MESSAGES 2014 :: MARCH 6, 2014

MARCH 6, 2014 - Principals' Biweekly Message

Every summer, too many students go home for their summer break without books to read and without access to regular visits to the public library. Research done at Harvard has shown that students who read just five books over summer vacation have a better chance of holding on to their reading skills, so my goal is to increase the number of books that students have access to read over summer breaks. Last year, I launched the "Give 5 - Read 5" initiative, which invites North Carolinians to donate new and gently-used elementary school books to elementary schools so that schools can send books home with students over the summer. Today, I recognized five students from Garner Magnet High and Middle Creek High (Wake County Public Schools). These amazing high school students adopted "Give 5 - Read 5" and are turning it into a very successful project to provide books for Garner elementary school students. They have an admirable goal of collecting 20,000 books, and I wish them much success.

As a part of the "Give Five - Read Five" campaign, the Department of Public Instruction staff have developed letters, fliers, summer reading tips sheets and other resources that parents, educators and others can use to help spread the word about the campaign. These tools are available at The N.C. Business Committee for Education, Communities and Schools of N.C., the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church and MetaMetrics® also have agreed to help spread the word about the campaign and encourage members to donate books to this effort. Books will be collected and distributed at the school or district levels.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Principals' Message:

  1. State Board of Education Meeting Highlights
  2. 2014 NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey
  3. Principal READY II: Coaching Conversations
  4. New Home Base Professional Development System
  5. #NCed Chat March Topics
  6. NC Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Nomination Deadline Approaching
  7. Student Assignment Enrichment Program Grants

State Board of Education Meeting Highlights

Among the items this morning approved by State Board of Education members of interest to principals were academic achievement levels and descriptors (moved from four to five achievement levels), waiver of the clock hour requirement for course credit for the 2013-14 school year (primarily impacts high schools on the block schedule) and the 2014 invitation to submit textbooks for evaluation and adoption in North Carolina for mathematics. Members also heard presentations on the state's progress toward implementing the Race to the Top initiative and the Healthy Active Children Policy Report for 2014. A summary of Board actions is posted online at

2014 Teacher Working Conditions Survey

The 2014 NC Teacher Working Conditions (NC TWC) Survey will be administered March 10-April 4. The NC TWC Survey is an anonymous statewide survey of licensed school-based educators that assesses teaching conditions at the school, district and state levels. All school-based, licensed educators and instructional staff, including administrators are encouraged to take the survey. As in previous years, survey materials were mailed to each school via USPS and should arrive this week. The packages will be addressed to the NCAE representative in each building or the principal. Teachers and administrators needing anonymous access codes may contact the help desk during the survey window. The help desk will be operational beginning March 10 from 7:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. A real-time response rate tracker is available on the TWC website at Survey results are one component of an ongoing process for collaborative school improvement planning. For more information, please contact Yvette Stewart at

Principal READY ll: Coaching Conversations

Regional professional development sessions for principals are currently occurring in all eight regions across the state. Interactive sessions include coaching conversations for teacher growth and educator evaluation data analysis. Principals will share strategies for providing constructive feedback to teachers. Resources and tools for interactive staff meetings are included in these sessions. For more information, please contact Lynne Johnson, Educator Effectiveness director, at, or Kimberly Simmons, Educator Evaluation coordinator, at

New Home Base Professional Development System

The new Home Base Professional Development System will be live for all district/charter educators to enroll in state-provided courses beginning April 1. All of our NC Education online modules, including facilitator-led sessions, are included in this system. Our NCDPI module developers are currently creating additional modules based upon district request for release this summer and fall.

This spring, we will pilot the opt-in functionality of the system with a small group of districts. District and charters that opt-in to Home Base will benefit from additional local course/catalog creation and enrollment management functionality beginning in the fall. This is a great opportunity to use one portal for state and local educator professional development transcripts.

To learn more about this exciting new component and available options, please view the archived webinar held Thursday, Feb. 27, at In addition, regional face-to-face sessions will be held in all eight regions starting March 20. Please see the NCDPI/RESA partnership schedule online at for more information. Human resource and professional development directors, and professional development coordinators and leaders, are especially encouraged to attend.

For more information, please contact Lynne Johnson at or Robert Sox at

#NCed Chat March Topics

Engage with state, national and international educators on the following #NCED Chat March topics: Flipped Classroom Learning, Best Practices for 1:1, Digital Footprint and Mentoring. Check out the blog and archived conversations online at You also can download the app by visiting on your mobile device. Join this Professional Learning Network (PLN) today!

NC Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Nomination Deadline Approaching

As a reminder, April 1 is the nomination deadline for the 2014 Awards Cycle for elementary teachers (grades K-6) for the North Carolina Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) are the highest honors bestowed by the United States government specifically for K-12 mathematics and science (including computer science) teaching. One mathematics teacher and one science teacher will be selected. Each will receive a $10,000 award and a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the National Awards Recognition Program. Nomination details are available online at

Student Science Enrichment Program Grants

Burroughs Wellcome Fund is offering grants to support creative, hands-on science and mathematics education activities. Awards provide up to $180,000 over three years to improve primary and secondary students' competence in science, nurture their enthusiasm for science, and interest them in pursuing careers in research or other science-related areas. Programs must take place outside of standard school time. The application deadline is April 10. For more information, please visit