New Bern received a mediocre score for family friendliness in North Carolina from WalletHub, a website that produces data-driven articles ranking various subjects in various categories.
In ranking North Carolina cities for “2019’s Best Places to Raise a Family in North Carolina,” New Bern ranked 56th out of 87 cities. The top-ranked city was Cary, while coming in at 87th was Laurinburg.
In Eastern North Carolina, Havelock — you read that right — was the highest rated city in the survey, coming in at 35th. Other Eastern NC cities were Wilmington (44th), Greenville (53rd), Jacksonville (59th), Wilson (70th), Elizabeth City (75th), Tarboro (77th), Goldsboro (81st), and Kinston (84th).
Taking just Eastern North Carolina cities into account, then, New Bern ranked fourth, just behind Greenville and ahead of Jacksonville.
The rankings took into consideration 10 metrics, of which New Bern did better than average in just three: violent-crime rate per capita, unemployment rate, and playgrounds per capita.
New Bern ranked low in several categories, including percentage of families with children under age 17, median family income, and high school graduation rate. It rated near the bottom — 72nd — in housing affordability.
New Bern appears at the top of many lists, from Top Charming Small Towns to Top Small Retirement Towns, but these are typically niche categories. Raising a family is about as fundamental to a city’s purpose as you can get, and New Bern’s ranking, indeed rankings of all Eastern North Carolina cities, should raise some red flags and help policymakers in making decisions.
The data used in these rankings is entirely publicly available, and is the same information that companies look at when determining expansion and relocations.
True, New Bern is constantly looking for ways to up its game. But take one example, the planned Martin-Marietta Park. New Bern already ranks high for playgrounds per capita (24th in the state). Martin-Marietta Park won’t move the bar one iota in rankings such as these, even if it’s a park that is physically larger than most of Craven County’s smaller cities.
The focus should be where New Bern and Craven County are average or weak — median family income, quality of school system, high school graduation rate, poverty rate, and perhaps foremost, housing affordability.
Here are specific rankings for New Bern:
Raising a Family in New Bern (1=Best; 43=Avg.; 87=Worst)
64th– % of Families with Children Aged 0 to 17
57th– Median Family Income (adjusted for cost of living)
From left, Dr. Sam Houston, Dr. Tosha Diggs, and Jack Hoke.
The North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association (NCSSA) and the North Carolina Alliance for School Leadership Development (NCASLD) has announced the selection of Tosha Diggs as a recipient of the Dr. Samuel Houston Leadership Award.
This annual award is presented to a graduate of the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association Aspiring Superintendent Program, a program which is designed to empower transformational education leaders for North Carolina’s public schools.
The award is named in honor of Dr. Samuel Houston, who is president and chief executive officer of the North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center.
Houston served as superintendent of the Mooresville Graded School District for 10 years where he opened the first year round school in North Carolina.
He has been a champion for strategic planning, student performance and accountability, meeting the needs of the 21st century workforce, skills for the STEM world and building education partnerships. Dr. Houston also served as the first executive director of the University of North Carolina Center for Leadership Development.
Houston was awarded the Jay Robinson Leadership Award as an Exemplary Educator for his outstanding contributions to statewide public K–12 education. He also earned the RJR-Nabisco Foundation’s China Breaker Award for implementing educational change. He has been inducted into the Appalachian State University Reich College of Education’s Rhododendron Society and the East Carolina University’s Education Hall of Fame and has received the Distinguished Career Award from the University of North Carolina – Greensboro School of Education.
Jack Hoke, executive director of the North Carolina School Superintendents’ Association, said that Diggs exemplifies the traits that have guided Dr. Samuel Houston’s career in educational leadership. She has a commitment to continuous improvement, high standards of ethical conduct, strategic planning, improving student performance and meeting the needs of the 21st century workforce.
Diggs is the director of secondary education for Craven County Schools. With almost 22 years in education, she has been a high school principal, assistant principal, school counselor, and coach. She works with Craven County’s middle and high schools to help prepare young people for the future. As a former North Carolina Teaching Fellow and college student-athlete, she values the experiences that students and educators can embark upon when they work together and take advantage of all learning opportunities.
Craven County Schools’ Superintendent Meghan Doyle said, “Dr. Diggs is a phenomenal educational leader in Craven County Schools. What is impressive about Dr. Diggs is her thoughtful and caring approach to supporting and empowering the leaders of our district. I have no doubt that Dr. Diggs will continue to expand her reach beyond the borders of Craven County to impact the state of North Carolina in important and profound ways. I am humbled to be her colleague and learn from her leadership daily.”
