Education roundup: School system employees celebrate their Black heritage with ‘I am Black History’ statements

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 2, 2023

SALISBURY — Numerous employees in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools system celebrated their Black heritage this month, proclaiming “I am Black History” on the school system’s Facebook page.

North Rowan High School journalism and yearbook teacher Reggie McConneaughey made the statement at the beginning of the month, but numerous others followed.

“I am Reggie McConneaughey, and I am Black History,” McConneaughey said. “It doesn’t matter what you do in life. You want someone you can relate to and have a connection with. My African American teachers left an impact, and it made me want to be a teacher.”

Similarly, Cameron Sifford, the C.T. Overton and Hanford Dole elementary schools’ physical education teacher, joined the refrain.

“I am Cameron Sifford, and I am Black History,” Sifford said. “I want my legacy as an educator to be the impact I leave on the kids. I want them to know that I care for them. I love them, and I hope that they have fun in PE. I want to be a role model for them.”

East Rowan High School career and technical education (CTE) teacher and the junior varsity men’s basketball coach Chandra Allen also joined in.

“I am Chandra Allen, and I am Black History,” Allen said. “Having my parents as African American educators means a lot. They are the reason I became a teacher. My mother has been a big inspiration to me over my 12 years of teaching and continues to support me with everything I do. She’s always there whenever I need her for advice. She’s a great role model, and I will always look up to her.”

Other staff from around the county, like the assistant principal at Corriher-Lipe Middle School, Mike Williams, and hiring specialist in the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Human Resources Department, Patrick Jones, also expressed their pride.

 “I am Mike Williams, and I am Black History,” Williams said. “I’m a small-town guy. Landis reminds me a lot of the town I grew up in, a small, quaint, tight-knit community. I find comfort here.”


Dental Health Month

CHINA GROVE — February was National Children’s Dental Health Month, and Amanda Chavis’ Bostian Elementary School class learned about caring for their teeth.

Carrie Deal, a hygienist at Branchview Dental, also visited and talked about what to expect at the dentist’s office.



CONCORD — Jeremy Howarth earned his law enforcement certification from Rowan-Cabarrus in 2022 and is now employed as an officer with the Concord Police Department. He received the Meritorious Conduct Award and was honored as Co-Worker of the Year.

“The best part of my job is keeping the community safe and contributing to making the streets safe for my children,” Howarth said.

Howarth recommends Rowan-Cabarrus for law enforcement training because of its dedicated instructors. “They show passion for their job of teaching new students coming into the field,” he said. “Take the training seriously, and you will succeed.”


Staff members of the month 

SALISBURY — The Rowan-Salisbury Schools certified staff member of the month is Jessica Draper, a first-grade teacher at Hanford Dole Elementary.

Of Draper, one parent wrote, “She is doing more than she has to for her students, being a great teacher and understanding of her students’ skills.”

Another parent who nominated Draper said, “The growth we have noticed in our son within this school year has literally brought me to tears. After choosing to hold him back this past year due to many struggles, we can finally say that he has more confidence than he ever has before.”

The classified staff member of the month was Mike Keys, a custodian at East Rowan High.

The student that nominated Keys wrote, “The reason I am nominating the custodian at East Rowan High School is because he always cares about other people and always has a smile on his face no matter how his day is going. He always makes sure that every student is having a good day, and if not, he tries to make it better. He has never complained about his job.”

Have you had an extraordinary experience with a staff member in RSS? Tell us about it. They could win a prize this month sponsored by The Forum.

Link to nominate a staff member of the month:


What the universe holds

ROCKWELL — First graders from Rockwell Elementary School enjoyed a field trip to Horizons Unlimited last month. From live animal encounters to the planetarium, students across the district have many opportunities to explore Horizons Unlimited’s hands-on science activities.


Student investment

SALISBURY — Erwin Middle School students in Tina Barkley’s personal finance class during the fall semester won first and second place in the North Carolina Western Region Stock Market Exchange Game.

Those students worked in groups to research stock-market prices and evaluate the potential of the stocks of different companies. After their evaluation, they used their virtual $100,000 to buy the stocks of their choice.

Throughout the fall semester, the groups checked their portfolios, but the groups decided to leave their investments alone as the market during this time period was not doing well.

This ride-it-out approach paid off in a first and second place win for investment growth for two groups of Ms. Barkley’s students.

Those placements were out of 31 middle school groups for the Western Region in North Carolina. They will be recognized at a banquet scheduled for the near future. In first place was Mason Mainville, Treaver Meece and Colton Paffrat, and in second place was Kiara Hamby, Sa’mya Jenkins, and Kimberlynn Marti.