The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

May 17, 2013

Parents and educators meet on school events and initiatives


LEGGETT — LEGGETT — North Edgecombe High School was the site of a community meeting Thursday evening involving parents and educators from North Edgecombe, Phillips Middle School and Coker-Wimberly Elementary School. Collaboration between parents, administration at the three schools, and the school district’s superintendent was the goal of the meeting.

School principals had a chance to update parents on school events and initiatives.

“That’s a goal in this partnership – to develop those relationships with our parents…We teach students, but we also serve the parents, as well,” said Robert Batts, principal at North Edgecombe. “We want all of us to be on one accord, because we all have the same goal – student achievement.”

Batts gave an update on a program focused on raising reading levels of freshman reading below grade level, the Positive Behavior in Schools program, which “celebrates good grades and positive behavior,” and community partnerships.

Lisa Howell, principal at Coker-Wimberly, also discussed a community partnership, with the Master Gardeners, which she described as a “real world” experience for students. The Master Gardeners have constructed a butterfly garden at the school and are partnering with the Parent Teacher Organization to plant seven raised beds outside the school this summer.

Donnell Brown, principal at Phillips, said he was glad to see a room full of parents at the community meeting, many more than the handful who attended last year’s initial meeting.

“This is our second year partnering together – elementary, middle school, high school,” said Brown. He provided parents with an update on End-of-Grade (EOG) tests and an upcoming pep rally centering on EOG’s.

Edgecombe County Public Schools Superintendent John Farrelly gave a state of the school system address following the school principals’ presentations. The theme of his presentation was celebrating successes while overcoming challenges at the three schools, and moving forward as a school district overall.

“North had the highest graduation rate in the county last year,” Farrelly said. The parents and administrators gave a round of applause for that achievement.

At the same time, student achievement levels at North Edgecombe, Phillips and Edgecombe are below the state average. Next year, North Edgecombe will join Coker-Wimberly and Phillips in having the designation as a Title I school, with at least 40 percent of students qualifying for free or reduced price lunch. Farrelly shared with the parents at the meeting that he experienced poverty as a child and understood that struggle. He also told them as school superintendent, he is “not going to rest until we see growth in our school system.”

Farrelly assured the parents that North Edgecombe’s doors would remain open, despite the school district’s budget cuts.

“On this side of the county, we’re not going to close any schools, so rest assured that’s not going to happen,” he said.

After his presentation, Farrelly gave parents opportunities to ask questions, and responded to questions about everything from summer school to student progress reports.

“It was nice,” said one of the parents at the meeting, Jackie Pearce of Battleboro. She said she liked the convenience of talking to all three principals at the same time.

“I have a kid this year at Coker-Wimberly (fifth grader Elvisha Pearce) and one at North Edgecombe (10th grader Quantellis Johnson),” said Pearce. Another parent commented that she

appreciated the opportunity to meet the school superintendent.