Diggs said of the award and the program: “It is an honor to receive an award named for Dr. Houston, who is such a valuable contributor to the field of education. I hope to make his legacy proud through the work that I do every day. Servant leadership is important to the success of our students, educators, and community, and the lessons I’ve learned through this program will aid my professional growth to continue serving. This experience has been extremely enriching and inspiring, and I am grateful to have met such motivational educators from around our state.”
Because of the effort put forth by (pictured from left) Don Brinkley (PIE board member), Paul Brown, Pat Gulley, Chip Chagnon, Esther Patterson, Diane Bondurant, Brad Langhans, Mike McCoy (PIE board member), Katy Chadwick, and Debbie Hodges (not pictured), Brinkley said, “we can truly say that we have made our corner of the world a little better.” Submitted photo
In August 2018, Partners In Education (PIE), the local education foundation for Craven County Schools, had just held its Stuff the Bus campaign in preparation for the school year.
PIE received $35,000 worth of school supplies – a record amount – and Craven County Schools was well on its way to start a new school year with lots of school supplies.
Just a few short weeks later, Hurricane Florence hit Craven County, and Eastern North Carolina was devastated. Craven County Schools alone had over $9 million in damage. Many schools were used as shelters, and due to the damage, could not reopen for weeks.
Once the board of directors of PIE realized that much of the supplies received from Stuff the Bus had been damaged, they decided, as Diane Bingler Bondurant tagged it, to #ReStufftheBus.
With Craven County Schools Central Services office unable to accept school supplies, Chip Chagnon, board president of Craven County ABC, quickly stepped up and agreed to accept school supplies from all over the country. The staff at ABC Board hung the PIE “Stuff the Bus” banner on the front of their building so people would know where to go and the ABC office and warehouse became an unofficial annex for PIE.
Supplies were delivered in vans, trucks, the trunks of cars, and any other way that people could deliver the much needed supplies.
The ABC staff of Paul Brown, Esther Blevins Patterson, and Pat Gulley, never hesitated to help those delivering items with unloading their vehicles. Many a hand cart and pallet load full of supplies were unloaded.
As the supplies were delivered, Bradley A Langhans, Diane Bondurant, Katy Gwaltney Chadwick, and Debbie Lynn Hodges (who was not able to attend the presentation) stepped in. They called in an army of teachers who organized the school supplies and personal care items for disbursement.
After the supplies were organized, over 100 teachers who had been affected and displaced by the hurricane came to the ABC warehouse to get personal care items and school supplies for themselves, their classrooms, and their students.
The story doesn’t end here. Because of their generosity, PIE was able to accept supplies well into November. The ABC Board used their truck, and Paul Brown and Brad Langhans were able to deliver the sorted school supplies directly to each school as they reopened, replenishing the lost supplies they received earlier in the year from the original Stuff the Bus.
Don Brinkley, PIE president, says his best guesstimate is that PIE received and disbursed well over $70,000 in donations.
There were many hugs and tears shared as teachers came in to pick up supplies, even those personally affected by the hurricane came to help with the sorting. Brinkley said, “What did we learn? That there are no small acts of kindness. Every kind act creates a ripple without end.”
In 2017, our local Wells Fargo representatives recognized the need for technology in Craven County Schools’ classroom, and together with Partners In Education, established the Wells Fargo Tech Grant. This grant seeks to engage our students using the most advanced technology available and demonstrates Wells Fargo’s commitment to improving the educational experience in our public school classrooms.
The winner of the 2018-19 Wells Fargo Tech Grant is Claudia Casey and Michelle Smith with Tucker Creek Middle for their grant, “Building Logic and Reasoning Skills with Ozobots.” The $2,500 check was awarded at the January Principals’ End of Month Meeting. If you would like to learn how your organization can make a difference through Craven County Schools’ local education foundation, PIE, contact Darlene Brown, Executive Director, at 252-514-6321.
Partners In Education (PIE) has partnered with Toyota of New Bern to offer a technology grant of $3,000 to Craven County Schools principals to create a dynamic learning environment with the goal of equipping students with the 21st century skills necessary for post-secondary education and/or workforce readiness.
