At their regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 8, Lincoln County Schools Board of Education members received a presentation by Ryan Swengros, the senior program director of youth development at the Lincoln County YMCA on the water safety program that the YMCA is offering to all Lincoln County Schools and Lincoln Charter School second graders.

After the presentation, the first quarter INNOVATOR Awards were announced. These awards, which are awarded at nine week intervals, are intended to recognize staff, students or community members that have shown their ability to think through situations, find creative ways to solve problems, were tenacious in seeing a task through, connected with students and/or community or integrated subjects that made students excited about content.

The first INNOVATOR Award was given to a community member and the PTO president at Pumpkin Center Primary School. Danae Curl who stepped up to fill the gap left by board members who had to leave their positions due to getting full time jobs last year. 

Curl coordinated the window wrappings on the front and back school entries at the end of last year and followed through with the company and the school administration this summer to its completion. Before finding committed parents to serve on the Board this year, Curl made sure the PTO maintained its status as an integral part of the start of the school year by planning the back to school luncheon for the staff, setting up a welcome back photo op bulletin board for open house, sending home the PTO volunteer/membership packets, ordering field trip t-shirts for the students and staff, kicking off the candy bar sale and setting the PTO calendar of events including the dates for the monthly duty free lunch Fridays

The second award was given to a staff member at Love Memorial, Bartley Bess for taking on the role of teaching double science and math classes due to the medical absence of his 5th grade colleague. Bess has overseen all beginning of the year paperwork and fundraiser forms.

In addition, Bess continues to work with the substitute teachers to make sure they are comfortable in the classroom with the lesson plans. He makes sure student work is available if they are out sick and has made several home visits to get paperwork signed and meet with parents that were not able to come to school.

The third award was given to Bailee Harding, a student at East Lincoln High School, who attended a leadership summit at Harvard University during the summer. While at the summit, Harding was tasked with answering the question “what can I do at school to make a difference?”

She developed a program called “True Colors” which is an anti-bullying initiative. Harding presented her vision for this project to the School Improvement Team and implementation of her plan was approved to be done in phases. 

Two people received the last award but were unable to attend the meeting. Both are staff members at S. Ray Lowder Elementary School, Donna Harmelink and Patti Hance.  

Both women are focusing on increasing students’ reading stamina. They took the initiative to incorporate sign language into their classrooms and integrate it with their daily phonics instruction as well as introducing a few nouns each week in sign language. This strategy allows the teachers to reach their most visual learners and also assists ESL students. 

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