The Transylvania Times -

So Much More


June 3, 2019

There has been a trend in the past few decades to determine the quality of schools based solely on a few factors, primarily student performance on standardized tests. As has been discussed in previous editorials, grading schools primarily on these tests is flawed because the testing system itself is flawed. Standardized tests are given in some grades and just a handful of courses but not others, and student proficiency is given four times the weight as academic growth.

While growth and proficiency are important in all subjects at all grades, the success of students depends on so much more than just standardized test scores. In today’s paper, readers will find stories in which graduating seniors, two each from both Brevard and Rosman High Schools, discuss, among other things, teachers that helped them become successful. There is also a story about this year’s Teacher of the Year winner and nominees, which includes information as why these teachers are special. Below are just some of examples of important traits mentioned in these stories:

 •Saving lives. Teacher of the Year Tammy Moman, who has experience working as a nurse, literally saved five lives in the last two years, according to BHS Principal Bryan Abernethy.

•Creating a safe space. Unfortunately, too many children come from homes where they lack proper nutrition and feel unsafe, not only physically but emotionally. The classroom may be the only place in which those children are able to let down their guard because they know their teachers will take good care of them.

•Setting high expectations. Jakes Raines hands assignments back to students until they master the content, and Stephanie Ramsey’s classroom tests are more difficult than the end-of-class standardized tests. 

•Filling in wherever needed. Joe Russo, a history and civics teacher, took over the Taiko drum group when the previous Taiko instructor left for full-time employment. John McCarson, who teaches history in a relatable manner, also taught his students how to tie ties. John Brinkley, an art teacher, tutors second and fourth grade students in reading.

•Helping students with diverse needs. Several of this year’s Teacher of the Year nominees work with students who have exceptional needs. Those needs range from learning difficulties to those whose native language is not English. These teachers know their students are unique and devise individual plans to help each one of them reach their optimum educational level. (Private schools usually do not accept these students and many public and charter schools, particularly those in affluent areas, have a much smaller percentage of these students than Transylvania County Schools.)

•Helping other teachers. Several of the teachers, even if new to the school system, have taken leadership roles by offering other advice to inexperienced teachers and by being active on school and district committees.

 •Raising funds. Teacher Assistant of the Year Patty Whitaker, in addition to teacher PE, spearheads fundraising events.    

•Giving students the support and confidence to persevere. For Jackson Whitt and Cullen Duval, teachers built their confidence on the first class of the first day of high school.

•Pushing students out of their comfort zone. Luke Stewart, a three-sport athlete, said Linda Peeples encouraged him to take theatre class. He enjoyed the class so much he plans on taking a theatre class in college.

All of the nominees for Teacher of the Year, as well as many other teachers in our local school system, possess many of these qualities. 

 These quality teachers, of which there are many in Transylvania County, serve as excellent role models. The academics they teach often are secondary to the traits they exhibit – honesty, hard work, compassion, relentlessness, flexibility, tough love, etc. These traits not only go a long way in being successful academically, but they also are needed to be a successful parent, employee, co-worker and good person. The great majority of our teachers do much more than just teach an academic subject; they consider the whole student and try to meet each student’s needs to the best of their ability. They give much more than is required of them.

As Whitt said, “The extra effort that teachers will make to help us has been an inspiration to me. I see teachers that do that on a daily basis just so they can see us succeed.”


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