Guilford County Schools

Guilford County fourth grade math teacher Diana Watson scopes out the shelves of donated markers and highlighters at the Guiford Teacher Supply Warehouse.
Jess Clark

Guilford County second grade teacher Nicole Batts-Elder scoped out shelves stacked with spiral notebooks, multicolor folders and bundles of unsharpened pencils at the Guilford County Teacher Supply Warehouse on a recent afternoon.

Mugshot photos of Leah Hendershot and Anca Stefan
Leah Hendershot/Anca Stefan

Earlier this month, 14 public school teachers were arrested outside of Gov. Pat McCrory's office after they linked arms and blocked a downtown Raleigh intersection. The demonstration was a response to what the teachers say is a lack of funding for North Carolina's public schools.

In the days since the protest, teachers have posted their mugshots to social media along with their reasons for demonstrating. One teacher wrote, "I've taught World and U.S. history without a textbook for the past four years." Those posts have gone viral.

Hassina Kiboua works with refugees in Ireland. She observed an art class at the Newcomers School.
Jess Clark

Visitors from seven European countries were in Greensboro Monday to learn how the Doris Henderson Newcomers School educates newly arrived immigrant students.

Wanda McLemore teaches a transitional fourth grade class at Falkener Elementary. The first half of her class is whole-group instruction.
Jess Clark

Forty percent of the state’s third-graders tested below grade level in reading last school year. Those are levels of achievement many parents and legislators say are unacceptable.

The state has been trying to boost reading scores for the last two years with a law called Read to Achieve. But is it getting schools what they need to improve scores?

children reading
U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons

Guilford County Schools says it needs more resources and teacher training to boost reading scores.

College graduates in 2013 at Syracuse University. Say Yes has another partner community in Syracuse, New York
Chris Becker / Flickr Creative Commons

A group of donors is going start paying for Guilford County students’ in-state college tuition next year. 

Several Guilford County organizations and Guilford County schools have partnered with a national foundation called Say Yes to Education. Together they've raised $32.6 million in private donations for an endowment to cover tuition costs for the district's students at all in-state public colleges and universities, as well as 100 nation-wide private universities, including Duke University and Harvard University.

Teachers and students say the new case (similar to an OtterBox) is part of the reason fewer tablets are breaking.
Jeff Tiberii

Students in Guilford County have tablet computers...again. The federally funded initiative first began in August of 2013, but school officials suspended the program weeks later after more than 10-percent of the devices broke. Now, middle school students have tablets from a different manufacturer.

At Jamestown Middle School several students surround a table in the media center. Their necks careen downward and their fingers move comfortably across glass screens. These tablets have games in math, social studies and science.

More than 2,000 tablets broke and about a dozen chargers partially melted earlier this school year.
Jeff Tiberii

Middle school students in Guilford County will face new punishments for broken tablet computers this fall.

Guilford County Schools rolled out a federally funded tablet program last August. But by October more than 15 percent of the devices had broken and a few chargers melted. The district stopped the program and found a new manufacturer.

After public feedback some new rules are in-place for the re-launch this fall:

Karin Vlietstra via Flickr

At least 28 school districts across the state have voiced opposition to a new law that repeals teacher tenure and replaces it with a plan that rewards the top teachers, according the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Cumberland County Schools and Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools are among the latest to reject the law, which is meant to phase out tenure for all teachers by 2018.

  In the wake of the most recent General Assembly session, some teachers across the state are expressing concern about policies that affect the classroom, like voucher programs and budgetary restraints.

Host Frank Stasio talks to WUNC Reporter Dave Dewitt; Wilmington Star-News education reporter Pressley Baird; and Carolina Public Press reporter Jon Elliston.

More than 2,000 tablets broke and about a dozen chargers partially melted earlier this school year.
Jeff Tiberii

Guilford County school officials and the manufacturer of tablet computers once used in district classrooms disagree on why thousands of devices broke. Asus, the company that built the more than 15,000 tablet computers used for a time in Guilford County classrooms, is not taking blame for melted chargers. In a statement Asus says is has run tests on its products and found no problems.  The tablet program was paused in October after thousands of devices broke and nearly a dozen chargers partially melted. School officials believe the devices were defective. Meanwhile students are without tablets and the school system is working with Amplify, a for-profit education company to find another manufacturer and try to re-start the program.

“This doesn’t really change out view of what happened and our view of what’s needed to move forward, which is still to make sure that we get the products and services at the expected quality,” said Nora Carr, Chief of Staff for Guilford County Schools.

