Inspire Magazine - 2022

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Thank you for your interest in learning more about Pitt County Schools. We hope Inspire will give insight to the wealth of opportunities Pitt County Schools offers our students and community.

Our recent journey through challenging times has cultivated tremendous technological growth, enabled us to embrace hybrid teaching and come to an understanding that education is truly a team effort. As a district, we remain committed to both enhancing and expanding relationships with our PCS families and community partners to continuously improve academic achievement and develop personal growth.

In this edition of Inspire, you will learn about unique educational opportunities as well as the community partnerships that help our teachers and administrators meet the ever-changing needs of our students … our future leaders. Consequently, our robust community partnerships help combat recent learning loss through model afterschool programs.

Pitt County Schools has a two-fold vision to re-engage parents and local leaders. We have expanded open enrollment opportunities for our PCS families. In our 28 schools, each has a unique theme to meet the individual needs of our students and families. Special offerings include dual language schools, arts intensive schools, STEM schools of distinction, global schools, AVID schools, and national award-winning programs to create equitable opportunities for our students and to re-engage parents.

Our community’s professional partners are seeking more skilled workers, critical thinkers and employees with an innovative mindset. Tradesformers, a youth apprenticeship program connects talented students with growing industry trades in our area. By providing opportunities with fundamental training, skills and expertise, our future workforce will be well-equipped with skills to grow

a successful career.

Additionally, partnerships with East Carolina University and Pitt Community College have afforded PCS the opportunity to offer two early college high schools. We have three High Level Extension Programs for students such as the Health Sciences Academy, Go Grow, Pitt Technical Academy and Pharma K-12. The Pitt-Greenville Chamber of Commerce is a valued partner supporting PCS middle and high school students through Grow Local. This community-based program consists of work opportunity experiences exposing our student participants to a specific career, company or industry. We are thankful for the support our community provides PCS with over 100+ businesses participating in Grow Local.

The students and teachers of Pitt County Schools are inspirational. Not only are they leaders throughout our community, PCS has a strong presence throughout the state of North Carolina. Whether you have a child in one of our schools, are considering us for your child’s education or are an integral member of the community, Inspire will provide insight to the heart of Pitt County Schools, our students and teachers.

Our supportive community helps provide opportunities to nearly 24,000 students who inspire us on a daily basis. Our mission is to lead collaboration between school, home and community to foster student growth and success, both socially and academically, in order to develop productive, global citizens. We hope you are inspired to be part of Pitt County Schools.

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Kindest regards, Dr. Ethan Lenker Superintendent, Pitt County Schools
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Tradesformers is a youth apprenticeship program designed to connect talented students with growing industry trades in our area. It provides opportunities for fundamental training, skills and expertise to help our future workforce be wellequipped with the skills to grow a successful career.

One of the program participants - Sara Monterrosa, a J.H. Rose High School se -

nior  -  is currently enrolled in an HVAC program and has a chance to experience first-hand all the fantastic opportunities Tradesformers can offer.

The inspiration to try this new path came from Mr. Clinton Todd, Sara’s earth/environmental science teacher, during her freshman year. Sara said that Mr. Todd suggested trying more advanced classes and keep exploring

different opportunities that PCS has to offer, for example, welding courses.

Sara shared that she likes Tradesformers because

this program helped her explore the world of different trades and get a feeling if she likes it or not.

“It also pushes people

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out of their comfort zone to try something they normally wouldn’t be able to do in regular high school classes,» she said. «I was taught how to wire units, control boxes, and such, which made me realize I enjoy wiring things and hope to learn more from my coworkers who have wiring knowledge.»

The project Sara is most proud of is working on the multiple control boxes she put together and wired for freezers and coolers at multiple schools. She also participated in a project with other students, replacing the HVAC unit on the roof of the PCS Facility Services office. Their group performed tasks so well that they didn›t need much assistance from their coworkers. These are only a few things Sara and her teammates did during the last couple of

months and there are so many exciting projects planned for the future.

“I would recommend the Tradesformers program to everyone, especially young women, because I feel it makes you see just how much you are capable of doing,” Sara said. “When I started, I didn’t know how well I was going to do because I had no prior knowledge of HVAC, but I quickly excelled by listening and learning, and am now being trusted to do tasks that are slowly growing larger by myself.”

When Sara has free time, she enjoys ice skating, roller skating, playing video games and meeting with her friends.

To learn more about Tradesformers and the opportunities it has to offer, please visit https://


Grow Local is a no-cost/ educator initiative designed to introduce, involve, inspire and invest in the future of our community and workforce. Originally introduced in 2018, Grow Local is a program intended to create and unveil career interests, grow the talent pipeline and connect local businesses to future employees. During Grow Local Week, Pitt County businesses open their doors to host local middle and high school students, providing them with a unique opportunity to identify career paths and opportunities they may be unaware of.

From tours of local businesses, conversations with business leaders and hands-on activities, students will have first-hand experience at a day in the life of an employee in a field relevant to curriculum they are studying in their class Businesses and employers can participate in three main ways:

1. Host an experience; 2. Sponsor; 3. Be a Grow Local supporter and recruit additional businesses to participate.

2023 Grow Local WeekMarch 27-March 31

What is an experience and how can my organization host?

An experience is an activity that exposes student participants to a specific career,

company or industry. Experience types range from tours and activities to job shadows. Experiences should have clear learning objectives that relate to the job, industry or company that you are showcasing, and hands-on activities and information on future education needs for the jobs presented. Businesses and employers of all sizes and industries can participate by hosting experiences.

