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James W. Smith Elementary celebrated its Fifth Annual Cultural Arts Day on Friday, March 10th.

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James W. Smith Elementary celebrated its Fifth Annual Cultural Arts Day on Friday, March 10th.  Students observed and learned from local visual artists as they worked in their “In-School” Studios, producing various art forms. During these demonstrations students not only watched art being created but were also able to ask the artists questions and in some cases had hands on experiences.

Seven local visual artists gave of their time and talents to bring the arts to our students this year.

Rich Daniels demonstrated throwing pots on a potters wheel . He is the owner of Daniels Art Glass Gallery in Pollocksville, NC.

Pat Eglington created fiber art and assisted students to experiment with fibers, creating their own art.

Nell Maha demonstrated  Asian ink brush art., allowing students  to get the feel for these very specialized brushes and observe her create this timeless art form.

Molly Knazek demonstrated how to create beautiful polymer clay beads and each student had the opportunity to create their own bead.

Mimi Dixon and Ginger Werenoach  offered hands-on art opportunities  with gelli print making, an exciting technique of print making.

Joyce Alexander demonstrated oil painting and shared the process of creation.

Linda Moore gave a hands on demonstration of stain glass art and the materials and techniques used to create art work.

Local talented performing artists were live on our media center’s stage. Students were able to physically and vocally interact with these performing artists.

David English (guitar), Danny Batten (banjo), and Brian Graber (drums) from the band Merchants Road came to play their instruments for the students. Their band typically plays North Carolina bluegrass music. They entertained the students with lively songs and dances in the bluegrass style. The students had a blast singing folk songs and dancing to a few silly songs as well. Some students were able to hold and play the instruments brought by the band. David English also owns Black Owl Guitars where he makes and sells his own guitars.

Sensei Ryland Matthews of New Bern Karate with a group of his Instructors & karate students instructed our students about skills and methods of martial arts. Thomas, Jeff, Matt, Nick, & Sarah ranging from seniors in high school to second grade, demonstrated for our JWS students the diligence & self-control required to learn a defensive art form like karate. The level of commitment & skill required to participate in karate was evident in their repertoire of paired routines & individual techniques.

Always an exciting time, Cultural Arts day is an opportunity to expose students to different art forms both visual and performing. Through the student’s observations and questions they are able to make curriculum connections while enriching their learning.


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Proven Leader is Named New Transportation Director





Craven County Schools will welcome a familiar face as the new transportation director effective June 1, 2017. On March 16, 2017, the Board of Education voted unanimously to approve Mrs. Thomasine Hassell as the new director.  Mrs. Hassell will be responsible for monitoring/improving bus routes, actively recruiting new bus drivers, preparing the transportation department budget, supervising and evaluating transportation department personnel, and other duties as needed.

Mrs. Hassell, a twenty-four year veteran employee with Craven County Schools brings with her many years of leadership experience to her new role.  “It is Mrs. Hassell’s heart and determination to put children first that made her standout as a candidate for this position.  Her years of experience as a principal and assistant principal will be a valuable asset to the Transportation Department and will assist in her ability to successfully improve the current operations by working closely with the staff and parents,” stated Superintendent Dr. Meghan Doyle.

Craven County Schools currently has a fleet of 155 buses on the road daily, travelling 10,095 miles while transporting 7,997 students.  The school system is committed to providing safe, effective, and efficient transportation for all students and Mrs. Hassell believes in this vision, “I am thankful for this opportunity and look forward to providing a positive experience for all of our bus riders, their families, and our drivers as well.  I appreciate the support the Grover C. Fields Middle School family has shown as I transition into this new role.  I am extremely fortunate that I will still have the ability to continue to work with GCF plus twenty-four additional schools.”

Mr. Alvin West will continue to serve as the Interim Transportation Director until June 1, 2017. Please join us in welcoming Mrs. Thomasine Hassell.



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Morning Meetings Make the Difference at Brinson by Debbie Hunter



Ms. Smith (center), conducts a morning meeting with Reed Pennington, Naomi Berry, Caroline Smith, and Alicia Perez

Most of you reading this have attended meetings of one sort or another.  Most of you probably dread some (or all) of those meetings.   The students at Brinson Memorial Elementary feel differently about meetings. They are excited about a special meeting that begins the day in many of our classrooms.  Our students participate in a program called Morning Meeting and that meeting is both educational and fun!

At the beginning of each school day, teachers gather students together in a group where they choose a special way to greet each other. After the greeting, students are given an opportunity to share with each other, participate in a fun activity, and read and discuss a morning message from their teacher.  According to author, Roxann Kriete, “Morning Meeting allows the class to begin the day as a community of caring and respectful learners.”

