By Kim Elliott, Guest Columnist

Jackson County Public Schools continues to engage in the work of teaching and learning while recognizing the great work of students and staff.

On Oct. 8 JCPS highlighted many servant leaders in our district.


Steve Jones Servant Leader Staff Nominees:

• Evelyn Graning, principal, Smoky Mountain High School.

• Dennis Proffitt, district mentor for assistant principals.

• Jolene Sneed, social worker, Smokey Mountain Elementary School.

• Dana Tucker, district behavior specialist.


Steve Jones Servant Leader Student Nominees:

• Keanu Ammons, 12th grade, Jackson County Early College.

• Dustin Johnson, 8th grade, Cullowhee Valley Elementary School.

• Zeb Mathis, 7th grade, Scotts Creek Elementary School.

• Hailey Norris, 8th grade, Smokey Mountain Elementary School.

• Kaitlyn Stewart, 12th grade, Blue Ridge Early College.

We are pleased to announce the Board of Education voted to change the name of the School of Alternatives to Jackson Community School. This change reflects the commitment to the community by students and staff and helps to demonstrate this a school of choice with the highest rating of “progressing” for its school category.

Jackson Community School seniors Nick Mathis, Dalton Connor and freshman Zach Watts participated in a service learning opportunity at Ochre Hill Baptist Church. Students helped sort and size coats for their annual Winter Coat Giveaway.

Dawn Gilchrist, the Jackson County Teacher of the Year from the Jackson Community School has been named one of two finalists for the Western Region Teacher of the Year. This is fantastic news for our district and school. We wish her all the best in the next round of competition.

Smokey Mountain Elementary recognizes two 7th grade New Century Scholar recipients:

• Melia Cherry lives in the Barkers Creek community, and is the daughter of Chastity Gates and Helmet Cherry.

• Gentry Bumgarner resides in the Thomas Valley community, and is the son of Brian and Kelli Bumgarner.

Congratulations to five of our Fairview School Eagles selected to the North Carolina Honors Chorus. They are Maya Denmon, Hadley Jenkins, Lia Jeffress, Savanah Hebenstreit and Zoey Bock. Three students from Cullowhee Valley – Abigail Fisher, Emma Pollack and Harley Stevens – were also selected. In November, these students will travel to Winston-Salem to sing at the N.C. Music Educators Conference. What an accomplishment!

After reading about current events in their local paper, a group of concerned 5th grade students at Blue Ridge School wrote letters to Representative Joe Sam Queen in support of the Fiber NC Act, a bi-partisan bill to help expand broadband service in rural communities across North Carolina.

Blue Ridge Early College is home to our Jackson County Principal of the Year, Tracie Metz. She was recently honored at the Principal of the Year Ceremony on Oct. 8. Best wishes to her in the Regional Principal of the Year competition. She will represent Jackson County Public Schools well.

Daniella Salinas Perez, a 12th-grader at Blue Ridge Early College, has been a pioneer for student-led fundraising for our Blue Ridge students. For the past seven years, she has made a variety of arts and crafts to sell in order to raise money for 6th grade students to attend space camp, and this year the senior trip is added to the initiative. She serves as a mentor and is an example of the “Bobcat Best.”

On Oct. 2, Jackson County Early College inducted 20 new student members into the National Honor Society. Students’ families joined the special ceremony at the Burrell Building on the campus of Southwestern Community College. We are proud of National Honor Society members and all they have accomplished.

Great news at Smoky Mountain High: running back Will Frady was named WLOS player of the week. Also featured was Band Director Drew Umphlett on the Thanks to Teachers segment.

Jonathan Buck, Cody Maney and Zeb Mathis wrote the script and served as student leaders for the Scotts Creek “Leader in Me Kickoff.”

On Friday, Bristol Brown, Ellen Mathis, Gavin Jones and Eason Ange were the leaders interviewed by WRGC radio.

Cullowhee Valley will host an author’s visit in November. Nadine James, co-author of “Memoir Your Way,” will be spending time with students to kick off a school-wide memoir-writing program. A Student Work Showcase is coming in the Spring.

Until next month, continue to engage in education.

Kim Elliott is superintendent of Jackson County Public Schools.