Erin Zureick

Education, politics and observations from Sanford

Meet Daniel Novey

novey-daniel-aUp today as the third of five finalists to appear at a meet-and-greet session with the public for the open position of Lee County Schools superintendent was Daniel Novey. He is currently the assistant superintendent at Parkland School District, a suburb of Allentown, Penn.

Novey spoke inside the depot at Depot Park. Here are some of his comments:

Novey began by thanking the superintendent search committee and explaining his background as an educator from Pennsylvania. He said that while Allentown is famous for the Billy Joel song, he has always been more partial to James Taylor’s “Carolina in my Mind” (his two daughters both live in the Raleigh area now)
He said it is important to recognize children for their academic successes and not just athletic ones, noting how at Wilson High School in Pennsylvania they implemented an academic hall of fame for alumni. “We have some tough times ahead,” Novey said, referring to the economy, “but we can do it together for sure.”

Q: What is the community advisory council in his school district?
A: Novey, who is the adviser of this organization, said the group is made up of parents and community members who come together to hear updates on the school system. He said it is important so that ideas “bubble up from people who matter.” Guests from different schools come in to talk to the council. For example, at the most recent meeting, the presentations were from the guidance department and on the role of a school principal. “It’s a neat way of getting the message out.”

Q: How will you work with Central Carolina Community College?
A: “I love to see students take advantage of community colleges,” Novey said. They have a community college in Lehigh County, where his school district is based. He said he wishes that students realized that they might have between 20-30 jobs in their lifetimes and will constantly have to be readjusting and learning new skills to adapt to changing technology. “We have to have a workforce that can adjust.”

Q: How will you work with the growing Latino population and other diverse groups?
A: “Diversity is to be celebrated,” Novey said. “It weaves a wonderful tapestry.” He said there are 36 different languages in the Parkland School District and that the schools display flags from where children are from. Novey promised that he would be there for any part of the community to deliver a message of support.

Q: How do you continue to move the district from being good into further excellence?
A: Novey said he wears a lapel pin that reads “the subject is excellence” and that the attitude of “yes we can” must be replaced by “yes we will” and “get ‘er done.” He said you have to make sure that the vision is challenging. As a former coach, Novey said he knows that a superintendent has to have some “wizardry” about him. He said you have to “bring thinkers together” on the big decisions and “never lose sight of goals that aim high.”

Q: What are your thoughts on pre-kindergarten and early childhood education?
A: Novey said his wife is a first-grade teacher and that he has worked closely with elementary school teachers in the past. He said he is a firm believer in early childhood education — “the earlier the better.”

November 20, 2008 Posted by | Education | , | Leave a comment

Meet Andy Bryan

andy-bryanAndy Bryan, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, was the second of five finalists for Lee County Schools’ superintendent position to take part in a meet-and-greet session with the public.

Here are some of his comments from the visit:

Bryan began by thanking the superintendent search committee and his wife. “We feel very fortunate to work with great administrators and educators.” He said the district has been working to provide students with systemic support, raise expectations and improve the drop-out rate. He particularly pointed to recent work in improving the drop-out rate, particularly among Hispanic and African-American students. “Our goal is to serve children and our teachers and also the community.”

Q:How will you work with Central Carolina Community College?
A: It’s important to convey the message that the world is changing to students and that they need to be able to maneuver and adapt to the different skills they will need in a changing world. Bryan also said it is important for students to be life-long learners.

Q: What do you see as the future needs of LCS in terms of building projects?
A: It’s clear from projections that there will be a need for new buildings. Bryan said there will likely need to be a new elementary school. He said his role in the process is to “provide leadership and insight.”

Q: How will you help institute improvements to middle-school performance?
A: Bryan said he believes the opening this year of San-Lee Middle School will be something that will help produce better results. He said improving literacy and reading instruction is a priority because right now middle-school teachers are more of content teachers than reading teachers.

Q: How do you keep the focus on getting permanent improvements to Lee County High School and not just temporary things like the approved pods?
A: Bryan said he believes the Board of Education is committed to introducing more improvements and that they will continue to work with the Lee County Board of Commissioners. He said it is important to continue to emphasize these relationships and partnerships.

November 20, 2008 Posted by | Education | , | Leave a comment

Meet Eddie Ingram

Superintendent finalist Eddie Ingram talks to interim LCS Superintendent Gary Jackson

Superintendent finalist Eddie Ingram talks to interim LCS Superintendent Gary Jackson

The first public meet-and-greet session with a finalist for Lee County Schools was held Tuesday, and the first of the five finalists to visit was Eddie Ingram, executive director of curriculum and instruction at Franklin County Schools in North Carolina.