Ms. Smith’s third grade class meets most every morning. Normally, each child had a few seconds to offer an active greeting. This day was no different.  Janari Moore enjoyed his moment to be center stage and summed up the feelings of many students as he described Morning Meeting as a time to “do fun stuff and express myself!” Once the class settled down, Ms. Smith had the opportunity to tell the class about a compliment they had received from the music teacher the day before.  The music teacher had taken the time to let Ms. Smith know what good manners she had seen when her students were in music. Morning Meeting is not only a time to be heard, but also a time to listen and to celebrate the small but important things that bring value and joy to others.

Just before the students started their activity, Ms. Smith asked the children to recall skills they could use to be good communicators.  Things like making eye contact and responding to what others say were on their minds as they turned to a partner and shared an experience about when they felt they were treated unfairly. After a few minutes, Ms. Smith brought them back to the group discussion complimenting them on how their communication skills had improved since the beginning of the year. Lots of children shared what their partner had told them.  It was easy to see they had really listened as they were able to relay what they heard to the whole class.

How does Morning Meeting make a difference? According to Grady Chapman, “I know what people like so I can play with them at recess.  I feel happy to talk to others.” New student Wesley Willis said “I get to do the dab and talk to others.  I get to know people quick.” That’s important for students like Wesley who joined the class later in the year.  Caroline Smith feels like Morning Meeting “gets you more awake for your day.”  Naina Royster said what educators most wanted to hear.  “Ms. Smith teaches us how to be kind and respectful so when I grow up, I can be kind and respectful.”

So what does the teacher think of this program? “Morning Meeting is really important in getting us connected.  We’re a family.  This provides us time to talk about socio-emotional strategies so that one day these students will be confident, decent, well rounded human beings,” shared Ms. Smith. Isn’t that what we are all striving to teach our children?



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Bridgeton Elementary spotlights Stephanie Warren

On March 15, 2017 the Craven County Board of Education and Bridgeton Elementary School spotlighted Ms. Stephanie Warren for being an amazing woman, teacher and friend. She is always calm, cool, and collected no matter the situation. She always greets you with a smile in the hallway.  This teacher is sincerely one of the kindest people you will ever meet. She constantly puts others before herself and it shows with her students. She works so hard in and out of school. She is full of love. She will do anything for anybody, even if it means she will go without. She is a wonderful teacher and gives her heart to her children.  She bends over backwards for her students. She thinks out of the box to try new things to get through to her students. She is an amazing teammate as well. She works hard to contribute to team planning and other meetings. She is always fully present in her daily efforts at work. She is a role model for so many of us!  She is a strong woman, who cares deeply for others. She demonstrates these qualities through her teaching, so that her students understand the importance of caring for others. She is always willing to help a coworker even if it is just to brighten their day!


Words the staff use to describe this teacher: *sweet, gentle, patient, funny, the perfect teacher to help her students transition to the next grade, a team player, volunteers her time whenever asked, always friendly to other teachers, perseveres, a mothering personality, strong, is an amazing teacher .


The spotlight should definitely shine on Mrs. Stephanie Warren for her devotion to our students, staff, parents and community!


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West Craven and Havelock High student councils attend State Convention




This weekend, WCHS and HHS student council members attended NC Association of Student Councils State Convention in Greensboro. Sessions included working with Quota International of the Triangle to make blankets for Safe Child. These blankets will be distributed to children who are victims of abuse. What a wonderful organization and great cause.


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New National School Nutrition President

SN Director

Craven County Schools School Nutrition Director, Gretchen Wilson (right) and Supervisor, Jennifer Climenhage (left) shown pictured with DPI Chief of School Nutrition Services, Dr. Lynn Harvey attended the DPI/USDA Summer Feeding Workshop in Raleigh on March 17. Dr. Harvey is also the incoming national School Nutrition Association President. NC is very proud to have her become our national president of our professional organization.


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STEM program introduced at Tucker Creek Middle


STEM in action provides a “WOW” moment at Tucker Creek Middle


The 2016-2017 school year has brought a new format to the STEM program at Tucker Creek Middle. This year PITSCO introduced a new program called STEM Expeditions which provides an alternative to the STEM Module system currently being used in other schools. The purpose of STEM Expeditions is to provide students with a system of learning in which they utilize the engineering design process and the content knowledge provided in class to solve a design challenge.

At the conclusion of the 2015-2016, TCMS STEM Lab teacher Michelle Smith agreed to pilot the STEM Expeditions program, replacing the existing STEM Modules program installed during the Summer of 2013. Working cooperatively throughout the summer with Pitsco representative Mary Metters and Craven County CTE Director Chris Bailey, Expedition topics were selected that would best meet the needs of our students. She prepared the STEM Lab physically for the new format, altering the existing Pitsco furniture to better facilitate the more cooperative learning environment, as well as the whole-class instruction format.  In the past students rotated through twelve stations in pairs and utilized cubicle type workstations.

