BOE members were sworn in, Caroline Doherty was elected to be the chairwoman. Doherty is one of the founding members of Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County and served on its Board of Directors before her election to the school board. “I am deeply honored by your confidence in me, and I promise to do everything I can to uphold the standards of this office during my year as chair,” Doherty said.

Community Leaders Tour Local Public Schools

PPS hosted three tours of area schools recently for community leaders. The purpose of the tours was to give an inside look at our schools to people who are making decisions for public schools in Pitt County, and to those who are recruiting newcomers to Pitt County. The tours showcase the great things happening inside the school hallways and classrooms, and give participants a chance to meet some of the students, teachers and administrators who make up the Pitt County Schools family.

The first tour was at AG Cox Middle School and was led by principal Norman McDuffie. This tour was attended by Board of Education members, recruiters from Hyster-Yale, and a realtor. After a warm greeting that included A G Cox baseball caps, the group was led on a tour highlighting special programs like a State Employees Credit Union sponsored life skills workshop, and a room that specializes in meeting the needs of children with exceptional needs.

The second tour was at Stokes Elementary and was led by students who have shown strong leadership ability through the school's Leader In Me program. This tour was attended by a state legislator, a county commissioner, members of the board of education, and a community member. Highlights of this tour included a creative art classroom with beautiful murals on the ceiling, and a panel discussion with nine students who gave their insights about why they are proud to be students at Stokes Elementary. 

The third tour was at Eastern Elementary School. It was led by principal Mr. Robert Johnson. The tour was attended by state legislators, Board of Education members, and recruiters from Vidant Hospital.  The tour was covered by Zora Stephenson from WNCT news, who wrote an interesting news story about how these type of school tours contribute to economic development in Pitt County. Watch it here. http://wnct.com/2016/12/08/pitt-co-group-takes-leaders-on-school-tours-to-promote-county-growth/

End December 2016 Candidate Issue

Board of Education Candidates discuss their PCS vision

This month we asked all the Board of Education candidates to respond to the following question: What do you envision for the future of Pitt County Schools and how can Pitt County parents support that vision? In their own words, here are the candidates answers.

DISTRICT 1 - Robert Moore

“The state of North Carolina pledges to give our children a free, high quality public education and my aim is to build on our proud public school legacy and ensure a rich future for all of the students of Pitt County, North Carolina.  The   My vision is to inspire a public school culture that natures engaging, educating, and mobilizing our community thereby drafting the maximum potential of each public school student to realize and prepare them for college, trade ready and or global inspirations.”

DISTRICT 2 - Mildred Atkinson Council

  • “Mildred Atkinson Council, MSW
  • Retired Public Health Professional-Sickle Cell Educator/Counselor
  • NC Department of Health and Human Services
  • Two Adult Sons—Alumni of J.H. Rose High School.
  • My husband Walter & I Products of Pitt County Schools (Beth Union Alumni)

Envision for the Future of Pitt County Schools

  • All Children prepared for future global Leaders in what ever their career-higher education, military, or work
  • Our public schools must provide the resources needed to train the best and brightest teachers who are culturally diverse in working with the diverse populations. We now have the resources to ensure that our teachers are equipped. The $16.2 Million Federal Grant that Pitt County schools received for teachers incentives must make it happen within the next five years
  • STEM Programs in all middle and high schools NOW. Within three years offer STEM in Elementary schools at least introductory courses/opportunities
  • Continue raising the graduations rates-making sure every graduates have a plan before he/she walks across the stage to graduate
  • Continue providing scholarship opportunities to more children-teaching them and the time frame for executing that whole process which should be in the first semester by October of the Senior year. Guidance counselors must advocate for every child and set high expectations for ALL children 
  • Social Workers must be better utilized in all of the schools-We need to hire one for each Middle and High school to counsel and make sure every child and family get the resources to successfully master the school system without suspensions and jails
  • Continue enhancement for our early college program

Pitt County parents can support the vision by:

  • Parents becoming stronger advocates for their children & super high expectations
  • Parents willing to be educated – parents could use parents peers to help as well as more organized groups such as Parents for Public Schools, PTA, PTO, community groups, etc.
  • Wellrounded children should be the goal of every parent- academics, community service, music, athletics, SGA, or other civic experiences, ROTC, and other extra curricular activities, spiritual connections, scouting, 4-H, etc.

DISTRICT 3 - Mary Blount-Williams – No response

DISTRICT 3 - Billy Peaden – No response

DISTRICT 3 - Herbert W. Wright

“MEET HERBERT W. WRIGHT

Biography

  • Age 62
  • Wife of thirty -39 years- Joyce Weaver Wright
  • Son of Mary Hardy Wright and the late Willie Wright
  • Father of two girls and three boys
  • Brother of one sister and the fifth born of seven brothers.
  • Grandfather of eleven grandchildren.
  • Education – Sally Branch, Belvoir High School and graduated from North Pitt High School in 1973
  • Certification – Welding

Business

  • First began in 1980 at the Herbert Wright Trucking Company and is still operating.
  • *Contracting work – Global Trans Park, Kinston, NC; the New Bern Airport, New Bern, NC; Northwest Elementary School; South Central, Rose High and DH Conley High Schools; CM Bundy, Farmville and Sam D. Bundy Elementary School in Farmville.
  • *Current Employment ER Lewis for 19 years.

School Involvement

  • *Member of the PTA
  • *Contributed to North Pitt High School Girls Basketball and avid supporter of North Pitt.
  • *Donated sand for North Pitt High School.

Reason why I am a better candidate as a representative for District Three on the Pitt Board of Education:1. I have a compassion for children to be not only successful in the academic programs while in schools but also promote the attainment as scholastic achievers for higher education and progressive citizens. I sponsored and supported the implementation of a radio program for North Pit.2. I am approachable and will investigate any and all concerns or issues of parents.3. More importantly, I strongly feel that all children can learn, grow and develop into productive citizens.

            Elect Herbert W. Wright – HE IS THE W”Right” person for the job!”

“Hello, my name is Herbert W. Wright, a candidate for the Pitt County School Board representing District 3.

We need a strong representative for the children and families. AND I AM asking you – to give me a chance. I want children and grandchild to be great learners. Sport are not only popular to children but are also at the top of their list. We as parents need to join the schools and focus more on academics. If parents don’t explain to their children about why education is important, we will not have any professionals in the future. Our communities depend on a strong and solid educational system. And if elected I will do all that I can to make District Three the best

If elected, I assure you that I will listen to your concerns about the schools issues and the policies that the system enforces. After listening, I will research the issue and with the school’s staff determine how we may establish a course of action that will lead to progress and a better understanding of your concerns.

Every school needs a strong parental involvement and support. As parents, should respond to the communications that the school sends out. Read and discuss the report card with your child and encourage him or her to do their very best. As parents, we must do a better job of supporting our schools. By attending activities and become members of the PTO. Our tax dollars should not be going to charter schools. Charter schools are not the answer for us. Public schools are the best and they can be better if we united and concentrate on public education.

As a grandparent of children in District 3, I have been a strong supporter for their schools and I am willing to take positive actions to make the schools in District 3 the best in the county. Together we can build a positive educational image for District Three – join our campaign!! ELECT SOMEONE WHO WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE, ELECT HERBERT W. WRIGHT – The W”right” person for the job!! Thank you”                     

DISTRICT 4 - Elizabeth (Betsy) Flanagan 

“What do you envision for the future of Pitt County Schools?

I envision strong, safe, community-supported schools that produce young adults who have mastered higher order thinking skills and are prepared for whatever path they choose for their future.  As a school system, we should strive to be the shining star of school systems in North Carolina where teachers want to work, parents want to send their children, employers want to hire from, and universities and colleges find our students prepared for higher education.  

How can Pitt County parents support that vision?

Pitt County parents are definitely one of the strongest resources that our schools need to rely on.  As parents and community members, we need to remember that these are our schools.  We are the lifeblood of our schools.  As parents, it is our responsibility to deliver children to school who are prepared and ready to learn.  Our schools can and should be what we desire them to be.  Having great schools takes advocacy for our children, for our schools, and for our community.  If we can team with our teachers, administrators, community, and have a truly representative school board to all work toward the same end goal together, with respect and compassion toward one another, we can be a powerful force of change.”

DISTRICT 4 - Marc Whichard – No response 

DISTRICT 5 - Anna Barrett Smith

 “My name is Anna Barrett Smith (Anna Barrett is a double first name).  I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies.  I am a recruiter with Commercial Oncology Search, Inc., a Charlotte based placement firm.  I am married to Van Smith who is a Senior Vice President with Vidant Medical Center.  We have three children; Sadler, a freshman at JH Rose High School, Dory, a sixth grader at EB Aycock Middle School, and Clara Pierce, a third grader at Eastern Elementary School.  We moved to Greenville from The Outer Banks almost six years ago.

Teachers are not just educators, they can be life changers.  I have seen evidence of that in my own children’s lives, and that is large part of why I want to serve on the Board of Education.  My vision for Pitt County Schools is that we would have teachers who are inspired, trained, and equipped to build life changing relationships with their students.  In doing so, their students will respond by coming to school more prepared to receive information and to learn.  Parents should view teachers as partners in their children’s life education.  They should encourage teachers, communicate frequently with teachers regarding their child’s academic experience, and spend time in the schools supporting their teachers through volunteerism.  In doing so, teachers will feel more empowered to reach each child.  Additionally, partnership creates accountability on both sides for the education of each student.

Additionally, I envision a school system that meets the needs of ALL students, no matter their background or ability level.  I would like to see us focus on graduating students who have reached their individual potential and who are prepared to use their skills and talents to contribute to their families and to their community.  I hope to see us find more effective ways of identifying each student’s strengths (and they all have them) and then challenging that student to work to their highest ability.  “One size fits all” does not work in education and so we must find ways to customize curriculum and programming.  Again, parental partnership enables teachers and administrators to really understand their students and to assess individual learning styles, capabilities, and needs.    We are a school system of diverse learners, and through partnership between parents and educators we can and will find a way to help each student succeed and leave our school system prepared for life.”

DISTRICT 6 - Connie Blake – No response

DISTRICT 6 - Worth Forbes 

“As the Pitt County Schools’ vision tells us, we must continue to partner with family and the community to prepare our students to function effectively in a changing world. One extension of that is the Parents for Public Schools. They help involve, as well as inform, parents in this community of the great things Pitt County Schools does for students.  I see our system as one in which we must continue to be at the forefront of implementing a high quality education for our students.  Our system must not operate at the status quo.  Each year we must strive to do better than the year before when it comes to academic excellence. Our students need to be educated in a positive environment that gives them a sense of safety and support. I think it is important for our school system to not only get feedback from teachers and educators regarding new instructional programs, but to also get feedback from our parents.  Our parents should not be kept on the fringes of our school decisions, but have a real part in making decisions for our system. Our system only gets better by having more active educators, as well as parents. working together to improve the quality education for our students.  Our students are going to be facing a faster changing world than ever before. It is our duty as educators, as well as well-informed parents, to prepare all students for that type of world. Our parents must insist to be a part of the decision making for our county.  We will only be better for it!

I attended Pitt County Schools as a student and graduated from D. H. Conley High School.  I graduated from East Carolina with a Master’s Degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in Administration.  I also received a Sixth Year Degree in Administration.  My children attended Pitt County Schools.  Presently, I have a grandchild in the sixth grade at Chicod.  I will have two more grandchildren in Pitt County Schools shortly.

I was a teacher, assistant principal, principal, 6 – 12 Director, and Associate Superintendent for Pitt County Schools.  I retired with 31 years’ experience.  I have been serving on the Pitt County Board of Education for six years.  I am the pastor of Freedom Baptist Church in Ayden at the present time. “

DISTRICT 7 - Caroline Doherty

 “My vision for PCS:

School should be the place where every student discovers their talents and masters their challenges.  Every classroom should have a well supported teacher so they have the tools to facilitate excellent and engaging learning for every student.  Our schools should be safe, orderly, attractive environments where students and parents feel they are welcome partners in the educational experience.  Our facilities should be new enough to operate reliably and efficiently with predictable and manageable maintenance needs.  Our classrooms should be stocked with modern digital technology and other instructional tools necessary for learning.  Students should be offered opportunities to help them envision a career path that engages and excites them, and moves them toward their future.  This includes learning meaningful skills, developing competencies, and achieving marketable credentials needed to advance to the next level.  

How parents can support this vision:

The most important thing parents can do to promote their children’s academic success is to provide a supportive learning environment at home every day and night.  Set high expectations for your child’s behavior and academic performance.  Strive to understand and support your child’s teachers, because they are your best ally in building your child’s success.  Help teachers understand your child’s needs, and partner with them to overcome challenges. Attend teacher conferences and try to support the school’s requests.  Show appreciation to your child’s teachers as often as you can, especially through notes and emails.  Learn as much as you can about opportunities for your child so you can help them make important decisions that support their future success.”

DISTRICT 8 - Melinda Fagundus

“Occupation: Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

Children enrolled in PCS: yes  (one graduated in 2006, one currently a senior in high school and youngest is in 7th grade middle school)

I envision Pitt County Schools as a place where students are goal driven through their 13 years of education. Plans for their future careers, hopes and dreams will begin being developed as early as Kindergarten.  Dreams and plans may change along as the way; however, I believe that if a student has a dream, he/she will work harder to make it come true.  Helping students identify individual gifts/talents as well as personal interests is key in selecting a successful career path.

Early identification of a goal will give the student an opportunity to map out an effective plan to achieve his/her goal one-grade level at a time. As a student advances in Pitt County Schools, he/she will be one step closer to achieving his/her dream. Parents may help achieve this vision through mentoring, tutoring, and providing positive support for students at all grade levels.  Positive reinforcement with a “you can do it” attitude is especially important during those times where students may struggle along their path.  Together we can inspire our students to be successful on this journey and achieve their dream.”

DISTRICT 9 - Benjie Forrest

“Pitt County Schools, under the current leadership, will continue to seek ways to enable our students to have as many opportunities for learning and career preparation as possible.  We already are making great progress in that direction with such initiatives as our Early College partnership with Pitt Community College and our STEM lab advancements. We want to build upon these achievements and at the same time, work with our County Commissioners to continue to increase the compensation of our teachers, staff, administrators and other employees by continuing to increase the supplements we provide to them.    

Personal History

  • Born August 13, 1955 to Benjamin D. Forrest, Jr. and Ernestine Hardee Forrest
  • Attended Chicod School and graduated from D. H. Conley High School
  • Attended and graduated from North Carolina State University, B.S & M.Ed in Agricultural Education
  • Married to former Pamela Jane Beaver
  • Received Education Administration and Supervision Certificate and Vocational Director Certification from East Carolina University
  • Life-long resident of the Black Jack community

Professional History

  • Agriculture Teacher and FFA Advisor at Washington High School, 1977-1995
  • Eastern Region Agricultural Education Coordinator, 1996-present
  • Manager and Co-owner of B.D. Forrest Family Farms, LLC
  • Owner of Benjie Forrest Farms, LLC” (End of candidate response)
Parents for Public Schools is hosting a Candidate Forum at 6 p.m. October 26, 2016 to meet the men and women running for Board of Education. The meeting will be held at Pitt Community College. Registration is required, and you can do so by clicking hereEnd October 2016 Candidate Issue

Third Annual Education Network Lunch

Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County collaborated with the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Pitt County and Pitt County Schools recently on the third annual Education Network Lunch. The lunch was designed to support public education and strengthen the relationships between local businesses and community leaders and our public schools. About six educators from each of the 37 Pitt County schools networked with local business and community leaders in their respective fields at a back-to-school lunch on the day after teachers welcomed students and parents to the new year at PCS’ annual Open House night.

