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Schools launch new initiatives

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools faced a tumultuous year in 2018 but also launched a number of new schools, programs and initiatives that school leaders hope will pave the way to more progress in the future.

Superintendent Shelton Jefferies said he is extremely proud of the work of the teachers and administrators in the past year.

“Their impact in the classroom is significant. This is where the rubber meets the road. I am equally proud of the district’s success with tailoring programming to meet the needs of our community. The school-based health clinic at Williford Elementary school and the Center for Industry Technology and Innovation, CITI high school, represent our best efforts in this arena.” Jefferies said.

The Nash-Rocky Mount Safety and Facilities Committee met in March to set up plans for public engagement in the decision to close Swift Creek Elementary School, Red Oak Elementary School and Cedar Grove Elementary School and construct one new school to serve the affected students.

Throughout the year, the school district conducted three focus groups and three public forums to discuss the issue. Though no firm decision has been made about the new school, the school district won a $10 million state grant in October from the state’s Needs-Based Public School Capital Fund to aid in its construction.

Also in March, the Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools awarded its annual Teacher of the Year and Principal of at the Rose Hill Conference Center in Nashville. Deborah Vance-Glover, a teacher at Cedar Grove Elementary School, was named this year’s Teacher of the Year. Sherri Wells, principal of Middlesex Elementary School, was awarded the title of the 2018-19 Principal of the Year.

In July, the State Board of Education approved restart applications for Baskerville, D.S. Johnson and Englewood elementary schools. The state’s restart program allows some of the lowest-performing public schools the flexibility to make changes for the purpose of increasing student performance. The district is currently planning for changes that will take effect in 2019-20 academic year.

Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools’ newest high school also officially opened in July. The opening of the Center for Industry, Technology and Innovation High School, or CITI High School, was the culmination of a project first presented to the school board in September 2017.

Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools also launched its new Virtual Academy in August to entice non-traditional students back into the public-school fold. The new academy, billed as “School My Way!” allows students now enrolled in non-traditional settings such as home schools, charter schools or private schools the opportunity to take at least two courses per semester in a public high school.

Williford Elementary School was back on the short list of six schools under consideration for the 2019-20 North Carolina Innovative School District in September. However, changes at the school — including its conversion to a pre-K to second grade school and a new school-based health clinic — ultimately saved it from inclusion in the state-controlled district this year.

In November, the makeup of the school board changed as three new members joined the board. Dean Edwards now represents District 2 after Wendy Wilson left the board. Lank Dunton replaced retiring Wayne Doll in the District 6 seat and Chris Bissette ran unopposed for the District 4 seat after Brenda Brown announced her retirement. Incumbents Reginald Silver and LaShawnda Washington retained their seats during the election.

The school board approved the sale of the former O.R. Pope Elementary School for $204,800 in December after 16 bid cycles. Earlier in the year, the school district sold the former Spaulding Elementary School after 18 bid cycles for $173,911.63.

Jefferies said he is looking forward to more great things in the year ahead.

“The future is bright for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools,” he said. “Every day we look for opportunities to expand our academic offerings for our students. In the immediate future we will grow our participation with the Advanced Placement diploma, expand our Virtual Academy and complete expansion of the Early College High School.

“These initiatives ensure that all of our students have an opportunity to pursue excellence.”

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