Kim Elliiott

Kim Elliott

By Kim Elliott, Guest Columnist


To engage in education, Jackson County Public Schools strives to educate the whole student. We are proud of many partnerships that assist in achieving this goal.

An example is the Jackson County ARTS Council. Each year JCPS students are the recipients of approximately $30,000 in local and state arts grant funds. Visual and performing arts are showcased for our students to view and appreciate, and many opportunities are provided so students can experience the arts firsthand.

The Junior Appalachian Musicians is an opportunity for students to play instruments and music that honors our heritage. We thank the members of the Arts Council Board and all the Council’s contributors.

The arts engage the intellect and the soul. JCPS is proud of the fact that while many arts programs have been cut or eliminated in many school districts, we have maintained our arts programming. Our arts teachers are essential to the mission of teaching and learning for the whole student.

The teaching profession itself is essential to helping all students achieve their goals and dreams. Teachers open doors to all other professions. There is no replacement for a highly qualified teacher in every classroom for every student.

JCPS was recently notified we have been honored as one of 81 districts in the nation named as a National Board Accomplished District. JCPS is home to 49 National Board Certified Teachers. We are extremely proud of all teachers in our system.

Many have received recent accolades: Regional Teacher of the Year Finalist Dawn Gilchrist (Jackson Community School); Cashiers’ Chamber Educator of the Year, Wendy Stewart (Blue Ridge School); Cashiers’ Chamber Art Innovator of the Year, Sarah Hall (Blue Ridge Early College/Blue Ridge) and the director of Blue Ridge Educational Foundation, Carl Hyde, is the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year. We appreciate Hyde’s leadership and advocacy for Blue Ridge preK-12.

Leadership in JCPS exists at all levels – student leadership, teacher leadership and certainly administrative leadership.

Four of our principals were awarded bonuses from the state of North Carolina for significant improvement in student achievement in the areas of growth and proficiency in  he testing and accountability system.

Evelyn Graning received a significant bonus for her work at Smoky Mountain High, along with bonuses for Melanie Jacobs (Jackson County Early College), Kathryn Kantz (Cullowhee Valley School) and Eleanor Macaulay (Fairview Elementary School). Macaulay has also been selected to serve on the N.C. State Board of Education Literacy Task Force.

Leadership and accomplishment most certainly flows to our students, as demonstrated with the following New Century Scholar Awards scholarships to Southwestern Community College. These 7th graders will receive their two-year degrees with full scholarship: Christian Alcantar (BREC), Jordan Bryson (CVS), Bailey Bumgarner (CVS), Gentry Bumgarner (Smokey Mountain Elementary School), Melia Cherry (SMES), Autumn Coggins (FES), Elias Cruz-Ramirez (CVS), Madison Franks (FES), Ethan Gilders (FES), Tatum Griffin (Scotts Creek Elementary School), Ava Crouse (FES), Jason Moody (SCES), Chiara Riveria (FES) and William Weatherford (SCES).

Powerful teachers and administrators are role models for these student leaders, and we are proud of each of them. Each student deserves no less than the best teachers and opportunities JCPS can provide, and to that end, our teachers and administrators deserve to be compensated in funding, respect and appreciation or the job they accomplish each and every day.

Moreover, on that note, we will continue to seek funding for students and staff in the form of grants, increases in supplements, excellent stewardship and efficiencies in budgeting and of course keeping an eye on this year’s lengthy state budget process in hopes of teacher and staff salary increases.

Until next month, Happy Thanksgiving, and please engage in education by thanking a public school educator.

Kim Elliott is superintendent of Jackson County Public Schools.