PILOT MOUNTAIN — Surry County teachers, school officials, and a few of the system’s students, gathered Thursday for its annual convocation, celebrating the upcoming school year.
Molly Anderson, Surry County Schools Principal of the Year, and Phillip Riekehof, Teacher of the Year, served as hosts for the 2017 Convocation.
“The program proved to be an energizing event for the 1,000 employees and special guests packed inside the Pilot Mountain Middle School gym,” according to Sonia Dickerson, spokesperson for the school system.
This year’s theme, #promise4ALL, was the emphasis throughout the program.
“The theme represents Surry County Schools’ promise that all students can achieve to their highest potential, develop as leaders, and be prepared for college, careers, and life.”
“The best way to reach all of our students is by building genuine relationships with them,” Riekehof said. “My promise is to make this happen through experience based learning. These experiences empower our students with a voice and presence along with building trust and a positive classroom climate.”
Anderson stated, “Our priority is to provide support and love for all students regardless of their stance in life. We are their positive role models. We have the opportunity to influence the outcome of a child’s life and that is so empowering. We have the opportunity to fulfill a promise of achievement, leadership, and success in life for all students.”
The gathering included plenty of entertainment — courtesy of some of the school system’s talented students.
It began with a performance by Surry County School students who train with Charice Bender at Dance Works Studio. When the gym went dark, the performers’ lighted costumes wowed the audience for a five-minute routine. Other student talents included an Elvis impersonator, a ukulele quartet, a country music singer, a humorist, a magician, an improv team, soloist, and a student choir.
Riekehof and Anderson talked about the many talented students in the schools and that was why educators need to help students find themselves and grow to be amazing in whatever they choose to do. The quote “Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success story” helped reiterate the idea that one adult can change the outcome for a student.
“Teachers were challenged to work extremely hard to form a connection with students and continually show they care so they could fulfill the promise to all,” Dickerson said.
“I am passionate about our theme #promise4all and I am passionate about giving kids opportunities to grow, excel, and become bigger that they could ever imagine. I am passionate about giving students a true purpose and meaning. I am passionate about giving students the opportunity to make choices in their education and to own it,” Superintendent Travis Reeves said as he addressed the audience.
Keeping in tune with the theme, he asked everyone to look at one huge promise already accomplished so far in the school system. “It is time that all educators know, that all community members know and that all businesses know what we are doing in our school district to keep our promise to our students,” he said.
Reeves shared statistics from the past three years about the number of college credits students at Surry Central, East Surry, and North Surry earned and the cost savings to families. He was proud to announce in 2016-2017, students earned 3,844 college credits and more than 700 industry-recognized career credentials. The cost savings to students and their families in tuition totaled $276,768. The cost savings for textbooks totaled approximately $125,000.
Kellie King, parent and teacher at Flat Rock Elementary, joined Reeves on stage and told everyone that her daughter, a 2017 graduate, finished high school with 16 college credit hours and that every hour transferred to NC State.
King continued, “Those 16 college credits gave her the opportunity to be one semester ahead of most of the other students entering State, and the greatest benefits of her having the opportunity through Surry County Schools and Surry Community College to earn these credits was each class was free. This was a huge savings to me.”
Reeves reminded everyone that they were on the starting line once again, but to remember this is a marathon, not a sprint. He encouraged teachers to be creative, innovative, and excited to help students achieve to their highest potential. “Not everything is in a book or online — there is a human side to every student. Get to know their story — help shape their lives,” he said.
With that said, Reeves “rallied the troops” for a pep-rally in which he called representatives from each school and department to the stage. As the reps cheered their way to the stage, a video of the promise they made to students played out on the big screen.