DOBSON — A Surry County Schools official was honored Monday for winning a state award.
Sonia Dickerson, director of communications, won first place in the state for the Best of the Best public relations award in the electronic media category.
Dickerson was an executive producer for two videos, which were submitted for consideration to the N.C. School Public Relations Association’s awards. One video’s theme was The Best Times of Our Lives and the other focused on Surry County Schools’ partnership with Surry TV.
Both videos received the gold recognition for the highest marks, as judged independently by the Georgia School Public Relations Association. The two competed with 43 other entries from 17 different school systems.
The videos were first introduced at the 2015 convocation program, according to Dickerson. She accepted the two gold awards earlier this year in a meeting at the O. Henry Hotel in Greensboro.
While the two honors were nice, Dickerson was really surprised when a new award was announced. The inaugural Best of the Best award went to the Best Times of Our Lives video.
Dickerson said when she heard her name called she let out a loud “woo hoo!” and then danced her way up to the podium.
The video, shot by Nate and Phil Berry from Lightwater Video Productions in Winston-Salem, received a perfect score of 100 with judges leaving comments like: “Unbelievably awesome — great planning, dynamic presentation, outstanding flow! We ran out of words for how great this is! Really tugs at your good emotions. Wow … No questions asked — best video from a school we have seen.”
• Last month’s bad weather affected two days of school, so the Board of Education discussed how to handle the calendar.
At the previous meeting, assistant superintendent Jeff Tunstall warned that the rest of the year was really tight.
Then schools were closed on Feb. 15 for both students and staff. Then Feb. 16 was closed for classes, but used as an optional teacher workday.
The 10-month employees could count Feb. 16 toward their minimum of 215 days of work, but that Feb. 15 day would have to be made up.
Since the faculty used Feb. 16, Tunstall suggested the board could drop that day of instruction and not worry about making it up.
The state mandates that schools have 1,025 hours of instructional time per year, noted Dr. Travis Reeves, superintendent.
With a school day that is slightly longer than average, SCS students get close to 1,080 hours of learning, said Tunstall. Even if Feb. 16 is “forgiven” the district is in no danger of coming up short on state requirements.
Mount Airy City Schools moved to “forgive” three days at its February meeting.
As for making up Feb. 15, Reeves said he understands that parents feel Memorial Day is an important holiday, but there can be a compromise. Two years ago, SCS held school on that holiday, but then went out of its way to make the meaningful to the students. He said he would be in favor of having school on that date again, so long as the schools plan ways to make the holiday special.
With that, the school board voted to forgive one day and hold school on Memorial Day.
• Tunstall then brought up next year’s proposed calendar.
He brought a rough draft to the board in February. After a couple of tweaks, the new proposal was dispersed to the schools so that teachers could provide comments.
Tunstall said this past month has been the most feedback he’s ever received for any calendar. He said he really appreciated everyone’s input and personally sent replies to the many emails received.
Some people asked why exams aren’t held before the Christmas break. Tunstall said there are only 75 days before the holiday break and 105 after the break, so it wouldn’t be an even split.
Many teachers don’t like the late start (Aug. 29), but the state set that date, not the school board.
From the high schools, several teachers bemoaned the lack of a teacher workday between semesters.
Board member Terri Mosley, a former high school teacher and assistant principal, said she understands that complaint. Unlike grade schools, high schools change classes over semester, so teachers have to switch gears.
Mosley recommended taking a day away from the Christmas holiday (Dec. 21) and using it as a teacher workday on Jan. 23. The board agreed.
• In his monthly look back at school board history, chairman Earlie Coe said that 40 years ago this month, the board voted to name a new school after a retiring superintendent.
J. Sam Gentry had recently announced that he was stepping down after 21 years as superintendent and a long career in education.
The board voted to bestow his name on a middle school then under construction on N.C. 89. Gentry Middle School would open in 1977.
• Reeves announced David Jones as the March employee of the month.
Reeves said Jones, a custodian, had been nominated by several people, who noted Jones’ evident love for the students and his willingness to do whatever is needed of him.
One nomination pointed out that Jones hasn’t missed a day of work since he was hired in 2007.
That is outstanding in and of itself, considering all the sickness that goes around an elementary school, said Reeves.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692 and on Twitter @SportsDudeJeff.