Celebrating Teachers in Inspire 340 Schools
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
JANUARY 11, 2019 – Lauren Hicks’ grandmother inspired her to become a teacher.
“My grandmother was a teacher and just got me into it,” Hicks said.
After graduating from Reagan High in 2014, Hicks headed to East Carolina University. After graduating, she returned to Winston-Salem to teach first grade at Brunson Elementary.
“My dad went there so it was pretty cool that’s where I ended up getting a job,” she said.
After graduating from Reagan High in 2012, Samantha Marzullo headed to Appalachian State University. She majored in business before deciding to shift her focus.
“I decided I wanted to help students who needed me, and I wanted to make learning enjoyable,” Marzullo said.
Now, she, too, is teaching at Brunson. After starting out teaching third grade, she began teaching fifth grade. The experience has taught her a lot about how different the world is for students in different grades.
“I knew there were different needs,” she said. “I didn’t know how extremely different those would be.”
On Wednesday, Hicks and Marzullo and Jeff Faullin, the principal at Brunson, headed to the school system’s Education Building for a lunch program celebrating teachers at Inspire 340 schools – schools within the district that have been designated as a Priority or a Focus School. Many Priority and Focus schools are Title I schools that receive additional federal funding for supplies, materials, and staff incentives.
The number 340 represents the local education code for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Inspire 340's mission is to inspire students to achieve and excel, despite life challenges, through the power of education.
Joining the group from Brunson were teachers, principals and other administrators from the other Inspire 340 schools, along with Superintendent Beverly Emory, Instructional Superintendents, and others based in Central Office.
“This is part of our retention and recruitment activities for Inspire 340 to show our appreciation for our teachers who are helping us to lead our school turnaround efforts,” said Karen Roseboro, the Instructional Superintendent leading the Inspire 340 effort.
When Emory spoke during the program, she made the point that knowing that you are appreciated means a lot and that she wanted all of the teachers present to know how much they mean to her.
At one of the other tables, Carver High teachers Carlos Crawford and Jay Cross were sitting with Carver principal Carol Montague-Davis.
Asked what made him decide to become a teacher, Crawford, who graduated from Mount Tabor High before heading to N.C. A&T State University, said, “So I could pass on everything I learned to the next generation.”
While passing along what he knows while teaching chemistry and global science, he has learned a few things himself.
“Patience is key” is one of them, he said.
He has also learned that, in order to help students grow as individuals, you have to wear a lot of hats, such as being called to serve as a father figure from time to time.
“I didn’t anticipate that coming in,” he said.
Cross teaches English.
He’s from South Carolina and became a lateral-entry teacher after working in the utilities industry for 15 years. When his wife Kristie’s work at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center brought the family to Winston-Salem, he decided to become a teacher.
“I wanted to do something where I could give back to other people,” he said.
Although he has a master’s degree from Auburn University, Cross is not certified as a teacher, which makes him a lateral-entry teacher.
Cross was one of a number of those present who came to an Inspire 340 school as a lateral-entry teacher, which means that, even though, they have an undergraduate degree and may have advanced degrees as well, they still have to become certified as teachers.
To support teachers in their efforts to earn their certification, The Winston-Salem Foundation has provided a $50,000 grant that enables some of those teachers to enroll in a certification program. During the program, Judy Jones – a retired principal who works to recruit and retain teachers for Inspire 340 schools – invited lateral-entry teachers taking advantage of those grants to share their thoughts.
Three of those teachers – Steven Heitter of Philo-Hill Magnet Academy, Courtney Adams of Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy, and Tori Osborne of John. F. Kennedy High – took her up on that offer. They talked a bit about their experiences and offered their thanks to foundation representatives who were present.
Later, Osborne, who graduated from West Forsyth High before going to Salem College, talked a bit more about how she became a teacher. After working for the Employment Security Division helping people file claims and write resumes and such for a number of years, she became a stay-at-home mother. Her two children – Bo and Catie – are now in high school at East Forsyth High. When she began working outside the home again, she became a teacher assistant for a time. She discovered that she loved working with students and decided to become a teacher.
She has a jam-packed life. She teaches full-time at John F. Kennedy High. She is working on her teaching certification. Her two children are both active in high school sports, and then there is her husband, Blair, who she jokingly referred to as her biggest kid. So pretty much every minute of every day is booked.
“It’s insane,” she said.
At the same time, she said, it’s a great life. “I am very happy where I am right now.”
Amy Talley, the current Teacher of the Year for the district, had been invited to deliver the keynote address. These days, Talley is an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher at Jefferson Elementary. Earlier in her career, she, too, taught at an Inspire 340 school – what is now Ashley Academy for Cultural Global Studies.
For Talley, love is at the heart of everything that teachers do for students, and she explored some of the ways that love manifests in schools and the larger world. She also talked about the importance of not only loving and taking care of your students but also of loving and taking care of yourself.
Organizers kept the students that everyone is serving in the forefront, in part, by inviting students to participate in the event.
Two of them – Deriya Davis and Kinard Lane – go to Cook Literacy Model School. Both participated in the Amazing Shake – a program created to help young people hone their social skills by meeting and talking with people they have just met.
Deriya and Kinard spoke to everyone.
The Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy chorus – which is under the direction of chorus teacher Yvette Matthews – also performed. Ronald Wilds, who teaches at Paisley IB Magnet, played piano.
With the Inspire 340 event originally scheduled before the holiday break but postponed by inclement weather, Matthews had created a program that included holiday songs. When it was time to perform, Matthews invited everyone to travel back in time to before the holiday break.
At part of the program, two groups of Inspire 340 teachers were recognized – first-year teachers and teachers with more experience who have established themselves as leaders.
Roseboro thanked BB&T as the sponsor of the luncheon and the teacher retention awards through a $9,000 grant to Inspire 340.
Roseboro also recognized Melvin Aikens, the Assistant to Instructional Superintendents for Secondary Education, and Heather Surratt, the Assistant to Instructional Superintendents for Elementary Education, for the work they did to organize the Inspire 340 Irreplaceable Teacher Luncheon.
The Inspire 340 schools and the teachers from each school who were recognized were:
Ashley Academy, Emily Mitchell, Tanisha Kishan
Brunson Elementary, Samantha Marzullo, Lauren Hicks
Cook Literacy Model, Shonette Lewis, Susan Hopkin
Easton Elementary, Leon Gray, Kristina Morris
Gibson Elementary, Samantha Cox, Jamel Saleem
Forest Park Elementary, Sharron Waller, Shemiah Curry
Mineral Springs Middle, Bryan Buckingham, Alisha Stephens
Petree Elementary, Cara Cahill, Martin Pruitt
Kimberley Park Elementary, Kathryn Gehrs, Abria Frazier
Paisley IB Magnet, Marshall Marvelli, Omar Raya
Philo-Hill Magnet Academy, Tiffany Pankey, Brittney Black
John F. Kennedy High, Nicole Giannopolous, Joanna Sigmon
Carver High, Carlos Crawford, James Cross
Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy, Melissa Currence, Jamila Neely
Wiley Magnet Middle, Susan Darville-Zuk, Kellyann Cooper