Erin Zureick

Education, politics and observations from Sanford

2008 in review

This blog has only been around for slightly more than two months, since I started at The Herald about 10 weeks ago. So far, it’s been viewed 1,300 times. The most-read page has been my about page, with 106 views. The runner-up was my “Meet Jeff Moss” entry, with 60 views.

I don’t really know what my goals are for the blog in terms of page views for 2009, but here are some of my other “resolutions:”

  • Update more regularly
  • Get more community interaction and conversation going
  • Implement more social media throughout the blog
  • Create resource pages
  • Add videos and other multimedia to the blog

Got any other suggestions? Let me know.

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December 31, 2008 Posted by | Sanford, Sanford Herald | , , | Leave a comment

What does 2009 have in store?

New York Times columnist William Safire does a fun survey every year posing some questions about what will happen in the next year based on different news events. For example, who will start fighting in a Democrat-led administration?

View the quiz here. My answers/predictions are listed below. See how you match up.

  1. In Demo-dominated D.C., post-postpartisan tension will pit:(a) lame-duck Fed chairman Ben Bernanke against Fed chairman-in-waiting Larry Summers and Fed chairman-of-Christmas-past Paul Volcker (a k a “The G.D.P. Deflator”) over an “imperial Fed”
  2. Springtime for G.M. will lead to:
    (b) a “pre-pack bankruptcy” auto rescue sweetened by federal pension protection and guarantee of new-car warranties
  3. Toughest foreign affairs challenge will come if:I say none of Safire’s options and am going to say how he deals with Israel/Palestine.

  4. Oil selling below $50 a barrel will:
    (a) threaten President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s June election in Iran
  5. Best-picture Oscar goes to:
    (e) “Frost/Nixon”
  6. The non-fiction sleeper will be:
    (d) “Losing the News,” by Alex Jones
  7. The don’t-ask deficit at year’s end will be:

    (b) $2 trillion, adding to the inherited Bush bailouts a raising-Keynes handout to shovel-ready contractors

  8. In Congress:
    (c) among Senate Democrats, Judiciary chairman Pat Leahy’s influence will rise because Supreme Court nominations will take center stage, while Harry Reid’s clout dissipates because of home-state weakness
  9. Post-honeymoon journalists and bloody-minded bloggers will dig into:
    (b) suspicion by conspiracy theorists about the unremarked lobbying that led to the expensive renaming, after 72 years, of the Triborough Bridge to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge just in time for Caroline Kennedy’s campaign for anointment to an open Senate seat
  10. The Supreme Court will decide:
    (e) that in al-Marri v. Pucciarelli, a legal U.S. resident cannot be held indefinitely at Guantánamo
  11. Obama philosophy will be regarded as:

    (d) all over the lot

  12. Year-end presidential approval rating will be:

    (c) sinking but 30 points higher than that of Congress and the news media

December 30, 2008 Posted by | Sanford | , | Leave a comment

Reporting the Moss story

If you read Sunday’s Herald, then you probably saw the story I wrote about the decision to hire Jeff Moss as Lee County Schools next superintendent.  Moss will begin his new position on Jan. 20 after leaving Beaufort County Schools,where he has served as superintendent since 2004.

The reporting in the article draws heavily on administrative sources. In that respect, I believe the story paints an accurate portrait of what it is like to work with Moss as a fellow administrator and the big-picture questions of what his leadership style is and how he prioritizes his goals.

I have heard a few comments from comments, messages and phone calls wondering what it is like to work with Moss if you are a principal or teacher. Since the vast majority of people  who will work with Moss will be in this category, that is a perfectly valid question. It’s one I am also working on getting a better answer to. Because there are many more school employees in these positions, it will take a longer time and more reporting to ensure that an accurate, representative view is presented.

This is definitely something on everyone’s minds, and we won’t forget the story now that Moss has been chosen. If there are questions you have or leads you would like to see pursued, please feel free to comment or send me an e-mail.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Education | , , | Leave a comment

Dispelling rumors

I’m sure many of you out there who either work at the Lee County Schools system, have children who attend there or just follow the district have been watching the selection of Jeff Moss as the next superintendent.

I’ve received some worried calls from employees (and have heard school board members have as well) mainmossly based on reports published in the Beaufort Observer, a tabloid-style publication based in Beaufort County, where Moss is currently district superintendent.

