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Perennial Math Competition

By Student Life
Perennial Math Competition
This past Saturday a group of 5th graders competed in the Perennial Math Competition for North Carolina in both the group and individual categories.
Alpha Academy placed 2nd as a group and Leiriel Simeon placed 2nd in the individual event.
This group of students qualify to compete in the National Math Competition in May.
The following are the students who participated in this event :
Justin Mainor (Mr. Mitchell’s Class)
Daniel McDonald (Ms. Miller’s Class)
Leiriel Simeon (Mrs. Smith’s Class)
Jayden Green (Ms. Gidrey’s Class)
Moya Morgan (Ms. Gidrey’s Class)
Kamiylah Striggles (Ms. Gidrey’s Class)

S.S. Katherine Johnson Cygnus Spacecraft

By Katherine G. Johnson S.T.E.M Institute
All resources, participation, and registration are FREE.
Register to let NASA know that you’re virtually participating!

About this Event

Registration will provide communications about launch schedule changes, information about highlighted launch-related activities, and access to curated launch resources.

Northrop Grumman’s 15th commercial resupply services mission is scheduled to deliver cargo to the International Space Station in the S.S. Katherine Johnson Cygnus spacecraft. Launch is from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad-0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island.

While there is no physical ticket for online participation nor access to in-person launch activities, register to participate from your spot in the universe!

Register Now

The use of the NASA logo or identifiers without permission of the Office of Communications is prohibited by federal statute and regulations, the violation of which may include fines, imprisonment, or both.

Catherine Truitt : North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction Since 2021

By North Carolina Department Of Education

Catherine Truitt has devoted her adult life to education with a heavy focus on ensuring that all students have the opportunity to receive a quality education and that students graduate high school, college or career-ready with the skills they need to succeed in today’s world.

Truitt’s service in education began as a high school English teacher, and she spent ten years in the classroom teaching at both the high school and middle school levels. Twice she was nominated for the prestigious “Teacher of the Year” award. Her last three years as a teacher were spent at West Johnston High School, where she taught English to 11th and 12th grade students.  During her time there she created a new Media Literacy elective, a 21st Century Skills course.

Catherine Truitt at NC State CapitolGovernor Pat McCrory appointed Truitt to serve as his Senior Advisor on Education in 2015. In this capacity, she was tasked with developing strategic state education policy goals for ages 0-20.  Governor McCrory awarded Truitt the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest honor that may be awarded by a governor of North Carolina, in recognition of her efforts to improve public education for all North Carolina students

Prior to her appointment by Governor McCrory, Truitt worked with the International Center for Leadership in Education, where she worked with underperforming school districts as a school turnaround coach. In this role she collaborated with principals and department chairs to craft plans to close the achievement gap for all students and worked to develop whole-district transformation initiatives. Truitt also served as a mentor for teachers in Kindergarten through 12th Grade, helping them develop strategies to keep students engaged and learning.

Truitt presently serves as Chancellor of non-profit Western Governors University North Carolina (WGU NC). As Chancellor, she focuses on increasing access to higher education for the 1.5 million North Carolinians with some college but no degree. Truitt and WGU NC collaborate with community colleges, hospitals, school districts, local workforce boards and IT centers to ensure that state workforce demands and employer education needs are being met.

Truitt is a 1994 graduate of the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She received her Master’s in Education from the University of Washington in 1997. Truitt serves on the board of directors of TLC, which was founded as the Tammy Lynn Center, and the North Carolina board of directors for the Nurse-Family Partnership.

Catherine and her husband, Jeff, reside in Cary.  Jeff, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, is a Captain in the United States Navy and has served on active duty for 14 years and in the reserves since 2008. Catherine and Jeff are the proud parents of Susie, Chorley, and Charles, all of whom attend Wake County Public Schools. The Truitts are active members of Crosspointe Church.

Enhancing STEM education with hands on learning opportunities

By Katherine G. Johnson S.T.E.M InstituteNo Comments

Thank you to GO Grant for helping us build our new Greenhouse.  Students of all ages will be able to use this on-site greenhouse to enhance STEM by taking a short walk and enjoy hands-on experiences.  From the life cycle and parts of a plant to biology, students from all groups can engage with our new greenhouse. Students in elementary school can see firsthand how weather affects growing conditions. Tending to plants teaches them responsibility, and they start to experience at an early age the reward of seeing their hard work blossom.