The lunch was expertly emceed by WNCT’s news anchor Angela Green and featured remarks from Dr. Ethan Lenker, Superintendent of Pitt County Schools, Steve Stephenson, Chairman of the Pitt County Education Foundation, Tommy Price, Chairman of the Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce and Kylene Dibble, Executive Director of PPS-Pitt County.

The keynote speech was delivered by Dr. Virginia Hardy, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at East Carolina University. Dr, Hardy recounted some of her own educational experiences growing up and teaching in eastern N.C. and stressed the critical importance of teachers in the growth and development of students. She noted how the world has changed for the 29,000 ECU undergraduates she currently oversees and how education is changing and evolving as well. Her message of support and encouragement for all those involved in education was enthusiastically received by the large crowd, most especially by the teachers embarking on a new school year.

For photos from the event, please see the Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce Photo Gallery.

Pitt County Board of Education Overview

What is the Pitt County Board of Education?

The Pitt County Board of Education is a nine member Board governing Pitt County Schools, the public school district in Pitt County. Members are elected on a nonpartisan basis and represent nine districts in the County. Members serve four-year staggered terms, although due to some recent changes in the size of the Board all nine Board positions are up for election in November 2016.

What kinds of things does the Board do?

The Superintendent of Pitt County Schools is appointed by the Board. The Board oversees the general operation and finances of Pitt County Schools. This includes budgeting, facilities management and new construction, among other things. The Board also oversees Human Resources for the school system and all its employees, as well as developing educational services and curriculum.

What policy guides the Board?

The board is guided by its duty to provide all students with the opportunity to receive a sound basic education. It is further guided by the following governing principles:

1. Student success. As its top priority, a system of excellent schools provides opportunities for individual students to succeed and overall student performance to improve.

2. Parental involvement. A system of excellent schools involves parents in decisions regarding their own children, the educational program, and the schools.

3. Safe, orderly, and inviting environment. A system of excellent schools creates and maintains a safe and orderly environment where staff and students are focused on and excited about learning.

4. School initiatives. In a system of excellent schools, each school initiates improvements to the educational program and services for students and involves staff, parents, and students in school-level decision-making processes.

5. Professional development. A system of excellent schools provides continuous professional development and training to help personnel gain the skills and knowledge needed to meet State Board and local board expectations, especially as they relate to improving student performance.

6. Removal of barriers. A system of excellent schools prohibits illegal discrimination and harassment of staff and students, encourages tolerance and respect, and seeks to eliminate or lessen other barriers that may impede a student's ability or opportunity to learn, including economic disadvantages, poor nutrition, ill-health, and lack of transportation.

7. Stewardship of resources. A system of excellent schools conserves financial and environmental resources and operates in an efficient manner.

Who currently serves on the Board?

Benjie Forrest, Chair Districts 3 & 6

Mary Blount-Williams, Vice-Chair Districts 1 & 2

Caroline Doherty Districts 4 & 5

Mildred A. Council District 1, Seat A

Marc Whichard District 4, Seat A

Sean Kenny District 5, Seat A

Walter Gaskins District 3, Seat A

Billy PeadenDistrict 2, Seat A

Worth Forbes District 6, Seat A

All terms expire in 2016 as Pitt County transitions to a new nine district map.

What School District am I in?

Check your address on the  Pitt County Board of Education District Map.

For more information on the Board of Education and its policies, please see Pitt County Board of Education web page.

PPS Welcomes New President

PPS-Pitt County recently welcomed Carolyn Sievers Reed as incoming President of the organization’s Board Of Directors, following her service as Vice-President for the last three years. Ms. Reed, a Fayetteville native who has lived in Greenville for the last 19 years, earned both undergraduate and law degrees from the Univerisity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “I am looking forward to working with the Board to continue our initiatives in Pitt County” said Reed. “Parent engagement in our public schools is so vitally important to the success of our students and the school system as a whole. We will be working to promote and support parent engagement at every level, from volunteering in our schools in a traditional way, to increasing attendance at school events and forging more connections between schools and the larger community.”

Reed is particularly excited about the beginning of third Parent Engagement Program (PEP) class this Fall, where parents and community leaders learn the basics of local and state education and develop education advocacy skills. “We have graduated two PEP classes, and those individuals have already had a very positive impact in our schools” she noted. Recent PEP graduates have created events and programs supporting education across Pitt County, including a Spanish translation program.

Reed succeeds Kathy Herring as President, who will now serve as Past President. Herring also serves on the National Board of Directors for Parents for Public Schools. Her invaluable service in starting the Pitt County chapter of PPS was noted and appreciated at a recent Board meeting.

To learn more about PPS’ Board of Directors, please visit our website at http://ppspittcounty.org/

End September 2016 Issue

Kindergarten and Elementary School Hacks

Is your child headed into Kindergarten or Elementary School? Our team of experts has assembled a list of our favorite School Hacks that will help prepare your child and family for a smooth transition. 

Attend your child’s Open House on August 25, 2016:

K-5 Schools    4:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
K-8 Schools    5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
6-8 Schools    5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
9-12 Schools  6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
  • If you are the parent of a kindergartner, know that your first day of school is August 29 if your child’s last name begins with A-L, and August 30 if their name begins with M-Z.
  • Confirm your before or after school care, and make sure you have updated contact information.
  • Label everything! Coats, lunchboxes, backpacks—even shoes.
  • Adjust your child’s bedtime and wake up time a few days before school starts.
  • Plan out a school day routine, and involve your child in the process. Set clothes out the night before, put bowls, spoons, and cereal boxes on the table the night before. 
  • Make sure your child can open his or her lunchbox and containers on their own.
  • Read to your child at least 10 or 15 minutes a day. As they learn to read, have them read to you.
  • Make math a part of your daily activities. Count, time and measure things for fun, whether at home, at the store, or in the car.
  • Sign up for a college savings program at CFNC.org  It’s never too early to start saving!
  • Connect with Pitt County Schools: you can download the mobile app, sync your calendar with the school calendar, sign up for free/reduced lunches and much more at Pitt County Schools  (check out the new language translation feature).
  • The PCS mobile app is especially useful, as it will alert you if there is a school closing or any other urgent announcement.
  • Like your school’s Facebook page
  • Look for easy ways to get involved at the school. Attend parent meetings. Volunteer for small, one-time jobs that don't require a lot of stress, such as chaperoning field trips or working at a special event at the school.
  • Take it easy for the first week or two. Your little one may be tired and need some extra downtime.
  • Have fun and take lots of pictures.

Good luck to everyone as you start your new journey into kindergarten and beyond! Special thanks to PPS-SF for the hacks!

School Hacks: Getting Ready for Middle School

Middle school is a big leap for families. Kids and parents alike can feel overwhelmed by all of the changes that go along with this milestone. We talked to our team of experts, including parents of middle schoolers and actual middle school kids. Here are a few tips for navigating the middle school transition.

Daily changes.

Help your middle schooler get organized for a more complicated daily schedule. If the school has lockers, teach her how to use a combination lock.

Prepare the route.

Plan the transportation route to school, and make sure your student understands the time constraints involved. Set a “leave the house“ alarm 5 minutes ahead of when you need to be walking out the door. Middle school is a great time to teach kids to get to school on their own if that is an option. If walking or biking, practice the route to and from school ahead of time with an adult.

Get in the loop.

Middle school kids are notorious for “forgetting” to share important school information. Fortunately, many schools make use of PCS digital communications. Sign up for your school’s email, listserv or online communications groups, including PCS’ Facebook and your school’s own Facebook page.

Space it out.

Get ready to give your kid more freedom and space. Let them figure out school for themselves, even if it means making a few mistakes along the way. Your child will learn and grow a lot from struggling with issues themselves, so don’t be too quick to “rescue” them from the natural conequences of their behavior. Ask “how can I help?” instead of :How can I fix this for you/”  

But be an ear.

At the same time, remember that middle school kids are still young and need a safe space to be a kid. Be ready to listen and let them still act childish in the safety of home. Keep lines of communication open by listening more than judging or correcting.

Encourage self-advocacy.

Encourage your student to ask teachers, administrators and coaches for help themselves when they have a question or problem. Help them brainstorm what to say if they are unsure, but let them take the lead.

Encourage positive exploration.

Middle school is a good time to try new things, such as a new sport, new clubs, music or art classes. Acknowledge and support your student’s creativity and courage in branching out.

But set limits.

Middle school is a time of incredible physical and emotional change. Help set limits by enforcing bed times and rules around screen time and phone time.

Be involved at your child’s school.

Attend your school’s Open House on August 25, 2016

K-8 Schools    5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

6-8 Schools    5:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.

Attend parent nights and meetings.

Volunteer, even in a small way—your support means a lot to the school and will help build your relationship with teachers and coaches.

Great resources for middle school transition:

Parent Toolkit. Guiding Our Kids Through School Transitions: Middle School.

CNN. Awkward! The Tough Transition to Middle School.

High School Hacks

Attend Open House and gather information.

Pitt County High School Open Houses are on August 25, 2016 from 6-8:30pm. Sync your calendar with the school system, download the mobile app and much more at Pitt County Schools. Like and follow your High School’s Facebook page.

Teachers and coaches are your allies.

Get to know them and trust them early on, rather than first meeting them when there’s a problem.

Participate in school activities.  

Join the PTA/PTO, booster clubs and attend all parent nights and events. Become a fan of your school’s sports and other competitive teams and attend events and games (just don’t expect your child to sit with you).

Organize a carpool.

It helps take the load off your family, and let’s you hear what’s going on as the kids discuss school.

Share your organizational skills.  

High school is the time to learn to set a schedule, make lists, check and update calendars, respond to emails, etc—all the things they need to know how to do in real life. Share your special tips and tricks to stay organized!

Share your life skills.  

High school is also the time students need to learn to manage money, manage relationships independently, and take care of all the routine tasks of adulthood. Remember the “teaching moment” from preschool? The same applies in High School—if you are making pancakes, show them how. If you are making an ATM deposit, show them how—you get the idea.

Feed them well.

Teenagers are so hungry! Serve balanced meals, keep a fridge full of healthy snacks and hope for the best.

Help them map out a plan.

Four years seems like a long time, but it passes quickly. Help your student think about their life after high school and help them plan out what they need to do each year to move towards their goals. You can schedule a meeting with their high school guidance counselor to discuss options, and there are many online resources as well. For some great advice on transition from middle school to high school: Edutopia-Transitions.

End August 2016 Issue

Parents and Educators Thank County Commissioners for Strong Budgetary Support of Public Education

Parents and educators attended the June 7, 2016 Pitt County Commissioners’ public hearing on the annual budget for an unusual reason: to thank the Commissioners for their continued support of public education. PPS’ Executive Director Kylene Dibble expressed gratitude for the Commissioners’ unwavering commitment to funding public schools, especially in light of  “the difficulty of apportioning funds in a tight budget.” She noted that their “decision to provide this generous funding to Pitt County schools sends the message that public education is highly valued by the key decision makers in our county. “  Dibble also thanked the Commissioners on behalf of a group of Pitt County residents who “don’t come to County Commissioner meetings, don’t vote and most probably couldn’t yet comprehend a budget. I am talking, of course, about the students of Pitt County Schools. Every dollar that you apportion benefits them the most directly, and makes a difference in the quality of their educational experience.”

Several Pitt county educators also appeared before the Commissioners to express their support of the education budget, including North Pitt High School Principal Dr. Lionel Kato. Dr. Kato noted that the proposed budget included the first capital increase in 15 years, which would allow schools to make much-needed repairs and upgrades. Emily Klinedinst also thanked the Commissioners and noted that the budget proposal contained not only enough money to cover fixed costs, but also enough to enable PCS to recruit “the best and the brightest” new teachers.  E.B. Aycock math teacher Tamara Harris expressed her thanks to the Commissioners, saying, “we appreciate that you put [education] first on your list of priorities, and hope that you will always keep it first.”

In turn, many of the Commissioners expressed their appreciation for the community’s recognition of their hard work on the budget and their commitment to public education. The budget was passed on June 15, 2016.

Motivated 2015-2016 PEP Class Graduates With Big Plans

20 Parent Engagement Program (PEP) class participants graduated in May in a ceremony at the Pitt County Board of Education. PEP is a free parent leadership class available to Pitt County residents, designed to increase positive parent engagement and enhance school-parent collaboration. PEP classes are offered annually by PPS and conducted by nationally trained facilitators, covering topics such as school curriculum, data, testing and leadership. 2015-2016 class members represented a wide cross section of the community, including business leaders, professors, retirees and full-time parents.

Superintendent of Pitt County Schools Dr. Ethan Lenker spoke to the graduates, thanking them for their dedication to public education and stressing the importance of parental and community engagement in the schools. He praised PPS as the “best parent educational organization I’ve ever seen or worked with” and urged class members to continue their efforts in support of public education. PPS president Kathy Herring and PEP program director Robin Dailey also spoke to the graduates, encouraging them to continue to advocate for students and education at their schools and in their other spheres of influence.

As a part of the PEP class participants created their own Individual Leadership Plans to improve local schools. The graduates shared those plans with Dr. Lenker and the audience as a part of the graduation event. Plans included a initiative which will create a website to connect area businesses to specific schools’ needs, developing the website for the new books-from-birth program for Eastern NC, a reading program for South Greenville school, and working with students at Pitt Academy. Titles of the individual leadership plans demonstrate the broad range and impact of the projects created by PEP class members:

  • Books from Birth of ENC
  • Revitalize Agriculture Program - FFA at FCHS
  • Farmville School-A-Palooza
  • South Greenville Reading Program/ PPS Community Leader
  • Impact Youth
  • D.H. Conley Media Communications
  • Step in the Right Direction
  • Food Allergy Awareness
  • Business and School Resource Connection
  • Impact Youth
  • Enhancing Community Conversations
  • Orientation - Transitions for new families with IEPs

Enrollment for next year’s PEP class, which is free and open to the general public, is underway. Pitt County residents with an interest in deepening their understanding of and involvement in our public schools are encouraged to apply. For an application to be a member of the 2016-2017 class, please contact Robin Dailey at mailto:daileyr@pitt.k12.nc.us?subject=PEP class

PPS Presents its Annual Community Conversation Report to the Pitt County Board of Education

PPS presented its second annual Community Conversations report to the Board of Education in June. Kylene Dibble, PPS’ Executive Director, summarized the major findings of the 63-page report, compiled from 25 community conversations held in Pitt County over the past year. Community Conversations are structured group discussions of public school topics designed to solicit community perceptions and opinions about public education in Pitt County. Conversations were held with participants from businesses, schools, civic organizations and community groups at a wide variety of venues including schools, churches, non-profit locations, civic group meeting places, and business locations.

At each of the Community Conversations, facilitators posed a number of discussion questions and then carefully recorded all participants’ comments. The participants were assured that their comments were anonymous, thereby encouraging candor. Participants varied widely in their relationship to public education. Some had children in public schools, some had no children, some had children in private schools, some had children who have graduated from public school, and some had school age grandchildren.

