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50 things about Overton Elementary: Part five

By Mary Allen Conforti

Special to the Post

SALISBURY — No organization can succeed without leadership. A classroom, a group and a school are no exception. Leadership steers the ship, and Overton has invested greatly into today’s leaders on all levels.

Ten: A school’s heart is its teachers. One of Overton’s newest teachers has already displayed her leadership skills and her love for her students. Catheran Johns is a first grade teacher and teaches much more than reading and math. At the core of her class are two lessons: positivity and patience. Thank you, Ms. Johns!

Nine: No school day would be complete without the help of school volunteers. Our Communities In Schools volunteers work throughout the school in tasks big and small, and no one exemplifies that better than Shelley Allison. She is the mother of two sons who attend Overton (Wyatt, fifth grade and Liam, fourth grade) and she volunteers regularly in the media center and in the CCAC classrooms. You can find her helping scholars check out books, assisting Ms. Tucker in the media center or leading story time for scholars in the exceptional children classrooms.

Eight: One of our student ambassadors at Overton is Josephina Huynh in Mrs. Cross’s class. “Ambassador” is a big word for a first-grader, but her teachers tell us that she displays leadership well beyond her seven years and earns her title daily. She shows responsibility and kindness to others, and we think her leadership is only just beginning.

Seven: What do running, raising, dancing and cheering have in common? Our PTA President Kari Hippert. She runs the PTA meetings, raises thousands of dollars, coordinates school dances and tirelessly cheers on our staff, teachers and volunteers. Thank you, Kari!

Six: Our noted list of leaders must include our “proud Principal” GeRita Walden. Now in her second year at Overton, she is seeing the school culture changes that she envisioned and is constantly pushing scholars and staff to learn and grow. When asked to describe her leadership style in one word, she said, “responsive.”

Five: This year’s student body president is fifth-grader Raja Blankenship. “To be a good leader, you need to understand the people you’re around. You also need to make sure that if you make a promise, you need to be prepared to help them all,” he said.

Four: One of Overton PTA’s annual fundraisers is the Coin Challenge when students bring in coins (and bills as way of friendly sabotage) for a week and compete by classes to raise money for PTA projects. Laura Zimmerman-Clark’s group of third-graders led the way in this year’s Coin Challenge held in March. Their class brought in $248.09 to help raise funds for new outdoor equipment and earned themselves a doughnut party. Sweet success.

Three: Each scholar began using Achieve3000 this year as a reading enhancement program on their iPads. Students are encouraged to read articles at their gauged ability level, answer multiple choice and thought questions and “achieve” a success rate of 75 percent or better at all times. Many students have excelled and already reached 50 or more articles to date, but one scholar has really pushed himself and is well on his way to 100 Achieve3000 articles. Congratulations to fifth-grader Jerome Blakeney for being a leader in reading!

Two: This list of leaders is all about singing praises, so the honors chorus is next! As part of the district-wide honors chorus program, Overton has a group of fifth-graders who auditioned and rehearsed to be a part of the Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ Honors Chorus Festival in March.

One: To round out our list of things about Overton, let’s go back to the beginning – kindergarten. Our youngest scholars today can also be big leaders tomorrow. One kindergartener, Will Rogers, had this to say about his school: “Overton is great because you can learn to read and write. My teacher reads us stories all the time and she is the best teacher in the world!”

Thank you for reading along with us this year and helping us celebrate Overton Elementary’s 50th year of educating. We offered a list of 10 discoveries, 10 celebrations, 10 innovations, 10 pieces of history and this final list of 10 leadership profiles. Come and be a part of the ongoing story at Overton. We will lead the way.

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