School board honors top personnel

Iotla Valley Elementary School was well represented in the naming of this year’s superlatives. Michelle Bell (L) was named Principal of the Year and third grade teacher Mariah Rascati was named Teacher of the Year.

Diane Peltz – Contributing Writer

The School board met on Monday, Aug. 22 for its regularly scheduled meeting.  The Teacher of the Year, Principal of the Year and Support Person of the Year were all recognized at the meeting. 

Superintendent presents awards

Macon Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin presented Principal of Iotla

Brooke Keener congratulates Exceptional Children’s Support Person of the Year Jan Barrett, Cartoogechaye Elementary.

Valley Elementary School Michelle Bell with a certificate for Principal of the Year.  Third grade teacher Mariah Rascati also from Iotla Valley Elementary School, was presented with a certificate for Teacher of the Year. Franklin High School Assistant Principal Blair King was presented with a certificate for Support Person of the Year.

This year three teachers were also chosen as Exceptional Children’s Support

Person of the Year and Career/Tech Ed. Teacher of the

Brooke Keener, Exceptional Children’s director presented Cartoogechaye Elementary’s speech pathologist Amber Raby with Exceptional Children’s Teacher of the Year award.

year.  Those accolades went to Jan Barrett, Exceptional Teacher Assistant, Cartoogechaye Elementary and Amber Raby, Speech Pathologist, Cartoogechaye Elementary, and were presented by Brooke Keener, EC director.  Colleen Strickland, Principal of Virtual School, presented Penny Moffitt, FHS Business Education Teacher, with an award for Career/Tech Ed Teacher of the Tear. 

Dr. Baldwin explained the rigorous interview process these teachers go through before being selected. They compete among a large group of teachers from each school, who were all nominated by their peers. The committee that does the interviewing decides who will be the official Macon County Teacher of the Year based on

Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin (R) presents FHS Assistant Principal Blair King with the Support Person of the Year Award.

their answers to multiple questions and several other criteria.

PEAK Explorers may be coming to 

Macon Schools

Cheryl Contino-Conner, Dean of Students at Southwestern Community College (SCC) gave a presentation about  PEAK Explorers. 

Southwestern Community College and local public schools are working together through the PEAK Explorers program to help lead students to an informed decision about career and college pathways.

PEAK, “Professional Exploration and Knowledge,” is a name that encompasses the plan’s two goals and their related learning outcomes, that SCC has developed for the plan.

Those goals are: To enhance student learning as related to career exploration and informed decision making; and to strengthen student understanding of career pathways leading to success in career and academic planning

PEAK Explorers can expect to:

– Enhance their self-discovery and awareness by identifying personal values, strengths, and interests

– Have assignments inside of the classroom and activities outside of the classroom that will assist them in exploring and gaining knowledge about different career paths

– Have purposeful career conversations throughout 6th-12th grade with school personnel and SCC faculty/staff members

A Holland Code-based technology software called “Career Coach” is free to area middle and high schools as a platform for career assessment and exploration, along with support from Southwestern Community College personnel. The three letter code is made up of an individual’s three dominant personality types out of six possible choices. (RIASEC) Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. 

Career Coach is designed to help find a good career by providing the most current local data on wages, employment, job postings and associated education and training at SCC and beyond.

Through SCC’s PEAK (Professional Exploration and Knowledge) program, Career Coach helps inform the best decisions and plans toward academic, occupational, and career goals.

Career Coach offers: 

• Career Assessment

• A Job Search tool 

• Education, Skills, Outlook and Salaries related to any Job in this area

Many more components to the PEAK program become implemented as the students’ advance in grade levels. Career Exploration Day begins in 10th grade.  Job and career fairs are held for juniors and seniors and a mock interviewing program which allows students to practice interviewing skills. Swain County has already implemented this program and Conner is hoping that Macon County will soon get on board.

Bus driver shortage addressed

Personnel Director Todd Gibbs addressed the board with concerns regarding the shortage of bus drivers in Macon County.  He stated that as of now, they are short two full time route drivers and two half time drivers. The state ordered a mandatory raise for bus drivers to $15 an hour, which was a $2 per hour raise. Gibbs feels that offering a retention bonus of $500 would help keep current drivers on the job.  Many bus drivers were already at the $15 salary and so the raise did not affect them.  The board unanimously approved the request for the retention bonus.  The bonus will be paid out in December for $250 and then in May for the remaining $250.  Part time drivers will receive a pro-rated bonus.

Communication Platform rolls out Sept. 2

A new app is coming for parents and students on Sept. 2. It is called APPTEGY and will be available for download on the Google store or the Apple Store.  This platform will integrate school announcements, website information, central media and more.  This platform will be less expensive to run than the current system and will be more comprehensive in delivering important information.   

The next school board meeting will be held on Sept. 26, at Highlands School. 

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