All Grow Local experienc-

es in 2023 will take place in-person (or virtually if needed). There is no set duration for experiences. The time allotted for an experience should be planned around the activities the participants will be doing and school day time constraints. In general, experiences could range from one (1) to two (2) hours.

What are the sponsorship opportunities and how do I sign up to be a sponsor?

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Inspire Magazine 2022 There are multiple sponsorship levels: - Platinum ($1,000) - Gold ($500) - Silver ($250) 2022 Program Partners/ Sponsors
Greenville-ENC Alliance, MaynePharma, Pitt County Economic Development, City of Greenville, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Truist Bank, Greenville Utilities, Hyster-Yale Group and Suddenlink.
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Economic Development Efforts in Pitt County Enhance Wellbeing of Community

Economic development organizations in Pitt County are passionate about helping the community live well and lead well by creating opportunities for the area’s future workforce.

“Pitt County is well-positioned for future growth and much of that is thanks to the education that students are receiving at the K-12 level,” explained Tom Kulikowski, chairman of the Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance, a public-private partnership focused on economic growth in the Pitt County area. The organization works closely with area partners including the City of Greenville, Greenville Utilities Commission, and Pitt County Economic Development to recruit new investment, attract new jobs, and retain current companies.

“Through our efforts, it is our goal to continue enhancing an already thriving community,” shared Uconda Dunn, vice president of business development for the Greenville ENC Alliance. “As we work to grow the economic impact in the Greenville – Pitt County area, we are looking for opportunities to improve the quality of life and help current residents continue living well.”

Through the recruitment of targeted industries in advanced manufacturing, biotechnology and life sciences, and medical devices and supplies, the organization focuses on creating a talent pipeline to support these sectors.

“It’s important for us to attract companies and industries to our community that want to hire local people to fill positions,” Dunn said. “We are proud to partner with Pitt Community College, East Carolina University and Pitt County Schools to create specialized training programs and opportunities for current students to learn skills specific to these industries so they can find well-paying and rewarding careers after graduation close to home.”

Local high school students are finding early success by taking college-level courses through PCC or getting involved with Tradesformers, a youth apprenticeship program. These opportunities help to train students for high-demand careers with local companies or industries.

“We’ve seen plenty of students graduate high school

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and take the next step toward the career of their dreams whether that be attending a higher education institution or jumping into the workforce with certifications they earned while in their junior or senior years,” Kulikowski added. “In a competitive economic de -

velopment field, Pitt County stands out because we have the labor force that companies need to succeed.”

To learn more about the Greenville ENC Alliance and its economic development efforts, visit www.encalliance. com.

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Inspire Magazine 2022 13 Write your own story. Freedom 215 growpittcount Grow. Build. Succeed. The Greenville, NC MSA is fueled by our people, their resiliency, and their ability to adapt. Together we arecreating Pitt County’s future. Economic Development

The Health Sciences Academy is a high school curriculum program designed to expose and prepare students who wish to pursue healthcare-related careers upon graduation. The program is open to any student enrolled in one of the six traditional high schools or the Early College High Schools within Pitt County Schools. Upon graduation, many of

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our students will continue their education at one of our partner institutions, East Carolina University or Pitt Community College, and pursue a degree in the healthcare field.

The students who are in the Health Sciences Academy are among the best and the brightest within Pitt County Schools. They work hard to balance the demands of their coursework, volunteering, extra-curricular activities such as athletics, academic clubs or groups, drama and band, part-time jobs and living their own personal lives. We are continually amazed at what our students accomplish while in high school and beyond.

At the Health Sciences Academy, we believe in educating our students in a community endeavor. We are so grateful for the dedication and commitment of

our schools, teachers, community partners, students and parents. Our students’ success is your success!

The easiest way to describe the Health Sciences Academy is to tell about the experiences our students have during their time in the academy. Over the course of four years, students will complete a minimum of six courses that will expose them to potential healthcare careers. Those courses will also prepare our students who pursue college-level health science programs upon graduation. Our students have the opportunity to participate in job shadowing, mentoring, internships, medical research opportunities, career exploration and volunteering. Through these experiences, we are able to accomplish our vision of ... meeting the healthcare needs of the community by preparing students for healthcare careers.

Through the support of our partners, we are able to prepare students to enter the healthcare workforce and/or post-secondary healthcare education, which is our mission. Our partner list includes Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Colleges of Allied Health Sciences, Engineering and Nursing, East Carolina University, Eastern Area Health Education Center, Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce, Pitt Community College and School of Dental Medicine at East Carolina University and East Carolina Health.

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At the Health Sciences Academy, we believe in educating our students in a community endeavor. We are so grateful for the dedication and commitment of our schools, teachers, community partners, students and parents. Our students’ success is your success!

Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County

Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County (PPS-PC) is a local chapter of a national non-profit. The Pitt County chapter has been in existence for nine years, with the national organization having been in the United States for 30 years! PPS-PC offers three programs and shares pertinent information about issues facing public schools locally, statewide and from a national level.

School Tours allow individuals to see first-hand the impact made by Pitt County Schools. PPSPC organizes tours for community leaders, realtors, clergy and elected officials. When

meeting with potential Pitt County newcomers, these leaders can answer the famous question, “what are the schools like in Pitt County?” Also, when families are visiting the area for only a day or two, they can connect with PPS-PC staff, discuss their school priorities and decide which schools they would like to tour. Our staff does the legwork of securing school tours, lifting the scheduling burden from the shoulders of families. Another way to

engage in school tours is to sign up for the Spring School Tour Series. Each school is assigned a tour time, and families and community members use an online sign up process to attend the tours that interest them. One

parent shared with PPS-PC that tours allowed her to “walk the halls and get a feel for the place her child would be doing so much learning and growing.”

