The Transylvania Times -

By Jeff McDaris
Everyday Education 

County Schools Have A Number Of 'Firsts'


Last updated 5/13/2013 at 9:04am

By the time you read this, Transylvania County Schools will have held a ceremony honoring the 50th anniversary of integration of our schools on Wednesday, May 8. It is a big deal. While we celebrate the accomplishment and honor those leaders who had a vision for a better world here 50 years ago, we also must acknowledge that it took far too long to reach that point.

Nevertheless, Transyl-vania County and our school system are comfortable with many “firsts” over our history. In 1898, our county saw America’s first school of forestry open its doors under Carl Schenck. In 1925, under the leadership of Super-intendent T.C. Henderson, our county schools became the first school system west of Raleigh to establish a longer school term (nine months).

Early post high school opportunities in Transyl-vania came to fruition with the donation of what was once the original Brevard Institute to what became our own Brevard College in 1933. And in 1969, we saw a partnership with Blue Ridge Community College begin with its formation to serve Transylvania and Henderson counties.

Transylvania County Schools was the first school system in North Carolina to have a traditional comprehensive high school recognized as a N.C. School of Excellence. Our school system is a past winner of the Trailblazer Award, presented by the N.C. Association of School Administrators for innovation in education by becoming the first school district in North Carolina to implement an accountability policy that ensures student achievement. And this week we continue to recognize and celebrate Transylvania County being the first school system in North Carolina to integrate its schools and its sports teams.

History forgotten is often history that is lost. In 1962 with partial integration and in 1963 with full integration, Transylvania County’s fine school system was also first in the state. This year marks the 50th anniversary of that important and long overdue milestone in our history.

It comes shortly after the celebration of our county’s sesquicentennial, but is worthy of standalone recognition.

In 2005, students at Davidson River School completed a book on the 1963 Brevard High School football team, the first high school team to integrate. The book, titled “Brevard…Standing Alone” tells the story of that first team and paints a portrait of not only what life was like in the early 1960s, but also the hope and promise for a better future that resulted from the exceptional men and women in our community who helped make it happen. I encourage everyone to read or re-read this account.

As Transylvania County Schools moves forward into the end of another successful school year, it is important to understand the history of excellence we have built here. It is a history of expectation and quality, with a foundation laid by a community that values education and a strong public school system. And it is a history that forms the hope of a strong future for our young people.

We are not perfect by any stretch, but the commitment and work our teachers, support staff, administrators, and our students put into their work each day is humbling to witness. The desire to do better each day and to see everyone succeed despite obstacles honors that same spirit of our community 50 years ago. Knowing from where we came and how we got here is one of the single most important pieces of the foundation for moving forward in our county, educationally and economically. Fifty years ago our school system and our community made the choice to broaden that future and invest in our children. I hope history is never forgotten or ignored. Public support for a strong and viable economic direction, great public schools, and a robust community infrastructure is as important today as it was then.

(McDaris is superintendent of Transylvania County Schools)


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