Dana Ayers superintendent

Ayers

Winter is upon us, and we are focused on ways to keep our students engaged while remaining healthy. We are also midway through the second quarter of school and looking forward to the holiday season. Our students and staff have accepted the challenge of a pandemic school year and are thriving in the classrooms! 

This month, JCPS is saluting our employees who are veterans. There are 15 staff members across the district who have served in a variety of military roles and locations. While I am grateful for their service to our students, I am enormously grateful for their service to our country!

We are honoring these heroes with a special luncheon and billboard displays around Sylva. Look for those veterans’ names along with “then and now” photos. Though all of our veterans did not wish to be publicly recognized, we acknowledge their sacrifice. Happy Veterans Day to our JCPS veterans.

JCPS continues to do very well in regards to COVID spread. The numbers as of last Friday show a low positivity rate and our quarantine numbers remain very low. As announced in the national news last week, children ages 5-11 are now eligible for the COVID vaccine.

Some JCPS schools, along with local churches and the recreation center, are sites for the optional family vaccination clinics. Again, these clinics are after school hours and completely optional. Please know that at no time have I had any planning or initiative discussions to mandate COVID vaccines for students.

I am excited to continue school in a somewhat normal manner where our focus is on student academic success and learning. I encourage families to continue the outstanding support of their students and staff in JCPS.

Lastly, I want to share a statement crafted by the JCPS Board of Education and I to address Critical Race Theory. 

Critical Race theory continues to be a topic that solicits a range of emotions and questions from stakeholders. JCPS has shared the statement below over the past several months. However, both the Board of Education and I wish to share additional information.

“In regards to CRT, Jackson County Public Schools will teach the standards as required by the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. We will teach history in an unbiased and factual manner. Most importantly, we will follow the N.C. curriculum standards for social studies and history to ensure JCPS students receive appropriate, standard-aligned instruction.” 

Additionally, our values in JCPS are clearly stated and shared: 

• Safe and inclusive environments.

• Respectful and nurturing relationships.

• High expectations.

• Continuous growth and improvement.

• Partnerships with families and communities.

These values and our drive to provide unbiased instruction to students means that we are teaching students to be kind, respectful and inclusive of all people regardless of race, ethnicity or gender. We are not teaching students to demoralize, judge or degrade each other based on past historical incidents.

Dana Ayers is superintendent of Jackson County Public Schools.