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December Board of Education Recognitions

The Kannapolis Board of Education was proud to honor outstanding representatives from around the district at its December meeting.

A.L. Brown High School

Brian Rojo – Brian Rojo is a 10th grader at A. L. Brown High School and is already a student who so many teachers know and revere due to his academic, athletic and service commitment to his community. As a silent leader, Brian models integrity, growth, family, inclusivity and tradition in all he does, makes sure others are doing what they are supposed to do, and leads in a way that makes others want to follow. Brian is considerate of others and conscientious about his daily successes, taking AP courses, Project Lead the Way courses, and in the words of Ms. Buckwell “keeping up with seniors who have been in these courses for years!”  Coach Merritt shared that “hard work, positive attitude, and attention to detail makes everyone around Brian in the weight room better.” Ms. Elvington shared that “Brian is a beacon that radiates joy, curiosity, and compassion and his love for learning makes him a lighthouse to his peers and teachers.” Coach Szakal and Coach Buckwell, two coaches who shared Brian this fall season, stated that he was the “best teenage communicator we have ever met. He seeks information to understand, is a leader on the field, and is focused on whatever task he is completing at that time with 110% effort.” Brian was also part of the Shady Brook mentoring program last year and continues to serve his school through his role on Student Council. Overall, Brian is simply an excellent student and person and is the type of student that every teacher dreams of teaching and every administrator appreciates having within the school.


Todd Massey – Todd Massey is an 11th grader at A. L. Brown High School and is a true example of what it means to #beaWonder. Todd is not only a great student and talented athlete, but Todd is a wonderful human being. Todd is the student who you know is going to make the right choices even if others are not, or even when no one is watching. His coaches and teachers share that Todd has found the balance between school, sports, and friends and carries himself as a role model for his peers. Further they shared that Todd is always very respectful, is willing to ask questions when he doesn't understand a topic or problem, and that they wish they had more students like Todd. Specifically, Coach Newsome shared that Todd is “a humble leader who always strives to set a great example for those around him and wears the K with a tremendous amount of pride for his school and community.” Coach Merritt shared that Todd's work ethic in the weight room sets the standard of excellence that we want from all of our students,” and Ms. Orellana shared that “Todd always tries his best in class, is always participating, respectful, and responsible.” Overall, Todd is simply that student who makes Wonder Nation proud. We are grateful for Todd’s positive attitude, great personality, and leadership within the building.


Cabarrus Health Alliance Elevate Team – The Elevate Team, through Cabarrus Health Alliance, consisting of Rachel Baker, Devon Choltus and Katie Cates, is a community partner that A. L. Brown High School appreciates more than words can say. The Elevate Team has brought numerous opportunities to A. L. Brown High School students and staff and continues to help grow the site in a positive way. For starters, the Elevate Team helped support the text equity initiative all English Language Arts teachers took part in as well as provided text requests based on the learning from the professional development. The Elevate Team also provided TVs for multiple staff members at A. L. Brown, helped fund Signing Day, multiple field trips, and school uniforms, and has helped lead Equity Team meetings, Parent Advisory Meetings, and Student Equity Team Meetings. The Elevate team has also supported the implementation of the Be Proud Be Responsible program, provided monthly social norm postings on mental health practices, and worked with student mentors and equity team members to plan the Youth Summit for this spring. In all interactions with the Elevate Team they are positive, respectful, and advocate for what is best for students at ALB. The team does not have their own agenda, but truly lets the needs of the school drive their agenda. This year, Elevate will continue to support A. L. Brown through more equity training for staff, assistance with Signing Day, support of students in RCCC who need access to materials and resources, and probably anything else the school needs! As stated before, there are not enough words to thank the Elevate Team for all that they have done for A. L. Brown. Without community partners such as the Elevate Team and Cabarrus Health Alliance, we could not fulfill the complete potential of all Wonders.


