City schools prepare for students Monday

By Jeff Linville -

Mount Airy High School has a new guest teacher for Chinese, while the lower grades are still seeking to fill a final position.

Mount Airy City Schools reopen on Monday, and district personnel have been hard at work over the summer filling vacancies and taking care of needed repairs.

Jason Dorsett was one of those filling a new position as he moved from principal of Jones Intermediate School to chief operations officer. He gave the Board of Education an update recently.

He said Stanley Heating and Cooling did a great job with the air conditioning unit at the middle school in June. Once the system was operational, the new unit took just 20 minutes to get the temperature down to the set limit.

Another project just finishing up is a renovation to the lobby area just outside the high school gym. The floor in front of the concession stand gets a face lift, as well as the two restrooms.

One project that didn’t get started was resurfacing of the tennis courts. While the school board and the city board of commissioners have voiced their concerns about the state of the courts, the project didn’t get approval from the Surry County Board of Commissioners for this fiscal year.

The school board is exploring other options for the courts.

Vicky Yang taught the Mandarin Chinese class at the high school last year. Now a new guest teacher fills her spot for the coming year.

Li Yan sent an email to Dr. Kim Morrison, city schools superintendent, to introduce herself.

“I’m really honored that I will be one of your staff in the next school year,” she wrote. After speaking with Yang, she added, “I know that Mount Airy High School is a very good school, and I really hope I will be a capable and beloved Chinese teacher like her.”

As for her background, Li Yan wrote, “I have been teaching in Jiamusi No.1 high school, Heilongjiang Province, for 14 years. Before I got trained in Beijing, I’d taught two different levels of classes, one is like AP program in America.”

Li Yan said she has been perusing the city schools website and reading last year’s textbook to know more about the school district and what was taught last year.

While this is the second teacher for Mount Airy, the state has welcomed teachers from China over the past five years through a partnership between Go Global NC (formerly the Center for International Understanding), the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (DPI), College Board, and Hanban, an organization affiliated with the Chinese Ministry of Education.

In this sixth year, Go Global NC estimates that 12,500 students statewide will take a Chinese class.

Mount Airy is the only school within an hour’s drive to offer Chinese. Guilford County is the next-closest district.

As for the remaining vacancy, Dorsett told the school board that he is still looking for a music teacher to split time between Tharrington Primary and Jones Intermediate schools.

Asked if he was having trouble getting applicants, Dorsett said he was getting offers, just not from qualified candidates.

Those who have gone to school to become teachers didn’t have the necessary music training to take the job. And those who have a strong music background didn’t have the teaching certification required.

There are a lot of people in this area who could teach music lessons one-on-one or even in a small group, he told the board. However, it’s a different story when it comes to 25 kindergarten students.

Teachers have courses to learn how to manage full classrooms of kids, maintaining safety and discipline, even emergency protocols. Still, while the district is looking for a permanent fit, Dorsett said the staff has a plan in place to cover music in the short term.

Those interested in the position can contact Sherry Cox, the new Jones principal, at Music education licensure is required. The pay is based on the state salary schedule, with benefits.

By Jeff Linville

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

Reach Jeff at 415-4692.

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