The key highlights from the 2015-2016 Community Conversations:

  • Participants believed that there are many current strengths within Pitt County Schools, the largest being that educational programming is strong and that PCS teachers and administrators are well trained and well prepared for their duties.
  • Individuals’ primary concerns about PCS related to infrastructure and student behavior. Respondents believed that there is a need for building improvements and increased safety for Pitt County Students. Additionally, more than half of the Community Conversations produced comments about bullying and discipline, with an overwhelming indication that there is a perception that discipline needs to be improved and/or changed, and bullying needs to be addressed more seriously.
  • Conversations made it apparent that parents have a strong desire to volunteer in the schools. However, parents are unsure of the best way to do so. Suggestions were given about increased forms of communication so that parents will be well informed about available volunteer opportunities.
  • Participants indicated that parents send their children to Pitt County Schools because of its accessibility. Parents are pleased with the school hours, which generally accommodate work schedules. Parents also indicated that they are happy with their school choice options and very thankful for open enrollment. They are happy that adequate transportation is available.
  • When asked why some parents might send their children to private school, attendees gave a wide variety of responses indicating the following perceptions of private school offerings: stricter guidelines, smaller class sizes, more individualized instruction and less bullying.
  • Participants indicated that many families choose charter schools because the schools are perceived as being more individualized, able to teach in more creative ways in order to accommodate that individuality, and that there are fewer discipline issues, leading to less overall bullying.
  • When asked what else they would like to tell Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County, several individuals mentioned the need for more clearly defined and followed discipline policies. Participants also suggested continuing Community Conversations, as they felt like this was a safe avenue by which their voices could travel to the Pitt County’s education leaders.
  • Realtors indicated that school tours are one of the most helpful programs offered by Parents for Public Schools. They had many suggestions for how to make these tours even more accessible to all Pitt County Families, including virtual tours and phone conversations with current parents.

Parents for Public Schools believes that the entire community should be part of the conversation about our public schools, and we consider it our responsibility to provide a bridge of communication between Pitt County residents and their public education leaders. If you would like PPS to bring a Community Conversation to your group or civic organization, please contact PPS-Pitt County Executive Director Kylene Dibble at kdibble@ppspittcounty.org for more information.

End May/June 2016 Issue

Open Enrollment Begins: Middle and High Schools Tours Available

Open enrollment for Pitt County Schools for the 2016-2017 school year got off to a great start on April 1, 2016, with many parents lining up before daylight to turn in enrollment requests. One parent who lined up early said that it was worth it to make sure her son got the opportunity to switch schools. “We have been very pleased with his current school, but felt that another school was an even better fit for his particular academic and music interests. It’s nice to be able to have a choice of schools in the area.”

Approximately 150 requests were filed on April 1, the first day the enrollment application became available at PCS’ central office. The open enrollment period continues until July 1, 2016. For more information on open enrollment see the Pitt County Schools website: Open Enrollment Info.

To help parents make informed decisions, Parents for Public Schools and PCS are partnering to offers school tours of area middle and high schools on April 25-28, 2016. The tour schedule is as follows:

School Tour Times and Dates:

APRIL 25

  • Ayden Middle - 9 a.m.
  • C.M. Eppes Middle - 10 a.m.
  • E.B. Aycock Middle - 1:30 p.m.

APRIL 26

  • Farmville Middle - 9 a.m.
  • Hope Middle - 9 a.m.
  • A.G. Cox Middle - 10:30 a.m.
  • Wellcome Middle - 1:30 p.m.

APRIL 27

  • Ayden-Grifton High - 9 a.m.
  • D.H. Conley High - 10 a.m.
  • Farmville Central High - 1:30 p.m.

APRIL 28

  • J.H. RoseHigh - 9 a.m.
  • South Central High - 10 a.m.
  • North Pitt High - 11 a.m.

Come on out and see what’s new in the schools—everyone is welcome! For more information on school tours, please contact PPS-Pitt County Executive Director Kylene Dibble at kdibble@ppspittcounty.org. To register for a tour please use Volunteer Spot by clicking HERE.

Sheppard Library, Pitt County Schools Collaborate to Enroll Every Student in Online Borrowing Program

Pitt County Schools is collaborating with Sheppard Memorial Library in Greenville in an exciting new online borrowing initiative that will greatly expand students’ access to digital materials. Every K-12 PCS student is being enrolled, free of charge, in the new program and will be able to access a wide range of online resources from school, home or anywhere they have internet or Wi-Fi connectivity.

Greg Needham, Director of Libraries in Greenville, stresses that  “by working together, Sheppard Memorial Library and Pitt County Schools are now able to provide easier and better access to the library’s online resources for students, families, and teachers.  Those resources include hundreds of online full-text magazines, newspapers, journals, e-books, and e-magazines, all of which are extremely valuable for middle and high school students, for schoolwork, research, and pleasure reading.  There are additional resources that cover everything from SAT and ACT test prep to literature criticism and NC DMV permit practice, and more besides.” 

Training on the new system at area schools begins this week. Needham and his staff are also exploring options to expand online offerings for younger students as well, and will be adding e-books for younger readers very soon.  “Of course, we encourage everyone to check out and enjoy our fabulous traditional books and other materials as much as possible (we have ¼ million books!)," Needham added,  "but we want to make sure our community has access to the best e-resources!” 

Here are some of the resources available through the program:

  • NC LIVE: The power of your library, online!  Includes FULL TEXT magazine and newspaper articles.   Free access to a vast collection of e-books, audiobooks, videos, online magazines, newspapers, journals, and more!  Great student resource.
  • NewsBank Daily Reflector: Searchable online access to news articles for the last ten years in the Greenville Daily Reflector.  Also includes access to America’s News magazines which includes over 27 publications.
  • Learning Express Library: Prepare for your SAT, ACT or AP exams!  Free practice tests, interactive tutorials and eBooks to help you prepare for college success.  Includes practice tests and self-paced courses for students & adult learners.  ASVAB, GED, GRE, resume and cover letter writing courses and more are included.
  • Literature Criticism Online: Need critiques for your English class?  Click here.  Includes a range of modern and historical views on authors and their works across regions, eras and genres.  Multiple search and browse options are included
  • NCpedia is an online encyclopedia about North Carolina
  • With NCknows, you can connect to a librarian through your computer at any time. By typing messages back and forth, we will be able to give you answers, articles and more. It's easy and safe. We are open 24/7 except for Sat/Sun midnight-8am.
  • Looking for a good book?  NoveList will help you find your next great read!
  • Select Reads: Now there’s an easy way to check on new books arriving for all ages.  As soon as a new title arrives, you’ll be the first to know via email.  Looking for an interesting read?  Click here to find the latest and greatest books that have arrived at the library.  AND with just a click, see if the book is in and place a request.
  • FREE NC DMV Permit Practice Test
  • Cypress Resume: Job hunting and need a great resume? 
  • Sheppard Memorial Library catalog: Don’t forget the SML Catalog, a POWERFUL tool!

To see these resources for yourself, click Student Library Resources.

Parent Leaders Prepare for Graduation, Meet With School Board Members

Parent Engagement Program (PEP) class participants are nearing the end of the educational journey they started at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year. PEP is a free parent leadership class designed to increase positive parent engagement and enhance school-parent collaboration. PEP classes are conducted by nationally trained facilitators and cover topics such as school curriculum, data, testing and leadership.

Robin Dailey, a veteran local educator who serves as the PEP program’s coordinator, notes that this year's “dynamic and diverse PEP class of 20 participants represents parents and community members from 17 different Pitt County Schools.” Class members include education professionals, business leaders, professors, retirees and full-time parents. Despite the difference in their backgrounds, Dailey stresses that they have one important characteristic in common: “they are committed to strengthening our public schools.” Class members are currently creating their own Individual Leadership Plans to enhance local schools.

Pitt County Board of Education members Benjie Forrest, Mildred Council and Caroline Doherty attended a recent PEP class session to discuss the role of the Board of Education in public school systems. BOE members gave class members a glimpse into their motivations for public service and then opened the floor to questions and lively discussion on a range of education topics.

This year’s PEP class will graduate in May. Enrollment for next year’s class, which is open to the general public, is underway. Pitt County residents with an interest in deepening their understanding of and involvement in our public schools are encouraged to apply for one of the twenty available seats. For an application to be a member of the 2016-2017 class, please click APPLY.  For more information or to nominate someone for a spot in next year’s class, please email Robin Dailey by clicking EMAIL

End - April 2016 issue

Open Enrollment and Kindergarten Registration Questions Answered

Parents packed a standing-room only PPS meeting in February to learn more about Kindergarten registration and Open Enrollment.  Lisa Tate, Director of K-5 Curriculum & Instruction for Pitt County Schools gave a presentation covering the basics of Kindergarten Enrollment. She discussed registration procedures, assessments and “independence day”, among other things. Terri Joyner, PCS nurse manager, also answered questions regarding immunizations. Brock Letchworth shared many tips to help parents navigate the open enrollment process. Video coverage of the event can be seen by clicking here.

Frequently Asked Kindergarten Enrollment Questions Covered at the Meeting:

1. When do I register my preschooler for Kindergarten?

Your child must be 5 on or before August 31, 2016 to be eligible for admittance into Kindergarten for the 2016-2017 school year. Registration takes place from March 1st – 24th, 2016, on different dates for different schools: Kindergarten Registration Dates 2016

 2. How do I register my preschooler for Kindergarten?

To register your child, please bring the following information to the school:

  • Proof of age (certified birth certificate or other document approved by the principal)
  • Court order for guardianship (if student is living with someone other than the parent)
  • Proof of residency (two documents) Immunizations/shot record and Kindergarten Health Assessment

3. What immunizations are required before my child can attend Kindergarten?

Children who start kindergarten on or after July 1, 2015 will be required to have additional vaccines to protect them from serious diseases. Kindergartners will now be required to have two doses of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine if they do not have a history of disease documented by a health care provider and the 4th dose of polio vaccine must be given after 4 years of age and before entering school for the first time.

4. What is Kindergarten “Independence Day”?

“Independence Day” is the day, usually about a month into the school year, when all kindergarteners begin walking to their classrooms on their own. It’s a big step in the educational process, both for students and parents!

For more information on Kindergarten please see the PCS website: Kindergarten Registration     

At the meeting Brock Letchworth, Coordinator of Public Information & Community Engagement for PCS, gave an overview of the Open Enrollment process and identified the schools added for next year to the open enrollment list. He explained the open enrollment application process and answered a wide range of parents’ questions, including questions about sibling enrollment, ranking preferences and sports participation. 

Frequently Asked Open Enrollment Questions Covered at the Meeting:

1. Which schools are included in the open enrollment plan?

Open Enrollment Schools for 2016-17

High Schools

  • Ayden-Grifton High
  • D.H. Conley High
  • Farmville Central High
  • J.H. Rose High
  • North Pitt High
  • South Central High

Middle Schools

  • Ayden Middle
  • Farmville Middle
  • Wellcome Middle

K-8 Schools

  • Bethel School
  • Stokes School

Elementary Schools

  • Ayden (K-5)
  • Eastern (K-5)
  • Elmhurst (K-5)
  • H.B. Sugg (K-2)
  • Northwest (K-5)
  • Sam Bundy (3-5)
  • South Greenville (K-5)
  • Wahl-Coates (K-5)
  • WH Robinson (K-5)

2. If I already live in the area of my assigned school, do I now have to apply to go there?

No. If you wish to attend your assigned school, you do not need to participate in the open enrollment process. However, if your child has never been to Pitt County Schools, you will need to register him/her for school.

3. How do I apply for my child to attend an Open Enrollment school?

You must fill out an application (called the Student Reassignment Form TR-85 ) and turn it in to Pitt County Schools Student Assignment Office between April 1 and July 1 prior to the year of enrollment. The Student Reassignment Form TR-85 can be obtained from the school, the central office, or the PCS Website.

4. If I am registering for kindergarten through the Open Enrollment process, when do I register?

Turn in your open enrollment application on April 1st. If you are issued an open enrollment approval letter, immediately take it to your open enrollment school and complete the kindergarten process as described above.

5. Will transportation be provided if I choose to go to a school through open enrollment?

Not at this time.

6. I heard that open enrollment will affect some students’ availability to play sports. Is that true?

Students who transfer to DH Conley High School, Rose High School, or South Central High School will have to sit out one year before playing sports again. Students transferring to North Pitt High School, Farmville Central High School, or Ayden Grifton High School will not have to sit out for one year. This policy does not affect rising 9th grade students or students coming to Pitt County Schools for the first time, only those who are transferring from one Pitt County School to another.

7. I have heard that some schools will specialize in certain themes. Which schools and what are the themes?

The four elementary schools inside the Greenville City limits will have specialty focuses. Wahl Coates Elementary will focus on the arts. Elmhust Elementary will focus on global health. Eastern Elementary will have a STEM focus. South Greenville Elementary will offer a “quick start” session during the summer and AVID.

For more information see Pitt County Schools website: Open Enrollment Guide

Pitt County Schools Announced as Spirit of North Carolina Award Recipient

Each year, the United Way of North Carolina recognizes and awards companies and organizations that have demonstrated strong community spirit and support through involvement with their local United Way.  The Spirit of North Carolina Award celebrates the partnership of people working together to develop and implement innovative solutions for long-term community change.

Businesses, professional and non-profit organizations, governmental entities, healthcare and educational institutions – large and small – are nominated to receive the Spirit of North Carolina award because they are champions of change.  They raise their voice to share the story of their community, volunteer their time and expertise, and invest their resources.

A team of 21 United Way leaders from across North Carolina selected 33 winners.  The established Seven Standards of Excellence, including volunteer culture, partnership with community to raise awareness of needs and foster a spirit of giving, leadership involvement, and campaign coordination are the criteria on which the nominees were judged

This year, one of the winners was Pitt County Schools. Pitt County Schools has seen a dramatic increase in its United Way contributions in recent years. The school system has had a 129% increase in money donated to United Way of Pitt County since the 2012-13 campaign and had the largest dollar increase ($27,274) in workplace campaigns in the county for 2014-15.

Former Pitt County Schools administrator Jackie Smithwick accepted the award on behalf of the school system during the United Way of North Carolina’s Annual Meeting and Awards Luncheon in February in Pinehurst.

United Way of Pitt County provides a safety net of basic needs services and looks at the bigger picture to tackle the issue of strengthening families by focusing on school success and workforce development. Three initiatives supported by the United Way of Pitt County directly affect Pitt County Schools. They include the Student Success Academy, the Partnership for Progress afterschool program, and the Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County organization.

Parents Flock to Elementary Schools for School Tours

PPS-Pitt County and PCS partnered to offer group tours of 20 local elementary schools in late February and early March.  The schools welcomed the groups warmly, with some schools providing music, food and even a scavenger hunt.  The informative tours lasted approximately one hour and showcased the schools’ facilities, curriculum, faculty and students.

For example, at Stokes School, student leaders greeted tour participants in each classroom as a part of the school-wide innovative Leader in Me program. The tour (co-led by a seventh grader) also included a stop with the school’s lively orchestra, as well as a media center brimming with books, computers and digital tablets. In the art classroom parents were impressed by the wide variety of projects worked on by students over the year, including pottery, enameling, woodworking, beading and fine arts drawing and painting.

PPS and PCS offered the group tours to encourage parents to see firsthand the many unparalleled opportunities offered by Pitt County Public elementary schools, as well as to allow parents considering open enrollment a chance to see inside the school of their choice. Plans are underway to offer middle school and high school group tours as well.

Robert Moore, PPS Board member and chair of the School Tours committee, helped host tours at numerous schools. “It has been my pleasure to be a part of the recent schools tours sponsored by Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County,” Moore said.  “To participate with parents and community members to help strengthen the School system is time well spent on my part and is sowing a seed that will make a difference in the future for public school students.”

