School Board Seeks Public Input on Superintendent Search
The Pender County Board of Education is seeking direct input from interested members of the community to help shape the search process and assist in defining the qualities and characteristics of the next superintendent of the Pender County Schools (PCS).
The board invites parents and community members to participate in a short community survey that can be accessed and completed online by clicking the survey link on the main PCS webpage or at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/9WN8M3X
All surveys must be completed by May 31, 2017 with results to be compiled and presented by the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA) at the regular board meeting on June 13, 2017.
In addition, all employees of PCS will have an opportunity to complete a separate staff survey. Access to and details about completing the employee version of the search survey will be communicated via school system email or may be obtained from the central office.
Citizens may also sign up to address the board during the public comment period upcoming regular board meetings. Speakers must otherwise comply with board policy on public comment.
In addition to input received from the surveys and public comment, written statements from any local groups or organizations may be submitted to Allison Schafer via mail at NCSBA, P.O. Box 97877, Raleigh, NC 27624, via email at email@example.com, or via fax at 919-841-4020. These statements should be received no later than June 5, 2017.
Pender County Schools Superintendent Dr. Terri Cobb to retire
PENDER COUNTY – Pender County Schools Superintendent Dr. Terri Cobb has announced her retirement effective October 1, 2017. Dr. Cobb was initially hired as superintendent of Pender County Schools in 2012.
Dr. Cobb will have completed more than 38 years of active service in North Carolina’s public schools upon retiring this fall. Throughout her career in education she has worked as a teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal, principal, and several leadership roles at the central office level including Chief of Staff in Wake County.
During her tenure as Superintendent, Pender County Schools earned district-wide accreditation through AdvancED, passed a $75 million bond funding a new school at Penderlea, an elementary and middle school in Surf City, and additions and renovations at Burgaw Middle, Cape Fear Elementary, Cape Fear Middle, Pender High, and West Pender Middle; increased student performance; and increased graduation rates to over 90 percent. The district has also received several grants, including 21stCentury and Panasonic grants.
“As a district, we have achieved so much. I am very appreciative to our students, teachers, principals, assistant principals, central services administrators, and Board of Education,” Dr. Cobb said. “It has been a humbling experience to serve the Pender County Board of Education and this community. Much has been accomplished and I look forward to celebrating the district’s continued success in the future.”
Dr. Cobb said she will continue to be an advocate for public education in North Carolina. She looks forward to spending more time with family.
The Pender County Board of Education will be working with the North Carolina School Boards Association to conduct its search for the district’s next superintendent.
The North Topsail Elementary and Topsail Middle School Battle of the Books teams won Pender County’s Battle of the Books competitions for the elementary and middle school levels and will advance to the regional competition.
The Battle of the Books program encourages reading and presents students with a variety of literature written by young adult authors. The competition requires students to answer questions about more than two dozen books that make up the Battle of the Books list. Each team receives points for accurately responding with the title and author of the book.
During the district Battle on Friday, students donned team shirts and worked together to recall details of the literature on this year’s Battle of the Books list. While the atmosphere was friendly, there was an intensity as teams briefly conversed on the correct answer.
For the first time in at least 16 years, every middle school team scored at least 100 points in the competition. Congratulations to all of the
Washington, D.C. comes to Topsail Elementary
A 1/2 combination class at Topsail Elementary has been researching Washington, D.C. Students learned about the Lincoln Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Betsy Ross, presidents and first ladies of the past and present, the White House, the U.S. Mint, and the Jefferson Memorial.
Last week, the class transformed the Media Center into a tour of Washington, D.C. for parents and other classes to visit. Students shared what they had learned about our nation’s capital while dressed as historical figures and places.
In recognition of Black History Month, students across Pender County are learning about the accomplishments of African Americans.
At Cape Fear Elementary, Music teacher Mrs. Myhill read students the book “Rap A Tap Tap,” by Leo and Diane Dillon. The book celebrates the life of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, a famous African American tap dancer. As Mrs. Myhill read the book, students took turns playing the metallophone and xylophone.
“This year we are traveling around North America,” Myhill said. “We started in Canada, visited New York, the Appalachian Mountains, now we are in New Orleans, and next will visit the West and end in Mexico.”
In Mr. Sidor’s American History class at Pender Early College, students watched the beginning of Claudia Stack’s “Under the Kudzo,” which tells the story of two Rosenwald schools in Pender County through the experiences of former teachers and alumni. Following the screening, students heard from Dr. Richard B. Newkirk and Betty Thompson, who attended Rosenwald schools.
“We took care of books,” Dr. Newkirk said, adding that they were charged a fee for the used books they received at the beginning of the year. “We didn’t cover them with paper, we covered them with cloth. At the end of the school year, if it wasn’t like it was when you got it, you paid a damage fee. They did not give you paper. They did not give you pencils. You came to school and they expected you to have it.”
Thompson brought photos of Julius Rosenwald, Booker T. Washington, and their descendants for students to view following the presentation.
