DOBSON — Surry County Schools has two new principals and a new chairman as a result of Tuesday’s school board meeting.
Janet Sutphin and Dr. Shelley Bryant will lead schools after the annual shakeup of positions.
Cathy Hull retired at Cedar Ridge Elementary, and Donna Bledsoe left Mountain Park to take that spot.
Now Sutphin, assistant principal for Rockford Elementary, will move up to Mountain Park principal. She previously has served the district as a classroom teacher, instructional specialist and assistant principal.
Denny Barr, principal at Meadowview Magnet, decided to take a one-year leave of absence to pursue a doctoral degree. To fill that spot, Bryant was appointed by the Surry County Board of Education. Like Sutphin, she has worked as a classroom teacher, instructional specialist and assistant principal, most recently at Meadowview.
“They will both bring energy, enthusiasm and a strong work ethic to their schools. We are excited to have them join our leadership team,” said Dr. Travis Reeves, school superintendent.
Reeves added his appreciation for the input given by the faculties at both schools for the selection process.
With Laura Whitaker moving from Cedar Ridge to Pilot Mountain Elementary, a position opened up. The board named Catherine Dollyhite as the new assistant principal at Cedar Ridge. She has been a teacher for the Surry County Schools for 12 years and her most recent position was a fourth-grade teacher at Franklin Elementary.
One more change this week was longtime board chairman Earlie Coe taking a step back.
Dr. Terri Mosley, a retired educator and first-term board member, was voted to take Coe’s place this week.
Mosley started her career in the Surry County Schools district in 1987 at North Surry. Along the way, she took a break to work on her doctorate, then returned to the county to serve as principal and assistant superintendent before retiring in June 2014. The very next month she was sworn in on the school board.
”I am very thankful for the opportunity and the trust the other board members have put in me,” Mosley said.
“I am thankful for Earlie Coe and the tremendous hours he gave in 14 years as chairman,” she said. “I hope to give it the same commitment as he has and keep the board as well informed as he has.”
The school board spent an hour and a half in closed session Tuesday. When open session resumed, Neil Atkins gave a report on his Surry Virtual Academy data.
Atkins, director of virtual learning and secondary education, said online enrollment for the fall semester was 198, then 217 for the spring semester.
Two years ago, the number of high school courses offered via the internet was 14. A year ago, the academy had 20 classes, and this past year it grew to 25. Two more classes will be ready to go by this fall, nearly doubling the selection from 2013-14.
Atkins said when the Virtual Academy began a few years ago, the selection was based on offering the core classes that upperclassmen needed to graduate. The course list is growing beyond those limits now.
For example, Atkins said, there were some students at East Surry who were interested in taking a drafting class, but the school doesn’t offer it. Daron Atkins, a North Surry teacher, created a drafting course for the academy so students at all four high schools could take part.
Despite the increase in courses and participation, the rate of commitment from the students remains strong.
For 2013-14, the percentage of students completing coursework was 88.3 percent. For 2014-15, the percentage was 86.4 percent. This past year was 87.7 percent, Neil Atkins told the school board.
Of those who completed this coursework this school year, 85 percent passed in the fall semester and 91 percent in the spring. Those numbers will improve as students do credit recovery over the summer, Atkins noted.
Coe asked Atkins if it would be worthwhile for every student to be required to take one virtual class.
Atkins said there are guidelines for the schools to follow in recommending students for the academy. The district doesn’t want to set kids up for failure, he said, but at the same time he could see Coe’s point about challenging students.
Assistant superintendent Jill Reinhardt said that Meadowview Magnet Middle has a blended English class where there is some classroom work and some virtual.
Online meetings and virtual sharing and learning appears to be something corporations are doing, so this could prepare students for that, Coe said.
Board member Brian Moser said that when adults are doing such online learning and meetings, it is required for employment. However, if high school students are made to do something, they might not care and the success rate could falter.
• Mosley reminded the board that it has a retreat planned Aug. 9 in Greensboro at the Center for Creative Leadership.
Reeves said that staff members attended a two-day conference at the center and was impressed with the center and its offerings.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.