MESSAGES 2015 :: MAY 14, 2015

MAY 14, 2015 - Teachers' Biweekly Messages

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week, and I hope that your students and school community made sure that you were thanked with cards, flowers, food and other mementoes of their appreciation. I had the opportunity to provide the commencement address to the North Carolina State University College of Education graduates on Saturday, and I encouraged them to relish their accomplishments and to look forward to taking all they have learned to give important gifts to their future students – gifts such as dreams for the future, courage to try new things, compassion to look out for others, patience to see things through, and confidence that they have unique talents and gifts.

Some day, these newly minted teachers and principals will receive sweet notes, flowers, and other treats from appreciative students who have benefited from their preparation. For me, these mementoes from students are some of my most cherished possessions. If you were to visit my home, you would find a spice rack with 10 jars of spices in my pantry. Nothing unusual except that a closer look would show you that these spices are really old. Why do I keep them? I certainly don’t cook with them, but I cannot bear to throw them away because they were a gift from a 10th grade boy in my Home Room class when I was a classroom teacher. He took the time to select something for me, and I like to remember him and all the students of today whenever I glance at that spice rack. We are so fortunate to have had the chance to teach and mold young people. Thank you for everything you have done this year for your students!

As a final note, there seems to be a number of myths surrounding Standard 6 of the Teacher Evaluation System. One myth is that EVAAS is based both on student proficiency and student growth. In other words, teachers in schools with high-proficiency students get better EVAAS ratings. The truth is that EVAAS does not take into account the students’ proficiency level when determining a teacher’s effectiveness. EVAAS looks at the impact of a teacher’s instruction on student learning regardless of where the student is in relation to the proficiency cut score. Teachers with high-achieving students must demonstrate the same amount of growth with their students (relative to the state average) as teachers with lower-achieving students.

Another myth is that Standard 6 is used to fire teachers who do not meet expected growth. From the time that the State Board of Education adopted EVAAS as the student growth measure, the NCDPI has identified the measure as a tool for teachers to reflect upon, and improve, their instructional practice. Currently, the State Board of Education requires that districts and schools work to improve the practice of teachers who do not meet proficiency standards (on any of the six standards). There is no requirement to terminate employment for teachers who are identified as needing improvement (even over multiple years of low growth). Because of the persistence of the myth that teachers will be fired for poor performance on Standard 6, the NCDPI is proposing a policy to the State Board that would expressly prevent LEAs and charter schools from firing teachers based solely on Standard 6 ratings.

I encourage you to take a moment and review all six standards used to measure educator effectiveness by reading The North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards available online at In addition, staff are currently working on a document that debunks a number of myths surrounding Standard 6. We will let you know when this is finalized and available online.

June Atkinson

In this Biweekly Teachers' Message:

  1. State Board of Education Meeting Highlights
  2. Greetings from 2015 NC Teacher of the Year
  3. Pitt County Principal Named Principal of the Year
  4. Summer Opportunities 2015: Facilitated Online Courses
  5. Give Five – Read Five Website Additions
  6. NCCAT Fall Registration Now Open

State Board of Education Meeting Highlights

At last week’s State Board of Education meeting, members approved grants that support school nutrition equipment and existing and initial funding of math–science partnerships, the Global-Ready District designation and rubric, the 2015 Textbook Adoption process, and waivers for LEA-wide weather-related calendars, Analysis of Student Work and North Carolina Final Exams. Among the Board’s discussion items were recommendations for changes to policies governing services for children with disabilities, and revisions to the Annual Performance Standards under the READY accountability model. A complete list of Board actions is available online at

Greetings from 2015 NC Teacher of the Year

Greetings fellow educators! It still feels rather surreal that I greet you as the 2015 North Carolina Teacher of the Year. As the year begins, I am most excited about meeting more of the phenomenal educators in NC public education. I know we have the best teachers in the nation; and I am excited to be a voice advocating for educators and students.

