Sweet Treats for Meadowbrook Students

IMG_2060Meadowbrook Elementary School students warmed up from the chill of winter with a hot chocolate and snowball sundae read-in earlier this month. The event was a fundraiser for the school’s The Leader in Me program.

Students sipped their custom drinks and ate desserts in the school’s Leadership Lounge while reading their favorite books. The Leadership Lounge was a new addition to Meadowbrook Elementary this school year. Each month, students who exemplify leadership qualities are invited to enjoy the Leadership Lounge at a breakfast for kindergartners through 2nd graders or a lunch and learn for 3rd through 5th graders.

Meadowbrook Elementary is currently raising money to implement The Leader in Me program, which helps develop students as leaders and teaches the goals outlined in the book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey.

“Meadowbrook’s goal is to challenge our students to see the greatness in themselves that I know is there,” Meadowbrook Elementary Principal Stephanie Mancini said. “The read-in showcased the positive impact that the 7 Habits have already made on our students, and I couldn’t be more proud.”

Since the beginning of this school year, Meadowbrook students have learned about a new habit each month. The effective habits include: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, put first things first, think win-win, seek first to understand then be understood, synergize, and sharpen the saw.

hot chocolate 2“The hot chocolate and snowball sundae read-in rewarded our students for displaying Habit 3, which is put first things first. Students learned firsthand that by completing their reading first, they were able to receive a sweet treat,” Caitlin Hensley, Meadowbrook Title I reading specialist, said. “Teaching students the value of prioritizing their responsibilities is one of the core components of The Leader in Me program, and it’s an essential skill for students to learn to become a successful learner.”

The 7 habits are used to fine-tune the leadership skills in each student. While it is not new to teach elementary students the importance of leading and making the right decisions, The Leader in Me program aims to teach students in a way that unleashes each child’s full potential. Leadership is viewed as an integrated approach, and it is a part of everything the students do. The values and lessons of The Leader in Me and the 7 Habits are illustrated all over the walls at Meadowbrook as a constant reminder to the students.

The community is invited to attend the school’s Bring the Green luncheon on Thursday, March 17 to learn more about The Leader in Me program and how they can help the school achieve its vision. For more information about Bring the Green, call 828-646-3445.

School Bus Driver Appreciation Week

image1 (1)Haywood County Schools is honoring bus drivers February 8-12 as part of North Carolina School Bus Appreciation Week. Each day during the school year, students living on the rural roads of Fines Creek to the narrow neighborhood avenues of Canton are transported by Haywood County Schools’ buses. Haywood County Schools operates 74 buses, which transport an average of 3,255 students daily.

Kelley Messer is one of Haywood County Schools’ 86 bus drivers. She has been driving a school bus for Junaluska Elementary School for four years.

“I enjoy seeing the kids each day and listening to their stories” Messer said. “It’s rewarding to see them grow over the years.”

Schools across the county are honoring bus drivers throughout the week and recognizing them for their commitment to safely transporting students.

“I love my bus driver Ms. Brittney,” Junaluska Elementary kindergartner Nova Grace said. “I like to talk to her and tell her what I did at school.”

School bus drivers go through intense, highly-specialized training to ensure they are knowledgeable about student behavior management, school bus features, the loading and unloading process and security and emergency medical procedures. In order to keep their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with a School Bus Endorsement, drivers must participate in pre-employment and random drug and alcohol tests, driving record checks, background checks and medical exams. The safety, security, health and driver qualification standards, by which the school bus industry abides, in some cases, exceed federal and state laws. This is to ensure that school buses remain the safest mode of transportation for all United States school children.

“School bus drivers are a crucial link to the education system in Haywood County,” Todd Trantham, Haywood County Schools director of transportation and technology, said. “Without them, thousands of children in our area would have no other way to get to school each day. School Bus Appreciation Week is an opportunity for us to thank the drivers who not only safely take our children to school each day, but also serve as role models and friends to our children.”

The mechanics and support staff of Haywood County Schools is also being recognized this week for their vital role in keeping the county’s 74 yellow buses, 12 spares, and 21 activity buses running safely.

Some measures to ensure children are safe when they enter or exit the bus include the yellow color and size, height, reinforced sides, flashing red lights, cross view mirrors, as well as crossing and stop sign arms.