 Group tours were offered at the following elementary schools:

  • Creekside
  • Ridgewood
  • W.H. Robinson
  • Ayden Elementary
  • Chicod
  • Pactolus
  • G.R. Whitfield
  • Wintergreen Primary
  • Grifton
  • Eastern
  • Elmhurst
  • Wahl-Coates
  • Lakeforest
  • South Greenville
  • Bethel
  • Belvoir
  • Northwest
  • H.B. Sugg
  • Stokes
  • Falkland

For more information on school tours, please contact PPS-Pitt County Executive Director Kylene Dibble at kdibble@ppspittcounty.org or by calling (252) 758-1604; 201.

End - March 2016 issue

February 25th Member Meeting Highlights Open Enrollment and Kindergarten

When Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County began hosting Community Conversations in 2014, it became overwhelmingly clear that one of the most important issues to parents was school choice. PPS-PC presented this information to the Board of Education in 2015, and this month they voted to expand open enrollment opportunities in the district. "Open enrollment is a policy wherein parents may apply to enroll their students in certain schools regardless of where they live in the county," explains Carolyn Reed, Vice-President of PPS-PC. 

Parents seeking more information on new opportunities are encouraged to attend the PPS Member Meeting, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. February 25 at the Community Schools and Recreation Building. Brock Letchworth with Pitt County Schools will provide an overview about the open enrollment process and answer frequently asked questions, including:

  • Which schools are included in the open enrollment plan?
  • If I already live in the area of my assigned school, do I now have to apply to go there?
  • Will transportation be provided if I choose to go to a school through open enrollment?
  • I heard that open enrollment will affect some students’ availability to play sports. Is that true?
  • I have heard that some schools will specialize in certain themes. Which schools and what are the themes?
  • Is this only a trial for next year, or is this something Pitt County Schools will keep for years to come?
  • We look forward to seeing you on February 25th!  
Seating is limited, so please register to attend today.

PPS partners with ECU to utilize talented Interns

Parents For Public Schools of Pitt County has partnered with ECU to utilize the talents of two extraordinary young interns. "We are happy to have Meredith Hawke, undergraduate Communications, and Hannah Worley, Master's of Social Work working with us," said Kylene Dibble, ED of PPS. "Their hard work and talent have enabled us move forward quickly on more projects and initiatives," she added. The interns share their thoughts below:

Hannah Worley: “Raised in North Carolina, I have been privy to all this great state has to offer including a recent move to East. I became an ECU Pirate in the Fall of 2015 when I entered the graduate program as a Masters of Social Work Candidate; graduating in the Spring of 2017. I am honored to serve as the PPS-PC Social Work intern for the Spring semester, and am excited to see the further strides PPS-PC will take toward a stronger school system that benefits all community members, including some of the most valuable members of our community, the children. Also, I have a deep love for athletics and local coffee shops!”

Meredith Hawke: "​I am a senior from Pinehurst, NC studying Communication at East Carolina University. I have been with Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County for the past six months, and I enjoy working with its driven board of directors. While with PPS-PC I have had many opportunities including social media updates, being the “face” of PPS at events throughout Pitt County, and creating awareness of how pivotal an organization we are. I also serve as President of the ECU chapter of Public Relations Student Society of America. I enjoy sharing my intern and life experiences with other students to help them grow in their own career path."

A big thank you to Hannah and Meredith for helping make PPS-Pitt County stronger!

Kindergarten: Everything You Need to Know

Kindergarten. That time in life when a child is excited, nervous, anxious, and wondering what to expect from a brand new experience. Wait….does this describe the feelings of children, or their parents? The truth is, you and your child are likely experiencing these emotions as you get ready to enter this very memorable time of your lives.

Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County and Pitt County Schools recognize that this is a big transition for your family and we are working together to make this change as smooth as possible. We know you must have questions about the registration process, the kindergarten assessment, open house at your school, and the first days of school. Oh, and independence day….what’s that? Please come to our member meeting on February 25th at 6:30pm at the Community Schools and Recreation Building, where Lisa Tate, director of K-5 education for Pitt County Schools will speak about kindergarten and be available to answer your questions.

Also, Pitt County Schools is preparing information available to all parents of rising kindergarteners that will answer many of these questions. Parents for Public Schools will publish this information on our Facebook page and website when it becomes available. PPS-PC is partnering with PCS to offer group tours of all elementary schools; the PPS Facebook page will promote tour times and locations when announced. Be sure to like us on Facebook to get timely updates.

End - February 2016 issue

PPS Members Help Secure over $300,000 in Additional Local Funding for Pitt County Schools

Responding to shrinking budgets for local public schools, PPS-Pitt County members have turned out in force for the last two years in support of increased funding. PPS members have attended and made compelling public comments before the Pitt County Board of Commissioners to underscore the importance of school funding to parents and community members. The Board has responded very favorably, thanking PPS members for their advocacy and increasing school funding by over $300,000 in the last two years.

PPS-Pitt County Members Working on Educational Issues at the State and National Level

PPS-Pitt County members are establishing a state and national presence through their work in parent engagement and advocacy. Our chapter leaders are coordinating state legislative efforts with Public Schools First of NC. President Kathy Herring has been elected to serve on the national PPS Board of Directors, where she is working with educational experts and leaders from other PPS chapters from all over the country to bring the best ideas back to our community. Our local chapter was selected to participate in a national convening of the Children’s Defense Fund. Executive Director Kylene Dibble attended the convening with national director Dr. Catherine Cushinberry. PPS Pitt County will continue to look for opportunities to advance public education statewide and nationally. 

First PEP Graduates Already Making a Positive Impact in Local Education

PPS-Pitt County graduated its first Parent Engagement Program (PEP) class in the Spring of 2015 and they hit the ground running! Juan Garcia began implementing a translating service between Hispanic Families and school personnel at Ayden Elementary. Lorrie Irish was prominently featured in a PSA for Pitt County Schools (see PCS homepage). Other graduates continue working in local schools every day, networking, advocating and supporting public education in a variety of ways.

Parent and Community Voices from PPS Final Report Used in PCS Strategic Planning

PPS presented its final report from its first series of Community Conversations to the Pitt County Board of Education in 2015. PPS met with parents, community members, business leaders and even Pitt County public schools principals to discuss public education issues. Participants’ views on various issues were carefully compiled and presented in a final report to Pitt County Schools administration, who used the report in formulating a new long term strategic plan. The report also helped influence PCS’ decision to expand open enrollment at area schools.

Pitt County Leaders and Elected Officials Take a Closer Look at Area Schools Through PPS School Tours

PPS has been helping “show off” local public schools to area elected officials, as well as business and education leaders through its School Tour program. STEM labs, Spanish immersion programs and innovative teaching have been part of the tours, which have been very well received. State senators and representatives, as well as city and county officials have all taken tours.  PPS encourages parents, community members and leaders to see for themselves what’s happening in local public schools, and tour members are invariably surprised and impressed by what they see! Schedule a tour today by contacting Kylene Dibble at kdibble@ppspittcounty.org.

End January 2016 Issue

Local PPS President Elected to National PPS Board of Directors

Kathy Herring, President of the Pitt County chapter of Parents for Public Schools, was recently nominated and elected to the National Board of Parents for Public Schools (PPSN). She attended her first meeting in November. “I am honored to serve PPS at the national level," Herring said. “PPSN provides a clear framework for parents to organize and support their public schools, and I am grateful for their guidance and support both while our chapter was forming and on an ongoing basis.”

For more than 20 years, Parents for Public Schools® has worked to improve public schools by educating, engaging and mobilizing parents across the country.  Founded in Jackson, Mississippi, a committed group of parents put their collective weight behind local public schools by refusing to engage in “white flight”. After the formation of Parents for Public Schools of Jackson, other cities expressed interest in the movement, and the National Office of Parents for Public Schools opened in Jackson in 1991. There are now chapters of PPS all across the United States.

PPS National accomplishes their work through three main vehicles:

  • A network of community-based chapters located throughout the country that tackle local issues and represent the voice of parents.
  • Parent Engagement Programs, which empowers parents and provides them with professional training that rivals FORTUNE 500 programs.
  • Leadership and empowerment training for like-minded organizations across the United States. 

Herring serves the national board on the Chapter Development & Services and the Marketing & Communications committees. She hopes her service will lead to new chapters in North Carolina and across the nation. “Ultimately, new chapters will build the PPS brand and call state and national attention to the great things happening in our public schools,” Herring said. “A strong network of chapters allows parents to advocate more effectively for each of our children.” 

Support Public Education in Pitt County by Supporting PPS

Dear Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County Member,

It has been said that in their third year, nonprofits tend to either sink or swim. As we begin our 3rd year as a chapter, we are proud to say that we are swimming! You have supported us in our programs, staying up to date with our events and information, sharing our good work with friends, and being an overall positive presence for the chapter. We are hopeful that in our 3rd year as a nonprofit, you will also consider supporting us financially. We would like to share a few ways your contribution is utilized.

Parent Engagement Program (PEP): In May of 2015, we graduated our first class of 16 individuals. We began our second class in September 2015 with 22 parents and community members.  Costs associated with PEP, include curriculum, food, materials, and technology. It is through generous financial gifts that the class is available for anyone who meets application guidelines, ensuring socioeconomic status is no factor in the ability to participate. Participants spend one day each month becoming informed advocates. They learn details about how the school budget is developed, barriers to learning, and the role of the Board of Education. Each participant walks away with a plan to complete one project that improves at least one school in our county. One graduate, Juan Garcia, has already begun implementing a translating service between Hispanic Families and school personnel at Ayden Elementary.

Community Conversations: For well over a year, conversations with various groups have made us aware of how the community views the public schools. We ask participants what they perceive as the strengths and needs of Pitt County Schools. We compile this information and deliver it to the Pitt County Board of Education and the superintendent on a yearly basis. This report influences their decisions for the coming year. Donations made to PPS-PC make it possible to provide food at some of these conversations, especially in communities where adequate food may be a challenge. Funding for this program also covers the costs of printing and binding a professional report of the community conversation findings.

School Tours: This is a program that has had a strong start. One of the toughest decisions families have to make for their school aged children is where to send them to school. We want to support families in Pitt County by assisting them with this decision and simplifying the tour process. We are available to help families schedule tours. In addition, we host tours for community leaders who may have strong contacts with families moving to Pitt County. We hope to provide all community members with the opportunity to witness firsthand the creative instruction and learning happening in Pitt County Schools. Monetary gifts for this program help us provide Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County branded materials to all tour participants, as well as transportation to anyone who may need it.

On behalf of our staff, our partners, our board of directors, our supporters, and most importantly, the children who attend public schools in Pitt County, we want to say thank you. Thank you for strongly believing in this small startup nonprofit, allowing us to accomplish so many feats in two short years. Thank you for bringing us to over 1300 members in that short amount of time. Thank you for spreading the word about the good work we are doing and encouraging others to get involved. Without you, we would not be a thriving chapter achieving its goals on a daily basis. With your help, we know we can remain a strong, positive influence for the public schools of Pitt County for years to come. Please take a moment to donate to Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County by clicking here today.

Sincerely, Kylene Dibble, Executive Director

Changes Coming to Pitt County Board of Education

Many years ago, there were two school districts in Pitt County: one for the City of Greenville, and one for Pitt County. In 1986, the two Boards were merged, creating a 12 member Board of Education and a continuing controversy about the appropriate size and representation on the Board. In 2013, the NC General Assembly passed legislation reducing the size of the Board to nine members and increasing the number of school districts from six to nine. In November 2016 a historic election will determine all nine members of the newly configured Board of Education.

Pitt County’s Board of Education, working with Pitt County Schools, has the responsibility of overseeing all aspects of pre-K-12 public education in Pitt County. It conducts its work through 5 standing committees: Finance, Operations, Human Resources, Educational Programs & Services and Policy. It also regularly convenes several Hearing Panels on the issues of Transfer, Attendance/Promotion/Graduation, Discipline, and Employee Grievances. The Board is responsible for overseeing a budget of approximately $250 million, and for working with the State Board of Education and the NC Department of Public Instruction to provide the best possible education for all Pitt County students. The Board meets once a month, usually on the first Monday night, and members of the public are welcome to attend. See Pitt County Board of Education meeting schedule. If you are unable to attend the meetings but interested in what goes on each month, or in the Committee meetings, minutes of the monthly BOE meetings and Committee meetings are available at Pitt County Board of Education minutes.

Filing to run for a seat on the Pitt County BOE opened December 1st and closes December 21st. All nine seats are up for election or re-election. The results of the November 2016 election will determine which Board members will serve for 2 years (the 4 highest vote getters) and who will serve for four years (the other 5 members). After 2016 all members elected will serve for four years in staggered terms.

End - December 2015 Issue

Dr. Lenker Updates Members at PPS Annual Meeting

PPS-Pitt County members met for an annual meeting and update on public education in Pitt County. PPS Executive Director Kylene Dibble highlighted the current activities of PPS, including ongoing Community Conversations and school tours. PPS is also continuing to partner with other local organizations on events such as the recent Chamber of Commerce annual Teacher Network luncheon, and supporting United Way in its early learning initiatives such as the Born Learning trails.

Featured speaker PCS Superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker expressed his appreciation for PPS and its 1000+ members, saying that PPS was “the best parent organization of its kind I have ever seen or worked with.” He then delivered a detailed presentation about Pitt County Schools in 2015-2016, including basic statistics about the system:

  • 23,348 students
  • 37 schools
  • 1 Pre-K center
  • 16 Elementary Schools
  • 6 K-8 Schools
  • 7 Middle Schools
  • 6 High Schools
  • 1 Early College High School

Total budget $194 million (2014-2015)

  • State  $132 million
  • Local  $40 million
  • Federal  $22 Million

Lenker shared some recent PCS successes, including:

  • Graduation rates continue to be over 80%.
  • Pitt County Schools met a higher percentage of AMO targets than the state during last year’s testing (63.4% to 55%).
  • 82% of our schools met or exceeded growth.
  • Each of Pitt County’s 33 tested schools increased proficiency scores in end-of-grade testing when considering grade-level proficiency (Levels 3-5).
  • North Carolina Principal of the Year: Steve Lassiter, Pactolus School.
  • North Carolina Regional Teacher of the Year: Jami Dickerson, Eastern Elementary.

Lenker also provided an update on some interesting things happening in the schools. The Early College High School program at Pitt Community College has been a huge success—so much so that PCS is considering expanding enrollment for next year, and plans are being explored for an Early College High School at ECU. The Spanish immersion program at Belvoir has also proved to be extremely popular, as have the STEM and Innovation labs at PCS middle schools.  Lenker also highlighted the increasing availability of online coursework to PCS students, through both the NC Virtual Academy and PCS’s own PCSVA--Pitt County Schools Virtual Academy.

For more information on Pitt County Schools, please visit Pitt County Schools

2015-2016 PEP Training Now Underway

PPS’ 2015-2016 Parent Engagement Program (PEP) is now underway. PEP is a leadership class for individuals interested in learning more about public education, with the goal of increasing engagement and collaboration between parents, schools and the community. The class meets six times over the school year for sessions led by nationally trained facilitators, educators and administrators. Session topics include digital learning, standardized testing, school finance, leadership styles, Common Core, effective advocacy and many other issues.

This year’s 23-member PEP class includes a broad cross section of Pitt County residents. Among the participants are professionals from ECU, PCC, and the Chamber of Commerce, as well as a church administrator, teacher, dietician, retired SRO, accountant and preschool director. In their first session they learned about the many advances in digital learning from Lauren Bouchet, Instructional Technology Facilitator for PCS. Class members also identified and explored their own unique learning styles.

Robin Dailey, a professional educator with decades of experience as a teacher, principal and administrator, leads the PEP program for a second year. She is delighted by the energy and talent evident in this year’s class. "Our PEP participants will be learning by attending monthly sessions, leading by developing a leadership plan, networking by working with classmates and others in the community, and advocating by working with other parents and for their community. After only one session, our enthusiastic PEP participants clearly understand that parents and schools must work together to ensure a quality education for their children and everyone's children."

