Tag Archives: winston-salem forsyth county schools

Dull is Totally Underrated

One thing about having three teenagers is that life never seems to be dull.  Yesterday's a perfect example.  Our daughter turns 18 today (Oct 23) so we had a birthday dinner for her last night.  Unfortunately our youngest, a sophomore at West Forsyth HS, couldn't participate because he's in the Marching Band and they had a competition at North Forsyth HS.  The party went as well as you'd expect a party with a gaggle of 18 year old girls to go, and after dinner my lovely wife, Celeste, and I settled down to relax a little.  We called a friend who was at the band competition to see how it was going (West performed well) and she offered to bring our son home when the buses dropped the kids off at West.

That's when the "life is never dull" really kicked in.  About an hour after the first call our friend called back to ask if we'd heard from our son, and to tell us that there'd been an accident involving one of the buses carrying the band (it ended up there were two buses involved).  Her son was on the bus, but she wasn't sure if ours was.  Celeste called our son's cell and he answered and said that he was on a different bus and that they were pulled over at the scene of the accident.  Celeste then traded calls with our friend and found out that her son was banged up, but was being released to them by the EMTs.  Unfortunately six students and the bus driver had to be sent to the hospital.

We've heard varying reports from our son and other folks about the accident (fuel was leaking from the bus, one of the sax players had his mouth piece driven into his arm, one girl couldn't remember where she was, etc.), and there was a brief story on WXII's website, but the best info I've seen came in emails from the band's director Mr. Kirkpatrick and West Forsyth's principal Mr. Telford.

Before I share them I want to tell you that our son's experience in Marching Band has been a revelation.  As someone who's spent many of his years on a variety of courts and fields playing and coaching different sports I thought I understood teamwork.  Honestly I think marching band is exponentially harder in many ways.  It's hard enough getting 11 kids moving in tandem on a soccer field, but the marching band pulls it off with 100 kids and to do it they spend innumerable hours rehearsing, often in stifling heat or brittle cold, and by engaging student leaders and dozens of parent volunteers. I'm also blown away by the camaraderie that the kids show – I've seen tight teams before but I've never seen a group of kids like this.  Like I said it's been a revelation, and it explains why I'm not surprised that things unfolded the way Mr. Telford and Mr. Kirkpatrick describe:

From Mr. Telford:

Good morning. It is Sunday morning and I want to take the opportunity to touch base with you. Last  night I was at the scene of the bus accident shortly after Mr Kirkpatrick called me. Six West students and a bus driver were transported to the hospital for treatment. They are all OK. This does not dismiss the emotional duress that your student may have experienced.

I am extremely proud of the students, parent volunteers and staff members. The students were cooperative and did all that was asked of them. The parent volunteers were level headed making sure all students were accounted for. Mr Kirkpatrick and Mr Spencer took charge making sure that appropriate steps were taken.

Work closely with Mr Kirkpatrick and Mr Spencer obtaining personal items that may have been left on the bus.  I am sure that all students are tired due to the late evening.

Have a restful Sunday.
Kurt Telford

From Mr. Kirkpatrick:

Parents and Students,

I want you to know how proud I am of each of you in how you handled last night's accident.  As you can imagine, this was a Band Director's worst nightmare.  Fortunately, injuries were minor and everyone is
going to be OK.  I am grateful to have an amazing group of parent chaperones who kept a level head and remained very supportive of the students throughout the ordeal.  Thanks also to Mr. Spencer for being equally helpful in assisting students.  Much appreciation also goes to Mr. and Mrs. Telford and Mr. and Mrs. Powell for coming to the scene immediately to assist.  Belongings can be picked up in the upstairs band room in the morning.

Students, you were amazing on the field and, in this case, especially amazing off the field in a situation that wasn't rehearsed. This was an amazing feat in teamwork from all people involved.

Get some rest, see you Monday.

Speaking as a parent I'd like to thank Mr. Kirkpatrick, Mr. Telford, all of the parent volunteers, the bus drivers and other school staff who did such a great job keeping a bad situation from getting worse.  I'd also like to thank Mr. Kirkpatrick for helping make Marching Band such a great experience for our son.

Proud Parents

Our oldest is hitting the home stretch of his high school career and last night featured one of what I think will be many landmark events for him over the next few months. In the picture to the left he's receiving a certificate and handshake from the WSFCS Board of Education chair Donny Lambeth.  The occassion was the recogntion of Michael and his classmates who participated in the Finance Academy at West Forsyth and East Forsyth High Schools.  

At the end of his freshman year Michael attended an orientation session about the Finance Academy and he decided then to commit to a three year program that integrates the principles of finance and business with the students' core curriculum.  It also provides the students an opportunity to intern at local businesses the summer after their junior year, and last summer Michael was able to intern downtown with the city government. 