The Parent Engagement Program emphasizes parent involvement and parent engagement. Participants understand that the first is about action taken “for” schools, while the second is about a collaboration “with” schools.

One graduate stated that she “gained tools and knowledge to be an engaged parent and advocate for public education.” Another said that the class was an “eye opener” and helped her “better understand common misconceptions about public schools.”

Participants in the class are asked to complete a project that enhances a Pitt County School. Projects have included beginning new club, the creation of a kindness rock garden, stocking a high school with ample feminine hygiene products for a year, and many others.

Community Conversations have traditionally been offered to community groups, parent groups, business lunch and learns, and many other entities. Participants share their thoughts and ideas as they relay what seems to be going well with Pitt County Schools and what they would

like to see improve. This information is shared with key leaders and decisions makers in Pitt County Schools. One PCS leader shared with PPS-PC that the “community conversations report is a valuable tool, providing insight into our diverse school communities with an unfiltered, unbiased lens.”

PPS-PC hopes these programs accomplish our overall mission of advancing the role of families and community members in securing a high-quality public education for each child in Pitt County. The organization strives to create engagement opportunities that connect parents, community members and schools in a collaboration process that enhances learning and allows students to grow into the citizens who will make our community thrive both now and beyond graduation.

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Youth Arts Festival

The Youth Arts Festival began in 2005 on East Carolina University’s campus as an idea from then-director of ECU’s School of Art and Design Richard Tichich. He brought this project from Georgia Southern University, and Dindy Reich, former Teaching Instructor with the School of Art and Design, brought it to life for many years. When the event moved to the Town Common in 2018, much of the University’s arts community came with it.  Emerge Gallery & Art Center, City of Greenville Recreation and Parks, ECU College of Fine Arts and Communication, and Pitt County Schools hosted the 18th Annual Youth Arts Festival earlier this fall on October 29 at Greenville’s Town Common. The festival drew a crowd of 4,000 attendees.

This year’s festival featured visual, musical and theatrical arts booths where children participated in creative activities making their own masterpieces. There were also performance-based activities, including storytelling, music and interactive theater. Performances by groups from Pitt County Schools, East Carolina University and community arts organizations took place throughout the day

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at the amphitheater.

Students and faculty from more than a half-dozen ECU arts guilds — from ceramics to metals design — provided festivalgoers with activities ranging from crafting wire sculptures to creating creatures out of clay to stamping letters into metal. Each guild shared their passion for the arts with children and parents alike.

In addition to the ECU guilds, community organizations such as the Greenville Museum of Art, Girl Scouts of Pitt County, the NC Museum of Natural Sciences (A Time for Science) and Makerspace of Greenville led activities like jewelry making, repurposed art, crafting from nature

and woodwork. There was a wonderful presence of arts teachers from individual schools who offered activities for children, including A.G. Cox Middle School, North of the River School, Wahl-Coates Elementary School and Wellcome Middle School. One of the festival’s sponsors, MHAworks, provided a Chalk World area along the boardwalk next to the river.

The festival encouraged participation beyond visual arts as members of ECU’s Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity, Eastern Youth Orchestra and Music Academy of Eastern Carolina offered musical chairs as well as instrument exploration.

The main stage of the

Toyota Amphitheatre was packed with performances from ECU’s School of Theatre and Dance, Pitt County Schools’ choruses and orchestras, Undercover Steel and King Tiger Tae Kwan Do.

The presenting entities

were greatly appreciative for the support of their sponsors. These generous businesses include ECU’s School of Art & Design, Optimum, Christy’s Euro Pub, Emerald City Realtors and MHAworks.

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B E T H E L Y O U T H A C T I V I T Y C E N T E R Afterschool Programs Summer Camps Out of School Suspension STEAM Education Financial Literacy Substance Abuse Education “Making a difference, One Child at a time!” Bethel Youth Activity Center 7458 Main St./PO Box 165 Bethel, NC 27812 (252) 818-0020 OFFERING

PCS Earns Exemplary Scores In Latest Cognia Accreditation Report

The Cognia Accreditation Team recommended re-accreditation for Pitt County Schools with high rankings for school and school system effectiveness.

Cognia, formerly known as AdvancED, conducted the PCS accreditation review during the fall of 2021. The accreditation agency issued its final report to the system in April, 2022.

The accreditation review – undertaken every five years by the school system – is a highly detailed, data-driven and all-encompassing examination of school and school system practices. Based on evidence presented by district leaders and over 257 system and community interviews, the review team awarded the school system high marks in standards covering leadership capacity, curriculum impact and resources as well as a demonstrated commitment to continuous improvement.

Each of the 31 standards utilized in the review to eval uate those three areas are ranked on a four-level scale. PCS rated the top score of “impacting” on 16, while 12 were labeled “improving,” the next highest ranking. The other three remaining standards were listed under the “initiating” category.

Overall, Pitt County Schools received an “Index of Education Quality” (IEQ) score of 337.10 out of a possible 400, which well exceeds Cognia’s average score of 278-283 awarded to school systems in recent years. According to Cognia, an IEQ of 275 and above indicates a district is engaged in impactful practices ingrained in the culture of system excellence. The last time PCS went through accreditation

was in 2017 when it received an IEQ of 273.17.