According to the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Transportation, school buses are the safest form of transportation for getting children to and from school. The Transportation Research Board, a part of the National Academy of Sciences, reports that a child is 13 times safer in a school bus than in other modes of travel.

The school bus system is the largest transportation system in the United States. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 14,104 school buses operate daily in the state, traveling a total of 181,285,181 route miles per year.

HCEC Student Publishes 8 Books

Haywood County Early College Principal Jeff Haney (right) with student Erin Skinner (left) who has written and published eight books. Skinners baseball romance novels are available for purchase online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Haywood County Early College Principal Jeff Haney (right) with student Erin Skinner (left) who has written and published eight books. Skinners baseball romance novels are available for purchase online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

While most authors would consider having one novel published a great achievement, Haywood County Early College (HCEC) fourth-year student Erin Skinner has already written and published eight books.

Skinner has always had an interest in writing, but she said her classmates and freshman English teacher Beth Hooper opened her eyes to the possibility of sharing her writing with the world.

“Mrs. Hooper gave us a class assignment to teach sentence structure,” Skinner explained. “We started a story and then our classmates added on to it. I began my story about baseball, and by the end of the assignment, my classmates had turned it into a love story about me and my favorite baseball player.”

That class assignment became the basis of Skinner’s first novel. Nearly four years later, under the pen name E.L. Skinner, she has written and published eight books in “The Slugger Series” with one more on the way. She’s also working on two other books – one is a marine love story and the other is a shape-shifter romance.

“I love writing romance novels because I can create a love story between two characters,” Skinner said. “Writing is a stress reliever and a way for me to escape reality.”

After some encouragement from her friends, Skinner decided to search for a way to publish her books. She found a free self-publishing company through Amazon, and in January 2014, “Meeting the Baseball Player” was available for purchase. Her novels are available for purchase online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Although Skinner is a talented writer, she wants to pursue a career in the military. By December 2016, Skinner will not only have completed her high school degree, she will also earn an A.A. and A.S. degree from Haywood Community College. She plans on joining the Army National Guard next year and hopes to one day become a Navy SEAL.

Along with her military aspirations, Skinner has set rigorous education goals for herself. Over the next few years, she wants to go to college and eventually earn her doctorate in history. After serving in the military, Skinner would like to return to Haywood County to teach social studies.

“Teachers like Mrs. Hooper are making a difference in the lives of our students,” HCEC Principal Jeff Haney said. “Mrs. Hooper helped open Erin’s eyes to the possibilities around her, and now, she has published books and wants to become a Navy SEAL.”

Skinner was recognized at the Haywood County Schools board meeting in January with a Young Authors Certificate of Achievement.

2016 Mardi Gras King & Queen Candidates

The race to become the 2016 King and Queen of the eighth annual Haywood County Schools Foundation Mardi Gras Ball is underway. The Mardi Gras Ball, sponsored by Old Town Bank, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 27 at Laurel Ridge Country Club.

Since 2008, the event has raised nearly $250,000 for the Haywood County Schools Foundation. Last year’s fundraiser alone garnered $43,000 in donations.

Meet the Candidates

christine malletteChristine Mallette: Queen candidate Christine Mallette has owned REALTY WORLD-Heritage since 2007. She enjoys anything sports-related and devotes many hours to volunteering at sports activities. Last year, she established the REALTY WORLD-Heritage Sports Scholarship to assist children who cannot afford to participate in sports activities.

Fundraising is not something new for Christine. In 2014, REALTY WORLD-Heritage competed in Women of Waynesville’s Battle of the Bands. Her team won the competition and helped raise more than $9,000 for Haywood County Meals on Wheels.

Christine is a member of the Altrusa Club of Waynesville and current President-Elect for the Fund for Haywood County. She has served on boards for the Haywood County MLS, NC Mountains MLS, and REALTY WORLD – The Carolinas, AYSO 572, and the Carolina Mountain Soccer Club. In 2015, Christine helped establish the Great Smoky Mountains 3v3 soccer league.