Due to the success of the pilot at our school, The Pitsco Company planned and conducted their first regional STEM Expeditions Symposium at Tucker Creek Middle School. This event focused on the new STEM Expeditions Program as the next step in Technology Engineering and Design education at the middle school level.  Several Pitsco representatives joined CTE and STEM leaders from throughout NC’s Eastern Region in order to see the possibilities for their schools and districts.  This symposium utilized TCMS STEM Lab teacher Michelle Smith’s class as a glimpse of what a fully implemented program looks like. Participants visited the class in session and were able to observe the students’ activities and even gather their input and perspective.  Many of the students who had experienced the STEM Modules as sixth graders shared their excitement for the new curriculum. One student commented that the modules were too regimented and that they enjoyed the Expeditions’ focus on learning through discovery.

Numerous teachers, administrators, Pitsco staff, and other interested parties have traveled from as far away as Kansas, Virginia and Mississippi to observe the Tucker Creek Middle School STEM Expeditions program.  Mrs. Smith has shared her experience at a recent Technology, Engineering and Design Teacher Workshop in Winston-Salem and has been asked to co-present with Mrs. Metters at the State Career and Technical Education Teachers’ Conference in July.  Her participation has led to her election to the Pitsco Teacher Advisory Group for 2017, making her a sounding board for the company and a spokesperson for fellow educators throughout the nation. Our program was also included in a feature on STEM Expeditions in the latest edition of “The Pitsco Network” magazine.

The excitement for our new program is continuing to provide inspiration and guidance for other educational entities.  The acclaimed educational research group “The Friday Institute” from NC State University is scheduled to make a visit to evaluate the program in the near future.  One of our classes will also be participating in a Skype visit with a CTE Director in Camas, Washington.  Engineers from Fleet Readiness Center East will be returning this semester to work with students in designing projects and will bring with them the mobile “FAB LAB.”  This mobile makerspace brings cutting edge technology into local schools.  In the fall, students used the FAB LAB to fabricate their CO2 Dragsters; an activity that would not have been possible without the equipment in the FAB LAB and the expertise and supervision of the engineers that accompanied it.

Tucker Creek Principal Angie Franks and Assistant Principal Shawn McCarthy also participated in the symposium. Both were interested in learning more about this new venture as well as sharing their perspective on the program’s impact on TCMS students.  Mr. McCarthy shared that both formats provide opportunities for student learning, but the Expeditions model aligns more with expectations from the NC Teacher Evaluation instrument. “I notice students are engaging in collaborative dialogue and activity at a higher level through Expeditions than they did through the module model. They are also able to bring a higher level of creativity to the design process.”

Michelle Smith – Stem Teacher TCM

Angie Franks – Principal TCM


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Graham A Barden spotlights Ms. Jessica Szymanski


GAB pic


On March 8, 2017 the Craven County Board of Education and Graham A. Barden Elementary School recognized Ms. Jessica Szymanski, a leader and educator who consistently exemplifies and portrays to scholars and staff the vision of great work ethics valued by the school. She expands the boundaries and challenges her scholars’ academic borders through genuine, rigorous and real world experiences. She immerses her scholars with instructional strategies and processes to pull from their tool belt to assist in all disciplines.  Her methodologies are all inclusive. She consistently integrates cross curricular activities to promote global awareness, citizenship and social accountability into authentic literacy tasks. Her scholars often debate current/past historical events through Paieda or Socratic discussions. Through her comprehensive technology classroom she rigorously exposes her students to technology to maximize our scholars’ success. She utilizes Google classroom to share assignments, documents, communicate with her scholars.  With iPads, the scholars use QR Codes as a quick check for the correct math answers.

Ms. Szymanski is adept in technology and it is typical to see colleagues visiting her to assist them with technology. She often models new processes and initiatives in her classroom and assist colleagues to move technology in their classroom to another level.   She serves on the school cabinet, is a peer mentor, and repeatedly leads the district in student achievement in English Language Arts, Math and Science. She uses data to drive and differentiate instruction, to meet individual student needs.  She pulls from her repertoire an array of methodologies that addresses the academics, social, emotional needs to meet our scholars’ needs.   She has a profound respect for our scholars, and it is evident in her everyday interaction with her students. She truly adheres to the GAB vision, “Soaring to Success” as evidenced in her leadership and passion for teaching.  She is a facilitator and to enter her classroom is what every teacher would envision as an ideal 21st Century classroom.

