Archive for December, 2014


Middle Creek engineering teacher best in state!

A bevy of future engineers from Middle Creek High School will have a very special teacher to thank for their success.

Middle Creek engineering teacher Erik Schettig has received the High School Teacher Excellence Award from the North Carolina Technology Engineering and Design Educators.

Candidates for the Teacher Excellence Award are characterized as providing technology and engineering education instruction of high quality, learner centered and relevant to a study of technological literacy.

Schettig has taught a total of two years at Middle Creek and a total of four years in WCPSS.

The Teacher Excellence Award is one of the highest honors given to Technology and Engineering Education classroom teachers and is presented in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the profession and to their students.

Board of Education approves principal, administrator positions at December 16 meeting

The Board of Education approved the following staff appointments at its December 16 meeting:

  • Brian Pittman, Senior Director for Middle School Programs, has been appointed Principal of Holly Springs High School
  • Cynthia Yaeger, Teacher at Holly Grove Middle School, has been appointed Assistant Principal at Davis Drive Middle School
  • Jena Wojdylo-Kehler, Teacher at Wildwood Forest Elementary School, has been appointed Assistant Principal at Cedar Fork Elementary School
  • Cathy Williams, Retiree, has been appointed Interim Assistant Principal at Enloe High School
  • Charles Langley, Retiree, has been appointed Interim Principal at Salem Middle School
  • John R. Umstead, Jr., Retiree, has been appointed Interim Principal at Yates Mill Elementary School
  • Thomas Dixon, Retiree, has been named Interim Principal at Apex High School
  • Vicki Perry, Retiree, has been named Interim Principal at Harris Creek Elementary School
  • Mary K. Warren, Retiree, has been appointed Interim Assistant Principal at Fuquay-Varina Elementary School
  • R. Gregory Welsh, Retiree, has been named Interim Assistant Principal at Panther Creek High School
  • Wiladean Thomas, Retiree, has been appointed Interim Assistant Principal at Banks Road Elementary School
  • Please note – This list includes new appointments. The board also may have approved contract extensions or modifications to current contracts for employees to continue serving in their current roles.

Board takes major step forward in CIP 2013

The Wake County school construction program took a major step forward Tuesday, as the Board of Education approved design and construction teams for four new elementary schools and four major renovation projects.

These projects are part of the building program paid for in large part by voter approval of $840 million in school construction bonds last fall.

The board action authorizes design work for major renovation of Garner Magnet High, originally constructed in 1967. Renovation work is due to begin in 2016 when students and teachers move into swing space at the newly completed South Garner High campus. The Garner Magnet High students will return to the campus in August 2018 and South Garner High will open with its own students.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2016 for renovations of Brooks Magnet Elementary, Lincoln Heights Elementary and Vandora Springs Elementary.

The new school projects include E28 elementary near the intersection of Poole and Barwell roads in east Raleigh, E33 elementary at O’Kelly Chapel and Yates Store roads in West Cary, E31 Bryan Road Elementary at 8213 Bryan Road in Garner and E40 elementary at 201 N. Rogers Lane in east Raleigh. These schools are scheduled to open for the 2017-18 school year. Continue Reading . . .

Board approves names for new schools

The Board of Education approved names for four new schools at its meeting Tuesday.

The board named E36 Beaverdam Elementary. The school is a planned 2-story prototype elementary school in eastern Raleigh on the corner of Tarheel Clubhouse and Tarheel Club Roads. The Board of Education acquired the 21.5-acre site on August 29, 2014. The school is due to open in 2016.

The board named E37 White Oak Elementary. The school is a planned 3-story, 780-capacity prototype elementary school in southwest Cary near the planned Green Level High. The board acquired the 21.38-acre site on June 24, 2014. The school is due to open in 2016.

The board named E43 Oakview Elementary. The school is a planned 2-story, 800-student capacity prototype elementary school on Holly Springs-New Hill Road in Holly Springs. The board acquired the 23.1 acre site on September 19, 2014. The school is due to open in 2016.

The board named M13 River Bend Middle. The school is a planned 3-story, 1,280-student capacity prototype middle school in northeast Raleigh near Riverbend Elementary. The board acquired the 29.86-acre site on April 8, 2014. The school is due to open in 2017.

New model will boost support for elementary schools

Twelve elementary schools soon will receive additional support to ensure success for their students.

WCPSS officials presented an Elementary Support Model plan to the Board of Education at its work session this afternoon. Educators have been working to identify schools in need of extra attention around teaching and learning since last spring.

The team determined key factors in identifying schools included in the Elementary Support Model. They are school performance, teacher characteristics, demographics, school climate, school leadership and student achievement data.

After careful analyses of these factors, the leadership team met earlier this fall principals from schools preliminarily identified as in need of extra support. In these meetings, principals and their teams were asked to highlight specific challenge points and plans to address them.

From these presentations, WCPSS leadership is determining how to provide immediate support where needed. In addition, leadership will begin developing a model that will offer long-term support strategies.

Areas of support that will be considered are school governance, calendars and schedules, staffing, professional development, common resources and success measures.