Christine received her B.A. in Criminal Justice from California State University – Fullerton and a master’s in Sports Administration from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville. She resides in Maggie Valley with her husband, Thomas, and their three children.


jane hippsJane Hipps: Queen candidate Jane Hipps, a native North Carolinian, has lived in Waynesville since 1968.  Her major career years were spent in public education as a counselor, school psychologist, lead teacher, and as a Western North Carolina regional science specialist. Jane also became a national science and math consultant and started her own business. She has worked with schools in 35 states across the country.

Upon her retirement, Jane attended Vanderbilt University and became a board certified pediatric nurse practitioner. Although she’s changed careers, she said Haywood County Schools will always hold a special place in her heart.

Jane was married to the late Charles Hipps for almost 35 years and has three children and five grandchildren.


angie franklinAngie Franklin: Queen candidate Angie Franklin owns a local State Farm Insurance Agency in Waynesville. Angie has lived in Waynesville for the past five years and has enjoyed becoming involved in the local community. She is an active member of Women of Waynesville (WOW), the Haywood Rotary Club, and currently sits on the Folkmoot events committee.

“I’ve had three children go through the public school system, and I have many friends who are teachers,” Angie said. “I’ve seen first hand the endless dedication our educators have for their students.”

Through her business and community involvement, she has been able to pursue her passion of helping others by giving back.

Angie graduated from Webber International University with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. She is married to her husband, Rick, and has three children and four grandchildren.


seth hendler-voss1Seth Hendler-Voss: King candidate Seth Hendler-Voss has been the town manager for Canton since 2014. “I have the privilege of leading a team of outstanding professionals who work tirelessly to deliver the ‘good’ in good living,” Seth said.

Seth previously worked as the park planning and development manager for the City of Asheville, which was the first accredited parks and recreation agency in the country. Prior to moving to Western North Carolina, he served as the principal landscape architect for the City of Atlanta where he managed capital improvement projects for recreational facilities and facilitated neighborhood playground builds. Seth earned his bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Penn State University and a master’s in Public Affairs from Western Carolina University.

Seth currently serves on the board of directors for the Commission for a Clean County and the Boy Scouts of America Daniel Boone Council. In his spare time, he enjoys running. He lives in Canton with his wife, Amanda, and their two children, ages 8 and 3.


Webb12Rick Webb: King candidate Rick Webb, a Haywood County native, is a senior executive at Accenture in Cary, N.C. He has worked in government information technology and management consulting for the last 16 years.

Prior to moving to the private sector, Rick worked in state and local government for more than 13 years. In 1997, he was appointed by Governor Jim Hunt to serve as the state’s first chief information officer (CIO). He also served as assistant secretary for the North Carolina Department of Commerce and led all economic development and business recruitment for the state, as well as serving as the president of the North Carolina Economic Development Partnerships.

Rick has previously worked as executive director of the Haywood County Economic Development Commission and served as a member of the Haywood County Board of Education.  Currently, he is the co-chair of the Tuscola Class of ’73 Scholarship Fund, which is a part of the Haywood County Schools Foundation.

Rick and his wife Luanne remain connected to their Haywood County roots and enjoy spending time with their friends and family in the mountains.

January 2016 Excellence in Education

Whitney Trull, kindergarten teacher at Meadowbrook Elementary School, and Julie Smith, 5th grade teacher at North Canton Elementary School, were recently recognized with an Excellence in Education award for the month of January.

The Excellence in Education program recognizes teachers from Haywood County Schools who exemplify a commitment to innovative teaching practices and show dedication to student success. The program is sponsored by Jack Bishop of Edward Jones and the Haywood County Schools Foundation (HCSF).

“It’s not uncommon for teachers to spend money out of their own pockets to purchase classroom supplies,” Bishop said. “Our teachers are shaping our children’s future, and it’s an honor to support them as a community partner.”

Each month, up to three teachers from the 16 Haywood County Schools are recognized with an Excellence in Education award. Award winners are presented with a certificate and a $100 check sponsored by Bishop.

“Teaching is a selfless profession, and our teachers in Haywood County go above and beyond every day to ensure their students are successful,” Haywood County Schools Foundation Executive Director Jenny Wood said. “The Excellence in Education program is a great way to publicly recognize our outstanding teachers.”

For more information about the Excellence in Education program contact Jack Bishop at 452-4048 or Jenny Wood of the Haywood County Schools Foundation at 456-2400.