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Nash-Rocky Mount focuses on future

Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools experienced its share of triumph and turmoil this year, but seems to have emerged with stronger community support in the process.

“The best aspect about this year is, while we have confronted multiple challenges, it has become obvious that our community is vested in the success of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools,” said Superintendent Dr. Shelton Jefferies. “They have responded in an overwhelming way to demonstrate their support and commitment to our efforts to serve every child in our county.”

The triumphs and turmoil of 2017 are evident in a review of some of the top news stories of the year.

In March, the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education approved the resignation of Rebecca Reeves, 33, a family consumer science teacher at Southern Nash High School who was arrested in February on two counts of sexual activity with a student. Reeves was arrested on Feb. 23 after an investigation of reports that she had participated in a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old male student beginning in October 2016.

In April, Patricia Edmondson of Rocky Mount Middle School was named the 2017-18 Nash-Rocky Mount Teacher of the Year and Victor L. Ward Sr. of Nash Central High School was named the 2017-18 Nash-Rocky Mount Principal of the Year at a banquet at the Rose Hill Conference Center.

In May, Southern Nash High School held a grand opening for its new Farm Bureau Animal Facility designed to aid in the school’s agricultural program.

In June, Gov. Roy Cooper spoke at the graduation ceremony of his alma mater, Northern Nash High School. Cooper is a graduate of the school’s Class of 1975 and former student-athlete at the school.

In August, the new Dual Language Immersion Program began in select kindergarten classes at three Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools: Winstead Elementary School, Bailey Elementary School and Middlesex Elementary School.

In September, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools was awarded 680 internet devices as part of the Sprint 1Million Project. The devices are personal internet hotspots that were awarded to students at four Nash-Rocky Mount high schools.The Internet hotspots are designed to help bridge the digital divide for low-income high school students.

Also in September, Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools learned that Williford Elementary School was on the short list of schools under consideration for inclusion in the N.C. Innovative School District. After much consternation on the part of school board members and concern from the community, the school district learned in October that Williford was no longer under consideration for takeover by the state at this time.

Also in October, a former Southern Nash High School teacher and Communities in School employee was arrested and charged with sex crimes. Joshua Sessoms, 24, was arrested by the Raleigh Police Department and charged with statutory rape of a child 15 years old or younger, statutory sex offense with a child 15 years old or under, indecent liberties with a student and felony sex act with a student in connection with an incident that allegedly occurred with a 15-year-old female Southern Nash High School student on Oct. 6 in Raleigh.

In November, Cooper announced that Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools was the recipient of a $450,000 grant to support college and career readiness programs through initiatives offered by Communities in Schools. In Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, the Jobs for North Carolina’s Graduates program will support six middle schools offering the AVID model.

In December, the N.C. State Board of Education has given final approval to a new high school in Rocky Mount that will open in the coming academic year. In collaboration with Nash Community College, the Center for Industry, Technology and Innovation (CITI) High School will open with state funding in the 2018-19 school year on the campus of Rocky Mount Middle School.

Jefferies said he is confident that the future of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools will be even brighter.

“I am most looking forward to in the upcoming year, continuing to grow as an organization and watching the development of the leaders we have at the teacher level and the administrator level, central office level and the continued investment and innovation that we are committed to as an organization. The potential is enormous for our community and we are #FUTUREFOCUSED,” Jefferies said.

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