Middle schoolers may start branching out from the gardening and growing basics, conducting experiments related to temperature controls, fertilizers or even taking note of which plants may thrive in certain conditions or in their local climate.  Students get an up-close look at ecosystems and their components.  In high school, students may develop an interest in horticultural programs and continue to build on these lessons, possibly even developing entrepreneurial skills.

Our 2nd Annual STEM Writing Contest

By Katherine G. Johnson S.T.E.M InstituteNo Comments

Contest Dates: Jan. 19, 2021-March 2, 2021

Note: Register for our live webinar on Jan. 14 on teaching informational writing with a STEM theme.

Why do hummingbirds nap? How do coronavirus vaccines work? Can two robotic spacecraft land on the moon at once? How do plant roots compete for water? Do foods like kiwis and cherries affect our sleep patterns?

If you click on any of these articles, you’ll see that they are written for a general reader. Special technical or scientific knowledge is not required, and each is designed to get our attention and keep it — by giving us “news we can use” in our own lives, or by exploring something fascinating in a way that makes it easy to understand and shows us why it matters.

That’s what Times journalists do every day across our ScienceHealth and Technology sections.

For this contest, The Learning Network invites you to bring that same spirit of inquiry and discovery to finding a STEM-related question, concept or issue you’re interested in, and, in 500 words or fewer, explaining it to a general audience in a way that not only helps us understand, but also engages us and makes us see why it’s important.

So what questions do you have about how the world works? What science, technology, engineering, math or health questions might be inspired by your own life or experiences? What innovations, processes or problems in any of these areas puzzle or intrigue you? What concepts in STEM — whether from biology, physics, psychology, computer science, algebra or calculus — have you learned about, in or out of school, that might be useful or fun to explain to others?

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How to keep kids active during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By AthleticsOne Comment

We’re all spending more time at home these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many parents, that means kids are spending more time with screens than ever.

But kids ages 6 and older should still be getting an hour of physical activity each day. Not only can this help kids to burn energy; it can also help them establish healthy habits that can reduce their risk of cancer and other diseases later in life.

So, how can you ensure your kids get enough exercise when you’re spending so much time at home – and on screens? Is it safe for kids to play sports? Is it safe to go to the playground or park?

Get answers to these questions and help keep your kids active during the coronavirus pandemic with this guidance from Nicole Rosburg, manager of our Child, Adolescent and Young Adult Life Program.

It’s OK to break up kids’ physical activity

An hour of physical activity a day may seem daunting – especially if you’re working from home while trying to entertain your kids or help them with their schoolwork. But kids don’t have to get in all the activity at once to reap the benefits. “Break it up into increments,” Rosburg says. “That way, kids won’t get bored before they’ve hit their activity goal.”

For kids doing virtual school, try scheduling time in their day for exercise. “Just like recess or P.E. at traditional school,” Rosburg says.

Even though there are plenty of virtual options for physical activity, Rosburg suggests relying less on screen time to help your kids get exercise.

“Research shows that kids who spend a lot of time on devices have increased irritability and mood issues,” Rosburg says. This can also lead to sleep issues, which can lead to further irritability.

If you do choose virtual options to get your kids moving, like yoga videos or interactive movement games, Rosburg recommends choosing options hosted by trusted sources – and watching the videos with your children to make sure they’re age-appropriate.

When you can, try to break up screen-time activity with outdoor activity. “Outdoor exercise can be a natural mood booster,” Rosburg says.

“The good news is that physical activity doesn’t have to be running or something exerting a lot of energy,” she adds. The important thing is to get up and get moving.

Get active as a family at home during the COVID-19 pandemic

Having trouble motivating your kids to get active? Rosburg suggests doing something as a family. “Setting aside a dedicated time to take a walk or a bike ride together can be very special for you and your kids,” she says.

Low-impact activities like walking or doing chores around the house can be just as beneficial to your child’s health. Rosburg also recommends interactive activities like building an obstacle course, hopscotch, jumping rope or playing tag.

