• INSPIRED. Ari Wright-Thompson, Southern Lee High School

    INSPIRED. Ari Wright-Thompson, Southern Lee High School

    For Southern Lee High School senior Ari Wright-Thompson, high school has been all about leadership. “My grandmother always had politics on TV,” said Wright-Thompson. “And socially, I like dealing with solutions to problems that will best fit everyone.” Wright-Thompson has expressed that passion for finding solutions to problems and serving others over the last two years of his high school career, during which he served as the junior class and senior class president, and plans to pursue political science at Morehouse College in Atlanta.

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  • INSPIRED. Reanna Vaughan-Williams, Lee County High School

    INSPIRED. Reanna Vaughan-Williams, Lee County High School

    “All the world's a stage,” as Shakespeare put it, and for Lee County High School senior Reanna Vaughan-Williams that's been literally true for most of her life. “[Theatre has] been my home away from home,” she said. “I’ve literally lived here, and it’s given me bonds that will last forever.”

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  • INSPIRED. Nery Villalba Martinez, Success Was "Worth The Struggle"

    INSPIRED. Nery Villalba Martinez, Success Was "Worth The Struggle"

    There was a time less than a year ago when Lee Early College senior Nery Villalba Martinez wondered if she'd be able to graduate. Not because of her performance in the classroom, but a tough situation at home meant that the young woman who is the daughter of immigrants and now set to be the first in her family to attend college had to work extra hard to strike a balance between school and home. “At first I was debating whether I would be able to graduate,” she said. “But at the end, all the hard work I was able to put in, it was worth the struggle.”

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  • INSPIRED. Leslie Cottrell, 2019-20 Teacher of the Year

    INSPIRED. Leslie Cottrell, 2019-20 Teacher of the Year

    When Leslie Cottrell came to Greenwood Elementary as an AIG specialist in the fall of 2017, she quickly dubbed herself the students' “thinking coach.” Her diversity of instruction – and the enthusiasm which she brings with her – paid off Monday night when Cottrell was named Lee County Schools' 2019-20 Teacher of the Year.

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  • INSPIRED. Reading Program Gets Little Wheels Turning

    INSPIRED. Reading Program Gets Little Wheels Turning

    Across Warren Williams Elementary School Tuesday, preschoolers eagerly listened to stories from special guests – volunteer tutors joined students to read to them on a regularly scheduled day and time in an effort to help boost their reading comprehension ability. “We went from 25 percent proficient in children who were learning English to 46 percent proficient – in one year,” Principal Silvia Huffer said. “We think a lot of that success is from the reading program.”

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  • INSPIRED. Heroes Are Around Us Every Single Day

    INSPIRED. Heroes Are Around Us Every Single Day

    Monday was a day for heroes at the Floyd L. Knight/The Children's Center in Sanford. It was Hero Day at the school, and Charlotte Johns, a teaching assistant at the school who helped make the event happen, said the goal wasn't just to celebrate imaginary superheroes. Instead, the day was meant to show the kids that real heroes are all around them every single day.

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  • INSPIRED. SanLee AVID Tutors "Really Connect" With Students

    INSPIRED. SanLee AVID Tutors "Really Connect" With Students

    To the eighth graders in Vincent Pienaar's AVID class at SanLee Middle School, Cameron Marks, Emily Murillo, Ross Peele, Jordan Schwab and Brittany Waters are more than familiar faces – they've been fixtures in the classroom ever since middle school started. Much like the eighth graders about to move on to high school, the AVID tutors — who are either attending a university, community college or are contemplating their options — are also moving on.

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  • INSPIRED. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish...Go Fish!

    INSPIRED. One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish...Go Fish!

    A seven-legged octopus. A tuna that can't carry a tune. A blowfish with debilitating allergies. A tiger shark who faces criticism for befriending non-sharks. “Go Fish” – a musical production currently set to be staged at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 11 and Friday, April 12 by a group of about 50 third, fourth and fifth graders from J. Glenn Edwards Elementary – is all about accepting yourself and celebrating diversity.