For more information on the PEP class, please contact Robin Dailey.

Excellent Schools In 37 Days: PPS-PC Begins Innovative Facebook Campaign

Over the last two years, PPS-Pitt County has quickly grown from a small group of parents and community members to over 1,000 members. As a member of PPS-PC, you receive our newsletter each month, get invited to member meetings, and are updated on how our chapter is strengthening Pitt County Schools. Now, for the first time ever, we would like to ask for your financial support, and we are doing so through a unique Facebook campaign.

To learn more about the campaign, please “like” us on Facebook at Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County. For the next 37 days, read our posts and find out about the great things happening in Pitt County Schools. As you know, there are 37 public schools in Pitt County, and we will highlight every school at least once during these 37 days. Our hope is that every day for 37 days, one of YOU will make a donation to Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County after being inspired by the creative highlights you see on Facebook. Donate on the day when we feature your school, or donate on a day when you learn something new about a local school. We would also like for you to share these posts and encourage others to donate too.

With over 1,000 members, we are more equipped than ever to work together to strengthen Pitt County Schools. Your donation will fund programs like the Parent Engagement Program (PEP), where parents and community members spend a school year becoming knowledgeable advocates for each child in our school system. Your donations also support our Community Conversations program, which provides parents and citizens with a direct pathway to voice their opinions to key decision makers such as the superintendent and school board. Financial gifts also fund our school tours program, which allows numerous people to see inside our schools, then take their positive experience and share it, thus increasing enrollment in Pitt County Schools.

We are confident that working together, we can secure one donation via Facebook each day for 37 days in a row. If you have not liked on us Facebook already, please do it today! And when you “like” us, please join the parents and community members making a difference in our schools by making a donation while you are there.

End - November 2015 Issue

Innovation Lab

A new lab at C.M.Eppes Middle School aims to tap student creativity and develop collaborative problem solving skills for the 21st century workplace. The Innovation Lab, located in the school’s media center, is a space designed to help students follow their academic passions and complete projects related to those interests.  Modeled on similar labs in use by many businesses and universities, innovation labs are stocked with resources to help users design and test new ideas and products.

The Eppes lab contains a 3D printer, a 3D scanner and a large format printer, as well as a tool table, die cutter and iPad stations. There are also large permanently mounted whiteboards to facilitate student brainstorming sessions. With this equipment students can design and create objects, make sophisticated mock-ups and animations, and just plain tinker with materials and ideas. The new lab’s motto is prominently displayed: ”Challenging every learner to explore, collaborate and innovate.”

Seven teachers from Eppes received training on Innovation Labs during the summer. Amelia White, Eppes’ media coordinator, and Sarah Lanier, AIG teacher, are team teaching the first class in the Innovation Lab, called MakerSpace. Nine motivated 8th grade students will identify a “passion project” and take that topic of interest from the research stage through a final TED talk-style presentation. They will identify a problem, develop an innovative solution, create a product pitch, develop a product and create a vlog, among other tasks.  And they will work together, because as White and Lanier stress, “there is no genius without us.” 

Other students and organizations will be using the Innovation Lab as well, including art classes, Science Olympiad and robotics teams. Eppes’ Principal Charlie Langley is excited about the lab’s possibilities, and expects students to take the lead in determining how the lab will be used. “This lab is all about student creativity, and we can’t wait to see the ways in which the lab is ultimately used. We have deliberately left our plans somewhat open ended, so that we can accommodate uses dreamed up by our students, teachers and organizations. This lab is a great way for students to get a head start on creative development in the “real” world, whether in business, academics or the arts.”

There are currently seven Innovation Labs in Pitt County Schools. In addition to the Eppes lab, there are Innovation Labs at North Pitt High School, South Central High School, Bethel School, G.R. Whitfield School, Ayden Middle School and E.B. Aycock Middle School. These labs are an extension of the STEM labs that have been created in all PCS middle schools.

PPS-Pitt County Membership Tops 1000

Membership in Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County has now topped 1000 parents and community supporters. Kathy March, PPS Board member and membership director, is “delighted to see such strong membership growth.  As a new organization in Pitt County, every new member is important and helps us strengthen our network both within our local community and at the state level."

For more than 20 years, Parents for Public Schools has worked nationwide to improve public schools by educating, engaging and mobilizing parents. PPS-Pitt County is the first chapter in North Carolina and began in 2013 when Pitt County parents were seeking a systemwide way to support and strengthen the public schools.  PPS in no way replaces the important work done by the PTAs and PTOs at individual schools, but instead focuses on recruiting families to all public schools, training parent leaders in those schools and building support by engaging the public in constructive dialogue about the schools. PPS partners with United Way of Pitt County, the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce, Pitt County Educational Foundation and Pitt County Schools.

Kathy Herring, President of PPS-Pitt County, currently has 3 children in Pitt County Schools and was one of the founding members of PPS-Pitt County. Herring is pleased, but not surprised, by the way PPS-Pitt County has grown.

"I think our rapid growth demonstrates the deep support Pitt County residents feel for our public schools. Our experience has been that as soon as people find out what we're all about--strengthening public schools through constructive parent and community engagement-- they are eager to become members and do what they can to support our schools.”

Education Legislative Update

Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County members and public education supporters rallied in the final days of the 2015 long session of the NC General Assembly to put the brakes on H 539, a bill which would have diverted more dollars to charter schools. Unfortunately, this bill and several others will be back on the table when the short session convenes April 25, 2016. For a complete list of bills to watch next spring, see this article by Public Schools First NC: (Full article)

Lawmakers passed a compromise budget for 2015-16 late in September, with many implications for public education. Select highlights of the budget from Public Schools First NC:

Vouchers

Increases school vouchers by $6.8 million in 2015-16 and $14 million in 2016-17, a total increase of 129% over the 2014-15 funding level. Total dollars available for 2015-16 is $17.6 million and $24.8 million for 2016-17.

Teacher Assistants

Teacher Assistants are funded at the 2014-15 levels, but funds must be used for teacher assistants only. All flexibility for the funds are eliminated effective this school year. About 15,300 teacher assistant positions are funded, a decrease of about 7,200 fewer teacher assistants than in 2008.

Teacher Pay

Beginning teachers will be paid $35,000 (an increase from $33,000). NC continues to be below the national average in teacher pay and now ranks 42nd in the nation.

All State employees/school personnel receive a one-time $750 bonus (includes central office staff). The salary steps (tiers) are the same as 2014-15 and will be funded for teachers and principals/assistant principals.

There is no change to master's and other advanced degree pay. Teachers who had a master's or other advanced degree or have completed one class prior to August 1, 2013 are grandfathered in under rules in place prior to that date. Master's and other advanced degree pay will always be allowed if the job requires it.

The budget maintains the 12 percent pay differential for National Board Certified teachers.

Class Size

Class size for first grade is reduced to 1:16 for 2016-17; additional $27 million to hire teachers.

Classroom Resources

Funding for textbooks and digital resources is increased by $21.8 million in 2015-16 and another $31 million next year. We are spending about half of the amount on textbooks than we did before the recession.

Per-pupil expenditures is $877 less than in 2008. NC ranks 46th in the nation.

Provides $2 million this year for Wi-Fi networks to provide connectivity at the classroom level and another $12 million next year.

Driver Education

Funds driver education for 2015-2016 (general fund) and 2016-2017 (civil penalty and forfeiture fund). School districts can charge up to $65 per student to fund driver’s education. School districts must reduce the fee for students who prove economic hardship.

A study committee is established to determine how to lower the cost of the program and seek alternate providers such as private companies and community colleges.

Pre-K

Funds only 28,400 pre-K slots, a decrease of 5,400 slots since 2008.

Other

Read to Achieve reading camps for 1st and 2nd graders in addition to the 3rd grade reading camps are allocated $20 million. Allocation is same as the process used for the summer camp funding for 3rd graders.

Funds Cooperative Innovative High Schools in Pitt, Watauga and Wilson Counties and the Northeast Regional School of Biotechnology and Agriscience. Guilford and Wake County schools can access funds for college course work without additional operating funds.

The education transportation budget is cut by 5 percent ($25 million each year). 

End - October 2015 Issue

PPS-Pitt County Welcomes New Executive Director

Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County welcomed a new Executive Director this summer, and she is off to running start! Kylene Dibble was hired to lead PPS-Pitt County after an extensive search process and she wasted no time jumping right in: attending meetings, getting to know Board members, giving presentations and meeting with local leaders. She was welcomed by PPS with a “meet & greet” reception preceding the Pitt County Board of Education’s August meeting.

Kylene has a masters degree in social work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and brings 12-plus years of human services and community engagement experience to PPS-Pitt County. Her experience includes serving as a prevention counselor in public schools, a volunteer coordinator and a community engagement coordinator.

Dibble will also serve as the PTA vice president during the upcoming school year at Wintergreen Primary School, where her oldest daughter is a rising first-grader.

“I am passionate about the opportunity to be involved in work that will empower parents and community members to make a difference in our public schools,” Dibble said. PPS-Pitt County President Kathy Herring noted that “Kylene is already an engaged parent and brings a strong background of non-profit leadership to our chapter.”

For more than 20 years, Parents for Public Schools has worked to improve public schools by educating, engaging and mobilizing parents across the country. PPS-Pitt County is the first chapter in North Carolina and partners with United Way of Pitt County, the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce, Pitt County Educational Foundation and Pitt County Schools.

Back to School in Pitt County

Enthusiastic parents, students and teachers all over Pitt County kicked off a new school year with countywide Open Houses on August 20. Schools were buzzing with excitement as families met teachers and principals, found their way to classrooms and collected information about the year to come. Nearly 24,000 students will attend public school in Pitt County. PPS-Pitt County was in attendance at many schools to meet parents and tell them about our national organization of public school support and parent advocacy.

The 2015-2016 school year brings many positive changes to Pitt County schools, including a new Early College High School at Pitt Community College (see PCS Early College High School ), a Spanish immersion program at Belvoir (Dos Mundos, the Dual Immersion Program) and the expansion of STEM lab technology to all middle school science programs. PCS will also implement a new 10-point grading scale for all students in grades 3-12, and continue offering classes online through its Virtual Academy.

The opening of school this year was made especially challenging this year by uncertainties in the education budget. The NC state legislature has yet to finalize a budget, leaving school systems struggling to make staffing and other financial decisions without budgetary guidelines. Of particular concern is the status of teacher assistants, who also often serve as the bus drivers for schools.

Coach Godwin Thanks Educators at Annual Education Network Lunch

Hundreds of teachers from Pitt County Schools connected with local business leaders as part of the Chamber of Commerce’s 2nd Annual Education Network Luncheon. The lunch is hosted through a partnership between Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce, Pitt County Schools, Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County, the United Way of Pitt County and the Pitt County Educational Foundation. The purpose of the lunch is to support public education and strengthen the relationships between local businesses and educators. Approximately five teachers from each of Pitt County’s 37 schools were invited to attend.

WNCT news anchor Angela Green was the emcee for the lively event, keeping the crowd laughing with her delightful blend of personal anecdotes and witty one-liners. PCS Superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker welcomed the crowd and offered words of praise for his teachers and encouragement for the upcoming school year. Steve Stephenson of PCEF expressed the profound gratitude of the community for the continued dedication of its teachers, and even passed along a message from his father, Dr, Henry Stephenson, a retired cardiologist who wanted teachers to know just how important they are and always have been to the entire community.

ECU baseball coach Cliff Godwin delivered the keynote address, telling about how he has always valued academics (he was salutatorian of his high school class) and continues to emphasize academic achievement in his current position as the leader of ECU’s baseball program. He was proud to announce that his team had set a team goal of a 3.0 GPA, and that they have exceeded their goal. When asked about balancing academics and athletics, Godwin said there was no contest: his players are students first and baseball players second. He gave heartfelt thanks to teachers for their dedication despite the difficulties of the job, and stressed that no other profession has a greater positive impact on the future of our community than that of teachers.

PPS-Pitt County’s Executive Director Kylene Dibble delivered the closing remarks, thanking teachers for all their efforts on behalf of our students. She noted that “while we cannot express our thanks enough for teaching our children to read, write, excel in science and math, and learn the importance of their history, we are also thankful for the “other” ways in which you care for our children. We want to say thank you for the acts that often go unnoticed. For the million pencils you will sharpen this year. For the copies you will make and the copying machines you will fix…and then fix again.  For the times you will stand in the rain to help our children safely get to a car or bus. For the times you will wait with a student whose parents are late for carpool or who missed the bus.  For the desks and furniture you have moved in your classrooms and hallways this past week, and for the bulletin boards you assembled, all so our children will feel welcome. For the less than pleasant “accidents” you will clean up. For the food you may provide for a child who does not have enough. For the times when you may provide clothing to a child who does not have what he/she needs. For the school dances you will chaperone. For the difficult conversations you will have about even more difficult topics. For the college and financial aid applications you will help students complete. For the sporting events and concerts you will attend so that a certain child knows that SOMEONE is there supporting him/her. For the stories you will tell. For the hugs you will give. For the smiles you will share. For the patience you will have. And for all of the other things you will do that will undoubtedly go unnoticed…….Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

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PPS-Pitt County Holds Public Meeting on Capacity and Enrollment Issues 

Community members came together recently at a spring member network meeting entitled ”An Overview of Capacity and Enrollment” hosted by Parents for Public Schools. The meeting featured a presentation on enrollment trends in Pitt County and how they have affected our school district. The meeting topic was inspired by recent interest on open enrollment policies affecting area public schools. In April 2015 the Pitt County Board of Education voted to include J.H. Rose High School on the list of open enrollment schools, prompting much local discussion on the issue.

Brock Letchworth, Coordinator of Public Information and Community Engagement for PCS, presented information on current enrollment trends in Pitt County schools. He noted that total enrollment for the 2014-15 school year was 23,852 students for all of Pitt County schools, and that the total maximum capacity is 25,892. Enrollment is not, however, evenly divided between Pitt County schools, as some schools are currently over capacity while some have empty seats. Letchworth noted that there are three possible options to address capacity issues: new school construction, redistricting and open enrollment.

Pitt County Schools’ longstanding policy is to allow open enrollment at schools that are consistently below capacity. A school that offers open enrollment allows any student, regardless of where they reside in the county, to attend (on a first-come first-served basis until capacity is reached). Students opting to take advantage of open enrollment must provide their own transportation to the school of their choice. Of the 36 schools in Pitt County, currently there are 10 schools that are at 100% or more capacity, including D.H. Conley and South Central High Schools. For the 2015-16 school year, 13 schools will allow open enrollment, including Ayden, Farmville, North Pitt and J.H. Rose High Schools.

Matt Johnson, Executive Director of Operations for Pitt County Schools, provided a different perspective on capacity. He explained the costs of new construction or expansion for area schools. On average, a new elementary school costs  $20-25 million, a middle school $25-30 million, and a high school $35-40 million. Overall school construction/expansion costs about $160 per square foot, with classrooms averaging about 1,000 square feet apiece.

Mr. Johnson revealed the current list of needs for expansion and/or repair in Pitt County Schools, as well as the budgetary constraints under which Pitt County Schools operates. He explained that PCS is using its capital funding (currently $25,760,572.50) to address the most pressing needs in the public school system, including security upgrades to all PCS school entrances and cameras in schools and on buses, as well as building and equipment repairs and classroom additions.

