While Mount Airy city school students did not have to start attending classes until Aug. 29, their teachers and faculty members had already been at it for a week, with all of them reporting to classrooms on Aug. 22.
At the conclusion of that first week for teachers, the staff gathered in the Mount Airy High School for gymnasium for the annual convocation.
“Convocation comes at the end of a busy week for staff. It’s the perfect opportunity for everyone to pause, check in with those around them, and get united district-wide on the year’s efforts to grow all students,” said Executive Officer of Communications Carrie Venable.
The event began in the Commons Area with breakfast provided by the school system’s School Nutrition Department and served by members of the Board of Education. Staff members migrated to the gym for the convocation gathering. Dressed in identical shirts, staff members greeted friends from other schools and took time to take pictures and capture the moment of another school year beginning.
Chairman of the school board Tim Matthews welcomed the crowd while Vice Chair Ben Cooke led the invocation. Cooke, whose sons graduated last year, credited the success they will have to teachers who impacted them throughout their years in the district.
The Melody Makers from Jones Intermediate School pumped the energy up by singing “Never Gonna Give Up” by Tony Memmel. Lyrics from the song went along with the year’s quote of “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up” by Jim Valvano that was also found on the back of staff shirts.
Superintendent Dr. Kim Morrison celebrated Principal of the Year Chelsy Payne while Dr. Phillip Brown, deputy superintendent, introduced the district’s Teacher of the Year Melissa Martin. Martin began making her way to the stage when former students ran across the gym to hug her before her speech. Once on stage, a video of her pictured with students from across her career began to play.
Martin spoke about the importance of forming relationships and paused when videos from former students began. Her multimedia presentation allowed her to speak to the importance of building relationships and also highlighted what those relationships mean to students and families.
Martin noted, “It is not the test scores, it is not the grades that I have given, it’s the relationships I have developed over the years that are truly the reason for any success I have as a teacher. You have to invest in relationships. Over 24 years of teaching, my investments have paid off and will continue to pay off long after I have retired.”
Next in the program was the introduction of new staff to the district along with individuals who had accepted new roles since last year.
Dr. Morrison then returned to the podium to share the year’s theme of “Create a winning culture — don’t give up. Don’t ever give up!” She kicked off her time with a drone video of each campus shot by Garrett Howlett that had a variety of quotes from well-known, successful coaches and players rotating throughout.
Morrison asked, “What is winning for children? In the game of education, winning is ensuring that every child, every day is cared for, loved, and respected. Our job in education is to make sure every child is graduation ready every year.” She continued by sharing what Mount Airy City Schools knew was needed to have a winning year such as high expectations, clear communication, defined roles, and trusting members of the team.
Following the year’s theme and closing the ceremony was the announcement of the 2022 Wall of Leadership and Service honorees. Three graduates from Mount Airy High School were honored: Denny Shelton, Class of 1955; Phillip Riggs, Class of 1984; and Kirsten Parries Wright, Class of 2014. Each honoree was able to share moments and laughs with attendees while also encouraging teachers and staff to continue making a difference in the lives of students.