Mrs. Szymanski is incredibly innovative, a pioneer leading the way and a passionate teacher who seeks the best for her scholars. She is truly a blessing to the staff, students, and families of GAB. We are blessed to have her and to share in the benefits of her many talents, gifts, passion for teaching, and expertise. She is an exemplar teacher holding true to positive leadership practices and continuous improvement. Our scholars are better because she is a part of their educational pathway.  GAB proudly recognizes honor and salute Mrs. Jessica Szymanski as their Craven County Schools Board Spotlight.


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Leading My Example-Creekside Elementary Demonstrates Kindness By: Allyson Williams and Jodi Scoggins

Caption: "Creekside Elementary 1st graders are pictured on the day they donated their Flower Shop earnings to a fellow student and family in need."

“Creekside Elementary 1st graders are pictured on the day they donated their Flower Shop earnings to a fellow student and family in need.”

Creekside Elementary students spent the month of February busy with volunteering their time and energy to good causes.  Throughout the year, students have focused on being kind to others. Through the 1st grade Flower Shop and Jump Rope for Heart, students have grown in character while supporting others.

First graders were very busy leading up to Valentine’s Day. Students in each first grade classroom worked together to learn about the importance of a workplace by creating their own “Flower Shops.” Each class read books learning about supply and demand, needs and wants, consumers and producers and many other essential needs of a business. Students then became producers as they applied for different jobs in their tissue paper flower shop. Students gained experience in working with others as well as understanding the basics of selling flowers to their peers. This year, first grade decided to donate all money to a family in need at their school. Valentine’s Day flower sales brought in a total of $637.20!

Jump Rope for Heart has been a tradition each February at Creekside. This is the 10th year that students have participated. Liz Henderson, Creekside’s PE teacher, has energized the students through exercise to generate money for the American Heart Association. During PE class, students participated in a variety of active stations: hula hoops, jumping rope, and basketball shooting. Then students were able to take a breath and stop by the educational stations where they listened to their heart with a stethoscope and studied nutrition cards. Creekside students raised a total of $5,752.00 for the American Heart Association. Creekside is proud of the contributions they are able to provide to the community and look forward to continuing both of these wonderful causes in the future.


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Craven County Schools Kindergarten Registration 2017

 Students work hard in Kindergarten

Students work hard in Kindergarten



Kindergarten is an exciting time for both children and their parents. You have been your child’s first teacher and now we, at Craven County Schools, want to partner with you to continue that education.

If your child turn’s 5 years old by August 31st, 2017, it is time to register for kindergarten at the school assigned to you based on where you live. Kindergarten Registration is scheduled for Friday, March 17, 2017.  See the chart below to find the time you need to attend registration at your designated school.



What do I bring to Kindergarten Registration?

  • Certified Birth Certificate
  • Immunization Record
  • Proof of Residence – power bill or lease agreement, etc.
  • Picture ID with Current Residence Listed
  • Health Assessment Form (All pediatricians have these forms)
  • Custody Agreement (If applicable)
  • Your upcoming Kindergartener! The principal and teachers want to meet your child and show off the Kindergarten classrooms and the rest of the school.

How can I help my child get ready for Kindergarten?

  • Read to your child every night. Ask your child questions about the characters and where/when the story takes place. Have your child retell the whole story from beginning to end.
  • Ask your child to count items in and around your home. When taking a walk, count the houses or mailboxes and while setting the table, count out the plates for the family. Count all the time!
  • A few weeks prior to Kindergarten, start a bedtime routine by picking out clothes for the next day and getting to bed early. Kindergarten is a long, full day of activity. Most children need 10 hours of sleep each night so begin this routine early.

The First Week of Kindergarten Beginning August 2017

  • First day of Kindergarten -Monday, August 28 -Your child’s teacher will let you know what time your child needs to attend on Day 1.
  • Half days for Kindergarteners -August 29-September 1 – Kindergarteners should be at school by 8:00 and will be dismissed at 12:00 each of these days. Kindergarteners may ride the bus to school in the morning but must be picked up by a parent/guardian or childcare provider at 12:00. Students will be served lunch on these days.
  • First full day for Kindergarteners – Tuesday, September 5 -Kindergarteners will begin staying at school the full day from 8:00 to 3:00. Kindergarten students may begin riding the bus home in the afternoons beginning September 5.

We look forward to meeting you and your child as we prepare for an exciting 2017-2018 school year full of new possibilities, friends, and learning. We know this is an important milestone so we will see you on Friday, March 17, 2017. If you have any additional questions regarding kindergarten, please contact Ms. Tammy Cullom, Director of Elementary Education at 252-514-6312.





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