In my new position, I will participate in many discussions regarding the current perspectives on North Carolina public education and our continuous need for support of the classroom teacher and the students therein. The declining enrollment in teacher education programs emphasizes how much our entire state must change the perspective on the teaching profession. It is so easy to become engulfed in the negative media pertaining to education in North Carolina and shut the doors of our classroom to “get the job done” with little to no interference. Join me in making the 2015-16 school year look a little different. Let’s open the doors of our classrooms to allow your community leaders, legislators, and parents a different perspective on the incredible learning that is taking place in our public school system. Our communities must see why their support is vital to the success of the next generation.

Finally, I want to encourage each of you to stay positive in the coming year. There are so many wonderful things you do every day to inspire the lives of your students. Those relationships you are building in your classrooms are the most important part of our educational system. Keep doing a fantastic job and flood social media with the great things going on in your classroom! I am honored to serve you in the coming year. Here’s to NC public education and the fantastic educators who make this state great! Please follow my journey on Twitter: @teachtrip and Facebook: Keana Triplett. I also would love to hear from my fellow educators. Feel free to share your thoughts via email me at

Pitt County Principal Named Principal of the Year

Congratulations to Pactolus School Principal Steve Lassiter who recently was named the 2015 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year. State Superintendent June Atkinson commended Lassiter on his selection saying, “Steve makes a special effort to celebrate all of his teachers’ accomplishments and consistently provides positive affirmation to students so that they make good choices and work hard toward academic success. As a result, students and teachers look forward to coming to school each day.” As Wells Fargo Principal of the Year, Lassiter will receive $3,000 for personal use and $3,000 for his school. He also will receive a scholarship for a 10-day educational tour of China thanks to Education First Tours, and a custom-made NC Principal of the Year signet ring and pendent thanks to Jostens, Inc. For the next year, he will serve as a member of the State Superintendent’s Principals’ Advisory Committee, and as an advisor to the State Board of Education and the Board of Directors for the NC Public School Forum. The Pitt County Schools’ principal succeeds Mooresville Middle School (Mooresville Graded Schools) Principal Carrie Tulbert.

Summer Opportunities 2015: Facilitated Online Courses

Looking for high-quality professional development and the opportunity to interact with peers? Summer is a great time to take online courses at your own pace. Below is a list of facilitated online courses offered this summer. Registration opens June 1. Courses start June 22. For a full description of the courses and associated CEUs visit

  • Digital Literacies in the Classroom (seven weeks) 1.5 CEUs
  • Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects: Part 1 (five weeks) 0.5 CEU
  • Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects: Part 2 (seven weeks) 1.5 CEUs
  • Introduction to Data Literacy (five weeks) 1 CEU
  • Data Literacy in Action (six weeks) 1.5 CEU
  • Introduction to Universal Design for Learning (four weeks) 1 CEU
  • Universal Design for Learning: Part 2 (four weeks) 1 CEU
  • Connecting with our 21st Century Learners (five weeks) 1 CEU
  • North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards (six weeks) 2 CEUs
  • Building and sustaining PD (six weeks) 1 CEU
  • Responsibilities of the 21st Century Educator (seven weeks) 1 CEU

These courses are available at no cost to North Carolina educators and will be facilitated by DPI professionals. The courses are completed entirely online. Participants are expected to meet all weekly deadlines in order to receive CEUs. Partial credit will not be given. Registration is limited to 35 participants per course. To register, follow the instructions below to log into Home Base to self-register for a course.

Contact Geetanjali Soni at if you have any questions.

Give Five – Read Five Website Additions

Have you been conducting a Give Five – Read Five book drive in your classroom or school? Tell us about it and you could get a shout out on the new High Fives section on the Give Five – Read Five website! Visit to see if your school is in the spotlight yet. If you have received media coverage of your campaign, we want to add it to our Give Five Media Clips page online at You can still send information about your school’s collection efforts, media clips and book collection totals to Schools have until June 15 to report final book collection totals and compete for great school-wide prizes!

NCCAT Fall Registration Now Open

Registration for fall professional development programs at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) is now open. A variety of programs will be offered, including Digital Learning, Early Grades Literacy, Beginning Teachers and Research and Development Teams. To view the calendar of programs please visit or Lodging and meals are provided. Participants are responsible for travel cost and substitute teaching fees. For more information on how to apply, visit