Classroom Spotlight: Ms. Blanchette, North Topsail Elementary
PENDER COUNTY – You probably won’t notice the sounds of dry erase markers writing, fingers tapping the keys of Chromebooks, and dice rolling across tables when you walk into Diana Blanchette’s classroom at North Topsail Elementary – at least not at first. What you will hear are the conversations students are engaging in about the curriculum.
“You have to allow talking, because that is how they learn,” Blanchette said. “They learn from hearing each other and talking about it. You get used to the fact that it is not going to be a quiet room, but they are learning and they are having fun. The games – they just love anything competitive. They don’t realize that they are actually practicing how to order fractions.”
During the math lesson students rotated from station to station, learning how to find common denominators in fractions and completing various small group activities. They spent time reviewing the lesson with Blanchette, played a math game with fraction dice, logged into Google Classroom to complete online activities, and completed a research-based Super Bowl worksheet.
After 15 minutes at each station, students moved to the next activity.
“They are able to hold their attention to what they are doing because know that they have 15 minutes to get it done and then they get to get up and move again,” Blanchette said. “I know after those 15 minutes who gets it, who doesn’t, and I know who I need to pull during intervention time so I can clarify any confusion they have.”
Pender County Schools’ dropout rate continues to decline
PENDER COUNTY — Pender County Schools’ dropout rate continues to decline, according to numbers recently released in the State Board of Education’s annual Consolidated Data Report.
The overall dropout rate in Pender County fell from 1.84 percent to 1.5 percent, with 43 students dropping out in 2015-16. Pender County Schools is a leader in the Southeast region. In 2015-16, Brunswick County Schools and New Hanover County Schools reported dropout rates of 3.28 and 1.65 percent, respectively.
“Pender County Schools is dedicated to ensuring our students are successful,” said Superintendent Dr. Terri Cobb. “We know that in order for them to be successful, they need to graduate with a high school diploma. I’m very proud of the efforts of our high school principals, student support coordinators, and school counselors.”
Mary Mortensen, Director of Secondary Education, said the district’s improved dropout rate is the result of several collaborative initiatives between district staff, schools, students, and families.
“We know that what we are doing around dropout rate is working, as we have seen a drop in dropouts consistently for the past several years,” Mortensen said.
Dropout prevention efforts include ongoing monitoring of students at risk of dropping out due to attendance, achievement, and conduct. Pender County Schools works with students and their families to identify alternative education options, actively conducts home visits for students with poor attendance, and practices Multi-Tiered System of Supports and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support.
“Our efforts around PBIS as well as MTSS have led to fewer short and long-term suspensions,” said Dr. Robbie Cauley, Director of Career and Technical Education and Student Support. “If we can keep students in school, where they have access to the curriculum and the teacher, we will have fewer students falling behind and deciding to drop out.”
Behind the Scenes - HVAC
PENDER COUNTY — When you walk into any Pender County Schools facility, you probably don’t think about the HVAC systems, or the people responsible for keeping them in working order.
HVAC Supervisor Wayne Keene monitors every site’s HVAC system from three computers in his office, but his day starts before he arrives. By 5 a.m. each day, Keene has already logged into the system from his laptop at home to check each school.
“You can think of it like each class is a house,” Keene explained. “I’ve got over 1,000 houses, and each has to be looked at as an individual space. It’s the same principle as your house, but bigger.”
Using the computers at his desk, Keene sets temperatures for each school building and can see when something malfunctions. HVAC Technicians Robbie Ward and Andy Purcell are then able to resolve the issue on site.
“No one sees me, but they all know my voice,” Keene said. “I met all of the principals for the first time this year and they had no idea who I was. They call me whenever they think they have a problem and we have conversations, but they didn’t know my face.”
There are many people like Keene who work behind the scenes to ensure Pender County Schools provides a safe, comfortable environment in which students can learn.
Surf City projects increase to 1,568 capacity
PENDER COUNTY — The Pender County Board of Commissioners approved increasing the student capacity of the Surf City projects from a capacity of 1,213 to 1,568 during its regular meeting on Tuesday, January 17.
“We are thankful to the community and our local elected officials for continuing to support our schools,” said Dr. Terri Cobb, Superintendent of Pender County Schools. “The decision to increase the capacity at the Surf City projects will help the district address growth.”
The Pender County Board of Education presented the request to the Board of Commissioners after reviewing the plans and cost associated with expanding the project during its regular January meeting.
Construction Manager Justin Whitley, of Barnhill Contracting, said the Guaranteed Maximum Price to increase the student capacity is $3.49 million, or $175 per square foot, adding that this figure may be negotiated lower through value engineering.
“We know that there is a need for additional space now, and that need is going to grow as the region experiences continued development,” said Pender County Board of Education Member Brad George. “Both Boards know that moving forward with plans to increase the capacity of students at the Surf City projects now is the fiscally responsible decision, as the cost of construction will rise in the future.”