The awarding for the 2018-19 Toyota of New Bern Tech Grant went to Jerry Simmons and Shelby Ye, New Bern High, for their grant, “Don’t Stop — Collaborate and Listen.”
Paul McDonald and the staff at Toyota of New Bern provided the funding for this grant.
If you would like to learn how your organization can make a difference through Craven County Schools’ local education foundation, PIE, contact Darlene Brown, Executive Director, at 252-514-6321.
Pictured are PIE board representatives, from left, Ervin Patrick (past president), Darlene Brown (executive director), Sherri Thomas, William Byland, Lori Worley, with Mr. McDonald presenting the check to Jerry Simmons, and PIE board members, Dr. NeShawn Dawson and Debbie Hurst.
Looking for the perfect way to have a delicious pancake breakfast before visiting Santa in Bear Plaza, taking in some shopping, and enjoying the many activities happening during the holiday season in beautiful, historic downtown New Bern?
Join Pancakes for PIE at Morgan’s Tavern & Grill, 235 Craven St. Breakfast will be served Saturday, Dec. 15, from 7– 10 a.m. to benefit Partners In Education, the local education foundation for Craven County Schools. Morgan’s will be festively decorated for the holiday season and is the perfect setting to start your day with pancakes, bacon, sausage, fruit cup, orange juice, coffee, and water. All this for just $7 per adult, and $5 for children 12 and under. Reservations are not required as this is a pay at the door event. Debit, credit cards, checks, and cash are accepted. In order to expedite seating, have checks or cash ready.
Where & Who: Morgan’s, 235 Craven St., Downtown New Bern
What: Pancakes for PIE – Delicious pancake, bacon, sausage, fruit, orange juice, coffee & water breakfast for $7/adult, $5/children 12 and under
When: Saturday, December 15, 7:00 – 10:00 am
Why: To benefit Partners In Education, the local education foundation for Craven County Schools
Don Brinkley, PIE Board President, explains, “This event is open to the public and is an excellent opportunity for our community to show their support for Craven County Schools. Morgan’s is generously donating all proceeds from the breakfast to PIE, who will use the funds to support our local schools through PIE grant programs. Serving our pancakes will be Morgan’s staff along with PIE volunteers consisting of teachers, school staff members, and community supporters.”
Brandy Popp, Chair of the PIE Fund Raising Committee, said, “It is so very giving of Adam and Candice Simmons and their employees to provide the staffing, food, and venue for this event. We all know Morgan’s dishes up excellent food and our volunteers are always up for serving some ‘PIE’! We are absolutely thrilled Morgan’s is hosting Pancakes for PIE and we encourage everyone to bring the whole family and spend the day in beautiful downtown New Bern! We have sent a special invitation to Santa and we are hoping he will be on hand to share holiday cheer!”
For more information about Pancakes for PIE, or other programs offered by PIE, contact Darlene Brown, Executive Director, Craven County Partners In Education, at 514-6321 or www.CravenPartners.com.
Partners In Education is a 501(c)3 nonprofit Local Education Foundation that provides grant funding and special programs to classrooms and schools within the Craven County Schools system.
Since 1989, PIE has been changing the lives of students and families in our community by providing our educators with financial resources that enhance and reward innovative approaches to educational excellence.
Michelle Lee, Principal of Roger Bell New Tech Academy, has been selected as the 2018-19 Principal of the Year for Craven County Schools.
In her role as Principal of the Year, she will serve as the local adviser to the Board of Education and will represent Craven County Schools in local, regional and state events.
Lee’s selection qualifies her to compete with other local award recipients for the Southeast Regional Principal of the Year title. From the regional winners, one will be named the 2019 NC Wells Fargo Principal of the Year.
Lee was one of the two finalists that interviewed with a local selection committee on Oct. 24.
During her interview, Lee stated that she has been lucky to be able to create the environment that exists at Roger Bell this year.
“This has been the greatest gift to be able to build basically a new school from the ground up. I’m not going to say that it wasn’t hard, because it was.”
Lee said parents had to learn to trust her and know that she was there for the long haul.
“I had some parents to push back on me, but I let them know that I wanted to make good decisions for their family.”
Changes made to the school by Principal Lee include hiring Instructional Coaches to assist teachers and creating a space where lessons are modeled and practiced by teachers while receiving real-time feedback.
“I’m completely invested in the school, parents and the children there, and they know that I care about their children. During the hurricane, I had parents to call me and ask for help. They now look at the school as a resource and we want to be able to provide them with resources and services outside of the traditional scope. We have to deal with basic needs before we can start working on higher order thinking skills.”
