Sanford Herald, The (NC) – September 27, 2017
Author/Byline: NOAH GRANT NGRANT@SANFORDHERALD.COM
Hundreds filled the room at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center on Tuesday as Greenwood Elementary received its third Head of Class Award.
The Lee County Education Foundation gave $50,000 to the school for its strong showing in performance and growth in the last year. Greenwood Principal Aimee Petrarca has been a part of all three of the school’s wins. She spoke about the experience on Tuesday.
“The teachers at Greenwood know Head of Class as a friendly competition among the district’s seven elementary schools,” Petrarca said.
“Our students know that winning Head of Class means that they worked hard and achieved their goals. The community leaders know that as our schools achieve, the community thrives.”
Greenwood’s teacher of the year, Amanda Zeh, also spoke, along with two fifth-grade students. Zeh said teachers put a lot of work in to connect with the students.
“I see teachers get to school well before the sun is up,” Zeh said. “They greet students with a smile and a handshake at their door, and they make their students the priority of the day. They develop and they maintain trusting relationships with their students.”
Lillian Moore, a student at Greenwood, followed Zeh and talked about how she grew as a student. She said the teachers helped her make improvements.
“I began to wonder, ‘how did we grow so much?’ ” she said. “I grew a lot in math; in fact, I struggled with math in third grade, but did great in my fourth. My fourth-grade teacher even gave me the ‘most improved in math’ award. I know that I did not improve that much on my own or just by dumb luck. I grew that much in math because of my teachers.”
Nicholas Gijon has three brothers and four sisters who have attended or will, at some point, attend Greenwood Elementary. He recognized all of the people who helped him, not just teachers.
“It’s the entire school family,” he said. “My bus driver takes me to school safely and back home every day. My family can’t take our cars because we would all be really squished. Our custodians keep our school clean so that we aren’t distracted by bad smells. Elementary schools have a lot of kids and can get smelly fast.”
Among the other speakers were Lee County Board of Commissioners Chair Amy Dalrymple and Lee County Schools Superintendent Andy Bryan. Dalrymple said that Greenwood possesses “the recipe for success in education in Lee County.” Bryan credited the Education Foundation with coming up with a good idea for school achievement.
“They (the foundation) wanted something that would be, and I remember this quote very distinctly, that would be bold, and that’s what they’ve done,” Bryan said.
Lee County Board of Education Chairman Mark Akinosho praised Bryan and said that the superintendent works all day to improve education.
Akinosho said the foundation’s award was just starting when he came onto the board.
“When I first got on the board, that’s when they started putting this together,” he said. “They said they wanted to recognize our teachers. And I was thinking, this could be a good motivation for the teachers. I’m all for anything that will get the result.”
The foundation first presented the Head of Class award in 2011 to B.T. Bullock Elementary. Other winners have included J. Glenn Edwards Elementary and Deep River Elementary.
Greenwood Elementary’s administration will decide how to split the money, but every staff remember will receive a cut.
Reach Staff Writer Noah Grant at 919-718-1229 and on Twitter at @NoahGrantHerald.
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