By Robert J. Sivori
North Duplin Jr./Sr. High School Principal Anthony Jones is still the high-caliber, proper-education-driven math teacher who spent over 17 years in the classroom before moving up to school administration. Now, back at North Duplin, his headquarters experience will continue to improve ND’s student performance and increase the graduation percentage.
STEM to STEAMA
STEAMA adds to the original S-T-E-M acronym. One “A” stands for “Art,” music, or painting. The second “A” is more practical for Duplin County’s main industry. “Over the years we have seen Duplin County graduates leave for college,” Jones said, “and never return, because it’s just a farming community. We needed to emphasize that Agriculture depends heavily on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.”
Jones related that an influential county resident was shocked recently when his daughter made an offhand comment: “Daddy, you’re only a farmer.” For many years, farming has employed STEM in determining feed mixtures, crop sizing, types of fertilization, and farm equipment design. Farmers also use drone and GPS technology. Jones continued, “It seemed prudent to include another ‘A’ for ‘Agriculture’ to STEM. In Duplin County Schools, the FFA will be the focal point of ‘Agriculture’ for all students.”
Virtual vs Teacher and Teacher Success
North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) has impacted student learning. Classwork and homework assignments are online using a “remote teacher,” available via email. Most final exams and end of grade tests also rely on NCVPS.
Teachers’ success depends upon student cooperation, response to the teaching methods, and a willingness to learn outside the school setting. “Measured by school statistics, success is not guaranteed to the ‘best’ teachers,” reflected Jones. “Many variables need to line up along with parent involvement to produce an educated child.”
Principal Jones will continue the “no cellphone in class” policy, in concurrence with the School Improvement Team. When students arrive on campus, cell phones will be turned off and placed in backpacks except for during lunch time. “Teachers may still utilize their students’ phones at their discretion for class exercises.”
School Year 2018-2019
Mr. Jones is looking forward to a successful year and improving on the average graduation rate of the county schools, which currently rests at 87%. “That doesn’t mean that North Duplin is at 87%. We have consistently exceeded many of the DCS statistics for student performance and graduation rate over the years. My plan is to continue that tradition.
“I am delighted to be back.”