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Education briefs: RSS hosts beginning teacher conference 

SALISBURY — Rowan-Salisbury Schools welcomed 51 newly hired first-year teachers at its beginning teacher conference, coined Destination Extraordinary 2021, at Salisbury High School last week. Professional development was also provided to 22 returning teachers in year two who missed last year’s event due to COVID-19.

Beginning teachers went through orientation with the support of others and were able to build relationships with one another before the start of the 2021-2022 school year to prepare for a smooth entry into the classroom. 

“We are so appreciative of the experienced teachers, directors, and administrators who participated in the event leading sessions,” said Director of Induction Susan Heaggans. “We would also like to thank the planning committee, RSS School Nutrition for providing meals, Salisbury High School administrators and staff for hosting us, and our business partners for joining our event and donating door prizes.” 

Door prizes and resources were donated by the Chamber of Commerce, Novant Health, PFS Investments, Horace Mann, Spice and Tea Exchange, Holy Grind Coffee, Rowan-Salisbury Association of Educators, N.C. State Employees’ Credit Union, Professional Educators of NC, Samantha Allen-Realtor, Delta Kappa Gamma, Sharonview Credit Union, and schools within the district.

RCCC holds special completion ceremony for SOAR participants

SALISBURY – Rowan-Cabarrus Community College recently held a completion ceremony for 21 students in its Skills, Opportunity, Awareness, Readiness program. The program helps adults with intellectual disabilities acquire literacy and life skills to become more independent.

Those completing the program walked the red carpet to receive their diplomas and were congratulated by college faculty and staff, friends and family. The College created a festive atmosphere for the ceremony, with music, signs, tents, firetrucks, and a large American flag flying above the event site at North Campus. The College’s mascot, a red-tailed hawk named Beacon, also was on hand to congratulate the graduates on their accomplishments and pose for photos.

“We take great pride in the fact that our institution values everyone, and we are one of only a handful of community colleges offering a specific program designed for students with intellectual disabilities or traumatic brain injuries,” said Rowan-Cabarrus Executive Director of Adult Education and Literacy Jay Taylor. “We began the SOAR program at the North Campus in the fall of 2011 with just six students and, to date, we have proudly served over 100 students in Rowan County. Our campus community has embraced this amazing population. In fact, some of our former students have been hired by our institution and are now working alongside us as our colleagues.”

Evelyn Medina, owner of Mean Mug Coffee Company in downtown Salisbury, also has welcomed program students to work at her business doing tasks such as folding napkins or serving drinks to customers.

“The idea of our partnership with the SOAR program was to bring people with cognitive disabilities into the community, not only to teach them soft skills and how to participate, but so that the community will recognize and appreciate them,” Medina said. “The SOAR program is incredibly important, not only for the disabled adults it serves, but for the community as a whole. Sometimes people with disabilities – or as I say, people who are “differently able” – stay in the shadows. If we leave them there, they will not be able to reach the fulfilled life they deserve. They deserve to thrive. If we give them the opportunity, they will show us how high they can ‘soar.’ ”

The program curriculum focuses on helping individuals become more independent and self-directed by teaching specific skills needed to function successfully in daily life. Classes are built around each student’s unique strengths and goals, covering functional academics, community living, health and safety, leisure activities, and humanities. Students use computers and other technology and participate in campus and community activities.

To be eligible to participate in the program, an individual must be 18 or older, not enrolled in the public school system, and either be diagnosed with an intellectual disability or functioning at the level of intellectual disability due to a head injury or brain damage. Students must achieve a minimum test score to be considered for enrollment and demonstrate progress to remain in classes. Program classes are offered at no cost to the student.

“We are passionate about meeting all students where they are and empowering them to go as far as they can go,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “We are so proud of our graduating SOAR students. We celebrate their accomplishments, and we also treasure the many wonderful lessons they have taught us.”

The SOAR program is accepting new students. For more information, contact Bridget Henderson at Bridget.Henderson@rccc.edu or 704-216-3657, or Mandy Thacker at Mandy.Thacker@rccc.edu or 704-216-3761, or visit www.rccc.edu/precollege/about-the-soar-program. For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit www.rccc.edu or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).

Bright Ideas Early Bird Deadline Approaching for Local Teachers to Win One of Five $100 Visa Gift Cards

STATESVILLE – Time is running out for local K-12 teachers to apply for grants of up to $2,000 from EnergyUnited through the Bright Ideas Education Grant Program. Educators with creative project ideas who submit their application by August 16 will be entered to win one of five $100 Visa gift cards in a statewide drawing. Interested teachers can find the application, along with grant-writing tips and program information, on the Bright Ideas website at ncbrightideas.com.

EnergyUnited will award more than $40,000 this year to local educators for projects across all grade levels and subjects. Teachers at qualifying schools across the cooperative’s 19-county service area can apply for grants individually or as a team. Teachers are encouraged to apply for funding to support innovative, creative projects that will benefit students whether they are in the classroom or learning remotely.

EnergyUnited is one of 26 electric cooperatives in North Carolina offering Bright Ideas grants to local teachers. Since 1994, North Carolina’s electric cooperatives have awarded more than $13.6 million in Bright Ideas funding for 12,922 projects supporting teachers and benefitting more than 2.7 million students.

The Bright Ideas grant program is part of EnergyUnited’s ongoing commitment to build a Brighter Future for our community. To learn more about this and other community outreach efforts, visit energyunited.com.

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