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  • INSPIRED. Kattie Goins, Bus Driver of the Year

    INSPIRED. Kattie Goins, Bus Driver of the Year

    Outstanding Bus Driver of the Year Kattie Goins may start her day early and get home late — she is at West Lee Middle School at 5:30 a.m. to get her bus ready for the students she picks up every day and then works another job after school at Ron's Barn — but that mean she doesn't love what she does. “I like working,” she says. “I don't like missing work. I've not missed a day on my bus in two years.”

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  • INSPIRED. The Augustine Literacy Project

    INSPIRED. The Augustine Literacy Project

    Barbara Yuskevich is the founder of the all-volunteer Lee County Literacy Council, which makes its primary goal to “improve the reading, writing, spelling and comprehension of children and adults” through “research-based literacy instruction in a nurturing environment.” And nowhere is that goal – and Yuskevich's passion for literacy – more evident than at B.T. Bullock Elementary School in Sanford, where the Literacy Council's Augustine Literacy Project is at work to help first and second graders improve their reading skills to at or even above grade level.

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  • INSPIRED. IB: "The Gold Standard"

    INSPIRED. IB: "The Gold Standard"

    High-achieving students have flocked to Advanced Placement courses for decades as a way to challenge themselves academically and elevate their chances to attend top-tier universities. But that has changed in recent years as the International Baccalaureate diploma has emerged as perhaps the most rigorous way to prepare for higher education.

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  • INSPIRED. Service to Country

    INSPIRED. Service to Country

    Thanks to a lot of hard work on the part of Jacob Bowers and Tyler Profio, Lee County Schools will be well represented at two of the nation's military academies when classes convene this fall. Bowers, a senior at Southern Lee High School, and Profio, a senior at Lee County High School, have been accepted to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, respectively.

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  • INSPIRED. Quiz Bowl Dynasty

    INSPIRED. Quiz Bowl Dynasty

    After the first round of play at last Saturday's annual county-wide Quiz Bowl competition, things weren't looking so good for the three-time champion Lee County High School Yellow Jacket team. But that first round loss was something of a wakeup call for the team, and they knew they'd have to be perfect from there on out in order to secure a fourth consecutive victory over other competing high schools. And perfect from there on out they were, taking home their fourth-consecutive win.

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  • INSPIRED. Mr. Yellow Jacket

    INSPIRED. Mr. Yellow Jacket

    Lee County High School athletic director and boys’ basketball coach Reggie Peace can't tell you how many victories he's racked up in his 30-plus years leading high school hoops teams. “Obviously you want to win,” Peace said during a recent interview. “I would have liked to win those championship games. But that can't be the only reason you do it, especially at this level.” That 32-year career – which included two stretches at Lee County from 1996 to 2004, and again from 2007 to now – is coming to an end today, as Peace works his final day at LCHS.

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  • INSPIRED. Dental Volunteers "Give Kids A Smile"

    INSPIRED. Dental Volunteers "Give Kids A Smile"

    For 50-plus first and second graders from J.R. Ingram Elementary, last Friday was all about dental hygiene. In conjunction with Central Carolina Community College and local dentists Dr. Ray Tzeng and Dr. Antonio Braithwaite, the students were part of the American Dental Association's annual “Give Kids A Smile” event, which aims to provide basic dental services to children.

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  • INSPIRED. No "Doubt" This Was Murchison's Year

    INSPIRED. No "Doubt" This Was Murchison's Year

    West Lee Middle School seventh grader Brianna Murchison no "doubt" made a comeback at the Lee County Schools district-wide spelling bee by taking first place by spelling "rehearse" correctly, after going out on "doubt" back in third grade. Now, on to the national level in Washington, D.C.

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  • INSPIRED. 200 Wins? Now That's A Slam Dunk

    INSPIRED. 200 Wins? Now That's A Slam Dunk

    There are 24 match-ups in a regular high school basketball season, as many as 32 if you make the playoffs and advance into a championship game. So for Gaston Collins, the head coach of Southern Lee High School's varsity basketball team, more than 200 wins in his 10 years leading the program is a pretty remarkable accomplishment.