“We are pleased to have external stakeholders such as Cognia compliment and affirm the work we are doing in our district,” PCS Assistant Superintendent of Educational Programs and Services Dr. Steve Lassiter said.

“We will continue to implement practices that lead to positive outcomes for students and maintain a culture of excellence in our schools and district offices. This work is for our children.”

Interviews were conducted with students, parents, school leaders, professional staff, district administrators, community partners and governing authorities.

As the cornerstone of the evaluated standards were themes that included the following:


• Strong relationships

• Goal oriented

• Scaffolded support system


• Established and intentional

• Formalized

• Strong culture of collaboration through PCL structure


• Mentoring and induction program

• Building support

• Dual employees

Through feedback gained from the re-accreditation process, PCS is in the early stages of addressing equity of culture, instructional programming and resources as a top priority. Additionally, the district observed that its non-negotiables are not yet consistently implemented or monitored with fidelity.

Cognia, considered the premier diagnostic tool for school improvement, offers accreditation and certification, assessment and professional services to some 36,000 public and private institutions from early learning through high school in more than 85 countries.

Inspire Magazine 2022 21 PCS Public Information

Growth has certainly been the theme for AVID in Pitt County over the past three years. Rooted in the four domains of instruction, systems, leadership and culture, AVID which stands for Advancement via Individual Determination is expanding again in 2022-23 to five more schools. Hope Middle School Principal Jennifer Johnson stated, “we are excited for the implementation of AVID, and we are confident the skills our students gain will help them reach new heights toward college and career success.” In addition to Hope Middle School, E.B. Aycock, D.H. Conley, J.H. Rose and W.H. Robinson will also implement the AVID system for the first time.

AVID’s mission is to close the opportunity gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in

a global society. AVID provides scaffolded support that educators and students need to build agency and support rigorous academics. With AVID, school leaders have the flexibility to start small with implementation and deepen AVID’s impact on their campus over time. First year AVID site coordinator Rachel Candaso is excited about continuing to grow the elective and strengthen AVID’s integration with STEM at Wellcome Middle School, noting the positive energy that many of her colleagues had

about implementing school-wide organizational systems and building an inclusive and rigorous culture among students and staff.

The instructional framework known as WICOR (Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization, Reading) aligns with learning-focused lesson planning to ensure varied and engaging activities across curriculum areas.

Pitt County Schools Teacher-of-theYear, Matt Daniel, weighed in on AVID’s impact in his classroom by saying “the foundational ideas and framework that has been provided has given me purpose and direction as a teacher. Goal-setting, WICOR strategies and building stu-

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dent agency fits seamlessly into our daily routine.” When students are equipped with successful, research-based practices, they are able to carry them beyond their K-12 school experience and ultimately be better prepared for life in the 21st century.

While elementary implementation builds across grade levels, AVID’s secondary model also includes an AVID elective course. Students in grades 6-12 are offered the opportunity to be selected for our middle and high school elective cohorts through an application and interview process. Innovation Early College Site Coordinator and Instructional Coach Kelley Culver suggested that AVID’s impact reaches beyond the four walls of our school buildings.

“In AVID, we teach our students how to do the things that we had to learn the hard way by taking notes, how to talk to adults, identifying the point at which we became confused, acknowledging the tools and knowledge we have to attack larger problems, learning how to disagree respectfully so we can be true to ourselves, but also engage in investigating new ideas … it is hard to just choose the highlights. We take the time for conversations about ‘why’ and ‘how’ and push our kids past an answer such as ‘because’ towards transformative metacognition. It is no longer the top 10 percent of students who gain access to opportunities in which they are able to talk about their

future and their resume; it is all of our students. AVID has allowed us to raise our students as young professionals regardless of the support, experience or wealth of the other influential people or communities in their life. In the college classes, our students share with other ECU students, professors have repeatedly reported back to us that the level of readiness, email etiquette and inquiry skills from our students are unmatched among their peers. AVID has raised the bar for what our kids expect from their education and equipped them to advocate for it.”

While supporting students in reaching their academic and personal goals is paramount, making sure that teachers have the right professional support is also key. For the first

time, Pitt County Schools hosted an AVID District Path training in July 2022. Two hundred (200) eager teachers, instructional coaches, district specialists and administrators came together for two days to learn more about effectively implementing AVID strategies in their schools and across the county. Seven communities of practice were offered to our 25 AVID sites to bring life to ideas like Academic Language and Literacy, Fostering Equitable and Engaging Classrooms, AVID Elementary Implementation, AVID Elective Foundations, Reading for Disciplinary Literacy and more.

In 2021, Pitt County Schools published its portrait of a learner, highlighting a focus on preparing students to be creative and

innovative critical thinkers, empathetic team-players who can effectively communicate while exhibiting personal responsibility and taking initiative and ownership over their educational experiences. AVID is just one example of the actionable steps that our schools are taking to ensure our graduates are ready for life after high school.

AVID’s Reach In Pitt County Elementary Sites

Ayden Elementary School

Bethel School

Creekside Elementary School

Falkland Elementary School Grifton School

Lakeforest Elementary School

Northwest Elementary School

South Greenville Elementary School

Sugg Bundy Elementary School

W.H. Robinson Elementary School (22-23)

Secondary Sites

A.G. Cox Middle School

Ayden-Grifton High School

Ayden Middle School

C.M. Eppes Middle School

D.H. Conley High School (22-23)

E.B. Aycock Middle School (22-23)

Farmville Central High School

Farmville Middle School

Hope Middle School (22-23)

Innovation Early College High School

J.H. Rose High School (22-23)

North Pitt High School

Pitt County Schools Early College High School

South Central High School

Wellcome Middle School

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“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement and success have no meaning.”
— Benjamin Franklin

What are your teams doing to make your school, community, and/or the world a more inclusive and equitable place to be?