Math teacher Melissa Tatum is one of 900 educators who has been trained on the tablet computers. She plans to use Brain Pop in her classroom this fall.
Jeff Tiberii

Leaders with Guilford County schools announced today they are suspending a tablet-computer initiative indefinitely.  The surprising news came at a hastily called press conference Friday.  Guilford County was in the process of implementing the largest tablet program in U.S. History. It is funded by a $30 million federal grant. Since the school system started handing out tablets to teachers in June, and students in August, about 10-percent have been cracked or broken.

Math teacher Melissa Tatum is one of 900 educators who has been trained on the tablet computers. She plans to use Brain Pop in her classroom this fall.
Jeff Tiberii

Students at three Guilford County middle schools spent the day learning on tablet computers.  A district wide technology initiative that will provide tablets to 17,000 students is underway. The district won a federal “race to the top grant” of more than $30 million. Students are taking a day off from summer break to go into school and get comfortable with the devices.

Math teacher Melissa Tatum is one of 900 educators who has been trained on the tablet computers. She plans to use Brain Pop in her classroom this fall.
Jeff Tiberii

    

One of the largest classroom technology initiatives in U.S. history is underway in Guilford County. This week middle school students can begin picking up their tablet computers and get comfortable with the devices prior to the start of classes.

Teachers have been learning the ins and outs of these Android-based tablets all summer.

"There is also an encyclopedia on here, all kinds of different things that come preloaded," said Eric Loveday, 8th grade science teacher at Southwest Middle School.

Wake County School Bus
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

 

School Board candidates in Guilford County will have to declare their party affiliation starting with the 2016 election. The move to do away with non-partisan elections comes from a law passed by the General Assembly last month. The measure also decreases the number of school board seats in Guilford from 11 to 9 and re-draws district lines so they’re the same as County Commissioners. 

Each morning the summer literacy program begins with a Harambee, a Swahiliword meaning “let’s pull together”.
Jeff Tiberii

Getting kids to read in the summer has long been a challenge for many grown-ups.  With outdoor activities, camps and family trips, too often books remain closed until the fall. For kids who are living in homelessness and in unstable home environments, the challenges can be even greater. A new summer literacy program in the Guilford County Schools is trying to change that. The goal is for students to maintain or even improve their reading level, build confidence and complete six books.

After breakfast in the cafeteria at Greensboro College about 50 fueled faces file into an exercise studio for an unconventional morning routine. Each weekday for the next month the literacy program begins with Harambee a Swahili word meaning “let’s pull together.”

Hannah Wade takes control of the FAA-approved flight simulator at the Aviation Academy in High Point.
Jeff Tiberii

Across the state thousands of high school students will graduate this weekend. About three dozen are from the Aviation Academy at T.W. Andrews High School in Guilford County. It’s one of only a few such programs in the state preparing young men and women for careers in aeronautics and engineering. And after two classes of students, the program’s graduate rate is perfect. 

  

Jake Henry is overseeing the table program in Guilford County.
Jeff Tiberii

Thirteen thousand students in Guilford County will receive tablets computers when they begin school this fall. Last year the county was awarded a federal “Race to the Top” grant for 30 million dollars. Now one of the largest classroom technology initiatives in US history is underway. 

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Being on a school board is a little like being the head chef at the local Applebee’s. You don’t get to choose the ingredients and it’s not your recipe, but if someone doesn’t like the Bourbon Street Steak, you’re going to hear about it.

In other words, school boards in North Carolina have relatively little power but plenty of responsibility. And it’s been that way for a long time.

Students in a Guilford County school classroom on computers.
Guilford County Schools

This fall about 13,000 middle school students in the Guilford County Schools district will receive tablets. It’s part of a $30 million Race to the Top grant that Guilford won last year. Administrators and teachers will receive training from a company called Amplify in the coming months. 

Guilford county schools held a two-part symposium this week examining disparities for African-American students.

Jeff Tiberii: The event focused on disproportionate levels of discipline and below average literacy rates. Students who are black were more than three times more likely to be suspended than white students. Beth Folger is Chief academic officer for Guilford County Schools. She says several key factors led to the discrepancies.

Education leaders in Guilford County are looking at how private donations would affect public schools.

Jeff Tiberii: A group of parents at one Greensboro Elementary School wants to go beyond the average book or bake sale. They’re hoping to raise $1.5 million for a new building. School board members are considering both sides of an issue that would likely provide some schools with more private money than others. Chairman of the board Alan Duncan:

In an age that demands more skill and higher levels of education from its workers, some students still choose to drop out. What can be done to help them? Guilford County Schools in North Carolina has tackled that question and made a lot of headway encouraging students to stay in school.

Superintendent Maurice ''Mo'' Green
gsnc.com

Students in Guilford County Schools have a few weeks left to surpass a goal of collectively reading two million books in a year.