“There are plenty of active things you can do around your home,” says Rosburg.

If your child has cancer, Rosburg suggests they get as much physical activity as they can handle. “Don’t overdo it, but try to do something active each day,” she says.

How can kids play sports safely during the COVID-19 pandemic?

If you’re looking to get your kids out of the house during the pandemic, sports may be an option. Your child’s risk of COVID-19 goes up if they participate in group activities or team sports, but that doesn’t mean all sports need to be off-limits. Some activities are lower-risk. “Individual outdoor sports like tennis or golf can be safe options,” Rosburg says. Indoor activities tend to be more risky, since social distancing can be challenging.

If individual sports don’t interest your child, says Rosburg, “Try to find a team sport, like soccer, where there is the opportunity to be a little more socially distant.”

Rosburg also recommends getting to know the coaches, teammates and other parents, so you can be sure they share the same commitment to COVID-19 safety precautions. It’s also a good idea to find out in advance which precautions will be in place to keep your kids safe, and to make sure you’re comfortable with those. Consider if practices will be inside or outside. Will athletes be wearing masks? What about spectators? How will social distancing be maintained? Rosburg says these are important questions to consider before making a decision for your family.

You’ll also want to consider if spectators are allowed, and what COVID-19 safety protocols are in place for those watching the games. Even if the rules aren’t clear, you and your family can do your best to wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash your hands frequently.

Is it safe to play at parks and playgrounds during the coronavirus pandemic?

Some playgrounds and parks are now open, but that doesn’t mean you should let your guard down.

“I would love to say take your bleach wipes out and wipe everything down before your child touches anything, but that’s highly unrealistic,” says Rosburg.

Instead, she recommends choosing to visit parks or playgrounds when they’re less crowded, practicing social distancing from other families and having your kids do the same, and wearing a mask if it’s crowded. You may be able to find information about protocols in place at your local park online, or through signage at the park.

Rosburg also suggests reminding your kids often why it’s important to keep their distance from others and to avoid touching their face – and yours. And, if nothing else, says Rosburg. “Make sure you and your kids wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or hand sanitizer if you’re out and about.”

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Secretary of Education Betsy Devos pushes school choice at Fayetteville roundtable

By Fayetteville Observer

Michael Futch

The Fayetteville Observer

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos came to Fayetteville on Tuesday and heard from leaders from Black-led schools about how they have worked to expand education options for students and their parents.

Devos led a roundtable discussion at Alpha Academy off Raeford Road.

Joining DeVos was a panel of 14 people, including administrators from Alpha and other charter schools across the state, a pastor, two North Carolina state representatives, parents and a grandmother who is a retired educator with 30 years in the public schools system. She now has three grandchildren who have attended the host academy.

Eugene Slocum, superintendent of Alpha Academy, said the idea behind his public charter school was simple — “teaching. Teaching the child.”

DeVos is known for her support of school choice, school voucher programs and charter schools.

She also has supported President Donald Trump’s push to fully reopen schools, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Support local journalism with a subscription to The Fayetteville Observer.

“The success of Black students and of all students has been a high priority of this administration — for President Trump and for me.”

That, DeVos added, is why the administration supports the School Choice Now Act, legislation designed to ensure that kindergarten through 12th-grade students can return to the private school they attended before the pandemic and to create opportunity for more families to choose an option that will work best for their child.

“Parental school choice is what Americans need right now and what they want,” she said. “Join me and the president in fighting for that freedom.”

Staff writer Michael Futch can be reached at or 910-486-3529.

Virtual vs Classroom

By Virtual LearningNo Comments

Teaching in a classroom setting may be on its way to becoming a method of the past, but it is still a training tool needed for the future, especially as a means of learning how to lead, instruct and engage students in any type of classroom setting.

Reality and the Virtual Classroom

The virtual classroom cannot replace the traditional classroom because it is by its very essence or nature not completely ‘real.’ Teaching on the Internet is teaching in virtual reality, but not in reality. Does that mean that any type of education given or received on the Internet is not real? Absolutely not. The teachers are real. The students are real. The material is real. The atmosphere, however, is not real, and that is why virtual teaching cannot replace classroom teaching.