The Pitt Pirates is a high school robotics team (grades 9-12) that support access to STEM education for all populations in Eastern North Carolina and beyond through engineering sessions and FIRST camps at a local elementary school for underrepresented boys, the Greenville branch of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and several Pitt County Boys & Girls Clubs locations. We also support girls in STEM through our Get the GIST (Girls in Science and Technology) sessions where we partner with the ECU’s SWE Chapter and NSBE Chapter, as well as host Girl Scout Innovation events for local girl scouts to earn STEM badges.

The FTC team 13735, the PiRates (πΔs) is a robotics group working with 7th-through-12th graders. We strive to get out in the community to spread the word of FIRST and empower new generations to pursue STEM interests, focusing on traditionally underrepresented groups in the field. This past season (2021-2022), we pursued many

outreach initiatives and we would love to share some of our successes, hopefully inspiring some teams looking for ways they can go out into the community!

In what unique, game-changing ways has your team utilized FIRST skills to be a force for good, off the field?

Our passion for community allows us to reach further than STEM education as we strive to join in philanthropic fundraising and raising awareness for numerous causes. We feel the sense of community when others provide for our team, therefore, we try to give back as much as possible. This also allows us to grow as a team by utilizing FIRST core values. When COVID-19 shut down our outreach programs, the team brainstormed creative ways to keep STEM alive and thriving during these difficult times. The team created and built STEM carts filled with engineering manipulatives and lessons that students could work on independently

at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plains in Eastern North Carolina. To date we have provided 10 STEM Maker Carts valued over $500 each to eight Boys & Girls Clubs, one to Third Street Academy and one to the Museum of Natural Sciences in Greenville. We are hoping to continue creating the STEM Maker Carts for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plains and Building Hope this season.

How does your team incorporate the FIRST ethos (e.g., Gracious Professionalism, Coopertition) and FIRST values (e.g. equality, inclusivity) into your daily lives?

We embrace the core values of FIRST at all our outreach events by emulating gracious professionalism and coopertition in our FIRST camps and Girl Scout events. We encourage our female participants to become key leaders in all areas of the team and embrace student lead initiatives in our community. We understand everyone’s differences, but we see it as a strength in our team building experiences.

What have been your most unexpected takeaway(s) from your overall FIRST experience?

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FIRST has provided lasting friendships where we see our alumni coming back to mentor the team and help at FIRST events. Through the years, we have built strong partnerships that have allowed us to give back in our schools and within the community. FIRST has created a legacy by being able to look back and see all the forces for change the team has created, the positive feedback from supporters and being able to say “wow I did that, I was a part of that initiative that created such a huge impact.”

How will your team use your multifaceted FIRST experience to build a better future?

The work of Pitt Pirates and PiRates is never complete. There are always new opportunities in our community and old projects that can always be improved to better assist the future generations of STEM leaders. We will continue to seek out (STEM) opportunities, train the trainers with our growing initiatives and ensure our team remains sustainable.

How will your team Inspire

Girls in STEM?

We are passionate to support girls in STEM by hosting Doyenne Inspiration, an off-season FRC all-girl and non-binary student competition in 2019 and 2021 where we welcomed 27 teams across North Carolina and Virginia that encompassed over 270 girls.

This was our fourth year as North Carolina’s Ambassador for #FIRSTLikeAGirl, where we shared resources to promote the program at competitions and events in

the community. Additionally, this was our first year as a FIRST Ladies regional partner!

During the season, we hosted monthly meetings with the Boys & Girls Clubs for our program called Get the GIST where we connected 12 girls with engineering college students for monthly talks and ended with a quick STEM activity. We strive to get more diverse speakers so the girls are able to see themselves in them.

Promoting FIRST: We devel-

oped a monthly program at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences called Get in Gear. We taught 156 elementary kids and their parents’ concepts in STEM, while introducing them to the FIRST core values. Each month, we would focus on a different science topic and created activities centered around the theme (i.e. electricity, chemistry).

One of our main outreach events that we run over the summer is hosting FIRST Camps. This three-week program focuses on FLL Explore, FLL Challenge and FTC engineering and programming concepts. We used WeDo and Spike Prime kits, along with other fun STEM builds that we call our “STEM Treasures.” For the past few years, a few of the kids who’ve participated in the last week of the camp (the FTC-centric week) joined the team!

Out in the Community:

You can find us around the community showcasing the FIRST program with elementary students. One example is Freeboot Friday - a pep rally/festival held every Friday before an ECU home football

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game. We have a booth that allows the kids to drive cardboard robots while providing more information about FIRST programs. We also attended two parades this season where we reached over 5,000 people.

We also do many robot showcases and STEM activities with local churches. One favorite is Robox Sumo, where the kids design cardboard robots to push each other out of a ring. The competitions get pretty exciting and it’s always fun to see the creative ideas they come up with.

Advocacy: We participated in Student Association for STEM Advocacy (SSA) National Advocacy Conference in June 2021, where we video conferenced state legislators about ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) funds and how they will benefit students participating in FIRST programs.

We also talked in-person and sent letters to our local legislators asking for their support for the NC After-School Robotics Grant. We were excited to

hear that the state budget passed $1.2M in funding for FIRST teams in December 2021.