Immediate needs that have been identified will require approximately $1 million in funding from the 2014-15 budget. Work on the elementary support plan begins next month. Funding from the 2015-16 budget will be needed to continue this work, along with a secondary support plan for middle and high schools in the near future.


Leesville students help children being treated for cancer at Duke

This holiday season fourth-graders in Kenneth Lesher’s class at Leesville Road Elementary collected hats of all shapes and sizes for kids in treatment at the Duke Children’s Hospital Blood and Marrow Transplant unit. Continue Reading . . .

Project SpeakUp survey deadline this Friday, Dec. 19

Just a friendly reminder that we are partnering with Project Tomorrow SpeakUp to learn more about what those we serve think about learning in our schools, specifically around how technology supports that learning. SpeakUp is an online survey for teachers, parents, students and community supporters.

WCPSS encourages everyone who cares about their school to take the survey. You can do so by visiting and following the directions to select your category (parent, teacher, student, etc.), and then to select your school for the survey.

IMPORTANT: Students must enter a password for access. That password is wake2014.
The survey will close THIS FRIDAY, Dec. 19. Please make sure you take just the few minutes needed to complete it. The more data we have, the better we can serve our students!

Save the date for Pieces of Gold

Save March 4 on your calendar for the 2015 Pieces of Gold, a night of music, song and dance performed by talented Wake County students at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts. Tickets for the event go on sale in January through Ticketmaster.

The following schools have been selected to participate at Pieces of Gold.

Elementary schools: Banks Road, Briarcliff, Combs, Conn, Fuller, Hunter, Leesville Road, Millbrook, Mills Park, North Ridge, Oak Grove, Sycamore Creek, Underwood, Walnut Creek, Washington, Zebulon

Middle Schools: Apex, Centennial (Dance & Chorus), Heritage, Ligon (Dance & Orchestra), Martin, Rolesville, West Cary

High schools: Athens Drive, Broughton, Enloe, Garner, Leesville Road, Mary E. Phillips, Sanderson, Southeast Raleigh, Wake Forest Continue Reading . . .

Sanderson tops in 2014 Students Against Hunger

The students of Sanderson High were the overall leaders this year in the Fight Against Hunger sponsored by the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.

Sanderson collected 233,285.61 pounds ($45,194 and 7,314 pounds in cans). The poundage is equivalent to 225,971 meals, enough food to feed the entire town of Cary almost twice. As a result the Sanderson Executive Council will appear on WTVD on December 12 to discuss the school’s participation in the food drive. Continue Reading . . .

Student suspensions down 45% over past 5 years

There was a 29% reduction in out-of-school suspensions between the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years, the continuation of a five-year downward trend.

There were 11,205 suspensions in 2013-14, compared to 15,723 the previous year. That’s a 29 percent drop, and a 45% reduction since the 2009-10 school year, when there were 20,244 suspensions. It’s important to note that the actual number of suspensions has gone down – not just the percentage – even as the student population has continued to grow steadily.

Short-term suspensions dropped from 15,378 in 2012-13 to 10,938 in 2013-14, a 29% reduction. That’s down 44% from the 19,396 short-term suspensions in 2009-10.

There was also a marked decrease in long-term suspensions, 267 last year compared to 345 the year before. That marked a 23% reduction year to year, and a 69% reduction from the 848 long-term suspensions in 2009-10.

Big picture: 95.5% of the district’s 150,000+ students were NOT suspended last year.

WCPSS figures compare favorably with other North Carolina school districts. Wake County had a suspension rate of 16.18 suspensions per 100 students, compared to a 39.95 per 100 rate in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 20.66 in Guilford and 30.76 in Cumberland.

District and school leaders have engaged a number of strategies to reduce suspensions, aimed at both preventing misbehavior and intervening more effectively.

On the prevention front, for example, more than 100 schools use the Positive Behavioral Intervention & Supports (PBIS) framework. This is a school-wide effort to demonstrate to students what good behavior does and doesn’t look like. It rewards students who perform well.

On the intervention front, schools in the district also have been making more and better use of Alternative Learning Centers (ALCs), designed for students who temporarily need to work outside the regular classroom, either because of behavior problems or because they are behind academically. ALC teachers have received more training on helping students stay on track academically while also addressing behavioral issues.

WCPSS revised its student code of conduct five years ago to encourage school leaders to avoid using out-of-school suspension for minor, non-violent infractions.

“We understand that if kids aren’t in school, they’re not learning,” says Brenda Elliott, assistant superintendent for student support services.
“However, if their behavior is disruptive to the school environment, then we have to address it. And our goal is to address the behavior in a way that is instructive and limits the chance that the student will fall behind academically.”

Going forward, district officials want to work closely with parents, community leaders including police and student leadership to continue to improve prevention and intervention.

District and school leaders will look to address the disproportionate numbers of African-American students who are suspended. They make up 25% of the total student body but 62% of students suspended.

WCPSS has enacted a district action plan that includes community and family outreach and guidelines to support equitable discipline practices.

“Our top priority this year will be examining our data to better understand why we have disparities between subgroups and implementing strategies to address those disparities,” Elliott says.

Click here to find the full report.