Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ECHHS Alumni Participate in 2012 Olympics

Two graduates of East Chapel Hill HS are competing at the 2012 Olympics in London for the United States.

Michelle Kasold, Class of 2005, is competing on the Field Hockey Team.  Kasold led the ECHHS Field Hockey Team to four state championships between 2001 and 2004.

Nick McCrory, Class of 2009, is a member of the Swim and Dive Team and is competing in the Men's 10 Meter Platform and the Men's Synchronized 10 Meter Platform.

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Board of Education Meets in Closed Session

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education will meet in closed session regarding student matters on Monday, July 30, 2012, at 7pm at Lincoln Center.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Superintendent releases letter regarding staff transfers

The recent transfer of teachers from one school to another school within the Chapel Hill- Carrboro City Schools has been a source of concern for a number of individuals including former students, parents, and staff members. The transfers imposed at Chapel Hill High School are two of thirteen involuntary transfers that have occurred throughout the district for the coming school year. Because of the public debate about these two transfers, I feel it is important to clarify my decision to the extent I am able to do so without violating personnel confidentiality law.

Since my arrival as Superintendent, I have spent much time in all of the schools in the district. I have seen outstanding teaching as well as students and parents who value education. That being said, public education is in a time of change. With the advent of the Common Core and NC Essential Standards, teachers will be required to deliver instruction in a new and exciting way. Our classroom and school environments will need to become places where the conversations among teachers and administrators are about instructional improvement. An atmosphere of trust and mutual respect is critical to our success.

In listening to teachers, parents, school administrators, and others over the past year, I found that many stakeholders at Chapel Hill High School were frustrated with the culture of the school. I heard concerns about how the school administration worked with teachers and concerns about how teachers worked together. It was clear to me from the depth of these concerns that in order for Chapel Hill High School to realize achievement growth for all students a culture change was necessary.

Chapel Hill High School is blessed with hard working and talented teachers. Many are receptive to the changes that are evolving in public education and desire to learn and grow as professionals. Others are seen as resistant to change. As the Superintendent who is charged with leading this shift in how schools approach teaching and learning, I felt I needed to implement staff changes that would provide the best chance for success as Chapel Hill High School moves forward under a new principal.

It is important to note that the decision to transfer some individuals was based on a year of observing, listening, and talking with students, district staff, former staff members, parents, and School Improvement Team members. The decision was not about punishing individuals who “speak their minds about school or district policies.” In all cases the individuals to be transferred were notified in a face to face meeting.

It is a goal of the district to create collaborative cultures in our schools where everyone feels safe to voice their opinions without fear of reprisal from administration or from their peers. The staff changes will provide opportunities for those transferred and for those who were not transferred to contribute in a positive way in their current or new environment to assist the school’s desire to move to even higher levels of achievement for all.

Obviously, I am not at liberty to disclose specifics with regard to each individual transfer situation. Personnel issues are confidential, but in every case School Board policy has been followed.

Finally, it is my firm belief that with new leadership at the school and with all staff pulling together with a shared vision, what is a very good school can become one of the rare truly great learning organizations. I am confident that the positive programs and initiatives that staff members currently lead will expand and grow as we move forward.


Thomas A. Forcella
Superintendent of Schools
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Meyer takes on new role for CHCCS

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools have appointed Graig Meyer to the new position of Director of Student Equity and Volunteer Services. Meyer has been the coordinator of the district’s Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate (BRMA) program since 1998. In this new role, he will continue to oversee BRMA and the district’s new Parent University program.  Upon the retirement of veteran administrator Mary Bushnell later this fall, Meyer will oversee the Office of Volunteers and Partners for Education.  The position also formalizes Meyer’s leadership responsibilities for the district’s racial equity initiative.

As part of the equity leadership, Meyer will develop, implement and monitor district programs and processes that promote and sustain diversity and equity throughout the district.  He will also supervise the implementation of district diversity and equity workshops, presentations, learning opportunities and other strategies to help promote diversity.  Meyer will provide coaching and help design and deliver workshops.  He will also work with school personnel and outside agencies to assess the effectiveness of district equity programs.

"The Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are pleased and excited about promoting Graig Meyer to a leadership position where he will be able to optimize his expertise and skills in the areas of equity and volunteerism," said Superintendent Thomas A. Forcella.  "It is our hope if we are able to forge strong relationships in the areas of equity, volunteerism and our current focus on classroom instruction, then we will be able to realize significant gains in reducing the achievement gap."