Carolyn Reed, Executive Director of PPS, then offered a brief explanation of the public expression available to anyone who wishes to address the Pitt County Board of Education. Members of the public were urged to become engaged in their public schools and assured that PCS and the Board of Education are supportive of parent engagement and receptive to new ideas and suggestions for improvement.

United Way Opens Born Learning Trail at River Park North

United Way of Pitt County recently unveiled an innovative tool for promoting early childhood physical activity and development in Pitt County. As a part of a worldwide initiative, United Way opened a Born Learning Trail, an interactive play and learning area, at River Park North. The Born Learning program is based on the principle that “everyday life is a learning experience for children. Born Learning … helps parents, grandparents and caregivers explore ways to turn everyday moments into fun learning opportunities.” The trails were developed by early childhood experts.

The new trail is sponsored by Grady-White Boats and includes hands-on activities such as fort making and fossil digging, as well as a wildlife garden, music wall and stump jump. The United Way of Pitt County has several Born Learning Trails in place throughout the county and plans for more. Completed trails are located at the Third Street Community Center and Boyd Lee Park. Others are planned for downtown Greenville at the Live United Courtyard, the Dream Park, Elm Street Park and the greenway near Third Street.

A goal of the United Way is to strengthen families by focusing on school success, workforce development and basic needs. Born Learning Trails fit into the organization’s mission by raising awareness about the importance of early childhood education. The United Way has been very active in promoting education in Pitt County through its focus on early childhood development, reading instruction, parent support and education, and increasing high school graduation rates. To learn more about the United Way’s work in Pitt County, visit United Way of Pitt County.

2014 Community Conversations Report Presented to Board of Education

Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County President Kathy Herring presented the organization’s first Community Conversations report to the Board of Education at its June meeting. The 63-page Community Conversations report was also shared with Pitt County Schools administration. The report is the compilation of a year’s worth of data from conversations in Pitt County about the public schools and public education. Participants included school groups and area principals, as well as business and community service organizations.

PPS’ Community Conversations are discussions in an informal setting led by trained facilitators where participants are encouraged to share their opinions, concerns and observations about our public school system. The conversations typically begin with participants filling out a one-page questionnaire asking their opinions on various public school issues. Questions include:

  • What is the most pressing (important) need facing Pitt County Schools right now?
  • How should parents be involved in Pitt County Schools?)
  • In Pitt County, why do parents send their children to public schools?

The following are key highlights of the views and opinions expressed by the 2014 Community Conversation participants:

  • Participants believe that recruiting and retaining highly effective teachers is Pitt County Schools’ most important need at this time.
  • While some respondents know about a few improvement initiatives underway, there is widespread lack of awareness of improvement efforts in Pitt County Schools.
  • Parent involvement in public education is seen as important to student and school success, whether involvement is at home, at school or at the community level. 
  • Parents want to collaborate with Pitt County Schools in many ways.  Communication between schools and parents is perceived as a substantial issue.
  • School choice is a significant issue for parents.  Belief in the positive community and societal impact of public education is a significant factor for parents choosing public over private schools.
  • Social factors and perceptions about the quality of education are the predominant reasons parents don’t enroll their children in public schools.  Stability of school assignment (redistricting) also plays a significant role in the schools parents choose.
  • Participants view educational programming as a strength of Pitt County Schools. The use of technology in the classroom and in communications is widely viewed as successful.
  • Parents and community members overwhelmingly appreciate opportunities to engage in dialogue about public education with other parents, with educators, and with other interested parties.

Members of the PPS Board contributed their time and talents to conduct the Community Conversations, and funding for the Conversations was provided by the Smith Family Foundation, The United Way of Pitt County, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and individual donors. Community Conversations are being held throughout 2015, and are free of charge. For more information or to schedule a Community Conversation, please contact PPS-Pitt County at Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County. The report can be accessed here.

PPS– Pitt County Graduates First Parent Engagement Program class

On April 15, 2015, Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County graduated its inaugural Parent Engagement Program (PEP) class. The class, composed of parents and community members representing 13 Pitt County schools, first met in the fall of 2014. Over the last school year, the class met six times for sessions on education and advocacy. Topics included learning styles, leadership and advocacy, testing and data analysis, school finance, media relations and many other education topics.

The purpose of PEP training is to help parents and community members who are interested in strengthening public education become better education advocates. As a part of the training, each PEP class participant identifies an educational issue or issues of interest to them and works towards formulating a plan to impact that issue. Plans from the first PEP class included a proposal to expand bilingual interpretation services in Pitt County Schools, a plan to match school needs with corporate and community resources (through United Way’s Get Connected program), and improvements in school-parent communication.

Dr. Ethan Lenker, superintendent of Pitt County schools, attended the graduation and listened to a presentation of all the graduates’ PEP plans. Kathy Herring, President of PPS-Pitt County, and Robin Dailey, coordinator of the program, thanked the participants, PCS and all the community members and businesses who supported the program. Dr. Lenker then spoke to the graduating class, thanking them for their time and effort in becoming more knowledgeable about education and Pitt County. He noted that parent and community involvement is crucial to strengthening our public schools, and said he was very pleased and impressed with the new PEP program and its inaugural graduates.

For more on the PEP program and an application for the 2015-2016 PEP class (beginning Fall 2015), please see http://www.ppspittcounty.org/content/resources-parents

To view photos from the PEP graduation, please go to https://www.facebook.com/ppsPittcounty

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State of the Young Child Breakfast

The third annual State of the Young Child Breakfast was held on April 17th at the Greenville Hilton. Local experts, representing advocacy, education and economic development discussed the impact of early childhood education on strengthening our community. The event was co-hosted by the Martin/Pitt Partnership for Children and the United Way of Pitt County. The mission of Martin/Pitt Partnership is to make meaningful and measurable investments in the quality of life for young children and families in education and health. http://www.mppfc.dreamhosters.com/ The United Way of Pitt County, whose mission is mobilize resources and leadership to build a stronger community, has been a strong advocate in Pitt County for early childhood education and school success.

The keynote speaker was former Mayor of Raleigh and education advocate, Tom Bradshaw. Bradshaw now serves on the Board of Directors of Public School Forum, a leading N.C. education information and advocacy organization. http://www.ncforum.org/ Bradshaw stressed the importance of North Carolina’s innovative Smart Start program, a nationally recognized and award-winning early childhood initiative designed to ensure that young children enter school healthy and ready to succeed. http://www.smartstart.org/ Bradshaw praised the efforts of local organizations and urged continued action on behalf of children and education.

Jim Cieslar, Executive Director of the United Way of Pitt County,  moderated an engaging panel discussion on education featuring Coach Chris (Christy Jones), TRIO, Educational Opportunity Center Coordinator Dr. Bryce Jorgensen, Professor, Child Development Family Relations at ECU Allen Thomas, Mayor of Greenville. Cieslar began the discussion by noting that whereas once 45 percent of Pitt County children were ready to learn when they entered kindergarten, only 36 percent of students were prepared this year.

The program ended with Pitt County Public Health Director Dr. John Morrow and the James and Connie Maynard Children’s Hospital / Vidant Health being recognized with awards for their support of employees, families and the greater community.

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Coming in 2015-2016

Several exciting new programs and initiatives are coming to Pitt County Schools in the 2015-2016 school year. Building on the highly successful STEM lab program initiated this year in three of the county’s middle schools, all PCS middle schools will have STEM labs in place by the beginning of the school year. The STEM labs were developed through a public–private partnership with state and local businesses and foundations. Local businesses were specifically consulted in developing the curriculum used in the STEM labs, emphasizing knowledge and skills directly applicable in those businesses. The STEM labs feature multiple stations where students complete studies in such diverse areas as sustainable agriculture, heat and energy, and anatomy. The labs also feature 3-D printers, computer numerical control (CNC) machines and other innovative equipment. To learn more about the STEM labs see http://www.pitt.k12.nc.us/Page/1774

Also beginning in the fall will be Pitt County’s first Early College high school. The Pitt County Early College High School is a partnership between Pitt County schools and Pitt Community College. The high school will be housed on PCC’s campus, and will begin with an enrollment of 75 students. The students will be able to complete the requirements for a high school diploma while also earning two years of transferable college credit or an associate degree at no cost. The program is particularly beneficial for students from underserved populations who are at risk of dropping out of high school, or who would be the first in their families to attend college. Wynn Whittington has been named principal of the new high school, and has already received over 200 applications for the 75 initial spots.

For more information see http://www.pitt.k12.nc.us/Page/1785

A dual language immersion kindergarten is opening in Belvoir elementary school. The innovative program will consist of two kindergarten class classes comprised of both native Spanish-speaking students and native English-speaking students. Using the Splash immersion program, (http://www.vifprogram.com/splash-language-immersion.php), these classes will operate on a 50/50 English-Spanish schedule wherein one day all classes will be conducted in Spanish, then the next day all classes will be conducted in English. Belvoir principal Kevin Smith says the goal is for students to become both bilingual and biliterate. There are 48 spaces for students in the program, comprising two full Kindergarten classes. The program will grow year by year until bilingual education is offered in all grades. For more information see http://belvoirelementaryeagles.weebly.com/dual-language-program.html

Stay tuned to PPS–Pitt County for further developments!

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PSS-Pitt County Welcomes New Board Members

Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County is delighted to announce the recent addition of four new members to our Board of Directors. Their collective experience, energy and commitment to education will be a great asset to the organization. Our new members are (in alphabetical order):

Jill Camnitz

Jill Camnitz grew up in Kentucky and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill.  She has been a resident of Greenville for 35 years.  Both her children attended Pitt County Schools for 13 years and graduated from J.H. Rose.  Active in PTAs throughout her children’s education, she was also involved with Literacy Volunteers of Pitt County and original chapters of PPS and PAGE.  Before joining the PPS Board, Ms. Camnitz served for 18 years as a member of the Pitt County Schools’ Board of Education. 

Chris Godley

Chris is the father of one daughter who attends Lake Forest Elementary. Chris was raised on a farm in Washington N.C. and owns the State Farm, Chris Godley Agency.  Mr. Godley also serves on other boards such as Greenville Pitt County Chamber of Commerce and NAREB. Chris has lived in Greenville since 1997 where he has been very active in the community partnering with several non-profit originations which include: helping to provide scholarships for several fraternities, March of Dimes, Toys for Tots, Ronald McDonald House, United Way and many others. 

Desha Lane

Desha Lane is Community Programs Coordinator with the Pitt County Sheriff's Office and parent of an 8th grader at Wellcome Middle School.  A native of Farmville, N.C., Ms. Lane graduated from Farmville Central High School and East Carolina University.  She has lived in Greenville for the past 16 years.  She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. and active in many community programs benefitting youth and education.

Robert Moore

Robert Moore is a retiree of Dupont Company and Sara Lee Corporation, past Member of the Pitt County School Board of Education and parent of three graduates of J. H. Rose High School. Born and reared in Pinetops, North Carolina (Edgecombe County), Robert graduated from George Washington Carver High School and North Carolina Central University in Durham with a BS in Chemistry. He has lived in Greenville for the past 47 years where he has spent time working at the two companies mentioned as well as working with schools in various PTA functions and past president of the J. H. Rose Advisory Council.  In his time as a member of the Pitt County Schools’ Board of Education Mr. Moore worked with Operations, Human Resources, Finance and Discipline Matters.

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175th Anniversary of N.C. Public Schools

North Carolina celebrated the 175th Anniversary of N.C. Public Schools recently in Raleigh, featuring remarks from former Gov. Jim Hunt, State Superintendent of Education June Atkinson, and Gov. Pat McCrory, among others. A series of short videos traced N.C. public schools from the beginning in 1840 in Rockingham County, through N.C.’s growth in agriculture and industry, through desegregation, and to the current school system serving 1.7 million students. Talented students from across the state were featured in two-hour gala that included a lively group A cappella performance, as well as original videos and artwork. Whitney Handley, a student at Chicod Elementary, won 1st place in a statewide poster contest with her imaginative rendering of schoolhouses past and present.

“Every Child’s Chance, Every Communities Future ” was the theme of the 175th campaign and celebration. School district leaders and partnering organizations (including PPS-Pitt County) have pledged support for North Carolina public schools and to work together to raise visibility of the successes being achieved daily in classrooms across the state. See  Every Child's Chance for more details. Organizers produced an inspiring collection of videos from some of N.C. public schools most distinguished alums, including authors, elected officials, business and education leaders, and sports celebrities. See I Am North Carolina Public Schools videos.

State Superintendent June Atkinson gave credit to educators for the continued success of N.C. public schools. Noting that the system currently has the highest graduation rate and the lowest dropout rate in history, Atkinson said “teachers and administrators ARE NC public schools…they are the reason we can celebrate today.”  Governor Pat McCrory, a 1974 graduate of Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, N.C., urged educators to “keep giving us solutions…not from inside the Beltline, but solutions from those who are closest to the customers (students).” John Dornan, respected education advocate, challenged celebration participants to celebrate today, but rededicate themselves tomorrow to keep public education growing and moving in the right direction. 

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Afterschool and Expanded Learning Conference held in Greenville

(From Public School Forum of North Carolina, Friday Report, 3/27/2015)

This week’s NC Center for Afterschool (NC CAP) 11th annual SYNERGY Conference in Greenville, North Carolina brought together over 400 afterschool and expanded learning providers and supporters for training and sharing of best practices. The conference was held March 23rd through 25th at the Greenville Convention Center and Hilton Greenville. This year’s conference represented the first time the statewide conference was held east of Raleigh. Participants traveled from all over the state, coming from as far away as Cherokee County, Watauga County, and even Orangeburg, South Carolina! The video of the conference can be found here.

Participants were able to hear a plethora of speakers as well as participate in over 40 workshop sessions. The conference began with an opening plenary with welcomes by Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas and Pitt County Superintendent Ethan Lenker. On Monday evening, many attendees participated in ‘A Taste of Greenville’, a new conference feature this year which allowed participants to visit 4 local restaurants and sample their cuisine!

Tuesday featured a nonstop day for participants, kicking off with a presentation on the Forum/NC CAP Roadmap of Need. Participants learned ways to use data to ‘tell their story’ regarding the need for expanded learning programs in their county. Tuesday’s luncheon included keynote speaker James Ford, the 2014 North Carolina Teacher of the Year, who discussed the importance of connecting the dots to ensure that our state’s children are succeeding. James received a standing ovation from the crowd and mentioned the critical need for afterschool providers. As he stated, “Our children's success should not depend on winning the parental lottery.”

Another new conference feature this year was a Gala on Tuesday evening, featuring keynote speaker Dr. Jim Johnson, Distinguished Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Director of the Urban Investment Strategies Institute at the Kenan Flagler School of Business at UNC-Chapel Hill. The Gala featured awards for outstanding achievement and included the following winners:

  • Health and Wellness Program of the Year - Proehlific Park –Greensboro NC

  • Community Program of the Year -  Kinston Promise –Kinston NC 

  • Child Care Program of the Year - Children’s World Learning Center-Greenville NC

  • School Based Program of the Year - Greene County Public Schools – Snow Hill NC

  • Faith Based Program of the Year - Loaves and Fishes Ministry – Raleigh NC

  • Innovator of the Year  - Representative Paul Stam

  • Director’s Award of Achievement - Jackie Heath – Vance Granville Community College

Del Ruff, NC CAP Director, spoke about the Gala: “Our goal with the Gala was to recognize professionals and organizations that are going above and beyond to improve educational opportunities for students in the after-school and expanded learning time. It is very rewarding to acknowledge the knowledge, skills, and abilities of such a diverse profession.”

