As is a monthly ritual for the Elkin City Schools Board of Education, a number of students and staff members were honored during the board’s Dec. 5 meeting.
Headlining in the board spotlight portion of the gathering, Elkin Middle School Principal Casey Morrison recognized seventh-grade social studies teacher Bronson Ericksen for receiving his National Board Certification.
Ericksen was joined by his wife, Liz, and his children, Rosalie and Crosby, as he was honored by the board and school administration. “This was a really long journey for me, and I had a lot of help from former principal, Pam Colbert, and teachers at all the schools,” Ericksen said. “Thanks to everybody who supported me.”
Morrison noted that North Carolina has the highest percentage of teachers holding a National Board Certification, with 20.8 percent, and with the addition of Ericksen’s NBC, Elkin City Schools has 22.2 percent of its teaching staff certified.
Also, recognized during the meeting were the members of the first Elkin Elementary School robotics team, which placed second in the Robot Run during Surry County’s First LEGO League competition. Principal Pam Colbert explained that Elkin’s robotics kit arrived late, and then the team lost its coach, so she stepped up along with others to fill the void.
“This group taught themselves to program the robot,” she said, of how impressed she was with the students.
Members of the team include Ryan Russell, an Elkin High School junior who served as a mentor for the team as part of his senior project, as well as students Lily Gambil, Matthew Beshears, Summer Bryant, Eli Brolin, Maddox Bovender, Connor Ball, Harley Hutchens and Jackson Sowers.
Another staff member recognized was Elkin Elementary School Title I teacher Sandy Welborn, who applied for and was awarded a $500 grant from Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership to help fund reading materials. Welborn said the materials would be purchased for the level literacy library, so they would help all the school’s students.
In other news, Cynthia Altemueller, chief instructional officer for the school system, updated the board on the schools’ MakerSpace areas, which now can be found in all three Elkin schools. Part of her presentation included a three-minute video of the occupational students taking a Hexbug maze challege, which required them to use certain guidelines to build a maze, which the Hexbugs then had to navigate and finish.
She explained that the elementary school MakerSpace is staffed full-time by a teacher assistant, Lee Pardue, who works with the teachers to try to incorporate what they are studying in class with what they do in the MakerSpace, which is one of the students’ six-day rotation special classes.
The middle school MakerSpace is being housed on the eighth-grade hall, while the high school has dedicated an area in the media center for its MakerSpace.
Recently, Lexington City Schools reached out to Altemueller and then had three representatives come for a tour of Elkin’s MakerSpaces. She said they were so impressed they planned on returning Dec. 7 with eight people, including principals and teachers, to observe the students in the MakerSpaces.
While on their tour, the Lexington educators were able to share with Elkin the new flexible calendar that they will be implementing in fall of 2017. Lexington studied and planned the new calendar implementation, which is a year-round calendar, for five years before putting it into use.
Interim Superintendent Dr. Don Martin said Lexington will be implementing the calendar in all of its schools, kindergarten through 12th grade, and have been working with their day cares and community members to make sure they are ready.
During its board retreat earlier this year, the Elkin school board heard presentations on several year-round and alternative calendar options.
Altemueller was so impressed with the visit from Lexington, she said, “I see lots of collaboration with Lexington City in the future.”
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.