Under Meyer's leadership, the BRMA program has been acknowledged for excellence at local, state and national levels. The BRMA program has grown to serve over 200 students each year through its mentoring program, the Youth Leadership Institute (YLI), and tutorial programming at the Hargraves Community Center.  Meyer has worked to generate over $1 million in grant and donor-based funding for the BRMA mentoring programs and over $400,000 for student scholarship funds.  BRMA has a 95 percent high school graduation rate and has sent 100 percent of its high school graduates on to post-secondary education.

Meyer is also a national presenter on mentoring and racial identity.  Earlier this summer, he was a keynote speaker at the 2012 School Innovation Improvement Summit, where he also received an Education Innovation Award by the School Improvement Network.  Meyer and BRMA are also featured in a new edition of Bonnie Davis’ groundbreaking book, How to Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You.

Meyer holds a bachelor's degree in Sociology and Anthropology from the College of Wooster in Wooster, OH, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.  He also holds a master's degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago.  Meyer also received a William C. Friday Fellowship for Human Relations through the Wildacres Leadership Initiative.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

CHCCS hires new principals

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools hired three new principals at the July 19 Board of Education Meeting.

Jonathan Enns was named principal of Phillips MS.  Enns has served as an assistant principal at Fuquay-Varina HS for the last four years.  He has also been a physics teacher at Green Hope HS in Cary and an Algebra teacher at East Lee MS in Sanford.  Enns holds a bachelor’s degree in Science and Education from the University of Windsor in Windsor, Canada and a master’s degree in School Administration from North Carolina State University.

"Mr. Enns has been a highly regarded leader in his current role and brings with him a clear focus on school culture and instruction," said Superintendent Thomas A. Forcella.
Sherron Leplin has been named the principal for the UNC Hospital School.  Leplin was the principal at E.K. Powe Elementary in Durham for 2011-12 and was also a principal at Grady A. Brown Elementary School in Hillsborough for six years.  She previously worked in CHCCS for seven years.  She served as the exceptional education coordinator for the district from 1997-2000 and then as the assistant principal for Carrboro Elementary from 1997-2000.  She has also been a school counselor, an EC teacher and a language arts/science teacher.  She also worked as a therapist.  Leplin holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Exceptional Children Education from Appalachian State University.  She also holds three master’s degrees: one in Elementary Education from North Carolina A&T State University, two from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with one in Educational Administration and one in Counseling.  Leplin also holds a doctorate in Cultural Foundations:  Curriculum Development, Instruction and Educational Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

John Williams was named the principal at Phoenix Academy HS.  Williams was the principal of Chewning MS in Durham for the 2011-12 school year.  He has also been an assistant principal at both Riverside HS and Chewning MS.  Before working in education, Williams was a Senior Master Sergeant in the US Air Force.  He was also a professional counselor in Florida.  Williams holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from the University of Maryland.  He also has a master’s degree in Science from Troy State University in Troy, Alabama and a master’s degree in School Administration from East Carolina University.

Gregory Mitchell has been hired as a new assistant principal at East Chapel Hill HS. Mitchell was the assistant principal at Cedar Ridge HS in Hillsborough from 2010-12. He has also been a science teacher in North Carolina and Massachusetts. Mitchell holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Duke University. He also holds two master's degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: one is in Science and a second in School Administration.

Robert Bales has been named the assistant principal at McDougle MS.  He was an assistant principal at Chapel Hill HS.

The district is still working to fill the principal position at Chapel Hill HS.

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Board of Education approves 2012-13 calendar

The CHCCS Board of Education approved an updated calendar for the 2012-13 school year at its July 19 meeting.

The calendar that appeared on the Board's agenda had one revision suggested by Todd LoFrese, assistant superintendent for support services, to change the Optional Teacher Workday on June 10, 2013 with the Mandatory Workday on November 21, 2012.  This change was suggested by one of the district's teacher organizations and would give teachers the opportunity for time to finish end-of-year reports, etc. 

The first day of school for Grades 1-12 is on Monday, August 27 and the last day of school, with a two-hour early dismissal is on Friday, June 7, 2013.  Other notable dates are: Winter Break, December 24-January 1; Spring Break, April 1-5; and High School Graduation, June 8.  To see the complete calendar, click here.

In June 2011, the General Assemby ratified a state budget that included a provision that increased the instructional days for both 2011-12 and 2012-13 from 180 to 185 school days and 1,ooo hours to 1,025 hours. The new law did not change the start date or end date of school and did not give school districts additional flexibility with the calendar.

The Board approved a 2012-13 calendar with 185 days. After receiving notification that CHCCS's applied waiver of the additional five days had been approved, a revised draft calendar was shared with stakeholders. The General Assembly then introduced several new bills in the spring, so the calendar approval was put on hold. The General Assembly has approved new legislation that will take effect in the 2013-14 school year.