Wednesday morning concluded the conference with an advocacy panel moderated by Keith Poston, President and Executive Director of the Public School Forum. Panelists included Mark Jewell, Vice President at the NC Association of Educators; Joe Magno, Executive Director of the North Carolina Center of Innovation Network (NC COIN); and Dr. Mike Priddy, Public School Forum Chairman and former Superintendent in Pitt County. The advocacy session was covered in Greenville’s Daily Reflector.

Throughout the conference Del Ruff discussed many new initiatives that will be coming from NC CAP in the coming months, including several new research and evaluation projects in afterschool and expanded learning opportunities around STEM and 4th Grade blended expanded learning opportunities, as well as the new launch of online Professional Development, including updating the current online PD registry platform by July 2015. NC CAP is also proud to announce that it is now the State Affiliate for the National Afterschool Association and the Million Women Mentors. Ruff discussed the importance of STEM programs and that NC CAP will be releasing their research findings from Minorities Exploring Computer Science (MECS) funded by Google in fall 2015. Lastly, this year’s conference included a meeting of the 2014 Leadership Institute and it was announced that registration for the 2015 Leadership Institute will open soon.

More information on these new programs will be on the NC CAP website in the coming weeks. Thank you to all who helped make our SYNERGY conference a success!

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NC Legislators come to Pitt County for an education update

Pitt County’s General assembly delegation came to Pitt County on February 23 to meet with leadership from Pitt County Schools to discuss current issues and legislative priorities. Senators Don Davis and Louis Pate were in attendance as well as Representatives Brian Brown, Jean Farmer-Butterfield and Susan Martin. The event was hosted by Pitt County Schools at J.H. Rose High School. Also in attendance were Pitt County School Board members Mildred Council, Caroline Doherty, Worth Forbes, Walter Gaskins, and Mary Williams, as well as key PCS administrators.

Conference participants were briefed on a number of issues, including school finances and staffing issues, as well as the new school report cards. PCS Board of Education Chair Worth Forbes addressed teacher recruiting and retention, issues that have become more pressing as teachers’ salaries have become an issue over the last few years. Superintendent Ethan Lenker talked about the need for more state funding for public schools, while stressing the many ways PCS has cut costs and increased efficiency.  Lenker also highlighted many of the positive things happening in Pitt County Schools, including the middle school STEM labs and the new PCC-PCS Early College joint venture.

The J.H. Rose culinary department provided an eye-popping breakfast buffet for the meeting, created and served by students. After the conference, students led legislators on PPS sponsored tours of J.H. Rose. Tours continued at Eastern Elementary, where tour participants got to see regional teacher of the year Jami Dickerson in action in her 3rd grade classroom, where the students demonstrated their innovative—and fun—way of learning math, which included an exciting blend of singing and clapping. At E.B. Aycock, the tour included a look at the school’s STEM lab and the beginnings of a new technology area, which will include a 3D printer and laser scanners.

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PCEF Honors Educators

The Pitt County Educational Foundation (PCEF) honored educators on February 5th in Greenville, NC with a dinner.  Invitees were associated with three Pitt County programs: Teach for America, the Key Beginning Teacher program, and the Teacher Executive Institute program. Steve Stephenson, President of the Board of PCEF, congratulated the educators on their many achievements and dedication to advancing education in Pitt County.

Teach for America is a non-profit organization that recruits high achieving individuals to teach for at least two years in a low-income community school.  TFA provides intensive training, support and career development for their teachers and places them in schools nationwide.  In 2013-2014 Pitt County welcomed its first 13 TFA teachers. Nationally TFA has 37,000 teachers and administrators. Robyn Schryer Fehrman, Executive Director for TFA Eastern North Carolina spoke to the group about TFA and the growth of the organization in Eastern NC.

Seth Brown, Teacher Support Coordinator and leader of the Key Beginning Teacher (BT) initiative spoke about the ongoing development of the program. The mission of the program is to engage and empower innovative, creative, and effective BTs as collaborative leaders. The Key BT program trains these beginning teachers to lead other beginning teachers. Specifically, Key BTs support other BTs by orienting new teachers, creating resources for BTs to use, assisting in the facilitation of monthly training for BTs, and advocating for the needs of BTs in a productive way.

The dinner also honored participants in the Teacher Executive Institute. The Teacher Executive Institute is an innovative program created by PCEF that provides an opportunity for standout teachers to learn management techniques and acquire leadership skills through their interactions with Pitt County businesses.  Teachers spend a day with six companies, attending seminars to strengthen their leadership and communication skills. 460 teachers have participated in the Teacher Executive Institute since its inception in 1989. 

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NC public schools get first letter grade report cards

Pitt County got passing grades for 28 out of 33 of its schools in the new North Carolina School Performance Report or “Report Card” released in February by the NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI). Pitt County Schools had four Bs, 14 Cs, 10 Ds and five Fs for the 2013-14 year.

The grades are required under a new North Carolina law designed to make it easier for parents and the community to ascertain school quality. The grades for elementary and middle schools are based primarily on standardized test results: 80 percent from test grades from the previous year and 20 percent based on growth as measured by comparing last year’s test results to the previous year’s. High school grades are also based on the 80/20 formula but also factor in graduation rates and other measures.

Opponents of the new law argue that the grades are overly simplistic and unfairly stigmatize schools receiving low grades.  The letter grades given to schools show a strong correlation between grades and wealth: schools with fewer low-income students were more likely to score As or Bs, while high-poverty schools were more likely to get Ds or Fs. Opponents also argued that the 80/20 formula has been rejected by other states that assign letter grades to their schools in favor of a 50/50 formula, and that most states do not rate their public schools by simple letter grades.

Pitt County’s distribution of grades mirrored results across the state, as shown in this chart from DPI:

image

 Source: NC DPI Executive Summary: School Performance Grades

To View the Interactive School Report Cards, visit  http://www.ncpublicschools.org/src/

To View an Excel Document of the School Performance Grades, visit http://www.ncpublicschools.org/accountability/reporting/

To View NC DPI's Executive Summary, visit http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/accountability/reporting/spgexecsumm15.pdf

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PPS-Pitt County Board member elected to Pitt County Board of Education

Caroline Doherty, Vice-President of PPS-Pitt County, was elected in November to the Pitt County Board of Education to represent Districts 4 and 5. She is the former Vice President and Co-Founder of Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County. “Caroline Doherty exemplifies the very best of parent leadership and involvement in public education“ said PPS President Kathy Herring. ”Starting as a classroom volunteer, Doherty has worked in the public school system for over a decade: serving on committees, leading PTAs, and working with school administrators. Serving on the School Board is the next logical step for her, and we know she will continue to do great work for the public schools.”

Doherty graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she obtained her undergraduate degree as well as Masters degrees in both Public Health and Social Work. She has served as PTA President at both CM Eppes Middle School and Elmhurst Elementary School, as NC Association of Gifted and Talented State PAGE Coordinator, as a Pitt County Education Foundation MiniGrant committee member, City of Greenville Neighborhood Advisory Board Member and NC Coastal Pines Girl Scout Troop 3011 Leader and Outdoor Skills Facilitator, among many other school and community service activities.

"I am honored to have been elected to serve on the Board of Education for the next two years" says Doherty. "I look forward to working with education professionals, parents, businesses and community leaders to expand opportunities for student growth and improve student achievement.  Together we can ensure that public schools are the preferred educational choice in Pitt County."

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Annual Education Summit draws capacity crowd

Greenville educators, business leaders and community members gathered on December 11, 2014 for the Chamber’s annual Education Summit. The meeting featured a panel discussion with Dr. Ethan Lenker, Superintendent of Pitt County Schools, Dr. Dennis Massey, President of Pitt Community College, and Dr. Ron Mitchelson, interim vice chancellor  from East Carolina University. Scott Senatore, President of the Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce, moderated the discussion.

A capacity crowd at City Bistro participated in a lively discussion of current educational issues in Pitt County, after opening remarks from Jim Cieslar of United Way of Pitt County and Steve Stephenson of the Pitt County Educational Foundation. Topics included the new early college high school set to open in 2015, STEM education, and joint partnerships between PCS, PCC and ECU. Also discussed were the many efforts underway designed to make sure graduates from Pitt County institutions are prepared for the challenges of college, career and the workplace.

Panel members answered questions on a wide range of topics from the audience, including teacher recruiting and retention, budget issues, the role of philanthropy in public education and early childhood education. Closing remarks were given by Senatore and Carolyn Reed, Executive Director of PPS-Pitt County.

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PPS: A Look Back at a Busy and Productive 2014

 In 2014, Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County:

  • Formed the Education Alliance between PPS-Pitt County, the Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Pitt County and Pitt County Schools;
  • Appointed a PPS-Pitt County Interim Executive Director;
  • Participated in the PPS National Executive Director Meeting, Jackson MS;
  • Participated in a Legislative Roundtable with Rep. Brian Brown;
  • Developed the first PPS-PC Strategic Plan with the help of NC Education expert John Dornan;
  • Earned a Z. Smith Reynolds grant for programming and operations;
  • Surveyed all Pitt County principals about the state of Pitt County Schools;
  • Made an informational presentation at Pitt County Principals Meeting;
  • Held Community Conversations at the Chamber of Commerce Leadership Institute, Rotary Club, Pitt County schools, B&G Clubs, Kiwanis Club, and  DSM, among others;
  •  Began offering PPS-PCS School Tours;
  •  Made an informational presentation at PCS Title 1 educational event;
  • Successfully advocated for more school funding from Pitt County Commissioners;
  • Completed a Parent Engagement Program (PEP) Facilitator Training with PPS-Pitt County Board members;
  • Rolled out the PPS-Pitt County Newsletter;
  • Recruited PEP participants at the Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors meeting;
  • Was designated a “high achieving chapter” by PPS National during annual review;
  • Welcomed TFA to Pitt County with meeting and cookout;
  •  Co-hosted first Business Education Network Luncheon  at Rock Springs;
  • Launched first PEP Parent Leadership Training class;
  • Adopted and implemented Board of Directors Diversity Plan;
  • Participated in PCS Strategic Planning Events;
  • Held first PPS Member Meeting featuring Dr. Ethan Lenker;
  • Participated in AMEXCAN education summit;
  • Participated in Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce’s annual Education Summit;
  • PPS Board member Caroline Doherty elected to PCS School Board;
  • Welcomed new Board of Director members, honored departees.

We look forward to working with you as interested parents and community members to support public education in Pitt County in 2015. Please join our efforts!

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Parent Leaders complete second day of PEP training 

PPS-Pitt County’s inaugural Parent Engagement Program (PEP) class is off to a great start. The class has completed two sessions and two school tours and has four more sessions and two more school tours scheduled. The sessions are a mixture of slide presentations, brainstorming, group activities and discussion.

The first PEP session was held in October in the United Way’s conference room in the historic Cupola building in downtown Greenville. After a welcome and introductions by Kathy Herring, PPS-PC President and Robin Dailey, the PEP program coordinator, the class covered several education topics. The class explored technology, both on their class tablets and through a presentation by PCS’ Lauren Boucher on “Supporting Your Digital Native at Home.” Ms. Boucher introduced the class to dozens of educational websites and apps useful for both students and parents. 

Ms. Twanda Haddock, Title 1 Parent Coordinator for PCS, then led the class through an exploration of learning styles. Through a series of activities and discussions, participants discovered their own personal learning styles and the instructional techniques used most effectively with those styles.

The second PEP session was held in November at the Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce. Topics covered included Leadership Styles, led by Ms. Twanda Haddock, in which class members explored different leadership styles. Robin Dailey facilitated a module on Title 1 and parent involvement, exploring the ways Title 1 legislation encourages parent involvement in Title 1 schools. Carolyn Reed gave an overview of the Common Core State Standards, their history and current implementation in North Carolina.

As a part of the second class, participants were taken on tours of Wintergreen and E.B. Aycock schools. At Wintergreen, Principal Mary Carter led the PEP group on an extensive tour of both the middle and elementary schools, through classrooms, media centers and special learning centers. At E.B. Aycock principal Janarde Cannon toured the PEP group throughout the school, with a special emphasis on the school’s innovative STEM lab. The next PEP class session is in January 2015.

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PPS-PC holds informative Member Network Meeting

PPS-Pitt County members and friends came together on October 30, 2014 for the first Member Network Meeting. About 50 members were in attendance at the meeting held at the Pitt County Schools and Recreation Building. The featured guest was Dr. Ethan Lenker, Superintendent of Pitt County Schools. 

Dr. Lenker updated meeting participants on the status of Pitt County Schools, including information on some exciting new initiatives underway. He informed members that there will be STEM labs in all PCS middle schools by the 2015-2016 school year. In addition, plans are proceeding to open Pitt County’s first Early College High School in the 2015-2016 year in conjunction with Pitt Community College. Dr. Lenker also revealed that consideration is being given to transitioning Belvoir Elementary into a dual immersion language Global School. Dr. Lenker answered questions from the audience on a variety of topics, including Exceptional Children and curriculum issues.

Dr. Lenker then gave an overview of the strategic planning process currently underway for Pitt County Schools. As part of the process PCS is gathering input from teachers, principals, and parents, as well as area business and and community leaders. These groups are helping to identify the challenges facing the schools as well as its aspirations for the future.

PPS facilitators then divided meeting attendees into groups and asked them to answer three questions about PCS:

  • What are the 5 greatest strengths and weaknesses of Pitt County Schools?
  • What are the 5 greatest opportunities for the future success of Pitt County Schools?
  • What are the 5 greatest threats to the future success of Pitt County Schools?

The groups brainstormed answers to these questions, recorded their answers on wall charts, and then presented their conclusions to the group. Dr. Lenker participated in the lively discussion that ensued. PPS is in the process of compiling all the data generated at the meeting to present to PCS for further use in formulating the strategic plan.

Thank you to all members who attended—parent voices are an important part of process of strengthening our schools, and your input is deeply appreciated. We encourage everyone to attend next year’s meeting. When parents are actively engaged, our schools are stronger!

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Your input needed: Strategic Planning for PCS

Pitt County Schools is working on a new strategic plan for the school system and is gathering input from a wide variety of stakeholders. In three days of meetings at the Firetower Road Boys & Girls Club, parents, community members, teachers, business leaders and elected officials met with PCS administrators to discuss Pitt County schools.  The goal was to discuss the current state of the schools, as well as mapping out goals for the future of the entire school system.

Misty Marston, Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Pitt County, facilitated the strategic planning sessions. First, the group reviewed the current state of Pitt County Schools. Next, using a process of small and large group discussions, the current PCS Mission Statement was reviewed and suggestions for improvement were made, including streamlining and making the message more accessible.

Over the course of three days, the strategic planning attendees brainstormed the strengths and challenges facing the school system, weighed various strategies for improvement, and set ambitious goals for the future. Dr. Ethan Lenker, PCS School Superintendent, collected all the information generated by the sessions to be used in further formulating the plan. He has also secured the input of the principals of Pitt County Schools, as well as public comments through an online survey.

On October 30, 2014,  PPS-Pitt County is hosting an event for its members to meet with Dr. Lenker, who will give an update on the status of the strategic plan. Parents will be welcome to ask questions and offer their opinions, and participate in a discussion facilitated by PPS on school topics.  For more information and to register for the event, please click HERE

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School Tours: PCS and PPS Pitt County Invite You To Come See What's New

School tours: who knew they could be so exciting? Janarde Cannon, principal of E.B. Aycock Middle School, bristles with energy and enthusiasm as he shows visitors around his 730 student school, pointing out everything from the Spanish Club to the jaw-dropping new STEM labs. “We welcome the community-school relationship” says Cannon. “In order for our school to reach its full potential, there has to be a healthy relationship.” School tours are an important part of building and maintaining that relationship, so Cannon does a lot of them.

