Public schools gear up for start of year

By Eric Dinkins

staff writer

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Edgecombe County Public Schools held its 2014 Convocation Tuesday morning at SouthWest Edgecombe High School, followed by Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools’ Convocation on Wednesday morning at Rocky Mount High School.

Administrators, teachers, staff members and local business and community partners all were packed inside gymnasiums to celebrate the start of the school year. Nash-Rocky Mount Convocation had about 1,700 attendees, and Edgecombe had close to 700.

In addition to Twin Counties’ educators cheering and dancing, several important announcements were made at both events.

Dana Williamson of Southern Nash Middle School was named Nash-Rocky Mount teacher of the year, and Edgecombe announced Susan Herrin of South Edgecombe Middle School as its teacher of the year.

Nash-Rocky Mount also named its principal of the year, Gary Major of Parker Middle School.

Prior to this week’s Convocations, Edgecombe County announced a new principal at Princeville Elementary, Anette Walker, on Monday at a special board meeting. Walker formerly was the assistant principal at Princeville.

Angela Strother, Edgecombe County’s former Academically Intellectually Gifted coordinator, has been hired as an interim assistant principal at Princeville.

Walker has worked with Edgecombe County Public Schools for 23 years, and before working at Princeville she was a coordinator and a supervisor with the Early Reading First program at Coker-Wimberly Elementary School.

As it has done in the past, Nash-Rocky Mount had a guest speaker at Convocation, Erin Gruwell, founder of the Freedom Writers Foundation. Gruwell is well known for her unique teaching methods, which inspired her students at Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif. to compile a series of short stories about their inner city struggles. These stories were eventually published, and Gruwell’s story was adapted into a film in 2007, “Freedom Writers.”

Nash-Rocky Mount teachers were ecstactic about her address.

Lisa Weaver, an English teacher at Northern Nash High School, said she was “in awe” when Gruwell took the stage. Several teachers shared this reaction, and desribed her as an inspiration to all educators.

Former Superintendent Lee Hall was the guest speaker at Edgecombe’s Convocation.

Nash-Rocky Mount urged its teachers to “believe it,” and Edgecombe County encouraged its teachers to be “focused, connected and ready to go global” in coordination with the opening of its global school, Martin Millennium Academy.