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Saturday, August 17, 2013 wilsontimes.com 7

Letter from Dr. Bulson “We learn and we create.” When a fifth-grade student shared those words with me two years ago during my first year as the superintendent, I knew he was on to something. I had asked Israel what he thought a student’s purpose was in school, and I thought his five word answer summed it up perfectly. What Israel captured is that beyond learning, students create new knowledge. Israel’s words became the theme of our 2012-2013 school year and resonated so deeply with staff and students that we decided to build on this theme for the 2013-2014 school year: Learn. Create. Inspire. Wilson County Schools employs an amazing staff of educators who inspire me each day. During our Opening Day Rally for employees on Aug. 21, we will feature the inspiring stories of six educators, including Jennifer Parker, eighth-grade teacher at Darden Middle; Jay Wheeler, Spanish teacher at Fike High; Jose Ramos, teacher assistant at Jones Elementary; Debra Simons, fourth-grade teacher at New Hope Elementary; James Cooper, custodian at Barnes Elementary and Bettena Adams-Artis, counselor at Beddingfield High. Thinking about our teachers, it is easy to produce inspirational stories about their work and the many creative ways they bring their teaching to life. However, those of us who have spent time in schools quickly realize how inspirational students can be as well. As this new school year begins, I want to encourage students to realize their full potential and really think about why they are in school, just as Israel did. Wilson County is full of students who have made positive changes in our community and who realize the impact that just one person can have. School is not just about remembering facts. It is about fostering creativity and a sense of inquiry, and seeing things in new ways. Across the world, people are creating new knowledge every day at a staggering rate. Technology makes this possible, and our students must learn to create new ideas rather than just absorb them. While the importance of teaching critical thinking is not new to educators, our schools spent a great deal of time last year focusing on what it means to teach students to think critically. I am looking forward to the new school year and hope all of you are as well. We have spent the last year learning from the community about how we can better serve our students and our families. We rely on your continued feedback and participation at our school and community events to ensure our schools represent a partnership between parents, students, the community and school system employees to support student learning and prepare them for the exciting futures and fulfilling lives. If the level of support and engagement I have experienced in the year I have been here continues, we will do great things as a team for our students. Enjoy the school year!   Sean Bulson

Superintendent Wilson County Schools

Volunteering is Wilson teens’ top priority The Wilson Youth Council documented more than 4,300 volunteer service hours by its members during the past 12 months. The total number was shared with members during a recent bowling night social to celebrate summer and catch up with alumni members. While some members were shocked at the high number, others were not surprised at all. “Volunteering is one of the main reasons I joined the youth council,” said Terrell Saunders, the newly elected Service Project Chair and rising senior at Wilson Early College Academy. “We have a different project each month, and it was always fun too. I knew we did a lot last year, but didn’t realize just how much.” The purpose behind all this volunteering is to develop leadership skills. Volunteering is the top priority of the council to allow for a wide variety of teens the opportunity to learn about leadership styles and methods. They explore personality differences, organizational processes and reflect after each project on what should be repeated and what needs to be changed before the next project. The projects also help teens fill other goals. Many

of the council members use the organized volunteer project to fulfill hours required by the National Honor Society, to apply for scholarship and as their Senior project. “The key to keeping this group motivated is allowing them to be responsible for the projects,” said Theresa Mathis, the WYC advisor. “We have a captain for each project, leaders and followers. Everyone has to arrive early, and help set up, and no one leaves until the cleanup is done. They learn from start-tofinish how to manage a project, how to give back to the community and all the while having fun.” The members of the Wilson Youth Council have volunteered monthly for the past six years. The group has become a permanent fixture at several of the area community events, including the Wilson County Fair, the Wilson Whirligig Festival, the MLK Breakfast and the Special Olympics spring games. These annual events depend on the WYC teen volunteers for everything from simple tasks to high levels of coordination. The Wilson Youth Council won “2013 Volunteers of the Year” recognition by the NC Festival & Events

Association for their five years of dedication at the Wilson Whirligig Festival. The teens are the only volunteers in the Whirli-kidz Zone. They manage the rides, the arts and crafts and keep the lines in order. Approximately 100 teens volunteers throughout the 2-day festival. In addition to service projects, the WYC promotes anti-bullying awareness through its “SMH@ BULLYING” campaign and members attend five NC State Youth Conferences during the school year. The Wilson Youth Council is a teen action group dedicated to community service and leadership development. In 2012, it was recognized at the “Most Diverse NC Youth Council.” It was awarded “Most Outstanding NC Youth Council” in both 2011 & 2008. The council is open to all high school members every fall. Membership is free, but requires action and dedication to join. The WYC Open House will be on Tuesday, September 3 at 6:30 p.m. in the Wilson County Library. To learn more, contact the City of Wilson Human Relations Office, visit the council’s Facebook page or website at www.WilsonNC.org.

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