Tyson Parker – Tyson Parker was being recognized as a long-term sub at A. L. Brown, but tonight we are excited to recognize Ms. Parker as a long-term sub who has been hired as a Business Essentials Teacher at A. L. Brown High School. Regarding Ms. Parker’s time as a long-term sub, she has absolutely been a pillar of support for A. L. Brown High School. Ms. Parker is in attendance on a daily basis, never hesitates to help cover classes, builds relationships with students and staff members, and helps with extracurricular events when possible. Prior to being hired, Ms. Parker built the daily lessons for her class, completed grades on a regular basis, met with students, and worked with CTE Support Staff to build interventions to support her students. Prior to CTE Development Month, Ms. Parker shared an idea for an Adulting Day, where students learned skills for the real-world such as changing a tire and ironing, that was built upon by the Career Center and became a really amazing opportunity for all students. Ms. Parker also worked with the PTO on the uniform drive held in the fall and most recently has been working with the A. L. Brown Cheerleading teams through basketball and competition season. Beyond all of these attributes, Dr. Newell would like to call attention to Ms. Parker’s interactions with students. Tyson never hesitates to have a transparent conversation with students to help them grow positivity, and has been seen talking through bullying situations, high school conflict, college essays, and work ethic concerns with students on numerous occasions. A. L. Brown High School is truly a better place because Ms. Tyson Parker is there. 


Charlotte Spry – Ms. Charlotte Spry is a bus driver for the district and A. L. Brown High School. Driving a bus is hard work, but Ms. Spry makes it look easy. She always has a smile on her face, is kind with her words, and asks about the needs of those around her. Each and every morning, Ms. Spry greets her students when they get on the bus and fist bumps them as they leave the bus. Many mornings, you will also see Ms. Spry chatting with a student as they leave the bus about a game she knows they have that day, or giving them a pep talk when she knows they are feeling down. Ms. Spry truly knows her students and does not let a day go by without letting her students know that she cares about them. Students will tell you that Ms. Spry has the best personality and that they look forward to seeing her each morning. Dr. Newell shared that she is beyond appreciative that Ms. Spry implements the practices of Capturing Kids Hearts with her students and knows that the students on bus 417 come into school happier because of their interaction with Ms. Spry. Ms. Beryl Torrence also shared that Ms. Spry is always willing to help with extra stops when needed. We are truly grateful to have Ms. Spry in Kannapolis City Schools and thank her for making all of our days better.


Julie David – Julie David, the registrar at A. L. Brown High School makes the Wonder world go round for sure! In her role, Julie meets all families that are enrolling students at A. L. Brown. She welcomes these families, gets to know their needs, and ensures that the students are getting what they need before they officially start at A. L. Brown High School. She then communicates with Student Services, administration, the School Resource Officers, the Exceptional Children department, and the English as a Second Language Department to make sure that all parties are aware of incoming students’ needs. When there are unusual situations, Julie helps find missing information and works with other schools to gather IEPs, disciplinary records, and anything that might help support the students’ transition. In all she does, Julie embodies the core values of A. L. Brown. An alumni herself, Julie bleeds green and white. She wants to see A.L. Brown be successful and is always asking what she can do to help, what she can do differently to make the process easier, and providing suggestions for improvement. Julie does her job with integrity and encourages her colleagues to do the same. In all situations, Julie can be found smiling and if staff are having a bad day, they can go to her office and leave feeling much better. Her colleagues shared that when other people are out Julie helps with their tasks to ensure they do not come back to long to do lists, and that Julie goes above and beyond to scan paperwork for them so they do not have to take the time to do so. Dr. Newell shared that even when things do not go as planned, Ms. David is adaptable and makes sure the end product is what is expected. We are so grateful for Julie’s love and dedication to Wonder students and staff.