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  • INSPIRED. Kids At Meaningful Play

    INSPIRED. Kids At Meaningful Play

    Lee County Schools is well-known for the quality K-12 education offered to students – from award-winning teachers and administrators to inspirational students and innovative learning environments which give back to the community, the people of Lee County have a lot to be proud of when it comes to education at the primary and secondary levels. Less known, but just as important – if not more – is the pre-K education offered at three (and soon four) of the district's schools.

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  • INSPIRED. Dr. Johnnye Waller, NC Homelessness Liaison of the Year

    INSPIRED. Dr. Johnnye Waller, NC Homelessness Liaison of the Year

    For Dr. Johnnye Waller, being named North Carolina's Homeless Advocate of the Year by the state Department of Public Instruction isn't a reflection on her – instead, it's a reflection of the community she loves. “I am not in this by myself,” she said. “This is a recognition of the district's dedication and commitment to the issue of homelessness, and I am just the one that got named.”

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  • INSPIRED. Katie Eddings, NC North Central 2019 Teacher of the Year

    INSPIRED. Katie Eddings, NC North Central 2019 Teacher of the Year

    Who knew Katie Eddings had planned her own party when she was honored with the North Carolina North Central Regional 2019 Teacher of the Year award? Eddings was emceeing the first-ever Lee County High School holiday pep rally to recognize honor roll students when she received the award and a showering of praise from the student body.

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  • INSPIRED. Food Truck Rodeo: SLHS Style

    INSPIRED. Food Truck Rodeo: SLHS Style

    If you were in Gwen Williams' food and nutrition class at Southern Lee High School last Friday, you could have been forgiven if you mistook the scene for a cooking show like Master Chef. Culinary offerings from a variety of cuisines? Check. “Celebrity” judges tasting the food and giving out notes to teams of student chefs? Check. It was all there, but it wasn't a cooking show. Instead, it was the culmination of a “food truck” assignment which the 20 10th, 11th and 12th graders in Williams' class had been working on for most of the school year.

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  • INSPIRED. Dashawn Gilmore: Finding "Hope"

    INSPIRED. Dashawn Gilmore: Finding "Hope"

    Dashawn Gilmore may be a pretty quiet kid, but it's not because he doesn't have much to say. No, it would be a mistake to think that. Because while Gilmore – a sophomore at Southern Lee High School – isn't a real big talker, he expresses himself plenty through a variety of artistic pursuits. He creates pottery in his ceramics class. He's written songs and stories, he draws and he's active with his school's step team. Oh, and by the time this month is over, he'll be a twice-published poet.

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  • INSPIRED. Molly Poston, Assistant Principal of the Year

    INSPIRED. Molly Poston, Assistant Principal of the Year

    After putting so much effort into keeping Dr. Chris Dossenbach's Principal of the Year Award a secret, Southern Lee High Assistant Principal Molly Poston got a taste of her own medicine, in the best way possible. She entered the media center thinking that she was going to address students' behavior and walked into receiving Assistant Principal of the Year!

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  • INSPIRED. Tramway Wins Head of Class

    INSPIRED. Tramway Wins Head of Class

    Andrea Sloan was so disappointed in her school's end of year test scores in 2016 that she questioned whether Lee County Schools had made a mistake in hiring her to be the principal at Tramway Elementary. But after restructuring the school to allow for teacher experts to let their leadership show through, and a whole lot of hard work put in by students, teachers and staff, Tramway Elementary, for the first time ever, won the Head of Class award.

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  • INSPIRED. LaKeisha Snipes, Lee County's Outstanding Secondary Math Teacher

    INSPIRED. LaKeisha Snipes, Lee County's Outstanding Secondary Math Teacher

    LaKeisha Snipes doesn't like using tricks when it comes to teaching math. “'Conceptual' is my whole style of teaching,” explained Snipes, who teaches freshman math at Lee County High School and this year's Outstanding Secondary Math Teacher for Lee County. “Like with your times table, I want them to understand the math behind it, the conceptual aspect of it. I don't teach tricks, I teach the math behind it.”

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