Fundraising: Another way we help the community is through Walks for Causes. We continue to raise funds for St. Jude, the American Cancer Society and the Humane Society … totaling over $3,900 the past two years.

Follow us on social media

Pitt Pirates 2642

• website:

• Facebook: https://www.facebook. com/FIRSTPittPirates2642/

• Twitter: pittpirates2642

• Instagram: PiRates 13735

• Website:

• Facebook: • Twitter: FTC_PiRATES

• Instagram: https://www.

Ann McClung, NBCT

ECU Science Coordinator, Center for STEM Education

Inspire Magazine 2022 27 252.439.0500 Bigger house for you, more yard for them. Home starts at ALCOVA! ALCOVA Mortgage LLC | NMLS ID# 40508 ( 308 Market St SE, Roanoke, VA 24011 Ask us about our $500 Lender Credit

Career Advancement as a Teacher

From a teacher’s first day all the way until retirement, Pitt County Schools offers educators of all levels the opportunity to achieve excellence, autonomy and fulfill their passion. PCS’s Department of Excellence, Equity, and Leadership (DEEL) is an integral part of ensuring the success of every child every day by equipping and empowering teachers to live well. The department’s programs and personnel are guided by the simple premise that “better humans make better leaders.”

Teachers working in Pitt County Schools follow decades-long career paths, meaning teaching is more than just a job - it is a career one can be proud of. Teachers in the district leave legacies through both the students they teach and the peers they serve. Formal teacher-leadership opportunities are abound in PCS, as it is one of only 19 school districts in the state with a formal Advanced Teaching Role program. From serving as a formal mentor to new teachers to facilitating collaborative inquiry around problems of practice to co-teaching with novice teachers to help them improve their skill, teachers have differentiated opportunities for career advancement, exponential influence and

increased pay – all without having to ever leave the classroom for an administrative role.

Furthermore, these roles are not solely reserved for the “chosen few.” DEEL believes leaders are made, not born. This has led to the creation of two innovative teacher-leadership development opportunities where teachers who desire to grow as leaders have the opportunity to do so. The district also provides financial assistance and coaching support for teachers pursuing National Board certification. With paid

mentors and coaches who provide insight, feedback and guidance, all teachers in PCS have multiple opportunities to grow and develop as better leaders and better teachers.

PCS understands that our greatest asset as a system is the group of teachers who serve day-in and dayout to reach the students of our community, and so the district invests heavily to support, develop and maintain teacher well-being. The work of DEEL allows teachers to refine their craft, increase their living wage, make choic-

es around the types of roles they want to fill and achieve their own vision for success and influence. Better humans make better leaders; better leaders create better classrooms; better classrooms lead to increased student learning and achievement.

For more information on the Department of Excellence, Equity, and Leadership, or any of the programs mentioned in this article, please contact the DEEL office at 252-2951401, or visit us online at deel.

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PCS Elementary School Media Centers Earn Grants

Media centers at Falkland and Ayden Elementary School were awarded a combined $166,869.00 in grants from the James J. and Mamie Richardson Perkins Trust during the 2022 spring and fall semesters, respectively.

The FES Media Center, under the direction of coordinator Mrs. Cecelia Artis Brown, has used its $82,562.00 award to drastically improve the functionality of the facility into one that is now modern, more educational driven and has the ability to accommodate both younger and older students.

“Moving forward, our goal was to establish the media center as the hub of the school, making it a central

location for not just checking out reading materials but to be an extension of classroom learning,” Brown said.

“This grant will provide so many opportunities for not only our students, but our staff to extend on learning.

Our long-term goal is to ensure the media center becomes that stop all investors of learning want to seek.”

To align with its school mission to provide rigorous and engaging learning experiences that enable students to be creative and collaborative problem solvers in a diverse and ever-changing global society, the renovated FES Media Center wants to be in a position to deliver the tools and resources to both

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PCS Public Information

students and staff to meet those needs and succeed.

In addition, Brown also said the space will hopefully “create an environment where students, staff and community members will gain knowledge in cutting edge technology and innovative learning.”

The media center at AES, which is coordinated Mrs. Tina Mann, was recently awarded an $84,307.00 grant that will help transform its existing area in a more modern, multi-purpose space that will serve all age groups.

Another key goal for Mann is to ensure the facility provides an engaging and

learning environment for students that will allow them to succeed in the changing and ever-evolving 21st Century.

“The open space will have multiple work areas that will encourage exploration, creation and collaboration through whole class instruction, small groups, Makerspace and STEM projects,” Mann added.

“We appreciate the generosity and support from the James J. and Mamie Richardson Perkins Trust to help transform our media center,” Ayden Elementary School Principal Michael Casey said. “The improvements that will be made will help to reshape our media center into a learning hub for all students.”

The James J. and Mamie Richardson Perkins Trust was established for the benefit of Pitt County for tax-exempt and charitable non-profit purposes “to assist educational, charitable or benevolent institutions in Pitt County, North Carolina, whether supported wholly or in part by private donations or by public taxation; to provide for the care of the sick, aged, and helpless in Pitt County, North Carolina; to provide for the care of needy men, women, and children in Pitt County, North Carolina; to provide facilities for public recreation in Pitt County, North Carolina; to aid and assist churches, religious institutions, and spiritual causes in Pitt County, North Carolina; to aid and assist worthy and needy Pitt County, North Carolina, students through the means of granting scholarship(s), tuition grants, etc., and for such other worthy purposes as the DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE deems to be in keeping with the best the interest of Pitt County, North Carolina, and its citizens.”

