Education endured a summer of state budget cuts, protests and even job cuts in Craven County. But on Monday, school staff will get back to the business of teaching students when classes resume for those schools on the traditional calendar.
While Tucker Creek Middle, and Arthur W. Edwards and Havelock elementary schools have been in classes since last month on the year-round calendar, Roger Bell, Gurganus, and Graham A. Barden elementary, Havelock Middle and Havelock High schools are all set to open for students bright and early on Monday morning, marking the end of summer for many.
Perhaps the biggest new thing for students this school year will be new labs designed for teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Math in Havelock-area elementary schools.
The new school year begins at Havelock High with the addition of three new advance placement courses — English III, Government and U.S. History — bringing the school’s total to seven. The classes offer college-level curriculum on the high school level and are designed for higher-level students.
“We want to make sure our students are competitive when applying to college,” said Principal Jeff Murphy. “We want to help these students excel.”
Though the entire system has been impacted by job cuts, Murphy said the high school was able to hire a good group of new teachers, including three recent graduates from the University of North Carolina and another from North Carolina State.
“We have some new staff, and we believe they will do a good job,” he said.
The school also has a new Twitter account to allow parents and students the ability to get updates on calendars and events at HavelockHS@HavelockHS
Principal Tabari Wallace introduced new teachers at Havelock Middle School with a pep rally on Monday. Returning teachers and the school’s cheerleaders lined up and slapped high-fives with the new arrivals as preparation for the first day began.
To go along with eight new teachers, one of the new staff members is Assistant Principal Lisa Taylor, who comes over from Havelock High School.
Havelock Middle School also opens the year with new math labs, and a new football field is also in the works.
Wallace hosted Craven County Board of Education members and Superintendent Lane Mills for the Monday pep rally that welcomed teachers and staff back to the school for the 2013-14 year.
“Thank you for the support you have given me and my staff,” he told them.
Graham A. Barden Elementary
Graham A. Barden Elementary School will welcome students back Monday with a new STEM lab, paid for through a grant.
About 60 percent of the school’s students are military-connected, making it one of 14 Craven County schools to split the $2.4 million grant. For Barden, it meant the school received seven new Dell computers, associated work station furniture and educational materials. Students in third through fifth grades will be using the lab.
“We are just excited about our STEM lab,” said Principal Marilyn Brown, who is in her fourth year as head of the school. “The students will be learning hands on.
“Every station has a computer. It will also teach the students to work together as a team and collaborate. They will be sitting as a group and they will have to come up with decisions and they will have to analyze and dig deep as far as science and technology is concerned.”
One change for kindergarten to second grade is the switch to three grading periods from four. The change is in line with the new Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills assessment being implemented.
Roger Bell Elementary
Roger Bell Elementary has a new principal this year. Pamela Holloway is a New Bern native who has been teaching in Craven County for 15 years.
“I have a 27-year career that spans everything from kindergarten through sixth grade in the public schools, and I also teach adult basic education math classes in the evenings at the community college,” Holloway said. “I am excited to be down here and I am looking forward to the wonderful things we’re going to be doing.”
Holloway said the school is joining 600 other schools nationwide in an effort to bring fathers to school on the first day.
“We’re starting off the year on opening day by having a Million Father March where we’re inviting fathers to come and bring their babies to school,” Holloway said. “I thought if they can do it, so can we.”
One major curriculum change in elementary schools this year is the new Read to Achieve program, which demands that all students read proficiently by the third grade.
“It is going to be imperative that all third-graders read on grade level,” Holloway said. Children who can’t read to their age level will be at risk of being held back.
The school also is a recipient of a new seven-computer STEM lab from the Department of Defense.
W.J. Gurganus Elementary
Gurganus Principal Debbie Hurst believes her students will be thrilled with the new STEM lab as they return to classes on Monday.
“It allows for hands-on learning,” she said. “There are brand new computers. It’s really neat and it supports the curriculum.”
Gurganus ended last year by giving away about 500 books to students to read during the summer through a program sponsored by the USO and Lenovo.
Hurst said she and her staff, which includes a couple of new teachers, are excited to welcome students back and believe the students will be excited to be back as well.
“We’re glad to have everybody,” she said.
Annunciation Catholic School, which opened to students on Aug. 14, has nearly doubled the number of students attending, bringing the total to 160, Principal Susan Parks said.
Students are getting used to six new teachers at the school for 2013-14, including Sarah Rhoades, the school’s new STEM coordinator.
One big change will be French and Spanish classes from pre-school through the eighth grade.
Another addition is the expansion of the school’s music program.
“We have an orchestra program now,” Parks said. “We’re very excited with that.”