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UCPS classrooms visited by State Superintendent

State Superintendent June Atkinson, at right, asks students in Jessica Garner’s Porter Ridge High School Spanish class, for feedback about the Graduation Project required of all high school students, beginning with those who entered high school in the fall of 2006 (Class of 2010). Atkinson was visiting Union County Public Schools in the Porter Ridge cluster.

A week after presenting Porter Ridge High School Spanish teacher Jessica Garner with the state’s top teacher title, State Superintendent June Atkinson walked into Garner’s classroom in Union County and had a candid conversation with her students.
   
Atkinson, who was visiting Union County to address the Union County Democratic Women on May 12, 2009, spent the afternoon touring Porter Ridge Elementary, Middle and High Schools.
   
“I believe that the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board both exist to help improve public education,” Atkinson said. “I don’t believe that the department can help make education better in North Carolina without our visiting schools and talking to educators and to students; to see first-hand how policies and initiatives affect students and educators.”
   
Atkinson requested to visit Garner’s Spanish class while visiting Porter Ridge High School after Garner was selected as the 2009-2010 North Carolina Teacher of the Year on May 5, 2009.
   
“I could tell immediately what wonderful rapport Ms. Garner has with her students,” Atkinson said. “She strikes me as being a great listener. You could tell her students have great respect for her because they became so quiet when she started talking about the graduation project.”
   
While in Garner’s class, Atkinson discussed the North Carolina Graduation Project with students, asking for their feedback. All high school students, beginning with those who entered high school in the fall of 2006 (Class of 2010), are required to successfully complete the Graduation Project in order to receive a high school diploma. It consists of four components: a research paper, a product, a portfolio and an oral presentation.   
   
“The discussion about the graduation projects was very beneficial to me; to see what are their objections and what are their suggestions,” Atkinson said. “One thing I gained from being here is that we need to do a better job of having students sell other students on the project.”
   
Atkinson will have an opportunity to spend even more time with Garner in Raleigh as part of Garner’s role as the state teacher of the year will be to serve as an advisor to the State Board of Education.
   
“As I see Jessica every month at the state board meeting, I will always remember her classroom and what she’s done for students,” Atkinson said. “I’ll also remember that she is a voice of teachers and of students with the state board. That’s a very important function.”
   
UCPS Superintendent Dr. Ed Davis and David Scholl, a member of the Union County Board of Education, accompanied Atkinson as she toured Porter Ridge Elementary, Middle and High Schools.
   
“It’s so gratifying to be in classes where teachers are doing such excellent jobs in preparing our students for the world they’re going to face,” Atkinson said.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, Publications Coordinator
Posted: May 15, 2009 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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