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PCS Cites Principal, Teacher Excellence

Principal, Assistant Principal of the Year

During National Principals Month, Pitt County Schools recognized educational leaders whose careers have taken them far, though not in the geographic sense.

Eastern North Carolina natives Taylor Matkins and Casey Matthis were honored Oct. 20 as the school district’s principal and assistant principal of the year. The educators, both graduates of East Carolina University, received their awards at the annual banquet, sponsored by Pitt County Farm Bureau.

Matkins is principal of Pactolus Global School, which is located less than 30 miles from his hometown of Jamesville in Martin County. Matthis is assistant principal of Grifton School, just minutes from where she grew up in Ayden.

Before she went on to complete a master’s degree in executive leadership at Gardner-Webb University, Matthis began her education in Pitt County Schools, attending Ayden Elementary, Ayden Middle and Ayden-Grifton High School.

“I absolutely loved every minute of my educational experience and the way teachers made me feel every day,” she said in an interview. “I wanted to be that (person) for a student.”

With a decade of experience in education, Matthis has been an assistant principal for four years at Grifton.

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“She wears several hats that allow her to build relationships with students,
staff and the community,” South Central High School Assistant Principal Yolanda
Brickhouse, PCS 2021-22 Assistant Principal of the Year,
in presenting

the award. Among other things, she said, Matthis has worked to coordinate free after-school services and a career showcase for students with disabilities.

Matthis considers Grifton School, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school in the southern Pitt County town of about 2,500 residents, to be a hidden gem in the county.

“The kids are wonderful; they want to do well,” she said. “Their parents want for them to do well.”

Because many of their students’ parents work in neighboring Kinston or Greenville, Matthis said teachers often serve as the children’s supporters during and even after school.

“It’s cliché to say that we help raise them but we do,” she said. “That’s what a community school does. It takes a whole village to get these students where they need to be.”

Like Grifton, Pactolus School is a Title 1 school, where 40 percent or more of the students are from low-income families. But Matkins said his students achieve in spite of those obstacles.

“The Pactolus community is a wonderful community that doesn’t accept anything less than high expectations,” he said in an interview. “It doesn’t necessarily matter what is brought to the table … They just know what’s best for our students.”

Matkins, whose mother is a teacher, said he was drawn to education after serving as a tutor during his senior year of high school. He went on to receive a master’s

degree in school administration and a doctorate in education from ECU. An educator for 12 years, Matkins previously served as an assistant principal at G.R. Whitfield School before being named principal at Pactolus in 2018.

South Greenville Elementary School Principal Alison Covington, 2021-22 PCS Principal of the Year, presented Matkins the award. Covington, who went on to become Wells Fargo Northeast Regional

Principal of the Year, gave a keynote address to fellow school leaders attending the event at Rock Springs Center.

“We can turn schools around that many doubted could be turned. We can change how our community interacts with our school and inspire them to be involved and provide support,” she said. “… You are your school’s most powerful advocate.”

In his acceptance speech, Matkins said he considered

the award to be a recognition of what the school has achieved rather than an honor for himself.

“That is more what I’m proud of than anything in this world,” he said. “This is an award for Pactolus Global School.”

Also recognized at the celebration were nominees Kim Harris, principal of C.M. Eppes Middle School, and Ashley Bell, assistant principal of North Pitt High School.

Pitt County Schools Superintendent Ethan Lenker said the honorees are talented and committed individuals who have a positive impact on staff and students.

“I think what this really shows is the quality of people and the leaders in Pitt County Schools,” he said. “What they do is bring something very unique and special to our schools.”

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“It’s cliché to say that we help raise them but we do. That’s what a community school does. It takes a whole village to get these students where they need to be.”
— Amanda Casey Matthis, POTY

Teacher of the Year

Sam D. Bundy Elementary School Principal Alison Setser was so confident that Matt Daniel would be an outstanding teacher that she hired him six months early to join her staff after his college graduation. Five years later, Daniel has become one of the youngest educa tors ever to be honored with the county’s top teaching award.

On Wednesday, the 25-year-old fifth-grade teacher was named the Farm Bureau-Pitt County Schools Teacher of the Year. Hope Middle School teacher Karen Eberenz was named runner up at the awards luncheon. Held at Rock Springs Center, the annual event also honored finalists Meghann Boyd of Creekside Elementary and Kate Lee of Eastern Elemen tary School, along with teacher of the year nominees at more than three dozen public schools throughout the county.

A Greenville native and the only son in a set of triplets, Daniel grew up competing with sisters who were naturally gifted academically. But Daniel struggled in school, especially in math, which is now his favorite subject to teach because he feels he can relate to students who have problems with it.

“He has that spark, that love,” Setser said. “He was meant to be a teacher, and that’s something you can’t teach.”

Eberenz, 55, a Greensboro native and a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is now in her 13th year of teaching academically and intellectually gifted students at Hope. Named North Carolina As-

sociation for the Gifted and Talented Outstanding Teacher of the Gifted in 2015, she has taught for more than 30 years, including five years in Georgia, and is in no hurry to retire.

“Peo- ple always told me, ‘You’ll know when it’s time to go,’ and I’m not ready to go,” Eberenz said in an interview. “I still enjoy it. I still think the worst day in the classroom would still be better than my best day doing anything else.”

In his acceptance speech, Daniel shared a story from one of his worst days in the classroom. It happened during his first year of teaching when a fifth-grader had taken Daniel’s school-issued iPad and was using it to film his classmates’ bad behavior.