Ingram also was an assistant principal from 1991 to 1993 at West Lee Middle School.

At The Herald, we’re asking all of the finalists the same three questions to run in the paper the day after the candidates have their meet-and-greets. i’ll be using the blog to expand on the questions asked by the public at the sessions.

Ingram started out the session by thanking everyone for inviting him to Lee County and said part of the reason he was interested in LCS was how comparable it is to his current school district. “It’s a very good fit, and a very enticing opportunity,” he said.

Q: What are your feelings on No Child Left Behind and any potential changes because of a new presidential administration?
A: “I think the tenets of NCLB are outstanding,” Ingram said. He added that one of the unintended consequences of the law is that if schools are passing the overall quota, some children can still get left behind. He said school officials also need to take a step back. “Schools are either getting better or worse.” He said he believes more funding is needed but that he doesn’t think Congress should completely throw away the law.
*About recent lower reading test scores: “We took a shot in math and we got better; we took a shot in reading, but we’ll get better. I’m more optimistic than ever that our kids can achieve.”

Q: Are the tools in place to fix high-school graduation rates?
A:Ingram emphasized the importance of freshmen transition programs and teaching skills such as note taking. He said it is also important to have a counseling component available. “You’ve got to give them hope. It is a national dilemma, and we have to roll up our sleeves and work on this together.”

Q: What plans or ideas do you have to address ESL learning?
A: Ingram said he is a former English and Latin teacher and that his wife is a native Portugese speaker. “We have to let go of the attitude of well they’re over here so they have to learn English.” He said it is a concern that some students become weaker in their native languages. “We need to encourage teachers to the best extent we can to be bilingual. I think we need to embrace those languages as well.

Q: How do we improve the image of Lee County Schools?
A: “I think you accentuate positive things; you celebrate successes. You roll up your sleeves and work together. I believe that sometimes a player is put in the wrong spot, so you put them in the right spot.” Ingram said he believes Franklin County Schools does a good job of communicating by sending out electronic news updates and celebrating positive things. He said it is also important to be honest when people are hurt and mistakes are made. “Sometimes it’s the way we communicate together. … Negative perceptions might be self-generated. We’re going to look at where we’re going.”

November 20, 2008 Posted by | Education | , | Leave a comment

Kids love Obama

I attended a mock election held by West Lee Middle School yesterday and the result was a landslide. Democratic Sen. Barack Obama took the election with 66 percent of the votes compared to Republican Sen. John McCain’s 34 percent.

Democratic candidate for governor Bev Perdue won a narrow victory over Pat McCrory, beating him by just 10 votes. Almost half of all students said the economic crisis was their top concern, which wasn’t surprising since most of their parents probably have conveyed that that is their biggest worry.

The students I spoke with were opinionated for the most part, especially about the presidential election. Most of them had firm opinions either way. All of them who talked to me either said that the economy or the war on terror was the nation’s most pressing concern.

Nationally, two surveys of kids also have picked Obama as their choice for president. The Weekly Reader survey had students K-12 choose Obama with 54.7 percent of the vote and McCain with 42.9 percent (“other” candidates got 2.5 percent. of the student vote). The survey has been correct in 12 of the past 13 presidential elections.

Nickelodeon’s Kids Pick the President contest also registered an Obama victory.

November 4, 2008 Posted by | Education, politics | , , | Leave a comment

Election Day!

OK so maybe the exclamation point was gratuitous since pretty much everyone already knows that.

The Sanford Herald’s Web site will be posting updates tonight after the polls close at 7:30 p.m. You can check our blogs (see my Herald blog roll) for updates throughout the day. So far, more than half of Lee County’s registered voters have already cast a ballot. The county has 10 polling places at local schools and the American Legion.

Jimmy Love

Jimmy Love

I will be covering the race for the N.C. House of Representative’s District 51 seat between Democrat incumbent Jimmy Love and Republican challenger Linda Shook, who currently serves on the Lee County Board of Commissioners. Shook will be gathering at Chef Paul’s tonight, while Love will be having an open house at his Lee County home.

I spoke with Shook last night and she sounded upbeat, saying that though she felt like the “underdog” she was proud of the campaign she had directed.

Other important local races include our Congress seat between Democrat Bob Etheridge and Republican challenger Dan Mansell and a slate of candidates up for Board of Commissioner offices.

The Board of Elections will begin to post results tonight here.

November 4, 2008 Posted by | politics | , , , | Leave a comment