Saturday , 24 February 2018
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Culture Always Wins

athletic boosters

Photo courtesy – Newton-Conover High School Athletic Boosters Facebook Page

It’s football season, and the Major League Baseball World Series is right around the corner. You may have noticed that most of the same teams that seem to be at the top of the standings year after year are again leading the way again this year.

Have you ever wondered why it is that some teams and organizations seem to thrive while others with similar talent and resources seem to struggle? What propels some groups to distinction while their peers have pockets of greatness but grapple with wholesale excellence? Whether it’s businesses, sports teams, community groups, churches, or schools, some seem to thrive in all situations while others seem to struggle year after year.

Also, what propels some individuals who have significant challenges in their paths to endure when the road is challenging? We’ve all seen and heard of those who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve greatness. I would contend that expectations and culture can lift individuals and groups up or hold them back from reaching their potential.

What enables N-CCS to overcome obstacles and potential barriers is an expectation and culture of excellence by students, parents, and staff. Nothing excites me more than to hear elementary students talking about being a “Red Devil” and Red Devil Pride. I love seeing middle school students speak about their peers in high schools as role models. I feed off of the energy and talent of our students who have the confidence and belief that they can and will achieve greatness. Red Devil Pride is not a slogan, it’s an attitude and an expectation that being from Newton-Conover equates to excellence. Students know that the Newton-Conover family is a support structure that will be there for them all of their lives.

Our parents value quality education and are very supportive and proud of N-CCS’ efforts. Our parents value our efforts to educate students to be College and Career Ready. Our parents also have a “can do” attitude. Attitudes are caught more than they are taught, and fortunately our parent attitudes are worth catching.

Our staff members are vital to our students’ abilities to persist through their obstacles to achieve outstanding success. N-CCS staff members understand that learning is a shared venture and that the ability to relate to students is much more important than what is being related to the students. This focus on connecting with students fosters strong relationships that govern attitudes and behavior much more than rules and regulations will ever do. N-CCS staff members see potential and have visions for their students that are sometimes stronger than those held even by the student. Our staff attitudes toward students reflect the belief that the way in which a student exits the classrooms is much more important than the manner in which they entered the room. Our faculty and staff teach students a valuable trait: perseverance. The difference between those who succeed in spite of obstacles and those who don’t often falls back on their ability to persevere. Dr. Adolph Brown is quoted as saying, “Drive through the storm. There is always sunshine on the other side of the clouds. Individuals who stay in turmoil are those who stop in the midst of the storm and don’t persevere upward to the light on the other side.”

We have always had amazing students and teachers. We’ve always had areas of excellence. The culture in N-CCS is an expectation of excellence in all areas and pushing ourselves to lead the way. Our culture is a living, breathing, vibrant force. Culture is contagious and grows. Every one of us adds to the culture. Our expectations are nothing short of excellence in all that we do, say, and represent.

Since 2007 we have nine sports state championships. We have award winning ROTC, Chorus, Band, academic teams, and arts programs. Last year our district achieved an all-time high in graduation rate, our lowest dropout rate in history, an all time high in scholarships awarded, and the highest enrollment in our history (up 9% since 2008).

This year is no exception. Students are already receiving college acceptance letters and scholarship offers. Academically, we have the highest SAT scores in the entire county at Discovery High School, and our SAT score for the district is higher than last year.  We are expecting great results again on our state testing in the coming months. Students have a wide variety of clubs to participate in along with great internship opportunities. Good enough is not good enough in Newton-Conover. We push ourselves to be leaders.

All of our Fall sports teams are thriving. Our boys’ soccer team is ranked second in the state, girls’ volleyball is conference co-champions, girls’ tennis also achieved the goal of conference champion and regular season champion, football remains undefeated and is ranked sixth in the state, cross country is doing well, and we have a very strong girls’ golf team led by three freshmen. The Winter and Spring programs look equally promising. We have the defending state champions in Wrestling and Golf and lots of returning talent in many other sports.

Culture always wins, and we have a culture of high expectations, support, and perseverance. But remember that culture is not rigid and unchanged. It is alive and malleable. Each of us influence it and shape it. We are all contributors to our culture.

Students – Don’t accept “good enough.” Push yourself to be excellent. Every one of you has skills and talents to offer. Remember that all journeys to excellence begin with a conscious belief that all things are possible. Your thoughts literally are the very seeds you are planting for the future you envision for yourself. A poem by Frank Outlaw entitled, “Watch Your” captures this thought beautifully:

“Watch your thoughts, for they will become your words. Watch your words, for they will become your actions. Watch your actions, for they will become your habits. Watch your habits, for they will become your character. Watch your character, for it will become your destiny”.

Staff – You control the culture of your classrooms and buildings. Make sure your culture is one that inspires and one that pushes students past their own expectations. You are dream builders and life changers.

Keep moving forward! We are Newton-Conover!

– Dr. David Stegall, Superintendent

About Heather Mullins

Dr. Heather Mullins is the Chief Academic Officer in Newton-Conover City Schools. She is a North Carolina Teaching Fellow who spent 12 years as a high school English Teacher. She received her B.S.Ed. in Secondary English Education from Western Carolina University. Heather completed her National Board Certification in Adolescent Young Adult English Language Arts in 2002. She holds an M.Ed. in Academically and Intellectually Gifted from UNC-Charlotte. She completed her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership through Western Carolina University. Her dissertation focused on improving principal practice through strategic professional development. Heather has served as a Curriculum Specialist in Hickory City Schools, an adjunct professor at Lenoir-Rhyne University, and a Professional Development Consultant for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Heather is one of the co-founders of #NCed Chat, North Carolina’s first Twitter chat for teachers. She is passionate about innovative practices, instructional technology, student ownership of learning, and supporting teachers. Heather serves on the advisory board for the North Carolina Digital Learning Plan, North Carolina School for the Deaf and Catawba Science Center. She is a recipient of the 2015 NCMLE Central Office Administrator to Watch Award. She also received the 2016 Don Chalker Award for Excellence in Educational Leadership. Heather is the proud mother of one son, Jackson.

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