Virtual Classroom vs. Real-Life Classroom

The classroom is the real, tangible, touchable place to teach and to learn. It is the place where teachers engage students, encourage participation from the entire class and expand on the thoughts and ideas raised by students. These interactions cannot be duplicated in a virtual classroom.

Teacher-to-student interactions, along with student-to-teacher and student-to-student interactions, are all part of the learning experience. Spontaneous and random interactions via questions or stated opinions are necessary in presenting a full scope of the subject being taught. In the virtual classroom, the teacher is usually able to interact with only one student at a time and it is from behind a computer screen. Raising questions and listening to other students’ opinions typically takes place through group message boards, as opposed to real-time, face-to-face communication.

Teacher-to-Student Interaction

Teachers are not taught simply to pass on facts and figures to their students and then check out for the day. The skills of a teacher go beyond the material to also encompass their ability to lead students, filter through material when it isn’t well received by a class, change up material if needed and even handle random questions that may create the need to explore a thought more carefully. Teachers are meant to lead in a real-life classroom setting where face-to-face interactions with students set the dynamic for the design and implementation of the day’s lessons and materials. Classroom teaching is where it all started, and it continues to be the place where teachers develop their styles of instructing.


Teacher interacting with students in the classroom.


The virtual classroom tries to overcome the lack of teacher-to-student interaction through the implementation of live lecturing, video chatting and messaging with multiple students. However, the efforts to create a classroom environment simply cannot compete with the real thing. Virtual teachers often train in a classroom setting in order to handle interaction with other students through the virtual classroom. Taking away classroom teaching would end classroom training, leaving even virtual teachers at a loss for the tools needed to handle the increase in online teacher-to-student interactions.

Student-to-Teacher Interaction

In a virtual classroom, the teacher is often referred to as the course instructor or moderator, someone who simply monitors the activity of an online classroom to ensure that students log in and complete assignments on time. Assignments are graded and feedback is given via e-mails, messages and occasional video chats. There are no personal one-to-one meetings, discussions concerning materials or interactions with the teacher as there are in a regular classroom setting.

How many times have you heard or said to yourself that receiving an e-mail or a text message isn’t the same as speaking with someone in person? And why would you say that? Because e-mails and texts are simply words on a screen; they often display no emotion and reveal little about the author. Does the lack of emotion and contact really matter to students? Apparently it does.

Studies have shown that many students are discouraged over the lack of engagement with a teacher in the virtual classroom. A study conducted by Kent State University found that students with virtual teachers expressed ‘a lack of engagement and feelings of isolation and estrangement’.

Student-to-Student Interaction

Any teacher who has taught in a real life classroom setting knows that students can change the way a day’s lesson goes. A student can ask a question related to the subject matter that creates the need to pause for a moment and explore an entirely different topic. In the same way, students can play off of one another. For instance, perhaps the teacher asks a question and the answer given by a student leads to an additional answer or question from another student. Before long, the teacher has guided the students’ thoughts and questions into a deeper study of the subject matter, helping them gain more insight; however, that’s not likely to happen in the virtual classroom.


Student speaking to fellow classmates.


For example, students who take a course in English online and students who take the same course on campus do not learn the same things or have the same experiences. The online course is more straightforward. Students check in, read or watch the lesson, do the assignment, submit it and await a grade. They then move on to the next session.

Students in the traditional classroom, however, have the opportunity to ask questions, explore topics, socialize and share helpful hints for the next writing assignment. The teacher is able to monitor or jump into discussions as needed and lead or direct the learning experience. In a virtual classroom, interaction is rare, and when there is, the teacher monitors it and may or may not comment before giving the next assignment and moving on.

The Environment Makes the Classroom

A real classroom environment with students and teachers interacting with one another is the only environment where teachers can receive the full training and instruction they need to be the best at what they do. Whether the individual wants to be a virtual or a classroom teacher, the foundation for this career will always be set in the real classroom environment. It is a necessity for learning to lead, guide, instruct, connect and grow as a teacher. The environment makes the classroom, which is why virtual teaching will never fully replace classroom teaching.


Classroom teaching environment.