Board of Education discusses new contract for international teacher support services

Bright Ideas Grant winners recognized

Correction: It was initially reported that the board voted to approve the contract with the Global Teaching Partners for international teach support services in their last regular business meeting on January 10. The board actually voted to table the matter until a pricing sheet with the fees and pricing terms for these teachers could be provided to the board. The contract has not yet been approved at this time.

RAEFORD — The Hoke County Board of Education met Tuesday, January 10, where they recognized a few award winners in the district as well as approved a new contract and budget amendment.

The board was first presented with the 2022 Bright Ideas Grant Award winners.

“For nearly 30 years, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives have helped light up learning in K-12 classrooms statewide through what’s known as the Bright Ideas Educational Grant Program,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Dawn Ramseur. “What happens is these North Carolina teachers have these innovative ideas and creative learning projects, and they can submit them online between April and September. Approximately 600 of those submissions are awarded annually.”

Hoke County School ended up with two Bright Idea winners, Niquette Dockery from Scurlock Elementary School and Sarah Latta-Johnson From Rockfish Hoke Elementary School.

Dockery’s idea was for a project titled Learn Through Play which emphasizes play-based learning, which focuses on developing a child in a more natural environment that most younger learners are accustomed to. 

According to Dockery, learning through play encourages a student’s inquisitive nature, builds their confidence, helps with social-emotional learning, and develops cognitive skills. Through constant interaction, students develop social skills which are crucial in life and will help develop the whole child and foster imagination and creativity. 

Latta-Johnson’s idea was entitled STEM for the Future.

“This was the first year we had STEM, and so we really didn’t have much, but what I’ve noticed that the kids really enjoy is hands-on, and we’re really trying to focus on the engineering and design process so that when they are trying to design something or come up with a solution to a problem they really need to think out their design first before they start to implement,” said Latta-Johnson.

The board also handed out the NCDPI Academic Growth Awards for the 2021-22 school year. 

“Academic growth is an indication of the progress that students in the schools have made over the previous year,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Shannon Register. “The standard is roughly equated to a year’s worth of expanded growth for a year of instruction as measured by EVAS, which stands for Education Value-added Assessment System – a statistical tool that NC uses to measure student growth when common assessments are administered.”

The five schools that exceeded growth were Hawk Eye Elementary, Hoke County High, SandHoke Early College High, Scurlock Elementary, and Upchurch Elementary, and the schools that met growth were Don D. Steed Elementary, Rockfish Hoke Elementary, Sandy Grove Elementary, West Hoke Elementary and West Hoke Middle.

The board then approved an amendment to the 2022-23 State Budget to account for differences between projected and actual enrollment numbers. 

“As stated earlier, NCDPI projected the number of students that Hoke County Schools will have for the fiscal year,” said Financial Officer Wannaa Chavis. “Our projected Average Daily Membership (ADM) was 9,088. After two months of school, NCDPI looks at the actual number of students enrolled in school in Month 1 and Month 2 and whichever is greater is the number they used to determine if there will be a budget revision. Our actual ADM for month 1 was 8,498, and for Month Two, it was 8,665. Therefore the ADM for Month Two – 8,665 was used for our budget revision which is a difference of 423 students less than what was projected in our initial budget allotment.”

The difference accounts for about $804,520.52 in funding that will return to the state’s budget. According to Chavis, some of the differences in actual enrollment numbers can be attributed to an uptick in enrollment in charter schools.

Finally, the board approved a new partnership and contract with Global Teaching Partners for the acquisition of international teachers.

“This is a new organization that will be an international partnership that will sponsor our J-1 Visa teachers and international faculty, which was previously referred to as our visiting international faculty or VIF,” said Assistant Superintendent Shawn O’Connor.

According to O’Connor, Hoke County Schools currently has established partnerships with Participate (8 teachers in the district) and Education Partners Internationals (22 teachers), which are officially recognized cultural exchange programs by the US Department of State and provide J-1 Visas, meaning these teachers go through federal screening. These visas cover three years and can be extended for an additional two.

Some of the other services these partners cover are teaching experience reviews, educational program audits, instructional and behavioral interviews and observations, english language proficiency assessments, cultural adaptiveness assessments, state licensure reviews, international background checks, and specifically Global Teaching Partners helps provide specific NC teacher training.

Global Teaching Partners, however, is located in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, and they do all of their business only in North Carolina and South Carolina.

“We’re not just filling vacancies with these individuals,” O’Connor said. “The people that we have gotten, their attrition rate, which means they come back every year and don’t quit their job, is so much lower than all of our other teachers. They typically stay their five years, and a lot of them are very effective teachers. These are quality individuals who want to be here to teach our kids, and with the J-1 Visa, they’re here for five years.”

Hoke County Schools currently has 30 international employees from eight different countries across nine different schools.

The Hoke County Board of Education will next meet February 14.