This year Pitt County Schools and PPS-Pitt County are offering school tours to interested parents, business leaders and community members. These tours are for families thinking of enrolling their children in the schools, business leaders who want to see how the schools are preparing students for the workforce, and community members who are interested in what’s happening in the schools. With all the new technology and innovations in curriculum, it is an exciting time for the schools. Principals are eager to showcase everything from their Chrome books to their “flipped” classrooms to the PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention System).

Cathy Kirkland, principal of Eastern Elementary, extends a warm welcome to visitors. “I would love for more people to come in and see what we do,” says Kirkland. “People sometimes get information on websites instead of coming in” and nothing can replace an in-person visit. Eastern has a calm, focused environment full of colorful artwork and dedicated teachers. Kirkland sets the bar high for students and teachers alike: “We hold each other to very high standards,” she says.  “Average and just proficient are not OK.”

In addition to Aycock and Eastern, recent school tours have been given at Ridgewood Elementary, South Greenville Elementary and J.H. Rose High School. Tours are available at all Pitt County schools. For more information or to schedule a tour please contact Kathy March at (252) 327-9275.

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November 4th Board of Education Elections: Why Your Vote Matters

School board members are a critical part of our elected government and their decisions impact our community and its economy. Unfortunately, voter turnout for school board elections averages 6-8%. In Pitt County, recent legislative changes will start to impact the size and make up of our Board of Education beginning with the November 4th election. The legislation combines 6 districts to 3 and will reduce the overall size of the board to 9 members.

The new combined districts are as follows:

  • District 1B and 2B – Seats currently held by Robert Moore and Mary Blount-Williams. Candidates for this combined district seat are: Minnie Johnson Anderson, Mary Blount-Williams and Robert Moore.
  • Districts 3B and 6B – Seats currently held by Jill Camnitz and Benjie Forrest. Candidates for this combined district seat are: Nathan L. Carson and Benjie Forrest.
  • Districts 4B and 5B – Seats currently held by Barbara Owens and Jennifer Little. Candidates for this combined district seat are: Robert Bitner, Ernest L. Cox, Caroline Doherty and Eric Reifschneider.

Two other Board of Education seats will be on the ballot:

  • District 1 Seat A - Mildred Atkinson Council is running unopposed to fill the unexpired term to which she was appointed. In
  • District 3 Seat A -  Walter Gaskins, Betty Miller, and Dennis Teal are running for the seat formerly held by Christine Waters (resigned). The Board of Education appointed Betty Miller to fill the seat until an election could be held.

As our Board of Education begins to downsize, your informed vote matters. Take the time to read candidate biographies in local newspapers. As you read through biographies, consider the following questions (courtesy of United Way of North Carolina website):

  • Why does the candidate want to serve on the local school board?
  • Does the candidate believe it is important to ensure access to a good education for every child? If so, how will he/she advocate for this in your school board service?
  • What experience does the candidate have that qualifies him/her for this important position?
  • What does the candidate believe are the greatest strengths and challenges of our current school system and why? 
  • How would the candidate incorporate public opinion and existing research into decision-making?
  • Where do/did the candidate’s children attend school?
  • What type of student assignment does the candidate believe will best serve our community and why?
  • How does the candidate believe teachers and administrators should be evaluated and compensated for their work?
  • Does the candidate believe that ongoing training is essential to his/her success as a school board member?
  • How would the candidate describe the impact he/she hopes to have on education through school board service?

Finally, be sure to vote in the November 4th school board elections. Voters can view a sample ballot before visiting the polls by clicking on this link: www.ncsbe.gov.

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Keeping Our Schools Safe: Local Law Enforcement Works with PCS Every Day

“Local law enforcement efforts are key to a safer learning environment,” says Jeff Hudson, Security Specialist for Pitt County Schools, and in Pitt County local law enforcement is hard at work keeping our schools safe. School Resource Officers, or SROs, are the most visible part of the security in place at schools across Pitt County, but they are only part of a much broader and deeper safety net provided by the combined efforts of Pitt County Schools, the Greenville City Police Department and the Pitt County Sheriff’s Office. As Hudson notes, “The district has a strong focus on security and moving forward, as society is constantly placing newly developed hazards on our campuses”.

The components of school security most familiar to parents are the physical tools: locked doors, buzzers, and multiscreen cameras, as well as lighting and careful landscaping, among other things. But the most important parts of security at school are not visible.  Principals, faculty, and staff have protocols and plans in place to respond to a variety of security concerns, and have been well trained to implement such plans. Regular practice drills reinforce this training. Area law enforcement also have many hours of specialized training in rapid crisis response in school settings, and stand ready to step in whenever the need arises.

But local law enforcement officials agree that the single most important part of school security is building and maintaining relationships between students, parents, school personnel and law enforcement. SROs in area schools work daily to establish and strengthen relationships with students, emphasizing positive daily interaction. As Chief Hassan Aden of the Greenville Police Department says, “We have worked diligently to place the best suited personnel from the Greenville Police Department inside schools to work with administration and schools to create the safest possible environment and build trusting relationships.” The Department emphasizes prevention and mentoring relationships to counter negative risk factors. Chief Aden was himself an SRO for five years at a large public high school in Virginia, so he understands the importance of knowing the school community from the inside out. When an officer has long-term relationships in place, he knows when something is amiss and can work to defuse situations before they become full blown security issues. Officers also often volunteer in community activities and programs such as the P.A.L. Program  (Police Athletic League), to better build strong relationships with area families.

The Pitt County Sheriff’s Department embraces the same philosophy: good relationships between all parts of the school community provide the best defense for our schools. As Sgt. Cameron Coburn of the Community IMPACT Division points out, many of the Sheriff’s Department SROs have long-term relationships with their school communities, often having attended school there themselves and been active in community leadership through coaching, scouting, etc. Their relationships with students often begin in elementary school and continue through high school. One important tool used by the Sheriff’s Department is its D.A.R.E. Program, a national program for 5th graders that educates students in a positive way on issues such as drugs, safety, and bullying.

According to these local school safety experts, what can parents do to keep their students safe at school?

First, know the rules and make sure your student knows the rules. Weapons of any kind are forbidden at Pitt County Schools, and this includes pocket knives, toy or air guns and even slingshots. Bringing a weapon in a car onto school property is considered the same as bringing a weapon into a school building and is also strictly forbidden, even if the weapon remains in the parked car. Drugs and alcohol are, of course, forbidden. Bullying behavior, either in person or cyberbullying, is also considered a serious offense.  For a complete guide to the rules governing student contact at Pitt County Schools, see PCS Code of Student Conduct and the PCS Student/Parent Handbook.

Second, and most important, be involved in your student’s day-to-day activities. Know who their friends are. Know what’s in their room and on their phone and computer. Both Chief Aden and Sgt. Coburn understand that parents, especially of older students, want to respect the privacy and autonomy of their children where possible, but both law enforcement professionals stress that security must trump privacy where children’s safety is concerned. Better to be considered “snoopy” than to miss the warning signs of a real problem developing.

Finally, know that the SROs and the City and County police departments are friends, not adversaries. They are parents and members of our community, too, and want to see our students thrive and succeed. They make every effort to resolve situations in a way that protects both the school community and the individuals involved in any difficult situation. “Don’t be afraid to come to an officer” says Sgt. Coburn. “We will handle the situation fairly, recognizing that every situation is different and must be resolved on an individual basis.”  Jeff Hudson agrees that parents can help make our schools safer, saying “Community involvement plays an important role, as parents and visitors can assist by reporting any mischief on our campuses immediately to SROs or school officials.”

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Community Conversations: Speaking Up About Our Public Schools

There are conversations going on all around Pitt County about the public schools. “Community Conversations”, to be exact.  Parents for Public Schools-Pitt County is currently holding these conversations at area businesses, churches, schools and other public venues. What’s a Community Conversation? Exactly what it sounds like—people coming together to talk about issues with other members of the community.

Community Conversations were created by Parents for Public Schools, based on the belief that the first step towards creating positive change is to gather input and insights on current issues from all stakeholders. Community Conversations are held with parents and community members who want to share their perspectives on our public schools in an informal, friendly environment and learn about current education topics. Sessions generally start with the participants filling out a short survey of their opinions on school issues, which leads naturally into discussion of these issues. The format is similar to focus group technique with wide ranging, open-ended questions relating to public education in Pitt County.

Caroline Doherty, Vice-President of PPS-Pitt County, is leading the Community Conversations initiative. Doherty has extensive experience in conducting focus groups and data gathering, in addition to her lifelong commitment to public education. She has conducted Community Conversations in places like the Chamber of Commerce, an AMEXCAN meeting and the Boys & Girls Club, just to name a few. “Parents like the Community Conversations because they take place in settings where they are comfortable, the information is anonymous, and their concerns are not only respected, but often confirmed by other parents “ says Doherty. “It’s a great way to learn about the opinions of parents who are committed to their children's education but have had limited opportunities to make their voices heard.  There is a reaffirming dynamic when parents look around the room and see others who have high hopes for their children and are struggling with the same issues. “ 

Careful documentation of each Community Conversation is part of the process, and results are compiled anonymously and analyzed to better understand current issues and guide future events. The data is shared with Pitt County Schools to assist in identifying issues of concern and strengthening the schools. Participants are enthusiastic about their voices being heard by the school system, says Doherty, and “like knowing that their opinions and ideas are being documented and presented to Pitt County Schools leadership.”

Community Conversations are held at businesses, church groups, community organizations, etc. and can be scheduled almost any time of the day and on weekends.  A Conversation with 8-20 people takes about an hour to complete the survey and discuss all the questions, but the format can be modified if necessary.  To schedule a Community Conversation this fall, contact Caroline Doherty at carob@mindspring.com.  Let’s keep the conversations about our public schools going!

Making Connections: Teachers and Business Leaders Share Experience at the First Education Network Lunch

280 area teachers, business leaders, school officials and education advocates gathered for a back-to-school lunch at Rock Springs on August 22, 2014. The lunch was designed to get teachers from across the county, as well as business leaders and school officials, together in a social setting to share experiences and ideas. By all accounts attendees did exactly that, tables buzzing with lively conversation as professionals traded ideas and strategies for strengthening education in Pitt County.

The lunch was the result of an ongoing educational alliance in Pitt County between The United Way, The Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce, Parents for Public Schools and Pitt County Schools, and was well received by the attendees. “The Education Network Lunch was a great opportunity for teachers to see that parents and businesses in Pitt County appreciate what we do for the students”, said Ashley Hutchinson, an English teacher from J.H. Rose High School.  “Events like this affirm the fact that we have some of the most supportive parents in the state. “

The lunch included remarks from Dr. Ethan Lenker, Superintendent of Pitt County Schools, Steve Stephenson, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Pitt County Educational Foundation (and sponsors of the lunch), and Scott Senatore, President of the Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce. The keynote speaker was Kris Carroll, President of Grady-White boats, a dynamic leader who worked her way up the corporate ladder with spirit and determination. She started at Grady-White as a clerk in 1975 and became President in 1993. Carroll advised that to succeed in business—or education—one needs to “build yourself first, then build your people, then build your business.’” She advised setting clear goals and working diligently, and offered a list of the work habits of successful people, including to “have the courage to speak up, when something is getting in the way of your company’s (or school’s) success.” Carroll challenged the crowd to have a “vision of where you want to be” and then to make a plan to achieve that vision.

Carroll’s inspirational speech will undoubtedly be carried into many area classrooms this fall. “As keynote speaker, Kris Carroll was an absolute delight, and I hope that more teachers in Pitt County get to hear her speak because she's a great example of what a person can make happen with a positive attitude and an excellent work ethic,” said Hutchinson. “Her message was one I'm happy to be able to pass on to my students. “

The lunch concluded with comments by PPS Executive Director Carolyn Reed. She thanked teachers for their hard work and dedication and urged everyone to continue building community support for our public schools.  Luncheon sponsor Kona Ice then treated the crowd to free Kona Ices, in a rainbow of colors and flavors, from the Kona Ice truck. Plans are underway to make the Education Network Lunch an annual event in Pitt County.

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Awards $60,000 to Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County

Two-year grant to increase parent and community involvement in public education

Greenville, NC (July 30, 2014) – Trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation have awarded a grant to Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County (PPS-PC) to involve parents in supporting Pitt County public schools and to create more community engagement efforts at the local level. 

PPS-PC is a local chapter of a national organization which strives to elevate the role of parents in public schools from that of passive consumers to active participants. This grant will support PPS-PC’s efforts to build out three programs, which include developing a parent engagement leadership training, hosting community conversations, and organizing school tours in partnership with local businesses.

“The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation believes that public education is a cornerstone of a strong, vibrant and prosperous North Carolina and that engaging our communities in supporting and improving the work of public schools is essential,” said Joy Vermillion Heinsohn, Director for Programs at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “PPS-PC is committed to equipping parents with the tools they need to build a robust network of engaged parents and community members who will become strong supporters of public education in Pitt County. We are proud to partner together to achieve this shared vision.”

“The grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation will enable us to move forward quickly with our three program initiatives,” said Kathy Herring, President of the PPS-PC Board of Directors. “Parents and the community play a critical role in the success of public education, and the support of organizations like the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation recognizes and affirms the importance of our work here in Eastern North Carolina. We are the first chapter of PPS in North Carolina, and hope to inspire greater parent and community engagement in our public schools across the state.”  

On May 16, 2014 Trustees voted to approve 77 grants totaling $5.2 million to organizations across North Carolina.

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Inaugural Parent Leadership Program Kicks Off this Fall

Pitt County’s first parent leadership training program,  the Parent Engagement Program (PEP) is a parent leadership class developed by Parents for Public Schools, Inc. that seeks to improve student achievement, increase parent engagement, and enhance school-parent collaboration. PEP trainings are conducted by local facilitators and supported by a PEP Coordinator, all trained by the national PPS office. PEP trainings are designed to educate and energize participants on a wide range of topics, including learning styles, school funding, testing and core curriculum.  

The inaugural PEP training will be led in Pitt County by Robin Daily, who has over 30 years experience in the Pitt County school system as a teacher, administrator and principal. The training is open to parents, business and community members with an interest in improving public school education in Pitt County—participants need not have a child enrolled in Pitt County Schools to take the training. The inaugural class will be limited to 20 participants, and will begin in October. The class will meet on six days between October 2014 and April 2015. For more information please contact Robin Dailey at 252.695.7959 or daileyr@pitt.k12.nc.us

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PPS Parents Appeal to County Commissioners for School Funding and Commissioners Respond by Increasing Funding

A sizable contingent of parents from PPS-Pitt County attended and spoke at a June 3 County Commissioners meeting in support of adequate funding for public schools. Kathy Herring, President of the Board of Directors of PPS-Pitt County, told commissioners that as  “a community, we need to make education a top budget priority today and in the future, so that we may not only maintain our schools but offer new and visionary programs as well. In our rapidly changing world, excellent public schools are a critical part of the economic engine that will determine whether Pitt County leads Eastern North Carolina or falls behind. We owe our children, our area businesses and our community adequately funded schools.” Carolyn Reed, Executive Director of PPS-Pitt County, also urged the Commissioners to ensure that the budget for the coming year contained adequate funding for Pitt County public schools.

After hearing from PPS and representatives for teachers and public school principals, the Commissioners decided to reconsider the budget. On June 16, they announced an increase in the budget for the school system. County Manager Scott Elliott said after he and staff reviewed the county’s revenues. an extra $273,000 was identified, raising the school system’s increase to $500,000. After the meeting PPS representatives thanked the Commissioners and their staff for their hard work in allocating the additional funding for Pitt County schools.

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