Lee said that her goals were to hire strong teachers for every classroom, be highly-visible in the building and to create an environment where teachers can get their work done at the school, and then go home and have family time.
“These things allow teachers to re-energize and it builds community. We’re all in this together and I wouldn’t ask them to do anything that I wasn’t willing to do. I’m willing to get into the weeds with them and get the job done.”
The Wells Fargo Principal of the Year Award was introduced in 1984 to recognize outstanding leadership in North Carolina’s schools and the role of the principal in establishing an environment conducive to the pursuit and achievement of academic excellence. Wells Fargo sponsors the award in conjunction with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.
Each district winner will receive monetary awards from Wells Fargo in recognition of their achievement and will continue in the regional selection process. The culmination of the Principal of the Year Program is a ceremony in Raleigh where the statewide winner is announced.
The announcement is set to coincide with the N.C. State Board of Education meeting. The N.C. State Superintendent and other State Board members will also attend this event.
Partners In Education and Craven County Schools, Craven Smart Start and Newspapers In Education, are providing an opportunity for our community to donate books for Craven County Schools’ media centers and classrooms. The Book Drive will take place Nov. 5-9.
The drop-off locations are: Craven County Schools Central Services/Partners In Education at 3600 Trent Road, Craven Smart Start at 2111-F Neuse Blvd., AlphaGraphics at 3731 Trent Road, Century 21 Zaytoun-Raines at 312 S. Front St., and the Sun Journal at 3200 Wellons Blvd.
Brandy Popp, PIE Fund Raising Committee Chair, said, “The most successful way to improve the reading achievement of our children is to increase their access to print. Communities ranking high in achievement tests have several factors in common: an abundance of books in public libraries, easy access to books in the community at large, and a large number of classroom books per student. Commit yourself to increasing student reading achievement and literacy in Craven County by giving to our Book Drive.”
Popp said, “Last year, through the generosity of our community, Partners In Education was able to donate thousands of books to our classrooms and media centers and to Craven Smart Start. Based on this success, Partners In Education is recruiting the help of all our community partners so that we are able reach more students this year. Please think of books for all of our school children, PreK-13.”
The donated books will be made available to Craven Smart Start and Craven County Schools teachers for their classrooms at a Book Giveaway.
Partners In Education is an education foundation that provides grant funding and special programs to classrooms and schools within the Craven County Schools system.
For more information about this event, or how you can support PIE, contact Darlene Brown, at 514-6321, or at Darlene.Brown@Cravenk12.org. Visit the PIE website at www.CravenPartners.com to learn more about this program and others offered by Partners In Education.
Since 1988, PIE has been changing the lives of students and families in our community by providing our educators with financial resources that enhance and reward innovative approaches to educational excellence.
The impact of the 2018 tropical systems in North Carolina wasn’t confined to coastal areas. Near the state’s geographical center, the route of N.C. 42 through Carbonton runs under floodwaters from the Deep River on Sept. 18, in eastern Chatham County, near Lee and Moore counties. Courtesy of the N.C. Department of Transportation.
CAROLINA PUBLIC PRESS | Hurricanes Florence and Michael caused school districts in their paths to miss several days of school. The state is helping districts avoid official penalties, but educators across the state are divided about the long-term wisdom of losing so many days of instruction.
As school districts recovered from Florence, Gov. Roy Cooper signed legislation Oct. 3 to grant calendar flexibility to schools in districts with federal disaster declarations. This allows the districts to waive up to 20 days of absences if they choose to. That choice isn’t necessarily automatic.
According to the N.C. Department of Public Safety, 30 counties have been federally declared for both individual assistance and public assistance, and 11 counties have been declared for public assistance only. School districts located in counties with either of these types of declarations can take advantage of the waiver policy. Although the legislation originally applied to those affected by Florence, it also covers districts with declarations due to Michael.
Valita Quattlebaum, chief communications officer for New Hanover County Schools, said her district will be using this waiver in addition to creating a new calendar to recoup days. Hurricane Florence heavily affected the coastal district’s schools and means of transportation, she said.
“We were out 17 days,” Quattlebaum said. “We had to get our buildings cleaned up, we had to clear up debris and make our campus safe enough for students to go into. We had repairs to do, get rid of damaged furniture, things that had gotten wet.”