NEWBERRY — A sign outside of Newberry Middle School reads: “Whatever it takes, our kids are worth it.”
That sentiment, along with energy and excitement, ran through the building last Wednesday as teachers, administrators and support staff gathered at Newberry Middle School for the Newberry County School District’s seventh annual Teaching and Learning Conference.
Superintendent Jim Suber welcomed the education professionals to a pep rally that followed a day of professional development sessions.
In keeping with NCSD best practices of recent years, many of the professional development presenters were highly effective educators from within the district.
Content areas included, but were not limited to, grant writing, PhotoShop workshops, iPad instructional APPs, behavior interventions, concussion and heat awareness training, developing stations for guided math and reading instruction, and record keeping methodologies.
After the presentations, 2015-16 NCSD Teacher of the Year Huger Caughman addressed the group, expressing thanks for the myriad of people who impacted his life to lead him to a path of professional, personal and community oriented success.
In his speech, he shared his admiration for Fred Rogers and how Rogers dedicated his life’s work to supporting children as they grew.
“(Rogers said) so many people helped me get here — some here (at the ceremony), some far away and some looking down from heaven,” Caughman said.
He mentioned the impact of the late Mr. Bennie Bennett upon his career and upon the school district.
“The days immediately after that accident showed how strong and prepared we really were (to lead in this district and support one another),” he said. “Mr. Bennett loved us, supported us. We are blessed to have known him and had him in our lives. (Now we) have new but familiar, (dedicated) leadership in Mr. Jim Suber to carry that torch for us.”
In addition to expressing his faith in the district administration, Caughman shared his passion for teaching and his belief of the calling to be points of light to inspire and encourage young people. Attendees also heard a video message from State Superintendent Molly Spearman.
The district recognized Frances Meetze, social studies teacher at Mid-Carolina High School, as the 2016-2017 District Teacher of the Year and Debra Rowe, cafeteria manager at Mid-Carolina High School, as the 2016-2017 District Support Staff Employee of the Year.
Runners up for the positions were Johnette Gary, day porter at Gallman Elementary School, as the Support Staff Employee of the Year runner-up, and Leslie McDuffie, science teacher at Newberry High School, as the runner-up for the 2016-2017 District Teacher of the Year.
Suber recognized district personnel, particularly first year teachers, and encouraged NCDS staff to be supportive of one another to help the district continue to advance. He said he had been in education for 35 years and believes the level of collaboration within the district is at an all-time high.
NCSD educators and staff then celebrated with a pep rally as everyone embraced the back to school spirit and prepared to further the district’s mantra of One District, One Team, One Mission.