As Chairman Lambeth said last night, the news is full of kids doing the wrong thing, so it's nice to see kids being recognized for doing the right thing. It was definitely a proud moment for Michael's parents.


Unfortunately the folks in Forsyth County, NC have been getting a lot of practice in dealing with teachers accused of inappropriate conduct in their school system.  In the latest instance, news came out today that a teacher and a teacher's assistant at Moore Magnet Elementary have been accused of inappropriate conduct and they've been suspended with pay until the police department completes an investigation. If you click through to the story you'll note this sentence at the end: "WXII isn't identifying the teacher or teaching assistant because neither has been charged with a crime."

While it's never good that a teacher's been accused of misconduct, this story at least shows that the folks at WSFCS and the local media have learned their lessons.  You may recall that administrators at WSFCS were accused of mishandling previous cases of teachers accused of inappropriate behavior by opting to hand investigations themselves rather than immediately contacting the police or sheriff's departments. This case makes it sound like they've finally gotten the message that they are to turn these cases over to the authorities right away.  

You also may recall that the local media has been in the habit of identifying the accused teachers, even before they're accused of a crime.  This, of course, has had a devastating effect on the teachers, some of whom have been cleared of any wrongdoing.  The fact that the media is protecting teachers' reputations from being unnecessarily damaged by a kid making false accusations because they're upset with the teacher is a good thing. (Let's hope that the rest of the local media follow WXII's lead). On the other hand the fact that the teachers have been suspended prevents them from doing any further harm if they are guilty of misconduct.

All in all this is a much needed improvement over how similar cases have been handled in recent years.

Reality Based School Systemry

Thankfully the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools spared us the 5:30 a.m. phone call to announce the obvious: school's out Monday and they just called at 5:00 p.m. Sunday to inform us.  I was worried that they were going to act all, you know, "We have to wait and see if God sends a rogue heat wave through the area tonight before we assess the situation" and then wake us up at some awful hour to inform us of the obvious.  Here's at least one reason I think they made the right call:


That's Concord Church Road, a relatively well traveled secondary road in Lewisville, at about 3:30 on Sunday.  That's gonna be one slick road tonight and in the morning and I have a feeling that there are roads just like it all over the county.

Forsyth Educators Living in Some Kind of Fairy Tale Universe?

Kim Underwood has an article in today's Winston-Salem Journal about the Winston-Salem Forsyth County School Board exploring the possibility of laying people off due to budget issues.  The part of the story that caused my jaw to drop was this:

If individual cuts are necessary, the potential list of criteria
presented for the board to consider included evaluations;
student-performance data; length of service, giving preference to
teachers with National Board Certification; and level of degrees.

Tripp Jeffers, the president of the Forsyth County Association of
Educators, which represents the school system's teachers, urged board
members not to include such subjective elements as evaluations and to
rely more on seniority. Board members Buddy Collins and Jeannie Metcalf
expressed reservations about having evaluations and data that included
student performance too high on the list.

"The part that bothers me is the subjectivity of some of these things," Metcalf said.

What kind of fairy tale universe do these people live in?  The rest of us in the working world are evaluated by our bosses, peers, customers, etc. and have our employment tied to these highly subjective measures. Should I expect to continue to be retained, even if I do crappy work, just because I've been around longer than the highly competent person working next to me?  I don't think so. As both a boss (taxpayer) and customer (my children are students) I would like very much for the teachers to be retained based on their performance and not on their ability to breathe the air between the schools' four walls for a longer period of time than anyone else.

The Question is “Whose Energy is Being Conserved?”

Every weekday I get an email from West Forsyth H.S. that contains the school's daily announcements.  In today's announcements I found this:

  1. Dr. Martin has stated that in an effort to conserve energy, school offices will be closed the day before Thanksgiving and all of Christmas Break.

FYI, Dr. Martin is the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools' superintendent.


Seriously, am I the only one who finds this lame?  I'm not sure what the normal protocol is for the school system during the holidays, but if they normally keep their offices open the day before Thanksgiving and all of Christmas Break, and if the school system's office employees are not getting paid for those "energy conservation" days, then they ought to just call this what it really is: a furlough.  On the other hand if the office employees are going to be paid for those "energy conservation" days then they ought to call it what it really is: a paid holiday.


On a side note, someone at the school is getting entrepreneurial.  Here's the next announcement:

  1. Parents, Teachers, and Students begin your Christmas shopping today from 4:00-7:00 in the 300 building. Pampered Chef, Thirty-one, and Premier Design Jewelry will be here!