The publication makes a lot of allegations, including that Moss is leaving the district there in “financial ruin.” I’m writing a story for Sunday’s Herald about Moss’ background and his previous jobs. I’ll blog more about this in detail with whatever isn’t included in the print story, but I can say that after talking to Moss in depth today and quite a few Beaufort County School board members, any “financial ruin” allegations are false.

I hope that the finished product provides a clearer picture of Moss and helps filter the facts from the fiction.

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Education | , , , | 1 Comment

Behind the blogging scene of a superintendent search

Jeff Moss is congratulated by Board of Education Vice Chairman Frank Thompson as board member Linda Smith looks on.

Jeff Moss is congratulated by Board of Education Vice Chairman Frank Thompson as board member Linda Smith looks on.

It’s official: Jeff Moss will serve as Lee County Schools next superintendent. Moss, who is currently superintendent of Beaufort County Schools, will start the job Jan. 20.

As I’ve chronicled on this blog, Moss was one of five finalists up for the post. The Lee County Board of Education announced the decision at a special called meeting Tuesday, two days earlier than originally scheduled.

I attended all of the meet-and-greet sessions with the finalists and genuinely liked all of the candidates. However, I did have a hunch the pick was going to be Moss based on a couple of things.

One, the traffic on my blog was higher for Moss than for any other candidate. The entry I wrote about Moss’ visit to Sanford was the most viewed of any of the candidates. More people also found my blog by searching for Moss’ name than for any other candidate. All of this doesn’t add up to a lock, but it did indicate a lot of community interest in him as a candidate. (In all fairness too, an internal candidate could generate less buzz of this kind because the community already knows them).

My second reason for my hunch was really just based on attending the community meet-and-greets for all of the candidates. Moss’ session lasted the longest. In fact, they had to start locking up while people were still there. People’s questions also were very specific and seemed more prepared than at some of the other sessions. All of this led me to believe that the academic community was seeing Moss as a serious possibility.

I’ll be continuing coverage on the choice with a story about Moss’ previous posts. Feel free to weigh in with thoughts and comments about the selection.

December 17, 2008 Posted by | Education | , , , | Leave a comment

Sharing some cookie recipes:

Joyce Gilliam samples one of Marilyn McNamara's Grandmother's Red Wine Christmas Cookies

Joyce Gilliam samples one of Marilyn McNamara's Grandmother's Red Wine Christmas Cookies

We wrote a story in Tuesday’s Herald about a group of women who participate in a cookie exchange every year at Carolina Trace. I wasn’t able to get these recipes in before deadline, but here are some yummy recipes passed along from party hostess Joyce Gilliam. Enjoy!

Janice Daniel’s Ritz Rounds:
Ingredients:

  • Almond bark (dark or white or both)
  • Ritz crackers
  • Peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
    1 pkg. of almond bark makes about 36 cookies.

Instructions:

  • Melt chocolate in microwave according to directions on package
  • Spread peanut butter in between crackers
  • Dip each cookie (using ice tongs)
  • Set on wax paper or aluminum foil; let harden.
  • If you want to use sprinkles, do it before the chocolate hardens.

Marilyn McNamara’s recipe from 1984:
Grandmother’s Red Wine  Christmas Cookies

Ingredients:

  • Red Wine Syrup:
  • 1/2 gallon hearty red wine; 5 cups sugar & 1/2 cups dried prunes or figs
  • Dough:
  • 4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar; 2 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon; 1/4 tsp ground cloves; 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 lb. blanched almonds, toasted & finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Red Wine Syrup; 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp cocoa; 1 1/2 sticks butter (at room temperature
  • Grated rind of 2 lemons and 1 orange
  • 2 squ (2 oz) semi-sweet chocolate, shaved
  • 2 tbsp cocoa

Instructions:

  • Mix syrup ingredients.  Stir until boiling, then boil until the consistency of maple syrup. Cool
  • Dough:  In a large bowl, mix first 6 ingredients.  Stir in almonds and make a well in the center.  Add syrup and remaining dough ingredients; mix by hand until stiff.  Let rest 30 minutes.  Roll dough into several logs, 2″ in diameter.  Slice into 1/2 ” thick pieces; put on a well-greased cookie sheet, 1″ apart.
  • Bake at 350 for 12/15 minutes or lightly browned. Cool
  • Icing:  mix water & sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat; stir in chocolate & cocoa.  Spread cookies with a thin layer of icing while still warm.

