Last Friday, Tucker Debo watched as a day of fun known as the “Winter Games” unfolded at Floyd L. Knight School. Nearly 80 JROTC students from Lee County High School, where Debo is a senior, visited the elementary campus for a day of fun, games and connecting with the school's special needs student body. Activities throughout the day included multiple sporting relay events in the gym – a basketball shoot, a “snowman bowling” event and several more – as well as arts and crafts activities in the school's classrooms.
For sixth-year science Southern Lee High teacher School Dillon Crockett, what happens outside the classroom is as important as what happens inside the classroom — Quiz Bowl. Science Olympiad. Chairman of the School Improvement Team. AIG adviser. The list goes on, and it's all in addition to his regular, advanced and honors biology classes. Crockett's busy schedule was rewarded recently when the North Carolina Science Teachers Association named him the Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year for the state's fourth district, which includes Lee and 10 other counties. He was presented with the honor at the NCSTA's annual conference in Winston-Salem.
Josephine Shelton has always had a knack for building things. So it was a logical move for her to enroll in Chris Garner's core construction class when she entered Lee County High School as a freshman. Shelton – now a junior – has not only completed that core class, but Masonry 1 as well, and will start Masonry 2 next semester. Shelton is now looking towards construction management as a career after taking Garner's classes, which is something Garner tries to teach his students about. “My main focus is to show these kids that they can learn a trade. Even if they don't want to do it for a living, it can still help them get to where they want to be. And if they do want to do it for a living, there are doors I can open for them.”
Chris McNeill was at W.B. Wicker Elementary so much at the start of this school year that students began asking him if he was some kind of principal. McNeill, the maintenance department director for Lee County Schools, is not some kind of principal. But for the district's 17 campuses and other auxiliary buildings, he and his department are often unsung heroes – the team that keeps the lights on, the water running and the temperature right for the teachers, staff and students every day.
It's been a good couple of weeks for Deep River Elementary School. That's particularly true for Assistant Principal Erika McNickle. After Deep River received the Head of Class award on Oct. 30, McNickle was surprised at a "staff meeting" when Central Office staff dropped in and announced that she is Lee County Schools Assistant Principal of the Year.
For the second time, Deep River Elementary has claimed the Lee County Education Foundation's Head of Class award. The award is a project of the foundation, which has been giving the prize to an individual school in Lee County since 2011. The winning school's staff – from the principal to the custodians – split the $50,000 award in a merit-pay program that has been hailed by leaders from across North Carolina as an innovative way to reward achievement by a public-private partnership.