Vance County Schools Update 04/25/16

Dropout Rate Declines 6th Straight Year

Full VCS Press Release

The dropout rate in Vance County Schools for 2014-2015 declined for the sixth consecutive year with data from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction indicating that 68 students or 2.28 percent left school early.

The 2014-2015 rate was a decrease from 83 students or 2.71 percent dropping out in 2013-2014.

In 2012, Vance County Schools implemented “Destination Graduation” one of the National Dropout Prevention Network Center’s model programs that addresses prevention, intervention and recovery. The program highly emphasizes parent participation, community involvement and student recognition for behavior and academic success. Having an eye on the data and focusing on trends have given the district an advantage, according to Dr. Ralphel Holloman, Sr., dropout prevention specialist, and Dr. Cindy Bennett, assistant superintendent for Student Services.

The district did experience a slight increase in the number of short-term suspensions for students in 2014-2015. While most student code of conduct violations are lesser offenses, when students have second and third violations, this causes the number of short-term suspensions to increase, Holloman and Bennett noted.

“In order to keep students in the educational process, we are focusing on more options for students that will engage them in better decision making,” they said. “Many schools are using Positive Behavior Intervention Support (PBIS). Support is given to teachers via behavior support specialists in the form of strategies that will de-escalate and redirect actions of students in the classroom. Should there be a need for other options, ISS, or In-School Suspension, is an attempt to get those students who have violated some behavior rule time to rethink their actions and regroup before returning to class. It is our goal to keep all students in class all of the time; however, we cannot allow the educational process to be diminished, so there are times when suspensions are necessary.”

Steps being taken to stop the number of reportable crimes in our schools involve using data to show early warning signs of students at risk of being suspended due to incidents already accruing in the fourth and fifth grades. These indicators will enable the district to implement effective strategies to address these issues. The PBIS programs in schools are also factors to decrease reportable crimes. Enhancing parent and community engagement in our schools also will help. Implementation of research based programs that address the risk factors allows students to find a way to manage their tempers, attitudes and behaviors as they transition through the program. The school system also is working with the Vance County Sheriff’s Department to implement a School Resource Officers program in which officers are trained to work with students, build relationships and focus on accountability and responsibility for their actions.

The school system uses the data in the state’s annual report on school dropouts and crime and violence to determine how some students may not be completely engaged in the educational process. The schools are working with social workers, counselors and nurses to collaborate and identify students with at-risk factors that may be displayed in inappropriate behaviors and begin early intervention and identification of systems of support for these students, Holloman and Bennett added.

The school system also is currently developing systems of support for elementary, middle and enhancing high school supports for students in order to get them on track academically and behaviorally.

“Vance County Schools has recognized that if we want different results, we have to do something different,” Holloman and Bennett said. “Doing something different means careful and deliberate steps to analysis of data, identification of root causes, then strategically developing a plan for changing the trajectory to one that will lead to success for all children. We are addressing prevention and intervention strategies, so that we are ahead of the curve with a goal of offering the best possible education to all students.”

(Information provided by VCS by press release — full release link listed at the top)

Local Pastors Visit Local Schools

Earlier in February, Pastors of local churches took time out of their busy schedules to visit four schools in the Vance County Schools system.

The school system invited pastors and church leaders throughout Vance County to take part in the four-hour event during the morning to learn more about the many positive things happening in local schools.

Dr. Anthony D. Jackson, superintendent of Vance County Schools, led the group of about 15 pastors on the tours. They visited the STEM Early High School, Pinkston Street Elementary School, Zeb Vance Elementary School and Early College High School. Breakfast and lunch also were provided for the participants at the school system’s Administrative Services Center.

At the STEM Early High School, Principal Rey Horner was joined by his school’s student ambassadors in leading the pastors in visits to several classrooms. They saw students in each classroom led by their teacher in hands-on work with electrical power boards, open discussions about literature written by famous African American authors, group discussions and students using Smartboards to solve mathematical equations and indepth discussions about our nation’s economy.

Heddie Somerville, principal of Pinkston Street and the school system’s Principal of the Year, welcomed the group to her school and had staff members take them to several classrooms where they had a chance to interact with teachers and students during their instruction time. Somerville and her staff also stressed how the school’s wing for classrooms in grades 3-5 is called “College Row” and daily discussions are held with students to encourage them to begin planning to pursue a college education.

Kristian Herring, the new principal of Zeb Vance Elementary, met the group as they arrived at his school. Student representatives led the pastors on tours of the school. They talked with several teachers and students in their classrooms and learned about the emphasis on reading throughout the school. Herring also explained to them how his faculty and staff work as teams to identify students’ specific needs and their academic progress throughout the school year.

Their final visit was to the Early College High School on the campus of Vance-Granville Community College (VGCC). Their visit was led by Vangie Mitchell, liaison between Early College and VGCC, who explained the unique partnership to enable students to complete their high school career and receive two years of college coursework at no cost to them. Pastors again were able to visit in several classrooms.

The school system has now hosted elected officials and business leaders, as well as the pastors, in visits to local schools. More of these events will be scheduled as school officials work to communicate with stakeholders about the services and programs provided to students.

(The preceding comes from a press release issued by VCS.  The pastors visited the local schools on February 3, but we are just now publishing this information at this time on

Vance County Schools 02/22/16

Early College Recognitions

Administrators and faculty members at the Vance County Early College High School hosted their annual “Leading the Pack” celebration for outstanding students on February 9, in the Civic Center at Vance-Granville Community College.

There were 18 students honored during the celebration as they near the end of their fourth year in the five-year program and are on target to complete their high school education and have two years of college course credits when they graduate in May of 2017.ECHS awards spring 2016a

The students honored included Christopher Blue, David Cobbs, Nealee Fisher, Sierra Hawkins, Mychell Keith, Kristen Oakes, Bali Reavis, Autumn Richardson, Alexandra Saravia, Rebecca Short, Alicia Tucker, Jacob Weaver, Angel White, Darius Williams, Hailey Williamson, Jordan Williamson, Anautica Wilson and April Zuniga-Trejo.

Upon completion of their studies at Early College, the students will receive their high school diplomas and will have college course credits to transfer to four-year colleges and universities as juniors. Some will successfully complete work to receive a two-year associates degree in a chosen field of study from Vance-Granville Community College.

Principal Michael Bullard of Early College, led the celebration. He was joined in recognizing each of the students by Dr. Anthony D. Jackson, superintendent of Vance County Schools; Dr. Stelfanie Williams, president of Vance-Granville Community College; Dr. Cindy Bennett, assistant superintendent of Student Services and Strategic Planning at Vance County Schools; and Dr. Angela Ballentine, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs at Vance-Granville Community College.ECHS 2 awards spring 2016b

(Information supplied to WIZS by VCS press release.)