Zaria Franklin – Zaria Franklin, the dance teacher at A. L. Brown is truly an embodiment of a Wonder. An alumna herself, Zaria understands the traditions that matter to the community and she works hard to maintain these traditions. In fact, we would not have a staff dance at the Bell Week Pep Rally without Ms. Franklin! Additionally, Zaria is an advocate for positive change at A. L. Brown at all times. One thing Ms. Franklin is currently working on is bringing dance education to the community through a collaborative learning session with local schools. Ms. Franklin models the core values of family, inclusivity, integrity, tradition and growth at all times, creating a classroom space focused on mindfulness and led with professionalism, empathy, and kindness and a course product that is far and above other high schools. Zaria not only helps her students become better dancers, but also better people. Ms. Franklin utilizes Support Block, lunch block, and other opportunities to encourage her students to work on their schoolwork when they're falling behind, and encourages them to reach for what might seem impossible. The Arts Department also shares that Ms. Franklin is a wonderful resource for the department and pushes them to rise to her level. Ms. Franklin also supports A. L. Brown through her role outside of the school as a dance teacher and Carolina Panthers Top Cat, bringing in guest speakers to help build her students’ dance knowledge. Beyond all of these qualities, Ms. Franklin simply has the best personality. She lives life with grace for others, has a smile on her face each day, and is solution driven at all times. Ms. Franklin’s relationships with students and staff make her someone people can go to and someone who they trust. Dr. Newell shares that these characteristics have always been who Zaria is. Zaria Franklin definitely makes A.L. Brown a better place to be and we are so excited to recognize her tonight.


The Board was also pleased to recognize the Hilbish Ford Teacher of the Month, Shauna Abbott, fifth grade teacher from Shady Brook Elementary School.

Shauna Abbott is a wonderful example of the amazing teachers we have in Kannapolis City Schools. Ms. Abbott is a fifth grade teacher at Shady Brook Elementary School.  The parent that nominated her spoke highly of Ms. Abbott’s professionalism, knowledge and abilities.  They noted that she strives to get to know each of her students’ needs and works hard to help her students become the best they can be.  While she is organized and well-prepared, her students love her because she is kind and loving, and they know she cares about them.  The parent went on to say that Ms. Abbott is one of those special teachers that you come across every once in a great while and that she deserves to be recognized for all of the hard work and time she puts into her classroom and students.

We’re extremely proud that Shauna Abbott is part of our KCS family, and we’re delighted that Hilbish Ford is honoring her with the Hilbish Ford Outstanding Teacher Award for December. Congratulations, Shauna!


Dr. Lee Stiff Instructional Leader of Mathematics Teaching Award for 2022 – Laura Baker – We are extremely proud of our K-12 Math Instructional Coach, Laura Baker. Recently, she was honored by the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics with the Dr. Lee Stiff Instructional Leader of Mathematics Teaching Award for 2022. It recognizes and rewards outstanding contributions to mathematics education.  The award celebrates the amazing work Laura does with classroom teachers through coaching, professional development, and development of curriculum materials and resources to support the improvement of student learning in mathematics.

Laura, the Kannapolis City Board of Education is extremely proud of you and appreciative of your contributions to mathematics instruction in KCS.  We congratulate you for this wonderful accomplishment and are delighted to honor you with this certificate of recognition.


Jackson Park Elementary School – Outstanding Student Performance –This evening, we are extremely proud to recognize Jackson Park Elementary for their outstanding student performance results for the 2021-22 school year. Approximately six weeks ago, the North Carolina State School Board approved the final school performance results for all North Carolina public schools for the 2021-22 school year, as the accountability data for all schools were verified. At the forefront of this accountability data is student growth. In its most simple terms, student growth is a measure of the progress students make in a year’s worth of instruction. In North Carolina, we are able to see individual student growth, growth for specific classrooms, and overall school growth. Any growth beyond what is expected for a school year is referred to as “exceeding growth.” Further, in reporting for elementary schools, the state focuses specifically on growth in 3rd, 4th and 5th grade reading; 3rd, 4th and 5th grade math; and 5th grade science. Each school is then given a growth index number based on how well the students performed. For 2021-22, we are excited to share that not only did Jackson Park Elementary exceed growth, but with a school growth index of 8.77, Jackson Park had the 12th highest growth of all elementary schools in North Carolina. Jackson Park also ranked in the top 5% of all schools (for all levels), in North Carolina, for overall school growth. 

Joining Mr. Garay up front are members of the Jackson Park leadership team and grade level leads for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade. We commend you for your leadership. We are extremely proud of this accomplishment and we also recognize that this achievement takes the efforts of the entire staff: the school leadership team, instructional support, teachers, teacher assistants, student services, custodians, school nutrition workers, bus drivers…everyone. We congratulate you all on such a significant accomplishment for the Jackson Park community!