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North Rowan High gets Apple innovation award

By Maggie Blackwell

For the Salisbury Post

SPENCER — North Rowan High School was named an Apple Distinguished School on Tuesday, becoming only the fourth school with the designation in the state.

There are more than 400 Apple Distinguished Schools in more than 30 nations around the world. To qualify, administrators must demonstrate innovative instruction that changes lives.

“It’s not about having the technology,” Anthony Johnson said. “It’s about how we use the
technology to transform lives.” Johnson is an “authentic work” coach at the school.

The school celebrated the news with an hourlong pep rally of sorts, with an introduction by
Principal Meredith Williams.

“Our school has a story,” Williams said. “It’s about being innovative and helping our students to
achieve their dreams.”

She compared the old model — rating everyone by test scores — to the new model —
presenting students with challenges and coaching them to do “authentic work” to resolve those

Several students told their stories about the effects of innovation in the classroom in their
lives. Malcolm Wilson, Caelan Stinson, Chase Shoaf, Nicholas Barnhardt, Da’Miriam Murphy,
Jordan Goodine, Jose Ochoa-Meja, Hannah Freeman, Mya Polk, Abbey Beam, Chloee Stoner
and Lee Patterson all spoke.

Mya and Hannah published a book documenting the journey of their challenges.

“It’s like a mini-portfolio.” Mya said. “It’s a very different experience thinking about people
reading what I wrote.”

The book encompasses multiple challenges and has reflections on the journey throughout the

Jordan Goodine has been an intern in the design class.

“It’s been so eye-opening,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about creating pictures and editing them, just learning how much goes into photography. The photos online have brought attention to our athletics. The students have appreciated seeing all the pictures in the hall.”

He and his team have been working on a documentary, “Raise Your Pants, Raise Your
Standards,” to be released Dec. 10.

“Hopefully, the film can make an impact on our community and across the world,” Jordan said.

He said students from other schools in the district have shown interest in his work. He
hopes other schools will have the opportunity to have similar classes.

Caelan Stinson hopes the news about North becoming an Apple Distinguished School will help
the community see the school in a different light.

“Our school has been known for negative stuff by other people.” Caelan said. “For them to see what we are doing is uplifting. This isn’t negative; it’s positive.”

Alexis Greer is a design teacher for freshmen. Greer said the product the students used to
create their books is made by Apple and was the perfect tool for students to explore their
journey. As students considered various resolutions to a challenge, they recorded that process
in their books.

“That’s what we want from them, the journey,” Greer explained. “The product is a means to an
end. It was important for us not to tell them we like one solution over another.”

Johnson published several of the challenge books on i-Books.

Apple representatives traveled to Spencer for Tuesday’s program. Colleen Clark of Apple spoke
to the student body, saying Apple Distinguished Schools are some of the most innovative
schools in the world and demonstrate Apple’s vision of exemplary environments. They’re centers
of leadership, she said, raising the bar in technology.

The school’s designation lasts for three years; after that, it will have to be recertified, showing even more innovation than before.

About the honor, Williams said, “This means we have an opportunity to connect with a wide
network of teachers, thinking creatively about how education should happen. It’s an
opportunity to host educators and share ideas. Teachers will also travel to present and see best

Spencer Mayor Jim Gobble, Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education member Kevin Jones and incoming Alderwoman Patti Secreast attended the program.

Secreast, a retired North educator, said she follows “True North” on Facebook and is proud of the students and staff at the school.

“We are behind this school,” she said. “All the North schools.”

Superintendent Lynn Moody congratulated the school.

“I’m very excited about the work North has done to pilot with Apple — the time, work and energy to personalize education for students,” Moody said. “Design thinking labs expose students to greater opportunities. All this comes from a great deal of hard work, and I’m very proud of them.”



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