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mack named interim administrator for Dual Language

Deshera Mack has been named the interim transition administrator for the Dual Language transition process.  In overseeing the transition process, Mack will help implement the transition plan, develop and lead a transition team, and support FPG Elementary.  She will also help develop and provide leadership for internal and external communications, as well as staff planning.

Mack will work closely with FPG Elementary's administration, school staff, district staff and parents to help provide the best possible support for everyone as the district moves forward.

Mack retired from CHCCS in 2011 after 19 years of service to the district.  Most recently, she was the principal of Rashkis Elementary from its planning phase in 2002, until she retired last year.  She began her career at CHCCS as an assistant principal at Seawell Elementary before becoming its principal in 1994 through 2002.  She was named Principal of the Year for CHCCS twice.

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Construction project updates from across CHCCS

The CHCCS Maintenance Department has been busy working on multiple construction projects at many district schools over the summer, getting ready for students and staff to return in August.

Work continues on Elementary #11, which is being built to LEED Gold Specifications and will open in August 2013.

At Carrboro HS, construction of the physical education and athletic field's bathroom building is underway.  The building will accomodate restroom facilities, as well as be used during PE classes.

A new mobile unit has been added to Estes Hills Elementary to accomodate its new PreK class.  New HVAC units are also being installed in all of the school's lower nine classrooms to improve energy efficiency, control humidity and improve air quality.

The field lighting at Chapel Hill HS is being replaced at the school's stadium and soccer fields.  The old wood pole fixtures have been removed and new underground electrical service is being installed.  Lights are also being added to the softball field.

Roofs have been replaced at Glenwood Elementary, McDougle MS and Phillips MS.  Paving and parking lot repairs are being made at Seawell Elementary, Phillips MS and Chapel Hill HS.

Carrboro High's new bathroom building

Estes Hills Elementary being prepared for delivery of the mobile unit

Paving work at Phillips Middle School parking lot

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Smith MS teacher Creates EU Website

Robin McMahon, a French teacher at Smith Middle School, created a website, Getting to Know Europe, to help share ideas for grant activities.  There is also a an EU grant information site for other educators interested in applying for European Union (EU) grants.

Smith's tradition of Global Connection has been enhanced by McMahon's three EU grants.  Each year, the grant allows McMahon to travel to France and Belgium with students to help learn more about international education.  While abroad, students have met virtually with students back at Smith MS and community members.

In February 2012, members of the EU toured Smith MS and made a presentation.

For more information visit the sites above or contact Robin McMahon at rmcmahon@chccs.K12.nc.us.

McMahon and students on a trip abroad in 2009

Silvia Kofler, head of press and public diplomacy for the EU, speaks with Philip Holmes, Smith MS principal, during a tour in February 2012

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dual Language Meeting Reminder

On June 7, 2012, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education approved a plan to convert Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Elementary into a Spanish/English Dual Language Magnet School.

The first phase of the plan will begin in the 2012-13 school year. During the 2012-13 school year, FPG will enroll two Dual Language kindergarten classrooms and two first grade Dual Language classrooms.  Selection into the kindergarten and first grade Dual Language classrooms will give preference to students currently assigned to FPG.  For 2012-13, limited spaces will remain after preference is given to rising kindergarten and rising first grade FPG students.  The remaining spaces will be opened to all rising kindergarten and rising first grade Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools students.

Applications for the Dual Language magnet school are due by 1:30 p.m. on July 13, 2012.  Applications are available by visiting the district website, the Dual Language office or Registration office located at Lincoln Center, 750 South Merritt Mill Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.

During the 2012-13 school year, FPG will continue to have one Dual Language classroom in second through fifth grades. The district will maintain the Spanish Dual Language program at Carrboro Elementary. The Spanish Dual Language program at Carrboro Elementary will be converted to a magnet model in 2013-14.  For the 2012-13 school year, the district will maintain the Spanish Dual Language program at Scroggs Elementary.

FPG will be converted into a full district magnet school beginning with the 2013-14 school year.  For the 2013-14 school year, all rising kindergarten students from the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will be able to apply for the Spanish/English Dual Language Magnet School at FPG.

During the 2013-14 school year, all students from the Dual Language program at Scroggs Elementary and some Dual Language students from Carrboro Elementary will transition to FPG.

Information sessions will be held to provide additional information to parents as listed below.  
Mary Scroggs Elementary School             Monday July 16, 2012 at 6 p.m.
Carrboro Elementary School                     Wednesday July 11, 2012 at 5 p.m.

For more information or questions, please contact José Antonio Nambo at 919-967-8211 ext. 28353 or at jnambo@chccs.k12.nc.us.

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