Nancy Remington’s Chocolate Cookie Balls:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb oleo melted on stove (do not boil, stir)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon; 1 tbsp cloves
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 to 1 cup finely chopped nuts

Instructions:

  • Mix all dry ingredients together, add milk and mix
  • Roll into small balls
  • Frost w/confectionary sugar, water & vanilla

December 17, 2008 Posted by | Sanford | , , | Leave a comment

Siler City Elementary gets gardening grant

gardengatehpyhrtwelcm4From Chatham County Schools:

Siler City Elementary School is one of 20 winners of a 2008 Healthy Sprouts Award from the National Gardening Association and Gardener’s Supply.  The school will receive a $200 gift certificate from Gardener’s Supply and a variety of garden and classroom resources from the National Gardening Association.  Siler City Elementary was chosen from 360 applicants.

The Healthy Sprouts Awards are for garden projects that teach nutrition and the issue of hunger in the United States.  Winners receive curriculum from NGA and gift certificates.

December 15, 2008 Posted by | Education | , | Leave a comment

Getting in the holiday spirit

Don Perry decks out his house for the holidays

Don Perry decks out his house for the holidays

The holiday season is definitely my favorite time of year. I love the movies, (most) of the songs and, best of all, holiday decorations! When I was little, my parents always used to take me and my siblings around Cincinnati neighborhoods looking for the best Christmas and seasonal light displays.

In Sunday’s Herald, we are highlighting the home of Don Perry on Rockwood Drive. To say the least, Perry decks his house out for the holidays. There are thousands of lights that adorn his house, trees and bushes. And that’s not even mentioning the lawn decorations.

I’d love to highlight some more homes in the area that go all out for the season. If you think your decorations can make the cut, shoot me an e-mail at ezureick@sanfordherald.com and let me know why. Pictures are appreciated.

Last week Herald Editor Billy Liggett highlighted his five least favorite Christmas songs on his blog. So, in honor of the holidays, here are my five favorites (click on the links for a listen):

  1. “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” as sung by Judy Garland
  2. “All I want for Christmas is You,” as sung by Mariah Carey
  3. “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” my religious favorite
  4. “Hard Candy Christmas,” my country favorite
  5. “Where are You Christmas,” sung by Faith Hill for The Grinch soundtrack

December 13, 2008 Posted by | Sanford | , , | 1 Comment

Memorial service for Rothstein scheduled

I wrote a story in The Herald last week about the passing of Lee County High School teacher Carol Rothstein after her eight-year battle with cancer. At the time, a memorial service at the high school was planned but not officially scheduled.

Courtesy of Terri Payne, chairwoman of the LCHS foreign languages department:

A memorial service will be held for Carol Rothstein on Sunday Dec. 28 at 4 p.m. in the LCHS auditorium. I hope all of you can come.
~Terri Payne

Rothstein, who coached Quiz Bowl and IQ Bowl, was a constant fixture at the school, even showing up to work the week before she died. There are many comments on The Herald Web site that speak to her influence on countless students. Here is one of my favorites, from Faith (Schreiner) Clark:

“Señora Payne described Miss Rothstein perfectly, you appreciated her the older you became. I never stopped to think of all the things she would do for us. She would take myself and a handful of young musicians from West Lee Junior High to Lee Senior every Thursday for after-school Orchestra rehearsals. She’d stop at the Pantry and let us get a snack and eat it in her car on the way there. She’d set up the orchestra concert’s chairs and stands before the concert and take them down afterward. She’d videotape the concert. She never complained. And if she ever did, which was rare, she’d make you laugh when she did make a remark.”

Memorials can be sent to the Lee County Community Orchestra, the N.C. Cancer Hospital in Chapel Hill, the American Cancer Society, the Carol Rothstein Outstanding Foreign Language Student award at Lee County High School or a charity of choice.

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Education | | Leave a comment

Final countdown…

It’s down to the wire, and it looks like the Lee County Board of Education might have made its decision about the next superintendent. The board met at its regular meeting Tuesday and went into closed session (allowed under open meeting law for a discussion about personnel).

Today the board announced it will hold a meeting next Tuesday (5 p.m.) in the Heinz Education Building. Board Chairman Bill Tatum would not confirm to me that it would bethe hiring announcement but did say it will be related to the superintendent search.

Originally, the board had said it was aiming to make an announcement next Thursday. The shift signals that the board might have had an easy time negotiating with the person it selected as its first choice. The flip side is that their first choice might have backed out, though I would put odds that that is unlikely.

I’ll be working on a story for Sunday’s paper about the search. Let me know if you have any hunches or want to point me in the right direction.

December 12, 2008 Posted by | Education | , , | Leave a comment