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We are approaching the conclusion of the first quarter of school here in Jackson County Public Schools and it has been outstanding. To see the staff’s dedication to our students as they strive to have school in a normal manner is amazing. I am in awe of the commitment to learning that our students, staff, families and community exhibit!

This new year has brought some challenges but ones we have been able to overcome. As for COVID, JCPS is in an excellent position with our positivity rate. We have less than 1 percent positivity rate this week and have been able to manage spread with fidelity. This, again, shows our faithfulness to cleaning and mask-wearing so that quarantine numbers also remain very low.

I am really excited to share that October is National Principals Month! We have nine incredibly focused principals who lead Jackson County Public Schools. Our principals are navigating through some of the most difficult educational times anyone has ever experienced. I commend each of them for their hard work and drive. We will be providing a special luncheon later this month to honor our principals.

 

I want to include the names of these stellar principals:

• April Bryson, Scotts Creek.

• Kheri Cowan, Blue Ridge School.

• Kathryn Kantz, Cullowhee Valley.

• Eleanor Macaulay, Fairview.

• Mike Treadway, Smokey Mountain Elementary. 

• Evelyn Graning, Smoky Mountain High.

• Melanie Jacobs, Jackson County Early College. 

• Brandon Pendergast, Blue Ridge Early College.

• Heather Reidinger, Jackson Community School. 

 

One major challenge we are having in JCPS is staffing. Like many local businesses, we are struggling to fill positions such as school nutrition, bus drivers, custodians and teacher assistants. The vacant positions that we have are heavily impacting transportation of students.

While we offer transportation as a service for families, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get students home in a timely manner as a result of the bus driver shortage. If you are interested in applying for any of these positions, please visit our website at jcpsnc.org and visit Human Resources under the Departments tab.

Our use of the new Wit & Wisdom curriculum is making excellent progress. Now that all the materials have arrived and are in the hands of instructional staff, we are seeing the excitement for and rigor in the new curriculum. I expect these materials to allow us to make enormous student progress with reading skills.

Lastly, it feels that JCPS is indeed continuing to thrive amid the pandemic! I am so proud and honored to serve a district that is entirely focused on the learning needs as well as the social emotional needs of all of our students.

Dana Ayers is superintendent of Jackson County Public Schools.