“I was drowning,” Daniel told an audience that included Board of Education members and educators from across the school district. “I never thought I would stop drinking from

a fire hose in balancing the many responsibilities from this job. I had a choice to make: Do I stick with it or do I get out while I can?”

While his father is a professor of anthropology at East Carolina University, Daniel had no plans to follow in his footsteps and become an educator. But he had changed his mind during his freshman year at ECU after witnessing a light bulb moment with a young martial arts student Daniel was helping in math.

“The next day, I changed my major,” Daniel said, “and I haven’t looked back.” Daniel, who works part-time as a statistician for ECU athletics, has helped his students forge a friendship with the university’s women’s basketball team. ECU coaches and players not only visited the school and hosted students for a game but remain in contact with students to encourage them. In his comments Wednesday, Daniel thanked Coach Kim McNeill and members of the team.

“They’ve been huge supporters,” he said in an interview. “It’s cool for kids to know that there are other people in their corner besides their teacher and their family.”

Setser said it is not unusual for Daniel, who has moved to Farmville, to attend his students’ sporting events and other activities in the community.

“He’s genuine,” she said. “He puts time into it.

“Years of experience don’t make you a great teacher,” Setser said. “He has that innate, natural ability. Kids are drawn to him. He’s a phenomenal teacher at year five. I can’t imagine where he’ll be down the road.”

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34 Inspire Magazine 2022


Pitt County Schools is proud of its rich athletic past, exciting present and promising future.

Our teams consistently capture conference, regional and state championships. The athletic programs strive to provide our student-athletes with an enjoyable and challenging athletic environment which emphasizes the attainment of both physical skills and strong character development, as well as encouraging the lifelong learning process. These programs aim to develop excellent sportsmanship, a strong work ethic, a spirit of cooperation, leadership skills and important personal character traits. All student-athletes must be in good academic standing and adhere to county

and state regulations in academics, attendance and residency.

The school district offers 10 sports at the middle school level and 15 for high school students (not all high schools offer all sports). Athletic programs in Pitt County Schools emphasize academic success in the classroom, student attendance in school, and sportsmanship and citizenship on and off the field.

Our high school teams compete under the rules and policies governed by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA). Each high school participates in an NCHSAA-approved conference against schools in the surrounding area. D.H Conley (4A), J.H. Rose (3A) and South Central (3A) compete in the Big Carolina 3A/4A

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Conference. Ayden Grifton (2A), Farmville Central (2A) and North Pitt (2A) all compete in the Eastern Plains 2A league.

Our middle schools compete in the Pitt County Middle School Conference that is made up of two divisions. Division 1 schools are A.G. Cox, E.B. Aycock, Farmville and Hope. This conference also hosts Greene Middle School and P.S. Jones from outside of our school system.

The Division 2 level consists of Ayden, Bethel, Chicod, Eppes, Grifton, Wellcome and G.R. Whitfield. All athletic activities are held in compliance with the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s (NCHSAA), NC DPI and local LEA policies.

Community Schools and Recreation

The Pitt County Community Schools and Recreation Program is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all citizens in Pitt County by maximizing the use of resources through cooperative efforts with many agencies and organizations such as Pitt County Schools. Our goals include:

*Maximizing school resources;

*Promoting active community environments throughout Pitt County;

*Enhancing the quality of recreational and educational programs held in public school facilities;

*Working cooperatively with other agencies and

organizations to identify community needs and plan programs and activities to meet those needs;

*Planning, implementing and coordinating county-wide recreation programs that serve individuals from preschool to senior citizens. We reach these goals with offerings such as our After School Enrichment Programs which are provided

at many of our elementary school sites. Enrichment activities include Arts & Crafts, Music, Group Games and Homework Time!

Community Schools and Recreation also plays a positive role in offering seasonal youth sports and recreation programs such as volleyball, flag football, soccer and basketball for a wide range of ages. These team experi-

ences place an emphasis on sportsmanship, teamwork, skill development … and having fun!

The final bookend to the wonderful Community Schools and Recreation experience is our 50+ Adult Programs. From day to day, our adult citizens have opportunities to take part in many classes such as Stretching, Pilates, Line

Dancing, Yoga and Card Games. We have also been a strong partner to the N.C. Senior Games throughout Eastern North Carolina by taking a lead role!

It is obvious that our strong collaboration with Pitt County Schools has enabled the Community and Schools Recreation program to serve as a valuable resource to citizens of Pitt County!

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feel welcome at the school? How is learning individualized for students? What measures areinplace to keep students safe? How does the school communicate with families? How can families become involved with the school? Visit

Visit any of the 38 schools in the Pitt County School System through aunique collaboration between Pitt County Schools, Parents for Public Schools of Pitt County,the United WayofPitt County,and the Greenville-Pitt County Chamber of Commerce.

Tours areprovided to prospective families, business leaders, or other residents interested in seeing firsthand the activities and initiatives happening in our local schools.

40 Inspire Magazine 2022
Seehow we build BRIGHTER FU TU RES. TAKE A SCHOOL TOUR TODAY! Hereare key areas you should see: ► Media Center ► Cafeteria ► Classrooms ► Gym ► EncoreClasses ► Creative Learning Areas ► Unique Technology Labs Hereare some suggestedquestions:
our website for afull list of suggested questions.
Contact Parents for Public Schools to schedule your personal school tour. kdibble@ppspittcounty.orgor(252) 758-1604; 201